Tuesday, December 19, 2017

First impressions of Fujifilm's Fujifilm X RAW Studio

I have been using Fujifilm's X RAW Studio app for a few days now. In that time I have started to get a feel for the software and in the process find some issues that need fixing if it is ever going to be an integral part in my workflow for editing Fuji RAW files.

The first issue I came across is that if you choose to show the Jpegs (after you convert a RAW file) then the display takes you to the resulting file. The problem is that it also places the resulting Jpeg at the very end of the filmstrip. This means you have to scroll back to where you were before you converted the file in order to process the next RAW image.

This can be very time consuming if you have lots of images to convert. Also, there is no easy way to scroll back, so you end up dragging the slider at the bottom, if you can see it, that is. I found a workaround for this though. If you choose not to show the Jpeg files in the filmstrip, then you won't have to keep scrolling sideways to get back to where you were.

It also has a tendency to disappear at times. Also, if you are using the software on a Mac the dock will often popup before you can grab the slider and get back to where you were. 

Another issue I found was that when you choose an image to convert in the filmstrip at the bottom, no image appears in the main window. You have to click again on the preview and even then it doesn't  appear. At times the application will crash. Here is a screenshot:

Yet another issue I found was that if you selected a group of RAW files to apply a profile to it didn't always apply it to all the images selected. It would convert a selected group into Jpegs but not with your chosen profile applied as well.


Fujifilm's X RAW Studio is the best option (other than processing your RAW files in camera) for preserving Fuji's lovely Film Simulations when converting to Jpeg. Yes it has its issues and hopefully Fuji will sort these out soon in the next update. The fact that you can use your Fuji X series camera to process your RAW files for free is a handy option to have. It would be nice if you could leave them on the SD card in your camera rather have to first save them to your hard drive or put your SD card into a SD reader (or the SD slot on your Macbook if you have one with it).

Whether the application will develop into the 'go to' one for converting your Fuji RAW files into Jpegs, only time will tell. If Fuji update it as fast as they issue firmware updates for their X-Series cameras, then I could see it becoming a regular part of my workflow when it comes editing RAW files from my Fujifilm X-T2.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

How would you like 70% off plus $102 in bonuses? DISCOUNT CODE FOR 15% OFF TOO!

Photolemur is the fastest and easiest way to make all your photos automatically great - instantly. From now on you can spend more time taking photos and less time editing them.

Photolemur 2.2 Spectre is on offer until 28th December. You can by a single licence or a family one. The single licence has been reduced to just $24.99 (15% off) and the family licence for 5 devices has been reduced to $29.99 (40% off). However if you buy the family licence and the bonuses pack at just $45, you get 70% off and the bonuses are worth $102.

So, if you want to benefit from this offer you need to do so before the 28th Dec 2017. If you want to know more before you decide, then check out the web site here.

Discount code for 15% OFF is PHOTOCHRISTMAS15

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How would you like to get your hands on the perfect photo editing solution for Christmas?

Macphun, the developers of Luminar 2018, have another great deal on offer. Luminar 2018 is now available with some great bonuses. You can also get an extra discount by using the discount code NEWBELTANE.

Here is a list of what you get and details about the price:

Offer Availability: 

The Luminar 2018 Holiday offer is now live and available until December 31


  • Current users of Luminar may upgrade at a Black Friday price of $49 ($39 with your coupon code)
  • New users can purchase Luminar 2018 for $69 ($59 with your coupon code
  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.


  • The Shootkit ebook
  • Preset pack: 20 Festive Texture Presets
  • 500+ Sky overlays for Sky replacement
  • Video tutorial "How to replace Sky in Luminar" 

EXTRA Bonus:

“Capture: Adventures in Photography” ebook by Simon & Lisa Thomas, the world’s foremost adventure motorcyclists

If you are not familiar with Luminar 2018, here is a brief outline of it's features:

Luminar 2018 is a universal all-in-one photo app designed to offer everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing. Luminar features advanced controls that are easy to use. Intelligent filters like Accent AI make it easy to get a great-looking image in seconds. Users will also benefit from new intelligent filters and real-time noise removal. With default and custom adaptive workspaces tailored to match styles of shooting, and scores of one-click categorized presets, Luminar delivers a complete experience that avoids clutter and complexity. Experience it today at www.macphun.com

Don't forget to use the discount code NEWBELTANE to get an extra $10 off!

Also, you check out my Introduction Luminar 2018 videoes on YouTube below.

Monday, December 11, 2017

How to have your cake and eat in when it comes to Stock photography

When it comes to making money from your photography there are several ways to do so.

