Good news for Fuji Fans: Lightroom is all you need !

Until recently X-Photographers were forced to either use only Fuji´s (very good) JPEG´s or 3rd party RAW converters coz Adobe´s Camera RAW didn't really cooperate with the non-Bayer demosaicing layout of Fuji´s X-Trans sensors. Now here´s the good news for Fuji shooters: With Adobe´s latest Creative Cloud update there´s no more need to stray from Lightroom & fuss with needing to export & re-import images. And no more need to split your post processing over 2 pieces of software !

I stumbled over this after viewing images in Lightroom, see previous posts here and here but just wanted to double-check if the improvement is also visible in portraiture (skin & hair), see here an image (thanks to my lovely wife !) developed in Lightroom (no external RAW converter !):

The Lady with the Umbrella, Fuji X-Pro2 with f2/35mm WR, processed in Lightroom CC

Here a 100% enlargement of this image:

Crop of above image processed in Lightroom CC

And here the same image developed in the best-of-class external RAW converter Iridient:

The Lady with the Umbrella, Fuji X-Pro2 with f2/35mm WR, processed in Iridient Developer

Here again the 100% enlargement for your reference:

Crop of above image processed with Iridient Developer

As you can see there is not much difference, from my point of view the image developed in Lightroom is even a bit more natural looking !

I hope this little post helps X-Photographers to simplify their workflow by not needing to fuss with additional bits of software, please let me know your experience or if you have any comments, I look forward to hearing from you !

Many thanks for visiting & for your interest, wish y´all a good Sunday & best regards

Hendrik

Adobe´s got the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Trans, Part 2 & Conclusion

Last week I shared with y´all how various RAW converters render the Fuji X-Pro2´s new X-Trans III sensor´s hi-lights & shadows, see here. Now for the second (and last) part, I´m looking at details & sharpening - I must say, very interesting ! Please read on if curious - again I start with the SOOC JPEG, showing how the camera interpreted the scene:

 Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, JPEG SOOC: not bad at all, but a bit too dark !

Here an enlarged portion of this SOOC image:

Crop of above SOOC JPEG, observe some "watercolor" artifacts in the background bushes !

Serves me right, at this extreme magnification level (300-400%) I managed to identify the famous "watercolor" effect in some areas of finest low contrast foliage detail ! Now this is a special feature of Fuji´s X-Trans sensors, developed to punish "pixel peepers" ;-)

Believe me, if you focus your photography on developing the best image content, rather than searching for artifacts at crazy magnifications you'll never need to bother about it. This effect is definitely NOT visible at normal viewing magnifications, nor in print ! As this "watercolor" effect remained visible with all RAW converters, I believe it´s caused on pixel level by interference between finest details and Fuji´s proprietary demosaicing pattern (designed to maximize sharpness by not needing an AA filter for moiré prevention). I also get the impression that it´s less evident on Fuji´s new 24 mp sensor compared to the previous 16 mp sensors (where i could make it visible already at lower magnifications)

Having said that now let´s look at how the different RAW converters perform on details & sharpness:

1. Photo Ninja:

Apart from the missing lens correction the "watercolor" effect is less prominent as it´s masked by a kind of "smearing":

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Photo Ninja

Here the enlargement, showing quite good details & sharpening, but for my taste too harsh micro-contrast ...

Crop of the above Photo Ninja rendering, less visible "watercolor" but harsh micro-contrast

2. Iridient Developer:

From my point of view detail & sharpening are better balanced here (less "smearing") & better sharpening in contrasty details:

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Iridient Developer

See here the enlargement:

Crop of the above Iridient rendering, excellent details & more balanced sharpening

3. Adobe Camera RAW (included in Lightroom & Photoshop):

Last but not least here the rendering of Adobe Camera Raw, with some tweaking of sharpening in Lightroom nearly as good as Iridient !

Park with Lake - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, RAW developed in Adobe Camera Raw

Details, see here:

Crop of the above Adobe Camera Raw rendering, nearly as good as Iridient !

Conclusion:

From my point of view based on detail & sharpening alone Iridient wins, but with some tweaking Adobe Camera Raw can come quite close !

So, overall combing this with last week´s conclusion I´m gonna try "survive" ;-) without an external RAW developer (i.e. see if I can limit myself to just Lightroom) !

Will keep y´all posted, please feel free to visit me here soon & see how it "develops" (pun intended !)

Many thanks for looking by & for your interest, please feel free to contact me via my contact page & drop me a message, I´ll be most happy to answer your questions as good as I can !

Best regards & wish great imagin(in)g !

Hendrik

Adobe´s got the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Trans now, or what ? Part 1

Recently I got this pop-up on my MAC informing on new Creative Cloud App updates, so I downloaded ´em & was looking at some high contrast images after import using Lightroom´s ACR (Adobe Camera RAW). Here FYI the JPEG SOOC, with totally jacked highlights & shadows:

Dogging the Fountain - Fuji X-Pro2, WR 35mm/f2, JPEG SOOC: Jacked highlights & shadows !

But when opening the RAW´s with ACR - what the ... ??? ;-) Hey, could it be that Adobe´s now finally gotten their Fuji X-Trans rendering act together ? Intrigued by this performance I decided to (again ... yawn ;-) compare Adobe´s Camera RAW (included in Lightroom & Photoshop CC) with the best external RAW converters out there (Iridient & Photo Ninja) - ya just gotta keep on your toes here ;-) please read on if interested !

I´ve been using Photo Mechanic for culling / key-wording & Lightroom for (mobile) image management / processing since way back, so obviously a built in RAW converter would have major advantages for my workflow compared to an external one (no more needing to export & copy back in, nor splitting image processing over 2 bits of software, etc.)

I´m posting this in 2 instalments: 1. Highlights & Shadows Performance (this post), and 2. Detail & Sharpening (coming up soon !)

