Photoshop has become an expensive piece of software over the years. As an amateur I couldn’t justify the cost of such software, especially when Lightroom and Aperture was released. Lightroom meeting most of my needs along with NIK software suit, which cost me in total around the £200 mark.

Over the past few days I decided to give Adobe’s creative cloud a go. This was prompted by the release of their iPad app. The App is very good and hopefully Adobe will update it to be able to title and keyword images and sync back to the desktop. I was reluctant to install Lightroom 5 on my 6 year old iMac. Lightroom 4 was slow and buggy on my machine, and I moved some of my processing workflow to Aperture, not that it was any faster. Thankfully Lightroom 5 hasn’t suffered the same issues as 4 did on my ageing iMac.

The maths for the photographer makes sense. Creative cloud costs just under £9 per month. Over the year that’s less then £108. You get the use of Lightroom – so the subscription pays for itself. But you get the function of syncing to your iPad and what’s more the use of Photoshop.

Sending the seven RAW images to photoshop I thought might take some time. I was expecting 5 minutes maybe. But in about 45 seconds the result appeared. I was blown over! Yep a 200meg image file is not quick to handle, but the old iMac is doing well

I decided to give Photoshop a go. It’s been around 7 or 8 years since I last played with Photoshop. (Version 6 I think – on a windows machine) and a lot has changed. I found it a complicated program back then, so I know I wouldn’t really get on with it that well to begin with. Thankfully You Tube is full of tutorials and help. I thought I’ll give the Merge photos into panoramic a go. I had a series of images which I took in 2006 while working in Doha. I snapped 7 images, tripod mounted to be able to stitch together at a later date. And another wide angle image which I cropped to be a panoramic.

Cropped image of the City of Doha

Cropped image of the City of Doha

The above image shows the cropped panoramic. A nice shot and one that I’ve always liked. But it’s never been wide enough. I know that I had a wider version that just needed the correct software and skill to be applied. Photoshop CC now seemed the answer, some eight years later.

7 image merge in Photoshop CC

7 image merge in Photoshop CC

Photoshop CC on a six year old iMac was never going to be fast. Although it is a quad core, and the first iMacs with 64bit processing power I can only max the memory to 4 gigs. Not a lot in today’s standard. The tech spec of Photoshop from Adobe says a minimum of 1 gig. That surprised me. Sending the seven RAW images to photoshop I thought might take some time. I was expecting 5 minutes maybe. But in about 45 seconds the result appeared. I was blown over! Yep a 200meg image file is not quick to handle, but the old iMac is doing well, and since I had Lightroom open, I thought further adjustment could be made in their.

It’s been eights years since I took this image. And now I’ve processed it. A wider view of Doha and it’s city lights. An image I am now proud of…

Leeds Castle – one of the beauties of Kent. Around 5 miles from Maidstone. The castle itself, like all castles, is steeped in history.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leeds_Castle. With the surrounding grounds, their are plenty of opertunities to take some wonderful images here. The moat provides a deep blue foreground while the castle provides a great back drop. 
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Olympus E300, f11@1/125sec, 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 @ 11mm, iso 100

Here I set the camera to aperture prioity and dialed in f11. Using the wide end of my 11-22mm lens (on a four third system its double the focal distance ie 22mm in 35mm terms) The light was very good so ISO 100 was suitable and hand holding at f11, 1/125 sec was no problem at all.  
The panaramic is a simply crop in either Lightroom or Aperture. I had tendency to flirt between them. Simply enhancements in colour and satuations is all that I feel was needed here. The major improvement that could of been made here would to wait for a little cloud cover to break up the bland blue sky. Their is always a danger of blowing out the blue sky in the exposure stage, but careful metering and good use of RAW processing prevented the sky turning gray or even over exposured white. 
However, with Leeds Castle only a few minutes down the road from me, there will be plenty of opetunity to pop down again and take some more images.  

Leeds Castle Webpage - http://www.leeds-castle.com/home

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It’s been a while since my last blog. It’s been a very busy year, work moving location, things need sorting out at our new home and my other hobby, Advanced Motoring has really become full on, in a good way of course.

I’ve still got a few things on my plate, but I hope that I can complete a few projects this year. So here’s a little tasted of a recent project I’m playing about with.

I’ve been playing about with the iPhone video features recently, purchased an Olloclip lens attachment and downloaded a couple of apps to experiment with. Miniatures was an app I was most impressed with, able to miniaturise the scene while taking a shot every second to create a time lapse video.

The video below is a little test while taking off from Gatwick airport. Filmed on an iPhone, transferred to an iPad and edit and posted.