  1. Shoot weddings
  2. Have a studio and shoot portraits, family groups and pets
  3. Have a studio and do product shots, food photography and the like
  4. Become an events photographer
  5. Specialise in doing headshots for celebs, company execs or models
  6. Become a fine art photographer and make galleries you main market
  7. Do environmental photography e.g. shooting industrial subjects
  8. Do advertising campaigns for companies, the media (editorials) and brands etc
  9. Landscapes and travel photography, for magazines, travel agencies, tourist boards etc
  10. Stock photography, specialising in a particular image style or subject
I have probably missed out some area but these are the most popular choices for the photographer and others such as forensic photographer or medical photographer ae very specialised and opportunities will be few and far between. I haven't mentioned teaching which is generally a paid role and you are using your experience to earn money rather than selling your images etc.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to make money from your photography. All of them require commitment from you in terms of time, energy and resources. It is highly unlikely you will become rich and famous overnight, if ever, when you start out in your chosen field.

Yes, some photographers seem to cover more than one area but for most of us it will by specialising in one area that we will have some measure of success and hopefully, make a living from it. Those who succeed in more than one area are rare individuals and there is an element of luck in their success. So often, when you look into how a great photographer found success you will find that they were in the right place at the right time, or they met a key individual or landed a key commission which eventually led on to greater success. Such individuals may, for example, start off as photojournalist and find later on in life that they are in demand for editorial images for a top newspaper or magazine. Or they may find themselves being offered an opportunity to shoot for a big brand as a result of them becoming known for a certain style.

So, what was I saying, oh yes, how to have your cake and eat in when it comes to stock photography. Now, this phrase is actually not as straightforward as it might seem. Over almost 500 years there has been quote a bit of debate on the actual meaning of the phrase and even on the correct way to say it. Is it 'have' before the 'eat it' or the other way around? Up until about 1935 it was 'cake' before 'have' but now it's generally said with the 'have your cake' coming first.

As well as how it is spoken and written, there has been lots of debate over the actual meaning, especially as, in English, to 'have' can also mean 'eat'! An example would be "I am going to have my cake now rather than later." All very confusing but then English has lots of things to confuse anyone learning it.

So, what do I mean by it? Well, I mean this by it: you can be a photographer who shoots lots of images that fall into many of the areas I listed above and at the same time make money by licensing your images through a stock library - sort of having your cake and eating it!

Also, if you want a bigger slice of the cake (see where I am going with this.. clever eh?) by using a stock agency (library) that pays you more of the royalties earned by your images than other agencies. Not only that, if you also bring in referrals, you will earn extra cash. I am taking here about Picfair who are a relatively newcomer to the world of stock photography. On average most stock agencies (libraries) will only pass onto you @ 25% -30% of the royalties. Picfair work differently in that they add 20% to the fee you set for your images so that you get more from the royalties. The image below shows an example of how this works.

So, if you want a bigger slice of the cake, or indeed, have your cake and eat it then head on over to Picfair's site and sign up.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Free entry to Christmas Competition with fantastic prizes!

Over at the ePHOTOzine web site you can enter the Christmas Prize Draw for free and win fantastic prizes. Just sign up for their free membership and you can enter for free each day. You can even enter for the the days you missed, how about that!

You can enter for the TIPA Award-Winning BenQ SW2700PT Monitor - a great monitor if you are serious about editing your images whilst ensuring the accuracy of the colours you see on the screen.

Earlier days' prizes include a fantastic D5600 kit complete with a DX 18-55mm len and the Canon EOS M5 + Zoom lens EF-M 14-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM + Mount Adapter EF-EOS M!

You can enter here and don't forget to visit each day to have a chance of winning one of the many great prizes.

Friday, December 08, 2017

First look at Aurora HDR 2018 from Macphun/Skylum, voted the Best App of 2017 by Apple!

Aurora HDR 2018 is the latest version of Macphun's HDR editor. In case you are wondering why the title has Macphun/Skylum that is because the developers are changing their name from Macphun to Skylum to reflect the fact that their two flagship applications (Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2018) are now both available on Mac and Windows.

So, if you are not familiar with Aurora HDR 2018 then let me give you a quick introduction. We will start with what the developers say.
"The most advanced and complete high dynamic range photo editor ever created is coming soon to a Mac and PC near you. 
We’ve listened intently, and developed new Aurora HDR 2018 — a tool that will deliver an unrivaled HDR excellence whether your style is realistic or ultra-creative."
 You may already know or have now realised that the HDR in the software's name stands for "high dynamic range". Now, if you have come across some HDR images online you may have decided that HDR is not for you and that's perfectly understandable if all we are talking about are those images that look somewhat unreal and where the image has the appearance of all filters were applied at maximum levels!