Let´s start with Highlights & Shadows Performance. Although aesthetically the SOOC JPEG quite faithfully rendered what I´d originally visualised at time of capture the highlights & shadows are like totally blown out. So I was interested how much detail I could pull back into the image during post processing:

To do this I basically first maxed out the highlights recovery and then pushed the shadows by slightly increasing exposure until just before the highlights started blowing out again (thereby keeping an eye on not losing too much contrast). See below the comparison & results !

1. Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CC:

This one I liked the most:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photoshop CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Dunno why, but i seemed to get a slightly better rendering outta Photoshop´s built in version of ACR than LR´s (maybe the PS ACR interface is better, or I was too dumb or lazy to get 100% the same result with Lightroom´s built in ACR ...). Here a 100% crop view showing vastly improved shadows & highlights areas vs. the JPEG:

100% Crop of Photoshop´s ACR rendering

2. Adobe Canera RAW in Lightroom CC:

Nearly as good (yeah, right - both platforms use the same Adobe Camera RAW built in RAW converter):

Highlight & Shadows compression using Lightroom CC´s built in ACR RAW converter

Here a 100% crop view showing the improved shadows & highlights areas, with slightly less contrast in the shadows whereas highlights seem to have a bit more detail ...

100% Crop of Lightroom´s ACR rendering

3. Iridient Developer:

Iridient is amazing in its ability to bring out detail with a unique & careful sharpening of Fuji X-Pro2´s files, but I was quite shocked to see that its highlight & shadows detail recovery seems to be limited:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Iridient´s external RAW converter

Compared to ACR the highlight head room is quite limited, meaning I have less "foot" room available for pushing the shadows, before the highlights blow (compare the crack between the tiles on bottom right with the ACR versions):

100% Crop of Iridient´s rendering

4. Photo Ninja:

This one I liked the least - highlight head room seems a bit better than Iridient, but didn't matter what I did, i just couldn't manage to bring out more shadow detail (it always kinda remained a dark soup). Also Photo Ninja does not react on EXIF lens correction parameters, you get the total image (see the additional details at the image borders), but the image is still distorted:

Highlight & Shadows compression using Photo Ninja´s external RAW converter

And here the details - highlights OK´ish but the black dog just remains a black silhouette:

100% Crop of Photo Ninja´s rendering

Sorry, did´t have no more access to Capture One & never used Raw Therapee so those two are not covered here ...

Interim Conclusion: Adobe´s ACR wins the dynamic range battle !
(please also check out part 2 soon for details & sharpness comparison and for the final conclusion)

From a highlights & shadows recovery point of view the benefit of not needing to use external RAW converters seems to be an achievable target, Adobe´s ACR is doing an excellent job here ! OK I´d not push it that far for a fine art print to preserve the visual impression of the original situation, but good to know there is room for manoeuvring !

I hope this was an interesting read for all you Fuji fans out there - please leave me a comment in case you´ve any questions and/or suggestions ! Many thanks for looking by & wish y´all good light !

Best regards

Hendrik

WOW ! Combining X-Pro2´s X-Trans III and Iridient

Finally I dunnit - after reading lotsa reviews and years of frustration with windows OS (jeezus, I needed to become more of an IT expert than focussing on improving my photography ...) I jumped ship to Mac. This now opened the door to using Iridient RAW developer (which unfortunately don´t exist for Win users ...). Well to put it mildly, I was completely blown away with the results !!!

Spring coming to Hofgarten in Bayreuth

Gone the issues with smearing foliage or fine details artefacts i´d experienced with various windows based RAW converters off Fuji X-Trans sensors ! Using Iridient´s R-L deconvolution setting with radius 0.5 and 30 iterations I get a clear but subtle sharpening effect w/o visible artefacts, demonstrating the amazing details Fuji´s new 24 MP X-Trans III sensor is capable of rendering. I still use Lightroom for my image management (yeah, some old habits die hard ;-) but using LR proprietary RAW converter just don´t cut it, see below:

Iridient RAW development - nice & crisp !

LR RAW development - still a bit mushy ...

To integrate Iridient RAW developer into Lightroom I set up:

  1. LR to use Iridient as external RAW editor: LR export menu > export to same folder as original, add to catalog & stack, TIFF, after export open in Iridient ...
  2. Iridient to open the original RAW image (not the TIFF copy !): Preferences > tick "Find & Load RAW for TIFF, JPEG, ... open events"

White fence in the last afternoon sun ...

When exporting an image from LR to Iridient (right click > export to Iridient) LR creates a "place-holder" TIFF from the RAW image but Iridient opens and develops the original RAW file related to it. When done in Iridient the developed RAW overwrites the TIFF "place-holder" in LR by using file > process image and overwrite option. Then back in LR just apply some finishing touches (B&W conversion, curves, exposure, contrast, highlight / shadow recovery, etc) and you´re done !

Candlelight dinner with my lovely wife (no flash !)

I hope y´all liked this post & could get some inspiration off it - my apologies to my readers & followers that I´ve neglected my blog for a several months: moving house & starting up new job and all ...

Please let me know if you got questions or need any support in how to set up the various bits of software so this works smoothly and/or which settings to apply for  best results (but on that one I´m still on a learning curve m´self, so please bear with me a little while ;-)

Many thanks for reading & look forward to hearing from you, appreciate if you´d leave your comments or constructive critique in the comments window below or drop me a mail !

Thanks in advance & warm regards

Hendrik

5 Senses of the Fuji X100T, Thanks for 2015 & wish y'all Happy 2016 !

Thanks Fuji for all the amazing images & all readers / followers of my Blog for your interest and constructive comments - you've made 2015 such a great year for me ! Right now I'd like to wish y'all a fantastic, happy & successful New Year - may all your (not only photographic ;-) dreams come true ! Dreams ... ? Hey, what's that gotta do with photography and are you interested to discover the 5 "Senses" of the Fuji X100T ? Please read on ...

Shadows of transition - g'bye 2015, hello 2016 !

