Fuji RAF files have been long plagued by sharpening "worms" when using the Camera Raw algorithms for processing. At first glance the files look lovely, but when you apply any form of zoom to check and correct sharpness, the dreaded wormy artifacts appear. Many people have suggested using other raw processors, such as Capture One Pro, Irident etc, but if you've already committed to Creative Cloud this is not the best option. Many other people have suggested instead using Photoshop's sharpening filters to add sharpness. Nothing I am about to say is new or has been discovered by myself, this is just me looking into the different options and deciding (based on my own opinion) which is the best for me.
Just a quick post wishing everyone a happy new year! Mixed year for me, some satisfying photo opportunities, some disappointments when getting some long-awaited images back in the computer! I'm hoping to complete a "review" of sorts of the images I have captured in the last year, which I will publish in the next few days. I always find it useful to revisit images and take another look - usually I change my mind about which ones I actually like! But it does give me a sense of perspective and whether I am actually improving as a photographer, so I encourage everyone to do the same if they can!
There's always the moment when shooting a landscape (either at sunset or sunrise), where the light is amazing and the colours are so bright. You set up the tripod, taking time to get it level (damn spirit bubble), lock in the focus, get the composition exactly how you want, and click the shutter. Yes. Done it. Then...you get home and upload all the precious images taken over the week. Where is that sunset shot I took on the first night? I remember it, the sky was purple and the air was clear. Then you find it, and it looks like this:
Oh crap. But then you remember, you shot it in raw! Your mouse immediately moves towards the tint slider. And you start scrolling. And you keep going. And there it is - the image you saw with your own eyes starts to appear. Your mouse moves away from basic and you run through the usual adjustments. Maybe you use a preset. Finally, you sit back and compare the before and after.
It's not groundbreaking, but it's a start. That's why I love digital photography, the ability to work on a raw file and help make it look like what you saw with your own eyes. Now, I'm not talking about heavy digital manipulation (I'm not a massive fan, especially when it comes to landscapes) - all the information was there as it was all recovered from the raw file in Lightroom. The only major adjustments I carried out were (as I said) some tweaking of tint and white-balance, along with obligatory sharpening and local contrast adjustment. Being completely honest, I did add a graduated filter in LR to focus the eye more on the city, but this is no different to when people would dodge and burn in their own darkroom.
This result I achieved just wouldn't have been possible with film (which is a medium I would LOVE to try out), and it allows people of all abilities to get a result they can be happy with. Anything that helps keep people interested in making images is fine by me.
I've had Lightroom 5 for some time now, and I have been hearing and reading many comments from people commenting on the power of the updated and improved sliders. As I haven't had much time (or the right weather) to go out and shoot, I thought I'd go back through my images and try to rescue some files that on first glance looked (basically) rubbish!
Now, these images aren't necessarily fantastic, but they do show just how much Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) can now deal with. I've included jpegs of the original file and the edited final image.
In the original image (top) I had lost a lot of detail in the shadows. I had originally intended this to be part of a bracketed exposure, but it didn't look quite right. Putting it through Lightroom 5 (second image), I was able to pull back the shadows whilst keeping detail in the sky. This just went to show how forgiving Lightroom really is!
This next file is a good example of how the software can help fix overexposure and harsh highlights. The sky was so bright that day, and I didn't have my filters with me. My camera sometimes struggles to meter properly, as the D90 has not got the best dynamic range (in my opinion!) - a lesson in why I should use manual more often.
Due to the flat sky, I decided a black and white edit was probably the most appropriate. It worked out ok, but I think a storm rolling in over the hills would make this image stand out and "pop" more.
I chose this final image to (hopefully) demonstrate how good LR5 is at helping a flat image look more dynamic and interesting. The vibrance, saturation and clarity sliders in particular do a great job of making things look more real and full of texture. I managed to get more detail and contrast from the trees throughout the forest - which I think makes the image much stronger.
Of course, this would have been much more difficult to do if I had shot in jpeg and not RAW...