Now I am not saying that these type of images are terrible... each to his own. Personally I prefer more subtle enhancements to my images, like the one above. Now you may think the image is just a normal correctly exposed image of the centre of Leeds. I did runit through Aurora HDR 2018 and I will go through the steps now, starting with the original image.

So, the first you probably noticed that the original hasn't got a level horizon and you'd be right. So, that was practically the first thing I sorted. Once that was done I had a good look at the image and decided that it looked a bit dull and lacking in contrast, without enough detail in the shadows. Here is the image opened up in Aurora HDR 2018.

As you can see, I am just using the one image and not the typical 3 or more images (same pov but different exposures, usually at + and - 1.0 EV either side). The software informs me that it will use Tone Mapping to create the HDR image. I then clicked the 'Create HDR' button to continue.

Once loaded into the software you are presented with the usual graphical user interface. The image is in the main window, whilst you have presets at the bottom and various tools and filter option on the right.

Zooming in on the bottom left of the screen you can see that the Preset group that is loaded is the 'Realistic HDR' group and that the first two presets in this group are 'Realistic & balanced' and 'Realistic Bright'.

Having a look around the rest of the screen we can find the zoom tool at the top. Here you can choose one of the defaults (such as 100%) or use the '-' and '+' buttons to either zoom in and out manually. Here a screenshot.

Moving on, let's take a closer look at the image. Here I have zoomed into the bottom right of the image.

I wanted to check that things were looking sharp and to see if there was any noise in that part of the image. Satisfied, I then looked at the 'before' and 'after' because on opening the file. Aurora had applied a basic tone mapping to the image. If you look at the right-hand panel you will see it says 'HDR Basic'. In the screenshot below you can see I am using the 'compare' tool so we can move the vertical line left and right so we can see what the effect has been.

As it has only applied a basic HDR effect there isn't a great deal of difference between the 'before' and 'after' images.

At the top right of the workspace you will see an icon highlighted in yellow. That is the button to hide or reveal the presets panel at the bottom of the workspace. Handy if you want to focus on the image without distractions as the image will enlarge to fill the window space that the presets panel had occupied. The shortcut for hiding or revealing the presents panel is the TAB key.

So, I have decided to apply the 'Realistic & Balanced' preset which as you can see is the very first preset on the left. You will also notice that there is a slider for how strongly you want to apply the preset. Currently it's set to 100 but you could set it anywhere between 0 and 100, though 0 is a bit superfluous as that is the same as not applying the preset in the first place!

Here is the image but with the 'compare' tool in use so we can judge the impact of the preset on the image. As I said earlier, you can move the vertical bar left or right across the image to check the whole image and decide if you like the impact the preset has made.

Also, in the right-hand panel you can tweak lots of different settings so you can, in effect, start with one of the presets, tweak it's settings to your liking and save that as a users preset' for future use and save yourself plenty of time if you have lots of images that we taken in the same light and are not too different from your original image.

Here is a screenshot with the vertical 'compare' tool over to the left so you can have a better idea of the impact of the preset on the rest of the image.

Note: if you decide you don't like the changes you can restart. There are a three of ways to do this. One is to use the 'Reset All Filters' option in the right-hand panel (see screenshot below). The other is to use the 'Undo' tool at the top (the curly arrow icon) or to use the 'History' tool which is just to the right and looks like a clock.

Note: Under the 'Reset All Filters' option you will see that it says "Save Filters Preset". If you had tweaked the filters applied to your image and wanted to create your very own preset then this is where you find the option to do so.

Here is a screenshot showing you the 'History' button and the various steps taken so far. You can undo them all or just go back a few steps using this tool.

So, moving on, I have applied the chosen preset and I am thinking of saving the image and have my choice applied. However, having looked at the image at 100% and checking the corners, I decide that I want to revert back to my original image and choose a different preset. That is why in the screenshot above you can see that the 'Original' option is selected. Once I have done that I then choose the 'Sharp & Crisp' preset. Here is a screenshot of my image with that applied and I am using the 'compare' tool to assess the impact of the preset at 100%.

Before I move on, I just wanted to talk about cropping your image. As I mentioned at the start, my image is a bit wonky. The 'Transform' tool is found near the top of the right-hand panel, looking like a trapezium shape. BTW the icon to the right that looks like the focal blades of a camera lens is for doing lens corrections, another handy tool if you lens has barrel or pincushion distortion.

Once you select the 'Transform' tool you are presented with the familiar tools.