Dreams are made of images which often fade away when we wake up. They relate to important experiences in our lives, so sometimes we aspire to capture these images for eternity. Just like in photography, where we try to capture in our images the atmosphere, experiences and feelings of a moment in time, allowing us to enjoy and revisit them later !

Replacing all of my DSLR gear with the Fujifilm X100T a year ago (when I started this blog) has truly helped me a to improve my ability to capture such fleeting moments. The restriction to one lens / one camera has boosted my photographic vision & creativity, see below to discover why:

Flower power

Fuji X100T - 5 "Senses", or Key Attributes for Success:

  1. PORTABLE: Due to the X100T's small size & weight I can easily always take my camera with me, so I rarely miss out photographic opportunities ! The X100T has become like an extension of my hand & eye (now try that with a 4-5 lbs DSLR / 70-200 mm zoom combo !)
  2. SIMPLE: Having just one fixed lens (35 mm FF equ.) has greatly improved my ability to pre-visualize a scene even before lifting the camera to my eye, as I'd internalized the lens's field of view (like seeing with the camera's eye). It also saves me the dilemma of deciding on which lens to use (no more time wasted changing lenses / juggling lens caps and the added bonus of not having to bother with sensor dust or cleaning)
  3. INTUITIVE: The X100T's traditional user interface (aperture ring on lens, speed and ISO dials on top) allows me to check / modify the settings at one glance (w/o having to lift the camera to my eye or needing to look at the LCD). No time lost before / during the shoot by fumbling with menu's and buttons !
  4. DISCRETE: I found that my X100T never had an intimidating effect on people, in fact subjects rarely even realized their picture was being taken. The absolutely silent operation of this camera also helps a lot: Try shoving a massive DSLR in between you and your subject - tends to disconnect you from your scene and the subsequent "bang" of the mirror finishes the job by destroying any remaining intimacy ...
  5. QUALITY: The images coming out of this camera (especially the JPEG's) are simply stunning: Exposure, contrast, sharpness, definition, dynamic range, texture, depth, bokeh, etc. ... Fuji's f2/23 mm asph. / X-Trans sensor combo rocks ! The in-camera RAW converter is an additional asset for mobile post processing (see my previous blog posts on this topic) !

A new cup to fill in 2016 !

Sure, image QUALITY is a super important attribute but I've listed it last, because IMO if i wouldn't have had the first four attributes i'd only get perfectly exposed, sharp images of ... an empty space !

In addition to  this the Fuji X100T seems to have an additional "sixth sense" (success attribute no. 6), kinda like a personality or soul:

EMOTIONAL: A quality hard to describe in words ... The X100T's rangefinder design links back to the traditions and origins of photography, focused on making images. Many modern cameras, however come across kinda more like digital computers, designed to "scan" a scene rather than capture emotions ;-)

A gate ... to the past or the future ?

Ok, so I realize this kinda turned out to be a review of the Fuji X100T, but I prefer to not call it that way as I've focused more on attributes (or "senses" ;-) of the camera which have been instrumental in revitalizing my photography and filling it with life ! I hope this article helps some of you to experiment and find exciting photography opportunities in 2016 - please share your experiences & views in the comments below or by sending me a message from my "about" page !

Many thanks for visiting and the very best wishes to y'all for 2016 !

Sincerely Yours,

Hendrik

 

Gotta love The Square, improved mobile workflow

The square has a magic quality - serenely balanced, a frame in perfect symmetry, having four equal sides and four equal angles, allowing the observer's eye to focus on the essentials:

The Holy Walk - in The Square!

Originally this image was captured in my X100T's native rectangular aspect ratio, but I never liked the unimportant areas left and right of the main motif. Cropped to square it looks so much better! Ok now, what about this "improved workflow" and what's it gotta do with this square business? Before I go into that, here another example benefitting from the attention focusing effect of the square:

The order - also in The Square!

Image post processing is normally independent of how I later want to use the image. The intended final image use and size do however Influence the level of output sharpening, cropping, etc. So I modified my workflow to separate these "finishing touches" steps from the actual image post processing:

  1. First I perform all image post processing (exposure, contrast, levels/curves, shadow/hilight treatment, etc.) in Photogene4 on the imported JPEG. This saves the non destructive image adjustments as metadata which can be rolled back / modified at any time
  2. After finishing post processing I export the resulting image as a TIFF (by selecting the appropriate export settings in Photogene4) on my iPad and copy it to a previously created "edits" album on my iPad (open 'Photos' App, go to 'All Photos' album, select latest saved TIFF image and 'Add To' the "edits" album)
  3. Back in Photogene4 I open the just saved TIFF from the "edits" folder and modify output size, output sharpening, cropping and adding my copyright logo, depending on the intended final image use (web, social media, blog, print, etc.). By pressing the 'original' icon I can revert to the post processed TIFF and change the output parameters. This way I can always keep a master image file (incl. post processing) in its dedicated "edits" album

Enjoying the late afternoon sun in Sardegna

Of course if you're planning to use a square output format it's wize to already apply the 1:1 aspect ratio to your camera's viewfinder so you can properly pre-visualize your image in camera!

Early Boat

With this closing image of tourists on the ferry looking forward to new experiences, I hope y'all enjoyed the read & found something which helps you in your photographic endeavors!

Please leave me a message below or send me an email from my "about" page if you've any questions, suggestions or ideas, many thanks for your visit here and wish y'all a great, fun and satisfying holiday season!

