Tuesday, November 05, 2019

One site you should visit if you are passionate about photography

When I started out in photography there was no internet, no smartphones and no personal computers. If you wanted to advance your knowledge about all things related to photography you either read magazines and books or you joined a photography club. If you were lucky, as I was, you met someone who was a 'professional' photographer who was willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. In my case I became friends with someone who was older than me who was an experienced photographer who was studying for an MA in Photography. He also had his own darkroom, something I took full advantage of. I learned a tremendous amount from him, and his wife too, who was herself a theatre set designer. They not only shared their knowledge about photography, art and the creative arts but encouraged me and gave positive feedback on my images.

So, where is this all leading? Well, today we have a whole world of resources available to us as photographers. Yes we still have books and magazines, photography clubs and courses but we also have the world wide web. In many ways there is just too much information out there and at times it is difficult to sort the frankly rubbish out from the really useful stuff. How does one effectively get the most out of what is available on web sites, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and the many other platforms out there?

Well, I have a suggestion. Visit LensCulture 


As you can see from the screenshot, LensCulture has been around 15 years, involves millions of photographers from around the whole world and provides lots of resources for photographers. More importantly, it's a place you can receive positive feedback on your photography from other photographers, gallery owners and other creative professionals. For me this is the greatest resource the site offers. It's not easy to get a professional portfolio review unless you are studying photography at an institution or have an agent but when you enter competitions on the LensCulture site you get a comprehensive portfolio review of your submission. If you would like to read the review of my own portfolio to see an example of what you get you can read it here.

LensCulture also has free resources including guides. Currently you can download a free guide on how to get the most out of competitions. You can download it here


LensCulture also has plenty of inspirational articles showcasing the work of photographers from all over the world. There are also book reviews and interviews and publish The Best of LensCulture  book annually which showcases dozens of photographers. All of this can help you develop your own photography and discover your own style. If you visit one site today I recommend you visit LensCulture.

Finally, Luminar 4 is coming soon and if you would like to benefit from pre-order bonuses then click on the image below.

Pre-orders include a bonus one-year plan to SmugMug (worth US$180) and costs US$79 for a new purchase and US$69 for an upgrade. When released on November 18, the price will jump to US$89 new and US$69 for an upgrade.

Declaration: I am a beta-tester for Luminar 4 and an affiliate. By clicking on the image above I will receive a small payment if you pre-order Luminar 4. I use Luminar 4 myself and although I use Adobe Creative Cloud not every photographer has access to it and indeed needs all the tools Photoshop and Lightroom offer. In that case you may well find Luminar offers everything you need in an easy to use, affordable package that nevertheless has a whole toolbox that can help take your photography to the next level.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Pembrokeshire, Wales is a stunning location for photography.

Recently I went on a week's holiday with a friend to Pembrokeshire, Wales (sadly cut short due to me going down to a nasty throat and chest infection). We went hoping to get some decent photographs of the local landscape and wildlife and were planning a boat trip around Ramsey Island.

We stayed in an Airbnb near Haverfordwest that was a working farm and at the start of the week the weather was good. After a few days the weather took a turn for the worse, as did my health, but we did manage to get some nice images before that happened and to enjoy some Welsh hospitality.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has lots to offer all year round including fantastic scenery with fabulous beaches, rocky coves, surfing hotspots, heritage sites such as St David's Cathedral, castles and Neolithic monuments.

St David's Cathedral
Here is a shot of St David's Cathedral which dates back to the 12th Century. It is well worth a visit and whilst there we attended a Sunday morning service which was not only beautiful but very uplifting. St David's (the city) is small place named after the patron saint of Wales, Saint David. The place's history goes back to the 5th century, when St David lived there.

Porth Clais

Porth Clais is a pretty little harbour on the south-western tip of the St David’s Peninsula. Once a trading port alive with industry, nowadays it’s a popular spot for kayakers, small boat owners and captivating coastal walks.


Monday, October 07, 2019

Luminar 4 Pre-lease Features: Sunrays. Discount code!