So, you will see the list of options under 'Transform' are quite comprehensive and similar to what you room or would find in most photo editors like Lightroom, Photoshop, Affinity etc. In this image I need to level off the image so I use the 'Rotate' option to rotate the image anti-clockwise by a modest amount. In this case I choose a setting of -20.

I am happy with that as this image has lots of verticals and if you look at the buildings on the left the verticals match the grid.

In this screenshot you can see I applied the rotation to my image and then hidden the bottom panel (presets) and the right-hand panel (Filters etc). You can see that the software has automatically trimmed my image to get rid of the grey bits, unlike say. Lightroom would (if you select that option and why wouldn't you?).

So, now we have to crop our image using the 'Crop' tool, which can be found at the right side of the toolbar at the top.

Before I cropped the image I did a final check of the image at 100% paying particular attention to the corners. I noticed there was some noise in the image and decided I needed to use the 'Noise' tool.

In this screenshot you can see some colour noise in the clouds.

So, I went to the Noise option in the right-hand panel. You will have to scroll down through the various tools to come to the HDR Denoise options. Once there you will see that the three sliders are set as follows:

Amount = 0, Smooth = 100 and Boost = 0.

I increased Amount to 50, left Smooth at 100 and increased Boost to 50.

I was happy with the effect on the noise in the image and went on to crop the image to get rid of those grey areas as a result of applying the rotate option under the Transform tool options.

So, we are all done, at least as far as this image is concerned. I simply had to save the final image to my hard drive using the 'Export' tool at top right.

as you can see, you can export the image to your hard drive or to various social media or online communities such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or 500px.

Once that is all done you just to the Close menu and don't choose the option to save any changes as you don't want you original to be over-written. You never know you might want to revisit it and try a different set of presets on it!

Thanks for reading and please take the time to visit my Patreon page by clicking on the button below.

Finally, you can get Aurora HDR 2018 at a reduced price with some free bonuses as well. Just use this link here: Aurora HDR 2018 Deal! or click on any of the images. The app has been voted by Apple as the best App of 2017!

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Looking for fresh graphics then jump onboard the Template Train!

There are so many sources of great graphics on the web that it can be somewhat bewildering. That's why I tend to use the same sources most of the time. However, I recently came across another one to add to my shortlist of places to get my graphics from, both paid and free.

If you are looking for fresh content when it comes to graphics why not check out Template Train.

As well as graphics they have the usual mix of powerpoint and keynote themes, business card templates, flyers and fonts etc.

I am confident you will find something that is useful to you. Just remember to sign up to their newsletter to hear about freebies that become available on a regular basis.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

3 things to know about Hygge time

Hygge is a Danish word of Norwegian origin. According to the dictionary:

A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)

‘why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?’
as modifier ‘count on candlelight—almost a requirement for that special hygge experience’

Hygge has become popular over here in the UK. Whether we have quite got it is yet to be decided. For some folk it’s just another of those fancy trends that catch on for a while before disappearing. I’m not so sure. It has lots of appeal for anyone who is stressed out by everyday life, the over-whelming consumerism (what with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday who isn’t all Amazoned out!) and the onslaught of digital information spewing forth from every possible direction.

For me, it harks back to the days when we wanted nothing more than snuggling up to a loved one, slippers on, blanket across the legs, a roaring log (or coal) fire casting it’s warmth across the room and sipping a hot choclate whilst we listen to some favourite LP. yes, those days did exist because that is what my life was like, before mobile phones, computers, 2000 TV channels and to watch a new film you had to go to an actual cinema!

So, in conclusion, here are 3 things to know about Hygge:

  1. It is pronounced 'hooga’
  2. It translates roughly to "cosiness,” but has a much deeper meaning
  3. The high season of hygge is Christmas. Danes are pretty secular but when it comes to religious holidays, they pull out the stops.

So, there are just 3 things you may not have known about Hygge.... to learn more why not visit the official site here.

She has a voice to die for! Listen and tell me it isn't so!

Holly Macve has a beautifully warm-toned voice that straight away brings an inner glow and soothes away the blues. trust me you will want to hear more once you hear this track. Check her out on Soundcloud. You won't be disappointed.. unless you are more into something with jagged edges and music that grates instead of soothing.

It’s Hygge time on Creative Market!

Powered by Creative Market

What's in the package:

• 53 hygge elements - ai, eps, png with transparent background
• 52 hygge florals - ai, eps and png with transparent background
• 37 hygge decorative - ai, eps, png with transparent background
• 20 patterns - ai, eps, png with transparent background - 3600 x 3600 px - 300 dpi


• Vector - Adobe Illustrator CS3 or newer. Also vector files in format EPS 8 may be used in other vector programs. Check software your program.
• Raster - Adobe Photoshop. Also raster files in PNG format may be used in other photo editing programs. Check software your program.

