Category: Lensbaby

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software.

 Advantages to processing and developing your photos in the digital darkroom.

In today’s world, everything has to be instantaneous, there’s an app for everything, from monitoring your sleep to counting your calories.  We live in an instant world.

So, when it comes to Digital Camera Photo Editing SoftwareWhy?” I hear you say, would I want to bother when my camera or smartphone can take images which can be uploaded within a few seconds of being taken?

Using the Lensbaby Optic Swap System, having the capabilities to post process my images to create what I have visualised is priceless.  This is one of many reasons that I choose to use digital camera photo editing software.

As covered in my previous article (Click here for more information) most D-SLR cameras have the capacity to capture images in RAW mode which cannot be uploaded to your social media account but has the maximum amount of information in a digital photo for quality images.

This is where Digital Camera Photo Editing Software comes in.

This article is not intended to review photo editing software but instead, to help you grow your creativity as a photographer.  Everyone has their own opinion as to which is the best software, so I will leave that down to you to find what suits your needs.

A little bit of background information first of all.

In 2007, for my birthday I was lucky enough to receive a D-SLR in the form of my trusty Olympus E400.  I was a newcomer to digital photography, quite happily working in auto mode and snapping all of my photos as JPEG files.  As my confidence with the camera grew, I found that I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the images I was producing.

The Photography Institute provide a fantastic online course, covering every aspect of digital photography which was exactly what I was looking for.  So I signed up and over the following 8 months, completed the 12 modules and received my Diploma in recognition of my progress.

As a part of this course, you are expected to work with photo processing software.  Possessing a very early version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, I was armed and ready…or so I thought!

The first stumbling blocks appeared when asked to perform certain tasks as a part of the course – I couldn’t follow what was expected of me, or it took a lot longer and was a frustrating time.  I contacted my tutor and it became apparent how much had changed from Elements to Elements 8, which was the current software at that time.  Oops!

A swift purchase from Amazon rectified this and the rest, as they say, is history.  I was able to complete the course and realised that my idea of getting perfect images straight out of the camera was perhaps, too idealistic, being limited also by the presets that the manufacturers deem to be the benchmark for photos.

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software

Part of this course touched on Digital Camera Photo Editing Software and the importance of the digital darkroom as an introduction as there are numerous stand-alone courses offered by multiple different providers which delve much further into this.

To get the best quality image, it is highly recommended first of all to take your photos in Camera RAW.  From this, you are then able to import these into the computer and open using the digital camera photo editing software.

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software
Adobe Photoshop on Apple iMac

Personally, I use Adobe CS6,   Within CS6 there are a host of programs which include Photoshop and Lightroom.   This was the final edition that you could buy to install onto your home computer before Adobe launched their Creative Cloud system.

Whilst I see the advantages of this for portability and saving space on your hard drive, I also see the disadvantages, which if anything happened to Adobe’s server which hosts your files, could be catastrophic.  If you use cloud storage of any sort, it is worth backing up your cloud files locally to a storage device just in case.

Workflow

With digital camera photo editing software, you now need to establish your workflow routine to create shortcuts or presets to help you maximise your efficiency without impeding on your creativity.  There are many suggested ideas on the web, you will find your own workflow method as you gain confidence with your digital camera photo processing software.

Digital Camera Photo Processing Software
Opening RAW file with Photoshop (.ORF file extension)

The first part of your workflow will be to import your RAW files into your digital camera photo editing software.  From here you have the capacity to make many adjustments, to increase or decrease the exposure, adjust the clarity, crop, straighten and pull detail from the shadows.

As shown in the image below of Alfie, our cat, his eyes are not very well lit, there are a lot of shadows and dark areas present within this image which can be altered within my digital camera photo editing software.

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software
Adjustment sliders within the Editor mode.

And now the fun begins!

You can also apply a vignette, create an atmospheric black and white image, add noise/grain, create a masterpiece by adding layers, take multiple photos of a scene and by stitching them together turn them into a panoramic view.

For portrait photos, you can perform dodge and burn techniques to give greater depth to an image, or if you have used the flash in your photo, you can then remove the red eye effect.  The potential for creativity is limited only by your imagination and vision.

Adjusting the shadows, increasing the clarity and adjusting the exposure value slightly has lifted the image of Alfie.  Post editing, I have then selected the create Black and White image option as you can see in the screenshot below.

Alfie, post editing and converted to a black and white image.