Time Lapse Test Video.

More to come in the following months.

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Nikon D7000, f3.5 @ 1/1600, iso 100, Nikor 17-55 f2.8 @17mm

Cambersands is a long stretch of beach on the south east coast of the UK. On a good day, you’ll see Dungeness to the left in the distance and Hastings towards the right. Behind is a long strip of sand dunes. At low tide, the sea is about a mile away, the sand slops ever so gently. Relieving sea life that has been left behind by the sea in a rush to recedes back to the ocean. Here a cockle was left behind and in the distance cocklers hunting and seeking fresh sea food, possibly for tonights tea.

The sun was high and bright, yet the feeling was cold. Wind is not stopped along this stretch so it can be a little breezy at times. I positioned myself low and looking towards the cockler collecting his food in the background. Selecting a narrow depth of field and a wide angle I wanted to keep the cockle sharp yet the person in the background blurred but recognisable. I took a few shots with the horizon stright and some angled – which I felt gave a better composition and achieving the rule of thirds on three levels. The lone cockle, botton left. The person in the background, top right, and the horizon, although angled, still cuts the top third. Vignetting add in post gives this shot the feel I wanted.

And hopefully, this little cockle was the one that got away, at high tide.

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Olympus E300, f8@1/180 sec, iso 100, 50mm f2.0 lens.

This image was simply taken in my back yard, available sunlight and a small reflector. Handholding my Olympus E300 four third camera. I was taken back by how bright and colourful this flower was. I framed up and snapped a couple of shots. Just afterwards a small beetle landed on the flower. I waited for a bit to see where he would go. Would he creep down the flower, Head towards the middle or simply fly off? Thankfully the little fellow made his way down.

I angled the camera and took a few shots. I adjusted the depth of field from f11 to f2 but was unable to focus on him quickly enough. I opted to open ip to f8 to be safe. The bug had to be pin sharp, otherwise the shot wouldn’t have worked. I had the 50mm prime lens on at the time, so to zoom in wasn’t an option. I had to physically move closer. With a few shots bagged the little creature flow away.

From landing to flight, about 2 minutes, which sounds a long time, but behind the camera, I was making for fast work.

Olympus E300, f11@2secs, 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 @11mm, iso 100

Olympus E300, f11@2secs, 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 @11mm, iso 100

The location for this shot is a small wooded area in Trosley Country Park. Somewhere in the middle of the woods is these set of wooden posts layer to create steps leading between paths that meander through the woods.

It was during my early days in my digital photography experience that I set up my tripod to take this Image. As you can see from the picture spec, the exposure was 2 seconds and taken on a tripod. The lighting in the woods was fairly low, as the results show in the exif information.

Back home I opened this image up in an old copy of photoshop, CS 2. I can’t remember how I created the soft focus, black and white and vignetting effects, but I vaguely remember it was complicated at the time, and took many steps, with layers and masks.

Now a days one could post produce this image in 3 steps, and still maintain complete control over the effects applied with a number of sliders in either Lightroom, Aperture of other digital photography software. In fact, I found photoshop so complicated that I shortly abandoned the idea of using photoshop for RAWShooter, which was later brought out by Adobe and later became what we know as Lightroom.
The boat 'Golden Spray' on the beach near Deal, Kent

Olympus E300, f11 @ 1/125 sec, iso 100, 11mm lens

Golden Spray is the name of the boat located on the beach in Deal in Kent. The detailed weathered wood structure caught my attention and I knew that a shot was for the taking here. Paying special attention to the wood grain running along each wooden beam would heed a shot that required special treatment in post.

My camera at the time was an Olympus E300. Armed with a 11mm lens (on 4/3rd 11mm is 22mm in 35mm terms) I focused on various parts of the boat. I found the name of interest, not because of any connotations, which at the time didn’t occur to me, but for interest and a focal point within the shot. Setting the exposure to f11 @ 1/125 sec, I was able to move in a snap away.
Because over the past few years I’ve been flirting with Aperture and Lightroom as my photo management. Therefore I can not recall which photo application this image started with. What I can tell you is the effect was created within Nik Silver Effect. It’s a wonderful  piece of software that can create stunning monochrome effects. This one I used a heavy structure to bring out the wooden patterns and effects. I may have used a red filter effect to turn the blue sky a dark grey – edging towards black for dramatic sky line effect that’s seen in the corner of the image. Heavy use of contrast also helped throughout the image too.

Some may say that the image has gone too far in post, I disagree and consider post production effects as tools of the trade. All in all I’m pleased with the image and the effects applied here.

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