Blog, Landscapes, Tips

Flow (plus Cokin Z Pro update)

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Another of my unaffected shots from Sunday’s shoot.

 Cokin ND8 Grad, processed in Lightroom 5.7.

Cokin reflection issue update (see last post)

So I took both adapter rings into work with the intention of sanding off the fronts when my friend Rob had the great idea of using acetone to remove the lettering. A quick rub with neat acetone and hey presto, the lettering is gone.

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Now obviously not everyone will have acetone to hand but I reckon nail polish remover will do the same job, as it contains acetone. You’ll probably just need to use a little more elbow grease. This doesn’t get rid of the fact that they have been finished in shiny black but my main issue was with the lettering. Like I said in my previous post, the problem only occurs when the light shines directly in front of the lens but if I see the rim of the adapter showing in the future I’ll go down the route of applying some matte black paint to the inner edge.

I should also point out that at the time I experienced this issue I was using a 10-20mm super wide angle lens, set at 10mm. It might not be such an issue when using lenses without such a wide angle of view. More testing needs to be done though to analyse this.

Thanks for reading.

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Blog, Landscapes, review, Tips

The Cokin Z Pro reflection issue

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Aargh! What’s that at the bottom of my image?!

I should start off by saying that this will only happen when shooting directly towards the sun.

So I left home this morning (Sunday) to photograph the sunrise at Bexhill beach as the weather and tide looked quite favourable. Armed with my new Cokin Z Pro filter system I quickly checked the light levels and decided to put on the ND8 graduated grey filter to balance the light between sky and land. The sun hadn’t reached the horizon yet (but I had the camera pointing directly where it would soon appear) so with camera set, I started to happily shoot away. Now, I do look at the LCD screen to check exposure using the histogram often but I don’t constantly chimp the camera to look at the image itself, I just get on with the job of composing and shooting. It wasn’t until I stopped for a brief moment to review my composition that I noticed something across the bottom of my image. What was it? I hadn’t seen it through the viewfinder though it must have been there, perhaps it was just too faint for me to see. However, zooming in on the screen revealed it to be the writing on the adapter ring being reflected back onto the filter. A closer look reveals that the edge of the ring itself is also visible due to the shiny black finish. A huge f-up in the design process that I thought Cokin would have foreseen.

 The only way of getting around this problem would be to shoot the scene unfiltered. Unfortunately in this instance filtration was essential and the two shots I took unfiltered proved this to me. Yes, I could have bracketed to merge later in something like Photomatix but I’ve gone off using this method for my landscape photography and leave it just for my urbex work. Somewhat annoyed and rather cold I packed everything up and headed back home.

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As a person who shoots a lot of landscapes, I believe that having a good filter system is essential to help balance light. So, I have two suggestions on how the folks at Cokin could improve upon their adapter ring design. First would be removing the print from the front of the ring and to print it on the back, or have no print at all. Second would be to use a matte black finish to help cut down light reflection. I’m sure these ideas are not beyond the realms of possibility but until then its off to the hobby shop to buy some matte black enamel paint to sort it myself.

Just so I don’t finish off on a grumpy note, here’s a shot I manged to rescue using the clone tool in Photoshop Elements.

Thanks for reading.

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Blog, Landscapes, Tips

Last Catch (of 2014)

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It’s been a little while since I was last out with the camera but this morning I had just enough time to pop down to the beach for sunrise. This fishing boat returned shortly after I arrived and while setting up my camera. ND8 grad filter, processed in Lightroom 5.7.

I was lucky enough to receive some photographic accessories for Christmas, one of them being a new Cokin Z Pro neutral density grad kit from my wife. The kit comes with a holder, a nice case and three ND Grads; ND2, ND4 and ND8. I also got a 77mm adapter ring to attach it to my 10-20mm Sigma (I’ve just ordered a 72mm ring as well). So this morning I decided to take the opportunity to get out and put it to good use.

Even though Z pro filters are 100mm wide, when using my ultra wide zoom lens at 10mm you can still see the edges of the holder (with two slots in place). However, you are able to take the Z pro holder apart to add or remove the slots the filters fit into. Luckily I had tested this before setting out. For use on a 10-20mm lens when set at 10mm, you can only set up the holder to have one filter slot in place.  This is not a problem really though as I like to have as few filters in front of the lens as possible and having the ND8 means there is no need to stack. The only time it would be a bit inconvenient is if you wanted to use both a full ND filter and a grad at the same time. Remember that this is only at the 10mm end and as soon as you get past about 12mm vignetting is no longer a problem when two filter slots are used. As a side note, the unused part of the holder must be moved to the back so that the screws are shortened. (See pic below)

Although the sky was a bit bland I am still happy with a few of the shots I returned with and it was a good exercise for getting used the new filter system.

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Thanks to everyone who has visited, liked and commented on my blog this year. I hope you’ve all had a great 2014 and all the best for 2015.

Happy New Year!

Blog, Flora, Landscapes, Tips

Blur,Spin,Zoom!

And now for something completely different…from me at least.

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I spotted this carpet of bluebells on my way to work yesterday morning, so I stopped to take a few shots. Having got home I started to think about how I wanted to present this particular image, to me it just seemed a bit ordinary as a straight shot. I thought popped into my head about applying the Orton treatment, something I’ve not done in quite some time. For those unfamiliar it’s basically taking two versions of the same scene, one in focus and the other blurred, then sandwiching them together to create a more painterly look. Click on the highlighted word to go to a Photoshop tutorial. After a bit more fiddling around in Lightroom I ended up with what you see here.

The next two shots are the results of experimenting with moving and zooming the camera and lens during the exposure, it’s very hit and miss. To achieve this I basically needed to set the camera to give the longest shutter speed available given the bright condition. For this I set the ISO to 100 and the aperture to f11, the smallest on my Fujifilm X10 compact.

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For the shot above I simply rotated the camera very quickly as I pressed the shutter.

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For this shot I quickly zoomed the lens as I pressed the shutter. I took this (and the others) handheld and as a result the wobbly movement has created wavy patterns which to me look like an exploding firework.

Definitely something different to my usual style but fun to have a go at.

Thanks for stopping by.

Blog, Mono, review, Tips

Topaz Detail 50% discount

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A new month and a new offer from the good folks at Topaz Labs. This month they are offering 50% off their “Detail” plugin.

As its’ name suggests, Topaz Detail helps to really bring out the shapes and textures in your images but in a way that doesn’t overly enhance noise. Think of it like using the clarity slider in Lightroom, only achieving the effect to an even greater degree. Take a look at the examples below, both are produced from the same RAW file shot on my Fujifilm X10 camera: Both images have had the exact same Lightroom adjustments applied but the left image has also been put through Topaz Detail. There is a good range of built in presets with varying looks that range from soft focus through to harsh punchy detail. In this example I used one of the mid-range presets and I think the results are pretty obvious.

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Both examples at 100% zoom.

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If this is something that you think would benefit your workflow then just follow this link and make sure you enter the code “aprdetail” when you checkout. This offer will be available until the end of April.

Thanks for stopping by.

Blog, Tips

Super deal-Topaz Labs bundle special offer

Hi everyone, I thought I’d let you know about a great new money saving deal currently being offered by Topaz Labs. They are knocking a whopping $100 off of their suite bundle, so you can now take advantage of all their great plugin products for just $199!
This offer is running from Today, June 24th until July7th, all you need to do is follow this link and enter the code “July4” at checkout.

Thanks for stopping by.

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