Once you have finished your editing, personally I would recommend that you save the open files twice.  The first copies will be TIF files, the next will be in JPEG format.  A TIF file is too high a quality for uploading onto the internet but if you are turning your hobby into a business, are of the resolution that you would show to prospective clients within your portfolio.  The JPEG files can then be showcased on the internet.  Don’t forget to add a watermark with copyright information onto the JPEG files to protect your work.

It is worth mentioning here that a lot of camera manufacturers produce their own digital camera photo editing software which is included with the purchase of your camera.  Olympus, for example, supplied their Olympus Master Software with my E400 camera.  I have to confess that my experience with this was limited, having Adobe Photoshop Elements initially, progressing onto my current software within CS6.

There are numerous digital camera photo editing software programs freely available to download from the Internet.  Gimp is one which comes highly recommended, although again I have no experience of, I know people who have worked with this and are completely satisfied with this program.

Photo editing can be fun, relaxing and gives you something to do on a rainy afternoon.  If you ensure that you do not overwrite your original RAW files, you are able to revisit the same photo many times over, applying different editing techniques and effects, which is also a great benchmark to show you how your skills have improved.  It is also a great way of reviewing your work which will help you to improve as a photographer in the future.

For anyone using a mobile phone to take their photos, there are fun apps such as Snapchat which put a twist on the photo, but if you are looking for a more serious effect, Adobe Lightroom is currently available as a free download for mobile devices which I use on my Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and am very happy with the results.

With the use of digital camera photo editing software, you may then feel inspired to make some money from your hobby by becoming a freelance photographer, having your first image published is a wonderful feeling.

Digital Camera Photo Editing Software
The finished image with copyright applied as a watermark.

Please feel free to comment on what experiences you have with photo editing and I hope that you have enjoyed reading my article on Digital Camera Photo Editing Software.

 

RAW v JPEG Myth

RAW v JPEG Myth?

RAW v JPEG Myth or fact?

This is a contentious subject within the realm of digital photography, what type of file format should you take your photos in?  RAW v JPEG Myth or fact?

I’m not here to lecture you, only to explain the differences in these two types of file format.  The right choice is what works best for you.

Expanding on the RAW v JPEG Myth

Most D-SLR’s have the option to change the mode that the images are saved as within the camera.  The default factory setting is likely to be JPEG.  This is an excellent choice for someone who is new to photography, to enable them to get used to other settings and controls on their camera.

The file extension JPEG derives its name from the Joint Photographic Expert Group as a standard for images.  Full details can be found here for those of you interested in the background and technical information; it would be pure plagiarism for me to go in-depth to that degree.

However, to summarise the information on Wikipedia, JPEG files are flexible, you can determine what quality you wish to save your file as, which in turn determines the size of the file in storage terms.

This is illustrated in the photos above, the image on the left showing you how many photos I can store on my E400 using the lowest quality JPEG file, the one on the right, the highest quality RAW file.  This is using a 16Gb CF Card, the largest that my trusty E400 can handle.

However, as you have probably worked out, lower quality files take less space but have a lower quality or resolution.  Whilst this is ok for social media and websites, if you were looking to be a professional photographer selling your images, you would want better resolution.

RAW v JPEG Myth

If you put your camera into RAW mode, the first thing you will notice is just how few images you can save onto your memory card compared to JPEG.  However, the file size has increased dramatically.

The reason for this is that in RAW mode the camera captures everything to the highest possible degree.  Typically on my E400, each RAW file is between 8 and 10Mb!  That’s a lot of pixels and data.

Sounds great?  The major drawback with a RAW file is that it is too large to upload onto the internet in its native state.  A lot of websites will not recognise a RAW file either.  So what do you do?

I would take a step back to the days of the SLR camera as discussed here and think laterally – a RAW file is like 35mm film – this film required processing in the darkroom to produce first the negatives, then the prints.

A RAW file needs to be ‘developed’ in the digital darkroom into a usable file format.  I use Adobe CS6 which has Photoshop and Lightroom within the package, however, there are many different software options out there, including bespoke software which comes with your camera and those which are available freely or at a lower price than Adobe.  CS6 has been superseded by the Creative Cloud plan, not something I am a fan of, to be honest.

RAW v JPEG Myth

Within Photoshop I can then make many adjustments to my RAW file to create my final image.  This can be simply a process of opening the RAW file and then saving a copy as a low-resolution JPEG with no edits, or applying the sharpening tool, desaturating the colour to create a ‘black and white’ image or applying a vignette.

These edits are partially possible with a JPEG file, however, you are starting with a file which doesn’t have as much basic information as a RAW file.  The professional photographer will then save 2 versions of the edited file, as a TIF and JPEG.  The TIF file is a quality between JPEG and RAW and is a format understood by most programs.