Best regards,

Hendrik

Mobile X-Trans Image Sharpening

Hey, Fuji's JPEG's are awesome. Fact! So, after going "mobile" with my online workflow (post processing on my iPad), I was doin' some experimenting on in camera settings & sharpening which I'd like to share here - please read on, hope y'all like it! Starting point was a nice portrait of my lovely wife:

X100T 23mm (35mm FF eq.) @ f4, 1/50sec

To save y'all from searching my previous blogs I'll do a quick recap of my simple 3-step mobile workflow here:

  1. Select best images on my X100T's LCD & perform in camera RAW conversion to Classic Chrome, with color +1; NR, highlights, and shadows -1, sharpening as required (see below)
  2. Export the Classic Chrome JPEG's to my iPad using Shuttersnitch App (for automatic adding of IPTC copyright & author info)
  3. Post processing the JPEG's on my iPad by first optimizing WB, exposure and contrast using Athentech's Perfectly Clear App and then post processing them into black & white images using Photogene4 App

For the sharpening evaluation I prepared 2 JPEG's with "capture" sharpening settings of -1 (soft) and +1 (hard) using Fuji's in camera RAW converter. Then I exported them to iPad and applied to both 1.5 strength / 0.3 radius "output" sharpening in Photogene4, see enlargements below:

Capture sharpening +1 in camera

Capture sharpening -1 in camera

For me the one which had +1 sharpening in camera during RAW conversion is on the edge (too harsh) for portraits, the milder -1 sharpening delivering the more pleasing & natural result. Here the effect on hair with same sharpening settings as above:

Capture sharpening +1 in camera

Capture sharpening -1 in camera

On request of reader here a version with -1 sharpening applied in the in camera RAW converter, but no additional sharpening applied in Photogene4 post processing:

Capture sharpening -1 in camera, no additional sharpening in post

Curious to hear what's your view? Please leave me your comments below or contact me via my contact page! Many thanks in advance for reading & for your feedback, best rgds,

Hendrik

Fuji X100T - Fly on the Wall!

In my DSLR days people resented me shoving that "Big Mean Photo Taking Machine" into their faces, but I felt it to be my god given right as photojournalist to do so! The resulting images however always came out kinda "staged", behavior & reality changed by my presence. Since I've downsized to my Fuji X100 I can feel much more like the proverbial "Fly on the Wall", unobtrusive, fast, silent! Please read on, if you're interested how!

Holy walk in Bologna

With a fixed lens camera I don't anymore waste time fussing over focal lengths & secure speed by zone focusing (letting the camera adjust auto ISO). This allowed me to capture above image in the spur of the moment!

The order

Also had only seconds to capture this one, of the friendly lady engaged in avid discussion with the waiter - no need to manipulate the scene or ask people to stage anything!

Enjoying the sun

This guy was enjoying the evening sun in Sardegna, when the other guy on the right suddenly appeared! In these situations the Fuji X100T's optical viewfinder (OVF) helps to predict the decisive moment, as you can see what's happening outside the actual frame & evaluate when the picture elements will come together harmoniously

Early boat

With this image of passengers wondering what the horizon will bring I close shop for today & hope y'all liked this post! All images were post processed on my iPad, using my mobile workflow described in previous posts. Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, or sending me a message via my "about" page! Many thanks for looking by & my best wishes,

kind regards,

Hendrik

Going "light" - Mobile Post Processing without PC!

So, that's it. Finally I dunnit - switched my online workflow fully to mobile, meaning: Using Fuji JPEG's, RAW developed in camera & post processed only on my iPad before uploading to my blog / social media! No more PC? Well, not quite - for those of you interested, please read on ...

Rainin' up?

I always capture RAW+JPEG(F)'s. This way I have the best possible sensor output (14 bit RAW) of my Fuji X100T for later making large prints (normally up to A1), using PhotoNinja RAW conversion & Lightroom on my PC. But believe you me, the workflow for getting fine art quality prints of that size off an APS/C format sensor takes a LOT of effort, is very time consuming and very expensive to boot!

On the other hand sharing images on the web luckily don't require such stunts ... The "light", On-the-Go workflow shared here - based on using the amazing 8-bit Fuji JPEG's has proven to be more than enough for web use IMO - please take a look for yourselves:

No guests? Deserted bar in Sardegna

I already previously shared "prototypes" of this mobile workflow on my blog, but needed to further refine some steps / choice of tools to make it more fluid & efficient, here the final 6-step workflow:

  1. Capture - Fuji X100T set to RAW+JPEG(F); B(R) film sim; sharpening +1; hi-light & shadow +1; NR -1; DR, WB, ISO on auto (ISO base 200, max 1600, min SS 1/80). Configured like this the X100T acts like a "monochrome" camera with preview & review of images in contrasty B&W!
  2. After the shoot, I check the images in camera & delete those which are unsharp / poorly exposed (washed out hi-lights) and/or have unsatisfactory content (this helps reduce the amount of "waste" on storage media & in my archive)
  3. In camera RAW conversion of "keepers" to flat "digital color negatives", with following settings: CC film sim; color +1; hi-light & shadow -1
  4. Download these "color negatives" to my iPad via WiFi, using Shuttersnitch App (which automatically updates IPTC metadata with copyright & usage rights, etc.)
  5. Process on iPad into final B&W images using Photogene4 App. I did previously use Pixelmator but found the processing options in Photogene4 to be more useful (eg. hi-light & shadow recovery) and the its user interface more fluid. Only disadvantage of Photogene4 is that the healing tool can only do spot healing (instead of Pixelmator allowing me to paint over areas, but that I don't need so much anyway)
  6. Finally I add my copyright text to the image, resize to 1500 pix web dimension, save to output folder and upload to my blog / social media - DONE!

Here another example - even in 8-hit the dynamic range of Fuji's JPEG's is impressive:

Two chairs four two?

Well, I hope this was helpful for some of you? Doing PP on iPad during traveling has seriously reduced the amount of time I needed to spend staring into a PC screen at home - Now I got much more time for taking photos (or for relaxing with a glass of fine Italian prosecco ;-)

Thanks for reading, please let me know what you think (comment below or send me email)!

Best regards,

Hendrik

Fuji X JPEG Only iPad Workflow - Refined !

