Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How good is Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018?

Yesterday I posted about the upcoming release of Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018. Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order on September 12, and released on September 28. As well as including the press release information in my post, I also included an example of before and after images.

Well, just one example is not enough to judge (before you can get your hands on the software) of what it is capable of. To help remedy that I include a couple more examples. First up is a dramatic shot of Dubai by Dima Sytnix. You can clearly see how Aurora HDR 2018 has brought up the detail in the shadows and improved the highlights in the sky.

Dubai Before image (by Dima Sytnik)

Dubai After Image (Dima Sytnik)

The second example is a photo of a path through trees, also taken in Spain by Dmitry Sytnik.

Spain Before Image (Dima Sytnik)

As you can, once again the software has managed to improve on the original image, with more detail in the highlights and better contrast all round, without losing detail in the shadows.

So, I hope this has wetted your appetite for the software. If you would like to pre-order and benefit from some time-limited bonuses, go to Macphun's site here. It won't cost any extra but if you use this link it will help me spend more time writing posts, creating tutorials and tips for my readers. Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who has helped me to reach over 2,000 pageviews last month.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Want to create stunning HDR images? Try Aurora HDR 2018.

HDR images are very popular these days. If you want to create HDR images you need to edit your photos in an image editor that supports HDR. You can use any of the many photo editors available such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity to achieve an HDR effect in post-processing.

Macphun, the creators of several image editors also have one specifically for producing HDR images. They have just released details about the latest incarnation of their Aurora HDR. Keeping things simple, its called Aurora HDR 2018 and you can pre-order it today by clicking on this link here or by clicking on the image above.

There are various deals available so check out the press release below for more info.

In the meantime check out some Before and After images:

Brazil Before (с) 2013-2017 Dmitry Sytnik
Brazil After (с) 2013-2017 Dmitry Sytnik 

About Aurora HDR:
Aurora HDR is not just a tool for merging bracketed images, it also provides numerous tools and countless options to create perfect HDR photos for every taste - from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction and powerful luminosity masking controls. 

Offer Availability: 
Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order TODAY, September 12th, and released on September 28th. 

Pre-Order Pricing: 
  • Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade at a special pre-order price of $49 ($59 MSRP)
  • New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 at a special pre-order price of $89 ($99 MSRP)
  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.

Pre-Order Bonuses:
  • Trey Ratcliff Deep Dive video (HDR Training by Trey Ratcliff) 
  • Travel Photography Tutorials by Matt Granger (2 hours of tips, tricks and techniques to capture the best travel photos) 
  • Source Brackets (5 sets of HDR brackets)
  • 3-month Zenfolio Pro website, including a complementary design consultation. $60 value.

What's new in Aurora HDR 2018:
  • Next-generation Tone Mapping – A new smart Tone Mapping algorithm automatically reduces noise, and produces more realistic and natural initial results.
  • Mac and Windows versions – Aurora HDR 2018 is available both for Mac and PC users, enabling mixed-computer households to share the same product key.
  • Lens Correction Tool* – The new Lens Correction filter easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel and pincushion to chromatic aberration and vignetting.
  • Transform Tool* – Easily scale, rotate and shift your image to better fit your vision.
  • Dodge & Burn Filter – Selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image to artfully direct your viewer’s eye towards the key subject of your image, similar to a traditional darkroom technique.
  • HDR Enhance Filter - Adds details and clarity to an image, adjusting colors, details and contrast without creating artificial halos or other problems.
  • User Interface – A new, modern and responsive user interface brings a powerful, yet joyful experience to HDR photo editing.
  • History Panel – An easy-to-reference list of edits made to your image, the History panel allows you to click on any editing step to revert the photo to an earlier stage of editing.
  • Touch Bar support for Mac – Aurora HDR 2018 adds Touch Bar support to give new MacBook Pro users fast access to key editing features and speed up their workflow.
  • Image Flip and Rotate* – Perfect for correcting photos with incorrect horizons or making creative compositions or other stylistic changes to an image.
  • IMPROVED: New Structure Algorithm – The re-developed Structure tool allows you to adjust detail and clarity of an image to get a classic HDR effect with great detail or a smoother effect with less details.
  • IMPROVED: RAW handling – An improved RAW conversion brings out more details in shadows/highlights, displays colors more accurately and reduces noise in RAW files.
  • IMPROVED: Crop tool update – Now specify custom crop sizes for even more versatility.
  • IMPROVED: Speed – Faster merging and masking performance, improvement in RAW image processing.
* Lens Correction and Transform tools, as well as image flip and rotate will be available in the Mac version at launch, and arrive in the PC version with the first free update in the beginning of October. Other tools and features that are currently available for Mac only would be added to PC version by the end of the year.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

How to earn money from your photography.