A RAW file will take longer to save to the memory card within your camera than a JPEG, due to the size of data being written to the card.

Another downside to RAW files is that because this file type (e.g. Olympus are .ORF) cannot be read unless you have the codec or photo editing software, you cannot upload onto social media sites directly from the camera, (a lot of modern DSLRs have built in WiFi and can upload instantly) you have to do the processing as described above, which in today’s instant society, is a huge drawback.

RAW v JPEG Myth

However, as illustrated above, most DSLRs have the option to save both the RAW file and a JPEG file simultaneously, the JPEG file can be ready for immediate upload onto the web, the RAW file can be processed in the digital darkroom.  But this does restrict the number of images as you can see.

Personally, I always shoot in RAW, then edit my photos.  I find this therapeutic and a great way to reflect on my work.  I find flaws that weren’t immediately obvious and can be more critical of my work rather than being caught up in the moment.  I can then also revisit my RAW files and apply different processing methods, to create fresh images.

RAW v JPEG Myth?

Hopefully, I haven’t lectured you too much and you will take your camera out to try shooting images in RAW to then see for yourself which you prefer.   Do you feel that the RAW v JPEG myth is still contentious?

Happy clicking!

Kaz 🙂

What is Aperture Priority

What is Aperture Priority and Why Should I Use it?

What is Aperture PriorityWhat is Aperture Priority? Have you ever looked at the mode dial on the top of your D-SLR and wondered what the other settings are outside of auto?  Within this series of introductions I hope to help you on a voyage of discovery.

What is Aperture Priority?

Quite simply put, within this mode, the aperture that the camera is adjusted to is the primary setting, the camera will then calculate the shutter speed and ISO.

I’m still unsure – what is Aperture Priority!

Fair enough – took me a while to get my head around the settings and how they work!

The aperture of the camera can be likened to the pupil of the eye.  Ever noticed that in very shadowy, dark environments, the pupils of the eye dilate, growing bigger, but in very bright conditions they contract into a very small dot in the middle of the iris?

This is due to the amount of light that is being passed through the eye to the brain, making sense of the world around us.  The body needs to stay safe, therefore if the ambient light is very poor, the pupils dilate to allow as much light in as possible to ensure you don’t trip over any unseen hazard.

Aperture numbers also work backward, the larger the number, the smaller the aperture.  Typically, aperture values range from F2.8 (large opening) through to F22 (very narrow).

Ok, I get that, but how does this explain what is Aperture Priority?

The camera needs to see in the same way as the human eye, to make sense of the world around, the sensor of the camera needs a specific amount of light to capture the image.

However, Aperture Priority (AP) allows you to set the aperture to meet the various conditions that you encounter in your travels, allowing you to create your unique image in your style.

In AP, the camera will then determine the shutter speed and ISO value to create the image.  You should be aware that this may result in a very slow shutter speed being achieved.  It is recommended that for any shutter speed below 1/60th that the camera is mounted on a tripod to avoid camera shake and disappointment.

Aperture is also very important in creating stunning images due to the Depth of Field.  Like the pupil of the eye, the larger the aperture (F1.4), things in the distance are going to be out of focus, blurred, but the foreground to be pin sharp.  Great for close up portrait shots.What is Aperture Priority and why I should use it

As you can see in the portrait snap of our cat, Alfie, his face is in focus, the eye on the left being the point of focus, his body and the background are out of focus.  This was taken using a Sigma lens with an aperture value of F1.4, matching Alfie’s pupils!

Working with a very small aperture (F22) the foreground will remain in focus as well as any objects in the distance.  Great for landscape photos.

It is also worth noting that dependent on your camera’s capabilities, in AP mode, a high ISO value may result in a very grainy, noisy photo.  Whilst this may be appropriate for some photos, a portrait of a new born baby which is grainy probably wouldn’t be the right subject.

A lot of photographers recommend AP as their preferred method of taking photos, which I think is a great way of easing yourself away from auto, a gentle transition toward manual mode.

It is also the suggested setting for using the Lensbaby Optic Swap System taking some of the pressure off learning to create beautiful, diverse images.  The Lensbaby system uses magnetic aperture discs which are simply dropped in front of the optic.

What is Aperture Priority and why should I use it

Due to the aperture discs, the automatic setting in the camera will not work, therefore you have to tell the camera what aperture you are working with, it then calculates every other setting as previously described

Some people (and everyone has their own opinion) would argue the point why bother?  Surely the Manufacturer’s Auto setting is more than up to the job?