After some research I've refined my Fuji X JPEG Only iPad Workflow for on-the-go image processing & uploading to blog, social media, etc. For all you impatient ;-) readers, here the final result after transfer to iPad & post processing with Pixelmator:

Nebula Man

I usually set-up my Fuji X100T to use the B-R film simulation, with shadows & hi-lights set to +1. Images are saved as large JPEG + RAW - This helps me to pre-visualize the image in black & white on the LCD screen and allows me to later develop a flat color "digital negative" JPEG from the saved RAW file using the in camera raw conversion. For this I use following settings: Classic Chrome film simulation, color +1, hi-lights and shadows -1, sharpness +1 and noise red. -1 (of course I always still have the RAW file as original back-up and for creating fine art prints on my PC in Lightroom, if needed !):

"Nebula man" converted in camera to flat color "digital negative" JPEG

I then import these color JPEG's onto my iPad using the Shuttersnitch App, which has an easy WiFi connection and IPTC (copyright, usage rights) updating feature. After saving the images to the iPad's camera roll I perform some basic post processing in Pixelmator for iPad, using the simple workflow explained in some screen grabs below:

"Nebula man" flat color JPEG in Pixelmator, after opening "adjust colors" menus

After opening the color JPEG in Pixelmator I go to the "adjust colors" menu & convert to black & white by selecting "B&W":

... Converted to Black & White

Then adjust the sliders for levels (black & white points), brightness, and contrast to your liking. The color sliders can be used to modify shades of grey depending on their original color (eg. darken blue sky, similar like you can do in Lightroom), but their effect in Pixelmator is limited (according the App developer this will be improved in a future App update):

Adjust sliders to your liking ...

You can adjust shadows & hi-lights by modifying curves:

Finally the adjustment of curves ...

For me very important to add a copyright to my image - Pixelmator is one of the few Apps which has an extensive texting option (with many fonts, styles and renderings to choose from). See the following images as example:

Add the "©" symbol,

Date & photographer's name,

... and move the text block to the desired position !

Finally resize the image for upload to blog or social media:

Resize for upload to blog or social media (1500 pixel long side):

... and save to camera roll (Save to Photos):

Finally save to camera roll !

That's it, I hope this was useful to y'all & that you enjoyed the post ! Many thanks for reading & let me know if you have any questions or comments, I'm interested to hear what approach you might have for working On-the-Go !

Have a great day & all the best wishes, best regards,

Hendrik

Go Light: Just JPEG & iPad - is it enough ?

Hey, the JPEG's coming out of my Fuji X100T are really amazing ! So much that I looked for a "light" image processing solution for "On-the-Go" & found a great full featured photo editor for iPad called Pixelmator. See below example image of the famous Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain:

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

For this I developed following simple "On-the-Go" imaging workflow which I'd like to share with y'all:

  1. Set up my Fuji X100T to take rather neutral / flat color images (kinda digital "negative" with maximum dynamic range, if you like):
    • Classic Chrome
    • Hi-light -1
    • Shadow -1
    • Color +1
    • NR -1
    • Sharpen +1
    • JPEG+RAW (to still have a RAW backup ! ;-)
  2. Import images to iPad using Fuji's Wifi connection App or Apple's lightning to
    SD card connection kit
  3. Use "Pixelmator" App to optimize image (exposure, contrast, levels, color, etc). If you prefer Black & White you can use the color sliders to influence the grey tones !
  4. Upload finished images to my site

The advantage of this approach is that you can process & upload your images while travelling, just using an iPad w/o any compromise on image quality (at least for web applications) and you still have the back-up original RAW files to make fine art prints !

Hope you liked it ! Curious about your comments, many thanks in advance for looking & wish y'all a great weekend !

Best regards, 

Hendrik

TWO of a Kind !

OK, So it's been quite a time since my last blog post - my sincere excuses to those who have been eagerly waiting for news ;-) ! I was quite busy & couldn't spend as much time on my blog as I'd have wanted to, still, I hope y'all will enjoy this post about looking for & finding pairs of things - "TWO of a Kind !"

Two Funnels

I like the symmetry of this image, broken by the vertical shadow on the wall and the random nature of the clouds. Also the vertical lining of the clouds contrasts nicely with the horizontal wall panels. I further abstracted the image by pointing the camera nearly straight up, making the normally vertical funnels look as if they're lying down. I always look for such conflicting elements to bring tension into my images, here's another example:

Two Pillars

Two vertical columns in the Botanical Gardens of Villa Melzi in Bellagio, Lake Como (be sure to take a look if you should be in that area - really worthwhile and very relaxing !). Looks like the shorter pillar just got some help from the vertical cloud formation on the top right !

The image below was captured on the terrace of a hotel with lemon trees, where some of the lemons had fallen off & I could take the image before the personnel had a chance to remove 'em !

Two Lemons

Here the round shapes of the fruit and the ashtray in the back are nicely contrasted by the regular pattern of the wicker table !

For those interested all images were taken on Fuji X100S and Fuji X100T cameras and the resulting RAW files developed in Photo Ninja, subsequently fine tuned in Lightroom.

Hope y'all liked my post ! As always your comments, constructive critique and questions about the images, technique, gear are most welcome ! Just drop me a message on my contact page or send me your comment below ! Many thanks in advance & wish y'all a great Sunday, best regards,

Hendrik

X100T = View FINDER !

My Fuji X100T's OVF (Opical View Finder) does exactly that: It FINDS VIEWS ! Like the view below thru an arch in the ancient town of Pescia in Tuscany, Italy:

Pescia, Tuscany - View thru arch

Sure, you can precisely preview your image on a digital camera's LCD screen or thru the lens of a DSLR, but I prefer the superior clarity and brightness of the X100T's optical viewfinder, which intuitively helps me to frame the part of the scene I wanted to show:

Barred Window

 In fact this is one of the main reasons I have chosen to go back & limit myself to this one camera / one lens combo - NO more fussing about equipment and more focus on making the image !