At some point or other, if you are keen photographer, you may have thought about making some money from what can be a very expensive hobby. One of the ways to do this is to get into stock photography. Now, in case you wonder what all this is about, here is the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses.[1] The stock photo industry, which began to gain hold in the 1920s,[1] has established models including traditional macrostock photography,[2] midstock photography,[3] and microstock photography.[4] Conventional stock agencies charge from several hundred to several thousand American dollars per image, while microstock photography may sell for around USD 25 cents.[4] Professional stock photographers traditionally place their images with one or more stock agencies on a contractual basis,[1] while stock agencies may accept the high-quality photos of amateur photographers through online submission.[5]

If you think that your photographs are good enough, this can be a way to recoup some of the money you have spent on your hobby. Not many people get rich this way, but you can make an income that may or may not cover all your costs but could help to some degree in paying for your equipment, travel costs and internet connection.

One of the many ways to get into stock photography is via an app on your smartphone. In fact, some photographers only submit photos taken on their smartphones and that is perfectly acceptable to some stock libraries. One of these is EyeEm and I myself have over 1,000 images on their site (see image above). You can also upload images from your computer as well as from your smartphone.

As well as EyeEm there is also Foap and I am sure there others. You can also join Adobe Stock to sell not just photos but graphics, video, type and other graphic related items. Adobe Stock has the advantage that you can upload directly from within Lightroom etc.

Check out my premium images on EyeEm here.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Photolemur is now available on PC and Mac!

Photolemur is an innovative and fully automated program for getting perfect photos. It is now available on both Mac and PC. Photolemur works by automatically analysing your images and doesn't require you to do any manual editing.

Designed for anyone who takes photos., you just drag and drop your image onto the program and leave the rest to Photolemur. Using artificial intelligence, smart tech and a bit of magic, Photolemur doesn’t rely on hard-coded filters or presets. Rather, by applying specific targeted enhancements to every pixel and object in your photo, it will automatically come up with the best result possible. Photolemur is powered by artificial intelligence that recognizes objects, faces, trees, sky, foliage and more; distinguishes between portraits, landscapes and macro photographs; and applies the appropriate enhancements for each type of image.

Why not check out the video above that will introduce you to what may just be the most innovative photo editor out there. You can purchase Photolemur for just $30 (single install) or $50 for the family edition (up to 5 installs). Click here now. 
Get the Free Version with watermark and no batch export.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How the X-T2 performed at Clacton-on-Sea Airshow 2017

After Silverstone, the next event on my hit-list was an airshow. As it happens, living in Colchester, we have the Clacton Airshow on our doorstep. So, I just went along for the first day on 24th August. I did originally intend to go both days and stay for the evening flights on Thursday. However, I decided not to do so. One reason was that the programme for both days is essentially the same, at least for the daylight period. The only difference between the two days was that on Friday there was planned to be an appearance by a Hurricane. Another reason I left after the daylight programme on Thursday and missed out on the night flights was that I had foolishly not taken something to sit on. As a result, I was suffering a great deal of pain in my spine (I have osteoarthritis) and needed a good lie down.

Having said all that, I had a great time at the airshow and to say it's a free event, its great value for money. Of course, I had to drive there, so there were fuel costs and parking (£6 all day) to fork out but that's nothing really. I did also buy an official programme for £5. I also came away with a lot of shots I am very happy with.

Now, in terms of an event like an airshow, lens choice is important. For me though, there was no choice as I currently only have one lens, the FUJINON LENS XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR. I also have the FUJINON TELECONVERTER XF1.4X TC WR and together these equate to 106mm to 298mm. I do have two Carl Zeiss lenses for the Contax G camera (a 28mm and a 90mm) that I can use with an adapter ring. However, these would not suffice for capturing images of fast moving aircraft as they are manual focus and too short a focal range.

As it was, I was wishing I had bought the FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR instead as it would have been more useful. It would have given me the equivalent of 152-609mm in the 35mm film format, without the T/C. However, when photographing more than one aircraft, the 50-140mm with T/C was perfect. I shall definitely be saving up for the 100-400mm though as it will prove useful for the kind of subjects I want to photograph more these days, such as wildlife, aircraft in flight and motorsports.
So, overall, how pleased was I with my X-T2 kits? Well, let's start with the negatives first.