Quick intro to Luminar 2018's Batch Processing feature

Luminar 2018 offers a Batch Processing option when you start the software up, as can be seen on the screenshot above. So, what is 'batch processing' exactly? Well, we are going to have a very quick intro to help you decide if it is a feature you might use.

Now the name tells us something about its purpose - to process your images in batches. The key word here is 'processing'. Its not a bulk opening feature in the sense that you have a set of images you wish to preload and then work on them one by one. No, this is a way of using Luminar 2018 almost on 'auto'. Let me show what you see when you click on that button.

So, I hit the 'Batch processing' button, located some images I wanted to batch process and this is what I see once Luminar 2018 has loaded them all. Now you can click the 'Continue' button to go to the next stage or you can click the button on the left labelled 'Add More Images' in case you want to add other images from a different location to those already imported.

So, once you click the 'Continue' button you should see something like this:

Right away you can that you have lots of options to choose from. On the left we have a panel labelled 'Batch processing Presets' with Default settings listed first. These are 'Web JPEG' and 'For Email'. Under 'User' there is nothing but if you wish you can create your own mix of settings as a preset and it will show up in this panel under the 'User' heading. I chose 'Web JPEG.

To right of this panel is the main window with various options grouped under various headings. 

We have:

  • Export Location
  • Luminar Presets
  • File Settings
  • Image settings
  • File Naming
These are all pretty obvious and I am not really going to cover them in any depth as you can probably work them for yourself. So, moving on....

So, in the screenshot above you can see I choose the location where I want to store my images once processed. I have then moved on to the Luminar presets section and chosen from the popup Aerial Inspired by DJI. These are presets that are inspired by the increasingly popular drone shots.

Having chosen my preset I then moved onto the next step.

So, Having decided on the 'Inspired by DJI' preset I then chose the 'Aerial Awesomer' Preset from that group.

Next, under 'File Settings' I increased the JPEG quality to 100 as the default is 87. I left the colour profile as sRGB.

Moving on to 'Image Settings', I changed the 'Long Edge' setting to 1920 as the images I have loaded are snapshots from some 4K video I shot at Clacton Airshow 2017. I left 'Sharpen' at 'None' and left the 'Don't Enlarge' box ticked. This makes sure you don't accidentally end up enlarging an image and ending up with a pixelated image.

In the 'File Naming' section I added a suffix of 'edit'. The software shows you an example of how your filename would look. You see how mine looked below.

Once you are done making your choices you then click the 'Process' button. The software will then start processing your batch of images, using the presets you have chosen.

Now it is important for me to emphasise that it is a good idea to try out the various presets to get a good idea of their effect as the end result will depend on the type of image you are editing and the actual preset effects. I recommend importing a single image from the group of images you wish to batch process and editing that in the main program to get an idea of the impact of your chosen preset. I'd also ensure the set of images you wish to batch process are similar to one another, with similar lighting etc.

Once you click that 'Process' button things start to move fast (or not so fast if your images are large, or your computer is not so fast!).

In the image above you can that the software is busy processing the first of my images. After a period of time it will complete the processing and you will see something like this:

As you can see, it has finished processing your batch of images. Click the 'OK' button and check out the end result. Now, as I pointed out earlier, it's important both to do a trial run with an image and the preset you wish to use. Otherwise you may end up with mixed results. Check out the screenshot below.

So having completed batch processing my set of images, I then looked them using Finder (on Mac) and right away you can see that there is a marked difference between the shots. This is because I didn't try out the preset on a single image first.

Remember that in the main program (i.e. choose 'Open Image' rather than 'Batch Processing') you can save your chosen settings to a user preset and use that later when running the 'Batch Processing' feature.

Well, that about raps it up. If you would like to check out more tips and walkthroughs please visit my Patreon page by clicking on the button below. 

Thanks and take care.

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First image published in Inspired Eye Photography magazine!

Inspired Eye is a great digital magazine with @ 200 pages each issue. It is chock full of inspirational images and interviews! Very few adverts as well. Why not check it out (link at end of post).

I was pleased to have my very first submission included in the latest issue. Here it is on the page and in close-up.

If you want to sign up for the magazine the subscription is very reasonable. You can find out all about the magazine by visiting their site here.

Olivier Duong is the co-creator of Inspired Eye and he and his partner created the site in order to develop your eye, your heart and your mind as a photographer. You can also check out my Patreon post on the magazine here.

Thanks for reading and please revisit as I post most days (usually longer posts than this but it's late and I need my beauty sleep!

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