3 Steps to ... Heaven ?

I hope y'all enjoyed today's post - please let me know ! Thanks for visiting & my best wishes for a great weekend, best regards,

Hendrik

INTO the Light !

Here in Europe we have them: Seasons, the cyclic changing of nature’s weather, temperatures, colors, … and Light ! After the dark, wet and cold of winter it’s great to enjoy the warmth & light of the sun’s spring rays … that’s what I’ve tried to capture in these images:

Terrace of VIlla Sermolli in Buggiano Castello, Tuscany

Lovely, how the afternoon Tuscan sun lights up the first spring blossoms and breathes life into the weathered terrace of the gorgeous 16th century Villa Sermolli and overgrown backyards of Buggiano Castello, Tuscany:

Overgrown Backyard in Buggiano Castello, Tuscany

The good thing about spring is that the light’s still coming in low during the day, allowing it to better sculpt textures and shapes on otherwise unremarkable subjects, like this back alley in Montecatini Terme:

 

 

 

Below diffused lighting after sundown highlights the white marble of the fountain, while the water turns inky black from the reflection of the dark evening sky !

Back Alley in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany

Fountain after Sundown

For those interested, all this was shot using the amazing Fujifilm X100T; Always with me, never in my way, delivering fantastic rendering and image quality, THANKS Fuji !

Post processing: No cropping, RAW development using Photo Ninja and some contrast enhancement using Tone curve in Lightroom ...

I just never cease to be amazed by the dynamic range & highlight headroom of the Fuji X-Trans sensor !

So, I hope y'all enjoyed this week's blog post, many thanks for visiting & reading – As always your comments & constructive critique are most welcome and appreciated, thanks in advance & best regards

Hendrik

NO Time & Your Images SUCK ?

Recognize this ? You're stuck in the rat race of your day (and night) job, and/or your agenda’s jacked with back-to-back assignments – all maybe good for the biz, but …

Somehow your creativity seems to haven gotten lost along the way, and the lighthearted joy of creating what YOU fancy has meanwhile become a long forgotten memory - Your images SUCK. Big time !

Afternoon Sun's Shadows

And ... you unfortunately don’t have the opportunity to make them more interesting by going exotic places to take photographs ... :-) ? Today I'd like to share what worked for me:

Look around & experiment ! Often the beautiful effects of light are right there, in front of your eyes (while you were too preoccupied with dreaming of those far away locations) !

In my case it was the light of the afternoon sun passing thru the regular geometric shapes of the metal grille outside our window, creating distorted shadows on the uneven folds of our curtains ...

A Different Perspective ...

RAW processing in Photo Ninja preserved the highlights. Then I went B&W in Lightroom & only manipulated the curves a bit (the tonality curves of course, not the curtain's ;-) ... The result’s quite interesting, don't you think ?

Your constructive critique & comments are, as always, most welcome ! Looking forward to hearing your view - thanks for reading, take care & best regards,

Hendrik

Pimp Your Gear - Cool X100T Accessories !

Just got my Lensmate X100T Thumbrest last week, together with a red concave soft release (thumbrest available in silver & black; soft release in various forms & colors): In my view really cool pieces of kit as they dramatically improve the ergonomics & handling of my Fuji X100T camera in action !

Lensmate X100T Thumbrest™ & Red Concave Soft Release

Without the thumbrest I tend to get a cramped grip after carrying the camera for a while (and I don't fancy neck straps as they always get in the way) ! The soft release enables me to use around 1 stop slower than usual shutter speeds without experiencing camera shake !

A note of caution: ALWAYS ensure the camera is switched OFF (power switch collar turned to left) before storing the camera, as the more exposed soft release button otherwise could lead to drained batteries and/or thousands ;-) of blank exposures in case something in the bag presses on it !

BlackRapid's SnapR35 Optimal Transport Solution !

Other accessories I use are the Fuji LH-X100 filter adapter ring & lens hood, a B+W slim 49 mm UV filter, an Expert Shield screen protector and the bottom part of the Fuji LC-X100S leather case. The best bag solution for the X100T from my point of view is the BlackRapid SnapR35™, mainly because of its easy / one-hand operation & combined bag / strap function !

Hope this post is interesting for some of you fans of the Fuji X100 range out there, enjoy your photography & take care, best regards & thanks,

Hendrik

Taming the Beast ! X-Trans RAW, Part 2

You liked PART 1 ? Already curious about PART 2 ? OK, as promised last week today I would like to follow up with PART 2 of my X-Trans RAW converter evaluation by sharing ALL the results - wish y'all an interesting read, please check it out below !

Behind the House ...

But in order to allow easy comparison, I've used the same RAW image as last week, a house façade in Buitrago del Lozoya in Spain ...

the following 4 main X-Trans RAW converter (Windows only) options were analysed:

  1. Picture Code’s Photo Ninja 1.2.4, with post processing in Lightroom
  2. Phase One’s Capture One Pro 8.1.1 (all-in-one solution)
  3. Adobe’s Lightroom 5.7, with embedded ACR (all-in-one solution)
  4. Silkypix’s Raw File Converter EX 3.2.22, with post processing in Lightroom

Please see below the results - click on the images below to see an enlarged version:

Photo Ninja

LIghtroom

Capture One Pro

Silkypix

And here (finally ;-) the detailed evaluation of the various (windows only) RAW converters & post processing (if needed):

1. Photo Ninja & post processing in Lightroom:
Delivers the best detail & highlight recovery, but colors are difficult to manage & a bit more noise reduction is needed in LR (details, please see my previous Post here and integrated Photo Ninja / Lightroom workflow here):

2. Capture One Pro:
More natural colors (less corrections needed) but vs. PN less sharp detail rendering & less highlight recovery, see "Capture One Crop 1". Don't need additional noise reduction, but tendency to show conversion artifacts (see door bell panel in "Capture One Crop 3"). Advantage is the "All inclusive" integrated workflow !