Luminar 4 has a Sunrays tool so you can add sun rays to your image, useful if on the day you took the photo the scene was dull or somewhat overcast. Along with the various other tools you can use Sunrays to create some interesting looks. Whether or not you prefer the end is result is a matter of personal choice.

In the example below I have taken a somewhat boring image (I can say that as I was the photographer!) and using the Sunrays tool, I have created something a lot more interesting. Now, of course, it isn't a true representation of what the actual scene was like on the day, though the sun did shine and it was an autumnal day, so it's not totally unreal.



Before image


After image


 Now, I did the editing in just a few minutes and intentionally exaggerated the effect to show what a difference the Sunrays feature can make. My personal preference is for something a little more subtle. I can envisage using the feature in my personal work in certain settings when I wanted a more dreamlike or romantic effect. What do you think?

BTW: You can pre-order Luminar 4 at a discount by clicking the ad below. If you buy the bundle that gives you Luminar 3 now, a collection of Luminar Looks and Luminar 4 when it is released, you can get an additional discount using my personal code newbeltane at checkout.




Tuesday, October 01, 2019

New Professional website!

Blogger is great for, well, blogging! However, a professional website is de rigueur for any self-respecting photographer, especially if you want to attract clients.

Over the years I have built my own portfolio sites using WordPress but this can be quite time-consuming. WordPress is great and I would still use it for a host of other types of site but I needed a professional portfolio site that would impress potential clients. Of course, there are several options out there such as having a Flickr Pro account or a Viewbug Pro account. I looked at these and several other options but in the end I went with PixelRights, who host professional websites for photographers with a host of features.

Rather than me spout on about them, here is what they say about themselves:
"Started by photographers looking to help other photographers.
Pixelrights believe it's high time to create something positive for our industry. Our generation has seen the largest and most interesting technological and cultural evolution within the photographic medium than any others before us. Affecting everyone from the photographer on the ground to the large image libraries and agencies. Pixelrights has used its unique position to draw on industry friendships and experience. We have shown that given the tools, photographers and their industry can adapt, move forward and create a post digital environment that is enriching for themselves.
We are here to help give photographers a stronger voice, simpler and more powerful tools, a fairer landscape and to create a collective of innovators from within our industry.


We are incredibly proud to be the only service of this kind focused on championing copyright awareness, inspiring and helping photographers from all backgrounds and all skill levels, and provide free access to our innovative and proactive image technology that increases your web traffic, attribution, security and sales."
So far, after some initial setup issues relating to me pointing my own domain (managed by a different company) my site is now live and 90% finished. Why not check it out and let me know what you think.

You will find it here at www.serendipity-photography.co.uk


BTW: You can pre-order Luminar 4 at a discount by clicking the ad below. If you buy the bundle that gives you Luminar 3 now, a collection of Luminar Looks and Luminar 4 when it is released, you can get an additional discount using my personal code newbeltane at checkout.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Luminar 4 - latest before and after images

I have been playing around with some of the new features in Skylum's Luminar 4 (pre-release) and I have another pair of before and after images to share with you. Firstly, here is the before image:


Now this is an image I took on my FujiFilm X-T2 using my FujiFilm 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens. I had the camera on a tripod and the exposure was ISO 6400, aperture f/5, shutter speed 1/60 sec and focal length 70mm (105mm full-frame equivalent).

As you can see the image is a little dark which was intentional as I didn't want to over-expose the bright lights on the container ship and docks. Even so, when checking I could see that some of the brightest light sources were clipped but as they appear small in the image you don't notice them when viewing normally.

Now, as I was shooting well after sunset I know that once I correct the exposure there will be noise in the image and I will need to do something about that.

So, once I boosted the exposure to lighten the image I had to use the Denoise tool to reduce the visibility of both Luminosity and Colour Noise in the image. However, this had too much of an impact on the details of the ship and docks so I used the masking option in the Denoise tool to mask out those areas of the image that I didn't want the Denoise effect to impact on. I then did some modest Sharpening to bring out more details in the ship and docks.