  1. Even with the booster grip (i.e. 3 batteries), I found that I was down to just 3 bars on the last battery by the end of the day. Granted I took over 5,000 images and used 3 64GB cards, but in terms of time, the first shot was taken at 10:02 am and the last one at 16:59 pm. That's about 7 hours. If I was shooting professionally I would definitely have a second set of three batteries charged up and ready for use.
  2. I did have a couple of glitches with the camera (this happened at Silverstone too). After taking a series of shots, the camera froze and became completely unusable. However, I have discovered a workaround that is 100% successful. As I was using the booster grip, I loosened it until the camera unfroze and then tightened it up again. I think that the lock-up was due to the grip not being absolutely tight and certainly, after I did this for the second time, making sure it was as tight a fit as possible, I had no further problems. I don't believe this is a firmware update I am still on ver 2.00). I will now update to the latest and see if the problem reoccurs.
In terms of positive:
  1. Weight - although the combination of camera, lens, booster drive, 3 batteries and the t/c is quite hefty, I didn't find the weight too much of an issue. Granted I was sat down for periods (after the tide came in and I had abandoned the beach, I sat on the steps to the beach) and not walking around all day with the camera around my neck.
  2. Ease of use - the design of the X-T2 (other X-Series cameras) is a real boon for the photographer. By setting up my custom commands beforehand and by setting the ISO to A, the lens to A and unlocking the shutter speed dial, I was able to change shutter speed without taking my eye away from the viewfinder. This is really useful when trying to capture fast moving jets with a big zoom lens!
  3. The speed of autofocus is almost instant. Granted it failed on occasion but that is down to me and my lack of experience at panning whilst looking through the viewfinder at a jet travelling laterally across my field of view!
  4. Aperture is fixed throughout the zoom range. This means that the viewfinder is bright and this makes life a lot easier than say if I was using a lens that went from, say, F4.5-F6.0.
So, here are some shots I took on the day. Obviously, they are a small selection and I will be putting up a gallery on my Flickr page in the near future with many more images.

Giant wind turbines offshore

Sign of the times - more plastic in our oceans!

Boats stand ready to rescue anyone in trouble.

Lots of seabirds joined in the aerial displays!

Crowds transfixed by the Tigers Parachute Display Team.

More amazing stunts by the Tigers!

Yes this is genuine and not photoshopped!

Yes, they did land in the sea! Due to delays, the tide had come in so they got wet. They are soldiers so they are used to it.

Once the tide came in all those folk on the beach (me included) had to find somewhere else to watch the dispalys from.

Didn't realise it at the time but this seabird decided he wanted in on the picture too! The two planes in the background are D.H. Vampires FB.52's.

Here they are again, this time without some seabird trying to steal their glory!

A couple of locals in their inflatable.

Members of the Twister Aerobatic Team in their Silence Twister Aircraft.

The tow D.H. Vampires in formation with a Mig-15!

So, overall, I am extremely happy with how my X-T2 kit performed, despite one or two minor niggles. Hope you like the photos and if you ever have the chance to go to the Clacton Air Show do take the opportunity. Just remember to take something to sit on!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Sunset over Abberton. Greetings cards with original photography.

Sunset over Abberton Card
Sunset over Abberton Card
by celtxian

If you like my images why not consider buying some greetings card with them on? They come blank inside so you customise them before printing. You can whatever message (even your own images) to them and they are suitable for all sorts of occasions. Click on the link above and check out my store on Zazzle. you will find literally hundreds of products. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

How to use the Dehaze tool in Lightroom to improve your images.

The Dehaze tool in Lightroom can be found in the Effects panel in Lightroom. Its a very useful tool and can make a dramatic difference to how your final images look. So, what is it exactly and how do you use it?

Well, the clue is in the name, "dehaze". Yes, it reduces haze and fog in an image to bring back the colours that have been desaturated by atmospheric haze or fog. So, whenever you have an image where the colours look a bit flat due to atmospheric haze or fog, try using the dehaze to remove the haze or fog.

Another use for the tool can be to actually add haze or fog to an image. Now why do that you might be thinking? Well, with portraits, used sparingly, it can help soften an image, adding a low-key effect to the image. It doesn't work with every image and you will probably need to use a mask its effect is restricted to just the face of your subject. Also, you may want to turn a bright and clear day into one that looks like it was a foggy one!

So, what about images that don't have haze or fog in them, does the dehaze have anything to offer? Well, in my own experience it does. It's great at adding punch to an image and with skies, it has a similar effect as a polarising filter does. In fact, I am finding myself using it in lots of my images, not just to remove atmospheric haze but to boost contrast in the mid-tones, something that is not always easy to do using other tools such as contrast or the back slider in the Tone panel.

Here is a "before" and "after" pair of images where I used the Dehaze tool.


Now, I rarely use the Dehaze tool at 100% as in the second image above (check out the bottom right of the screenshot). You can see that the sky is much more vibrant, the clouds have more definition. It has also darkened the shadows and this may or may not require some adjustment using the Blacks and Shadows sliders in the Tone panel.

Personally, I would dial down the Dehaze setting, adjusting bit by bit, all the while keeping an eye on the preview until I am happy with the result. I would use the Dehaze tool before any other tool and then once I am happy with its effect, I would then adjust the Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation tools until I was happy with the result. Sharpening and Noise Reduction would be left until last. All the while I would be checking the result at 100% to make sure no artefacts have been introduced.

Note: If there are spots in your image (either because of dust on an original negative/slide you have scanned or on the sensor if using digital), then the Dehaze tool will bring them up and you will then need to use the retouching tool (in Lightroom that would be Spot Removal - Q key).

So, here is the final image after I have applied all the corrections I wanted to.

Settings used were: Dehaze +75, Clarity +25 and Auto Tone.

How good is Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018?

Yesterday I posted about the upcoming release of Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018. Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order on September...