3. Lightroom (using built in Adobe Camera RAW converter):
Main issue here, from my point of view is still the well know "smearing effect" (albeit better than previous versions) and lower detail rendering, see "Lightroom Crop 1". Like Capture One also this one has an "All inclusive" integrated workflow !

4. Silkypix & post processing in Lightroom:
Also here less highlight recovery and lower detail rendering, see Silkypix detailed crops. Apart from this Silkypix from my point of view has a complicated user interface which needs some getting used to ...

Photo Ninja Crop 1

Capture One Crop 1

Lightroom Crop 1

Silkypix Crop 1

Photo Ninja Crop 2

Photo Ninja Crop 3

Capture One Crop 2

Capture One Crop 3

Lightroom Crop 2

Lightroom Crop 3

Silkypix Crop 2

Silkypix Crop 3

As you can see (recapping my last week's conclusion in PART 1 of this evaluation), from my point of view Photo Ninja has the best detail rendering and highlight recovery potential, followed by Capture One Pro, Lightroom and Silkypix !

But I'm sure some of you out there will come to different conclusions, better fitting & optimized for your way of working, so looking forward to an interesting discussion !

Hope you enjoyed the read, please let me know by entering your comments on this page, or by sending me a message via my contact page if you've any questions - I'll be happy to answer them !

many thanks, Hendrik

Taming the Beast ! X-Trans RAW, Part 1

So you've read all the reviews and finally decided to go for that compact Fuji X mirrorless system with its amazing X-Trans sensor … And now you’re hearing all kinda scary stories about “detail smearing”, “waxy skin”, “weird artifacts” & the like ?

Well, in case it calms you down I was in exactly the same situation: Got my Fuji (X-Pro1 it was at the time), just LOVED the retro style camera handling & the JPG’s it produced, BUT (once compatible RAW converters started to appear) hated, yes HATED converting RAW's, coz it was such a hassle ! How great the SOOC JPG’s are (if you need quick ‘n easy results), so limited is their ability to simultaneously capture extreme highlights, while preserving detail in the deepest shadows !

Spanish Courtyard

After lots of late night research, blog reading, review digestion & experimenting on the computer I found an optimal solution, giving me superior results to anything I’d seen previously: I use Lightroom for image management, embedding X-Trans RAW processing by Photo Ninja in my workflow (see my previous Blog post here on how I do that) !

Today I’d like to elaborate a bit more on my evaluation of various X-Trans RAW processing options, leading up to my choice for RAW conversion & post processing. Maybe this can help one or the other of you aspiring “X-Trans tamers” out there in your own decision making process, please read on …

In my evaluation (split in 2 parts: this & next week's Blog posts) I've concentrated on the following 4 main options (Windows only):

  1. Picture Code’s Photo Ninja 1.2.4, with Lightroom post processing
  2. Phase One’s Capture One Pro 8.1.1 (all-in-one solution)
  3. Adobe’s Lightroom 5.7, with embedded ACR (all-in-one solution)
  4. Silkypix’s Raw File Converter EX 3.2.22, with Lightroom post processing
    (this RAW converter is also bundled with Fuji cameras)

2 & 3 are fully integrated image catalog management / RAW conversion solutions (incl. image search via keywords). Consequently I've used them "stand-alone", w/o any additional external processing. In contrast 1 & 4 are more focused on RAW conversion, so I’ve used these to create an optimal max. dynamic range “digital negative” as starting point for final post processing in Lightroom. Note that Photo Ninja RAW conversion can be accessed like a plug-in from Lightroom (see here my previous Blog post on how that works), while Silkypix RAW conversion needs to be done externally & the TIF files imported manually into Lightroom ...

In today's PART 1  of my evaluation I'd like to share my detailed analysis of the Photo Ninja RAW converter, with TIF images post processed in Lightroom (this being my preferred solution) !

1. Photo Ninja RAW conversion + Lightroom Post Processing:

I'll start with the conclusion (to save you from scrolling to the end of this post ;-): If you’re more into Black & White imagery, I believe that Photo Ninja is the best ever RAW converter, able to deliver an optimal "digital negative" with maximum detail & dynamic range for subsequent Lightroom post processing ! In case you're more interested in color photography, maybe Capture One Pro is an interesting alternative solution for you (if you can accept a slight loss in detail extraction) ! See here the full image, RAW converted in Photo Ninja & post processed in Lightroom:

Façade in Buitrago del Lozoya by Photo Ninja & Lightroom !

Below some detailed crops, note the level of detail extraction, highlight & shadow rendering (click on images to see a larger view !):

Photo Ninja Crop 1

Photo Ninja Crop 2

Photo Ninja Crop 3

So, here's why I think Photo Ninja is the best RAW converter for Fuji X-Tans RAW files:

  • Best detail extraction, with minimal artifacts / “smearing” of small details (esp. foliage) - compare with images I'll share in next week's post !
  • Maximum highlight recovery, w/o losing details in the shadows (max. dynamic range potential) – It's absolutely AWESOME how much details the X-Trans sensor can record in the highlights !

Areas where i wish Photo Ninja could be improved:

  • Colors, esp. skin colors are more difficult to manage: They come out a bit “pink” (less an issue if you do just B&W, like me :-)
  • Still need some additional noise reduction in Lightroom post processing, despite the already excellent integrated Noise Ninja noise reduction
  • Photo Ninja only does basic image management – it would be great to have Lightroom image catalog management capability included !

OK, so this concludes PART 1 of my X-Trans RAW converter showdown. For me the other options delivered less convincing results, but I'm sure y'all can't wait for my next week's Blog post, where I'll share my evaluation & a detailed analysis

I'm sure some of you out there swear by other solutions, coz you've maybe found a better workflow / parameter combination - so, expect you will challenge me on my conclusions ;-) ! For now I appreciate your comments & look forward to an interesting exchange of ideas & experiences. Many thanks for reading & talk to y'all soon, best regards,

Hendrik

The Very Best X-Trans Lightroom Workflow !