Whilst they try their best to achieve great results in the auto mode, you will find as you become more confident within your photography that this has limitations, the image it captures doesn’t reflect what you saw.  This is where AP (and other modes) come into their own, allowing you to express your creativity.

In the day of 35mm SLR film cameras, the photographer crafted their photo, taking a light reading, ensuring the correct exposure for the shutter speed.  Using the dial on the top of the camera, you set the ISO to the value on the film canister and you created an image.

This is what I am hoping that you will do by taking your first step away from auto and discovering what is Aperture Priority.

Happy clicking!

Kaz

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Lensbaby Optic Swap System ReviewLensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

My Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review is based on my experiences using a Lensbaby Composer mounted on an Olympus Four Thirds Camera, the E400.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System ReviewWhat’s in the bag?

The Lensbaby Optic Swap System comprises of three interchangeable optics as listed below

  • Plastic Optic
  • Single Glass Optic
  • Pinhole/ZonePlate

Included with this are the aperture discs in a case which incorporates the magnetic tool to remove them from the optic.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

The Mount.

The Composer works on a simple idea of a ball and socket.  You manually focus using the focussing ring on the Composer, to then adjust the angle of the lens you simply twist the locking ring and start to swivel and tilt until the desired effect is obtained.  You then rotate the locking ring to secure the lens and take the photo.

By adjusting the angle that the lens is in relation to the camera body alters the area of focus, creating a small ‘sweet spot’ (as Lensbaby aptly named this) of focus.  You are bending light!  This relies on the lens fitted, as the lens focusses the beams of light onto the camera sensor.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

The Composer is a hybrid of aluminium and plastic and was designed as the mid-range entry into the world of Lensbaby, with the Muse being the entry level and Control Freak as the high-end mount.   Subsequently the Composer has been replaced by the Composer Pro II mount with an all metal body and improved swivel/tilt capabilities.  The Muse came with the plastic optic as standard, the Composer Pro II and Control Freak are supplied with the double glass optic.

The Optics

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Each optic comes supplied in its own sturdy plastic container, complete with protective lens cloth.  The lid of the container is the optic swap tool, having 3 lugs that lock into place to remove the optic from the Lensbaby mount.

Simply take the lid of the container, adjust the Composer so that the optic is sitting flush, whilst holding the mount securely, locate the 3 lugs into the 3 corresponding slots.  Apply light pressure and twist gently – the optic will be loose of the mount.  To fit another optic, simply drop it into the mount and use the optic swap tool to lock it into place.

The Plastic Optic is the basic lens in the range, giving a very soft focus effect on the images.   The clarity of this can in all honesty be a little disappointing to photographers new to Lensbaby.   I would recommend starting out with the Single Glass Optic to gain confidence and experience.

As mentioned above, the Single Glass Optic is (in my opinion) the better optic to begin your journey, as the glass lens gives a much clearer image.  The closest you can focus with these lenses is 50mm, the maximum is infinity.  The depth of field is dependent on the size of aperture disc inserted, the larger the hole, the shallower the focal point is in the image.

Pinhole/ZonePlate has an ethereal effect and is best used in brightly lit controlled environments, using a tripod for long exposures to allow enough light for the image.  This can take a little time to get used to and work with, but the results are very worthwhile.

As this is not a true optic or lens (see images below) you cannot use the swivel/tilt that the Lensbaby system is known for.  As described earlier, to bend the image, a lens is required for the effect.

The name Pinhole is reminiscent of the early days of photography, with pinhole cameras and long exposure times/slow shutter values.

Pinhole gives an effective aperture of F/177, ZonePlate works at F/19.  It is possible to take photos using ZonePlate whilst out walking, best effects are created using a tripod and in more controlled conditions.

Changing the Aperture

(Or how to adjust your Depth of Field)

Insertion/removal of aperture discs is also something which is easily done whilst you are outdoors, but again with great care.  Inserting the discs is simple – select the aperture you require and drop the disc in front of the optic, F number face up.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

They plastic coated and magnetised.  Inside the optic body are 3 metal ‘retainers’ which secure the disc in front of the lens.  To remove, first take the end cap off the removal tool to expose the magnet and then place the magnetic tool onto the aperture disc and gently withdraw.

The larger the hole, the smaller the ‘F’ number on the disc resulting in a shallow depth of field.  The smaller the hole, the larger ‘F’ number on the disc resulting in an increased depth of field.  In simple terms, if you have an increased depth of field, more of the image is in focus.  The shallow depth of field results in lots of beautiful blurring.