I tweaked a few other setting such as dialling back the shadows, using the AI Enhance Tool to improve the overall look of the image. After these tweaks this is the final image:


You do need to see the images at a larger size to appreciate the changes so do click here to see the larger versions. I know that there isn't a great deal of difference (when you view in the blog post) but do check the images out at the larger size on my Flickr page.

If you wish to pre-order Luminar 4 you can do so here: Luminar Pre-order at a Special Price.

Update: If you buy the bundle that gives you Luminar 3 now, a collection of Luminar Looks and Luminar 4 when it is released, you can get an additional discount using my personal code newbeltane at checkout.

In the meantime be sure to check back for my post showing before and after images using the A! Sky Replacement feature. It's pretty awesome!

Enter now!

Use this link: https://wn.nr/nNtpp6 to enter for a chance to win over $5,000 of cinematography gear!


Good luck!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Skylum Luminar 4 coming soon!


Luminar 4 is coming and with it will bring a host of new features! Check out the teaser video above.

I have been fortunate to be allowed early access and although we affiliates aren't allowed to show you the user interface yet(as it is still subject to last minuet changes) we can post before and after images, which I will do in another post very soon. However, before that, lets talk about some of the new features coming in Luminar 4.

Skylum brings AI-powered portrait and skin enhancement tools to Luminar 4

New human-aware tools to help photographers make portraits look amazing in less than 60 seconds —without the need for selections or masks.

AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer:

will enable photographers to further develop and improve their portraits. These tools use machine learning to speed up the process, but contain detailed controls for even the most demanding photo editor.Previously, photographers would have to spend timeselectively editing their photographs, manually adjusting various tools through selections and masking. With Luminar 4, these tedious tools are a thing of the past. Not only can photographers take advantage of the time savings through Luminar 4’s AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer tools, they can also sync the adjustments across multiple photos. The technology will adapt itself to each photograph, automatically fine-tuning the style of adjustments chosen by the photographer, making it work for each photo.

What is AI Skin Enhancer?

Thanks to the AI technology, faces and skin are automatically detected throughout a photo. AI Skin Enhancer allows photographers to automatically remove various skin imperfections like acne, freckles and moles, in addition to smoothing the skin. At the same time, skin pores and other small details like hair and eyelashes are preserved.Gone are the days of manually highlighting skin and face areas with tedious selections and masks. With AI Skin Enhancer, a person’s skin is retouched automatically, but you retain complete control over the strength of the improvement.Perfect for studio beauty shots or events like weddings, AI Skin Enhancer will help bring your creative vision to the forefront. Photographers can deliver a professional look in mere seconds that your portrait’s subject will never forget.

What is Portrait Enhancer?

Portrait Enhancer is a collection of tools that help improve the photo of any person in a natural, yet pleasing way. These tools are brand new to Luminar 4 making it now possible to highlight and improve primary features of a person’s face.

If you wish to pre-order Luminar 4 you can do so here: Luminar Pre-order at a Special Price.

In the meantime be sure to check back for my post showing before and after images using the A! Sky Replacement feature. It's pretty awesome!

Harwich across the Orwell from the beach at Landguard Point, Felixstowe ...





I recorded this from the beach near Landguard Point, Felixstowe. I used a Ricoh WG-M1 action camera that I bought cheaply in an auction "sold as seen" not knowing if I could get it to work or not. I did manage to do so and this is the first proper video I have recorded using it. It was recorded in 1080p at 30 fps in the Wide mode - hence the curved horizon. Next time I will try the medium mode (less wide-angle).



The viewpoint is across the River Orwell towards Harwich and at sunset. There is some flare in the lens due to it being pointed towards the setting sun but it helps give it a certain ambience. The sound track is "Feet on wood - the light descends", which I thought was appropriate. Its one a several tracks I got free from Cinema5D website a while ago. Check out their post here: https://www.cinema5d.com/filmstro-free-music-for-youtube-over-1000-royalty-free-music-tracks/



They also do great reviews and have regular news items about the industry so well-worth book-marking them.



Hope you enjoy my first foray into time-lapse video and I will be posting more soon. This time I filmed them on the Fuji X-H1.

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