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.

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