The Lensbaby Optic Swap System is an introduction into the world of Lensbaby, there are other optics available for this system, listed below.

  • Double Glass Optic
  • Sweet 35
  • Edge 50
  • Edge 80
  • Fisheye (complete with bespoke aperture discs)
  • Super Wide Angle 0.42 X
  • Wide Angle/Telephoto Kit

Lensbaby also have the following range of accessories to compliment the system.

Creative Aperture Discs

With the Creative Aperture Disc used, you are able to create images with stunning bokeh, in the shape of hearts, stars and swirls to name a few.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review
Macro Adapters +4 and +10

These are designed to fit on the optic allowing for extreme close up work, allowing for magnification of the subject by +4 and +10.  Coupled with the shallow depth of field and sweet spot, some very amazing photos can be created at this magnification level.

Lensbaby System Bag

Designed to allow you to attach additional bags to as your Lensbaby Optic and Accessory collection grows.  Each bag holds up to 4 of the Optics in their containers and has a zip fastener, shoulder strap and secure pockets on the inside of the top of the bag.

Composer Protective Case

Simply a toughened case, which has a clamshell opening to protect your Composer and Optic.  This has a zip fastener and is padded on the inside.  Highly recommended.

Lensbaby have also written a book on this niche in photography which is available to buy from many online retail stores.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review – in Summary

Although updated by Lensbaby, I am more than happy with my pre-loved Composer, proving the build quality of the mount, locking into position as you would expect.  I have no plans to replace this for the foreseeable future; the reliability of this illustrating how good the Lensbaby brand is.

I am a little unsure why Lensbaby made the plastic optic, as I have never been completely satisfied with the results from this lens.  The Optic Swap System is an affordable, fun way to grow your creativity and skills with whilst you are taking photos that stand out from the crowd.

Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review January 2017

This system is very lightweight, therefore easily carried whilst walking/hiking, swapping lenses is very simple to do on the fly, just be careful not to allow any dust or debris to enter the camera.  It is a very well made, durable system.

To grow my creativity and further my understanding of the Lensbaby Optic Swap System, I have just purchased a Control Freak mount to further feed my passion for that elusive ‘sweet spot’ within the world of macro photography.  This will be fun and I will be sure to share my adventures with you.

For further inspiration please see my previous article

 

Thank you for reading my Lensbaby Optic Swap System Review.

 

Happy Clicking!

 

Kaz

 

Lensbaby Composer – Edge 80 Optic

Lensbaby Composer –  Edge 80 Optic is a little different from the others in the optic swap system as it does not require the separate aperture discs supplied with other Lensbaby Optics.  This, doubled with the tilt-shift effect makes it a very good lens to start your collection with as you will build up your confidence with this in no time at all.

The aperture is controlled on the lens, via the built in aperture blades.  This differs from other Lensbaby optics as they have separate aperture discs that you insert.  There are 12 sturdy aperture blades in the Edge 80, from F2.8 to F22 giving a very workable range for the depth of field.

Robin – Olympus E400 and Lensbaby Composer with Edge 80 Optic. The focal plane is straight, no tilt and close focus used.

The Edge 80 is a very straightforward lens to work with. It has the additional feature of a close focus lens, which is activated by pulling the ring at the front away from the camera.  This adjusts the focal point as it has moved the lens further away from the sensor.  This can be utilised as a ‘zoom’ lens or, for best effect, a close up or macro lens.  This works best with the tilt angle set to zero, or to maximum of 19º.

Used in conjunction with the Lensbaby Composer, the Edge 80 works very much the same as a traditional lens if the focal plane is in line with the camera.  However, if you unlock the Composer and adjust the angle to up or down, left or right, you then achieve the ‘slice’.  This gives a very narrow depth of field, blurring the background of the image.   With the right subject matter, the image takes on a new perspective; miniaturised, a diorama.

Waterfall, Olympus E400 and Lensbaby Composer with Edge 80 Optic. Note that the focal plane is tilted, giving the ‘diorama effect’.

Focusing is as always, via the focusing ring on the Lensbaby Composer, which moves the optics in the lens away or toward the camera.  As stated before, it is very important to adjust the diopter or viewfinder in manual mode (there is an adjustment knob or lever beside the diopter) as this will affect your ability to get the subject in focus.

Due to the nature of the Edge 80, it is a more expensive lens within the Lensbaby range, however good quality used lenses can be sourced via reputable internet marketplace sellers, such as Amazon, Ebay, Gumtree and online camera retailers.  The build quality is very robust and this optic will last you for many years to come.

Happy Clicking!

 

Kaz