I am posting this shot because it showed me once again the power of shooting in RAW. This capture was shot with Nikon 1 V1 equipped with Nikkor 1 18.5mm/1.8 prime lens (50mm equiv.). The truck was situated in a quite dark place which had brightly lid windows behind the truck. I was shooting from outside of that building standing in a bright sunshine using evaluative matrix metering. So quite tricky exposure conditions. The RAW result what I got was bright lid windows and a very dark truck. But because I shot in RAW I was able to open up the shadow area where the truck was located and got the result below. I know there is some grain but otherwise it is a nice capture after some quite easy post-processing in LR. Colors are very nice and the exposure just great, especially at those windows.
This kind of situations prove the power of RAW and may help you to get a decent shot even if the situation seems to be hopeless in the beginning.
I haven’t had much time (and if I am frank, not much interest in) for shooting lately. I have, however, tested some new approaches in post-processing. I have been a long time VSCO Film user and I have been quite happy with their presets. I decided to try out Replichrome film emulations from Totally Rad Inc. though. I have to say that I love Replichrome! It gives more organic look than VSCO Film. Just can’t wait if Totally Rad will make additional film emulations available. At the moment most emulations are the same films than in VSCO 01 pack. For B&Ws Replichrome has the fantastic Kodak Plus-X 125 which I find really nice and this one is not included in VSCOs films. I tried Plus-X out with quite a few old shots and I was very pleased about the results. For the shots below I tweaked the emulation and added a slight toning. I think the toning adds extra mood which pleases me.
I have to say I love Ricoh GR more and more every time I use it. It is a camera with loads of features. It is very customizable. But still you can just take it and shoot. No tweaking around, just shoot. Very, very easy and when you see the results you are pleased. Yesterday I tested one of the features I have not used much before. The 35mm crop mode. Yes, I know that I can crop in post-processing but I think the 35mm crop mode is quite a cool thing to have in-camera. Sometimes the FoV which 35mm gives is more pleasing to me than the 28mm. I have set the crop mode into the effect button located in the left side of the GR, so it is very fast to change between 28mm and 35mm if needed.
Another thing I can’t praise enough is the TAv shooting mode. I use it almost exclusively. I really like to have control over shutter speed and aperture and leave the ISO decision to the camera. I feel that ISOs in the range of 1600-3200 are totally usable with the GR. My basic values for TAv mode are f/2.8 and 1/250 s. With those settings I can have some background blur and that shutter speed is fast enough to seize the subject movement and camera shake. If I notice that the ISO is going to be unnecessarily high, I just dial shutter speed down to say 1/125 or so. Very convenient and fast. The TAv mode has a plus side over the full manual mode in that that you are able to use exposure compensation if needed.
Here are two GR shots which I have processed in LR using VSCO Film presets tweaked into my liking. The dog shot was taken with the 35mm crop mode and I used Fuji 160C preset as a basis. The harbour shot is 28mm and Fuji Provia 100F preset was used as a starting point.
I have been trying to make my own color and B&W presets for Lightroom lately. I have used VSCO presets (namely Fuji 160C for color and Ilford HP5 for B&W) as starting points and tweaked them to my liking. I have some kind of a B&W period going on now and finding a nice preset for B&W is a very important thing to me. The two presets I have now made are just starting points to me but I am able to get close to a final presentation with a one click using them. Usually I make minor adjustments after applying my presets though.
My color preset
My B&W preset
I upgraded my LR 4.4 to Lightroom 5 yesterday. I do not see transition from version 4 to version 5 to be any dramatic change but there is one fantastic tool included in the newest version. This tool is Radial Gradient Tool. With it you can easily select round or oval area which you mask (protect) from or select for the adjustments. You have all the adjustment palette you are used to have e.g. for Adjustment Brush. This new tool is so much easier and faster to use in many instances as compared to Adjustment Brush or standard Gradient Filter. It is possible to invert your selection so that the adjustments are affecting the background area or the selected area. You can for example very easily protect the area you want and decrease the exposure in the background to emphasize your main subject. As an improvement of its present status I would like to see a possibility to “copy” the selected area and after that invert the selection for that same area. Then it would be possible to do fast adjustments both to the background and the selected area without making the selection again.
In the shot below is a rusty chain. I selected the chain by making an oval selection with Radial Gradient Tool. After the selection I inverted the mask so that my adjustments will affect the chain, not the background. I did only few subtle adjustments. First of all I made the chain more “warm” by adjusting WB just a little bit. Then I increased exposure, clarity, and sharpness very moderately. I feel subtle changes are the key here. In that way you will emphasize your main subject nicely without ruining your shot.
Have you ever tried to create a signature look for your photos? I certainly have tried. I am pleased to my achievements for a certain time after which I will change my mind. Usually I am going back to more natural look. For that “natural” look it is very important how the camera renders the image I am going to see in my computer monitor.
For color shots I have tried out desaturated look. I think I have found quite good adjustments for that in Lightroom. But using the desaturated look for a while I am not happy anymore. I am craving colors back. Here are some examples of my desaturated look.
There are times when I am very much into B&Ws. I have made my own B&W preset in Lightroom and many times I really like the results. Here are some B&Ws processed by using my own preset.
In addition to my own B&W preset I use VSCO Film presets for post-processing. I really love those presets because they are not made through any plug-in which always generate those huge TIFF files.
So it seems to be a long road to a signature look.
I have tried to process X-Pro1 RAW files with Lightroom and have not been very happy with the results. This is especially true with high ISO shots. ISO 1600 is totally okay but I will need ISO 3200 and even 6400 often. With that high values I am getting quite mediocre results.
When shooting JPEGs even ISO 6400 is quite clean of noise. Below is a shot taken with ISO 6400 and I even added some grain by using a VSCO Film preset. And I feel very comfortable with that shot and result. You can see evolution in that shot. I really hope Lightroom’s RAW converter will have same kind of a evolution – from dinosaurs to elephants.
Just some Fuji X100 shots converted from RAWs. I somehow feel that it is easier to me to work with X100 RAWs than with X-Pro1 RAWs. There may be quite much difference between LR's RAW conversion because of different sensors these cameras have. Hopefully Adobe (or Apple) will cooperate with Fuji to solve out X-Trans sensor secrets soon.