OKOKOK - or maybe the very worst ;-) ... All depends on your preferences and from which perspective you look at it ! I just prefer to spend as little time behind a computer screen as possible & rather'd go out take some PIX ! ... Like this one, i found in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain where there's a great Pablo Picasso Museum: Go on and take a look, if you get a chance, you sure ain't gonna regret it !

Lovely House Façade in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain

Lovely House Façade in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain

Anyway - in this Blog i'd like to share my X-Trans workflow. Yeah I know this kinda topic has been beaten to death elsewhere, but after reading 'em all i developed my own "simplified" workflow & hope it's of some interest to you X-Trans fans out there !

So, before X-Trans life was easy: import images, move some sliders around, DONE ! Then along came Fuji with their ab-so-lute-ly AWESOME APS-C X-Trans sensor - and nothing worked no more ! Even Adobe's latest re-incarnation of Lightroom 5.7 still don't cut it for me: The converted RAW files still often demonstrate the dreaded "smearing effect" on green foliage and other small details ...

After some research i stumbled over Picture Code's Photo Ninja with a nifty solution to integrate their RAW converter into a Lightroom workflow ! Here's how it works best for me:

  • Import images (RAW+JPEG seperated) into date stamped folders on my laptop
  • Sort, rate & add copyright info using Camera Bit's Photo Mechanic software
  • Copy images selected for processing into Lightroom auto import folder, see here how to set that up ...
Sort, Rate and add © in Photo Mechanic ...

Sort, Rate and add © in Photo Mechanic ...

  • Open Lightroom & your copied images will magically import & appear:
Open Lightroom & see your auto-imported images !

Open Lightroom & see your auto-imported images !

  • From the Develop module export your selected image to Photo Ninja. if you've set up Lightroom & Photo Ninja as indicated here, this will make Photo Ninja open the original RAW file with the same file name, see below:
Original X-Trans RAW file opened in Photo Ninja !

Original X-Trans RAW file opened in Photo Ninja !

  • In Photo Ninja I just make sure that I get a "digital negative" with maximum dynamic range to have the best starting point for later post processing - normally it's all about recovering highlights (and Fuji X-Trans files have a lot of highlight headroom !). See these great Photo Ninja tutorials to learn more !
  • I then hit "save", which makes Photo Ninja overwrite the TIF file in Lightroom:
Photo Ninja overwrites the TIF file in Lightroom !

Photo Ninja overwrites the TIF file in Lightroom !

  • This TIF from Photo Ninja exhibits wonderful details rendering & now includes an amazing dynamic range - ideal as a starting point for my subsequent post processing in Lightroom !
  • My first step back in Lightroom is to render the image to Black & White in the Develop module's "Basic" tab (but you can also skip this if you prefer color):
First step in Lightroom is to  change over to Black & White ...

First step in Lightroom is to  change over to Black & White ...

  • I then basically play around some with the sliders in the "Basic", "Tone Curve" and "HSL / Color / B&W" tabs, optimizing my image until it fits the pre-visualization I had at the time of capture (note: changing color filter sliders in "HSL / Color / B&W" tab is obviously only relevant for Black & White images):
Improve your image by changing sliders in Basic, Tone Curve and B&W tabs !

Improve your image by changing sliders in Basic, Tone Curve and B&W tabs !

If necessary I apply some retouching and/or graduated filters at this stage. The final result is what i call my "master image", from which i render web or print versions. Due to Lightroom's "non destructive" image processing I can change any slider at a later time if needed. To render web or print versions I export to another folder, apply sharpening / noise control / sizing as required and add my copyright information !

Hope you've enjoyed this post & it can help you to get the very best out of your X-Trans RAW files. Fuji sure makes fantastic lenses & sensors, but they do need some attention in post to realize the stunning rendering potential in them ;-) ! Thanks so much for reading & take care - best regards, Hendrik

Less is often MORE !

In my previous post I described how I'd "dumped the ballast" & gotten rid of all my gear, to "survive" on just ONE lens - Fuji X100T's 23 mm / f2 (field of view comparable to a 35 mm moderate wide angle on Full Frame). At first I found myself cursing my romantic dreaming and rash decision: When reaching into my bag for that subject-isolating telephoto or the all-encompassing ultra-wide I found ... ?
Yep, that's right: NOTHING (coz the X100T was already in my hand ;-)

But then I found that this self-limitation had a positive effect on my approach to photography. This was my first frame of shadows on a stone terrace, which had attracted my attention:

First Impression of Shadows on Terrace !

First Impression of Shadows on Terrace !

Read on to find out more ! ...

What Created the Shadows on the Terrace ?

What Created the Shadows on the Terrace ?

Not anymore having all the lens options to distract me, I was forced more to FOCUS on my subject and on how to position it the frame to replicate my initial impression when first seeing it. I found I wanted to show also the decorative railing responsible for creating those shadows !

Furthermore I started to take many more images of the same subject, from different angles, with different framing, from varying distances, gradually "carving" out my image of the subject (a bit like a sculptor does with his chisel ... ;-) ... And so i got a wealth of results I previously never would've gotten (hey, before this i was averaging MAX. 1-2 frames per subject, using a zoom to frame the subject w/o changing my position). Yeah, I know you can limit yourself with any one lens, but for me the simple fact of NOT having ANY alternative at all was the proverbial kick I needed to jolt me out of my zoom-lethargy !

Here some more examples - up to you which you like best (please see more also in my portfolio by clicking this link: Shadows Fall) !

fence shadows on terrace.jpg

Also playing with narrow depth of field delivers an image with a completely different character:

shadows narrow depth of field.jpg

Hope this is a little inspiration to y'all, helping you also to focus more on your subject ! Please let me know what you think & enjoy ! Thanks for reading, best regards, Hendrik