The new Photoshop and Lightroom

During lockdown I have cancelled my December photoshoots and moved the November shoots to December.

In the meantime I have been trying out a few things. First up, testing my tethering, for which I have purchased a new cable. Secondly testing out a few ideas about colour temperature.

Lastly Adobe have released new version of Photoshop and Lightroom. The shot above was taken earlier in the year, but I have heavily edited it and played around with the new colour grading software.

Its a bit over the top but was a fun quick edit and has taught me quite a lot about the new functionality in these two produces.

COVID-19 Lock Down – its been a while

Leica M10, 50mm Summilux-M – Highstreet chores

I was organising a few old photographs from the beginning of this year and noticed that I have not take any street photography shots since March.

One of the reasons I like using my Leica is the challenge, focusing and composing the shot, getting the metering right with the old fashioned centre weighted meter; in fact my M4 has no meter, only my M8 and M10.

I am going to be seriously out of practice.

Leica Q Monochrom

The Leica M Monochrom was an amazing camera, and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Its an over priced, mad idea that should not sell but hard core black and white photographers love them.

This week saw the release of the Leica Q Monochrom. Once again its a thing of beauty, over priced and just not necessary but oh so desirable.

Testing Ideas – Colour Temperature

Occasionally I’ll have an idea but it needs a bit of work, extra equipment or its a technique I have not used much, so I need to run some tests. The above shot is one such test with the lovely Sharon, a local model. Here we are mixing light sources, but trying to make it look like natural daylight through a window out of shot.

My new idea is about a model in the woods but involves complex lighting and modifying the colour temperature. The shot above and below is part of a test sequence I did to work on the concept. Above is a straight flash shot of our dining room which has been taken over by my wife while she finishes up her latest sewing project.

This time the flash has been heavily filtered. I then adjusted the colour temperature in camera to compensate.

The basics are there now, next I’ll be introducing another light again at a different colour temperature but this will be when I introduce a model to the test. This will be mixing flashing at different colour temperatures and daylight. I hope it will give a unique look but the models face with bit lit correctly.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

Above is a shot where I used blue gels on the background and on the hair light to enhance the slight blue dye in the models hair.

Messing with colour is fun and I have several ideas I am working on mixing colour and colour temperature.

Studio Backgrounds

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

This week I ordered a new studio background, paper is relatively cheap but the larger muslin/curtain style are more expensive. I see people on forums often asking what colour to buy.

The lovely blue curtain background you can see in the above picture is not a blue but a light grey mottled muslin background from India. It was taken at my local Worksop Studio, I feel one of the best in the country. I used a cheap old flash head, fitted with barn doors and a blue filter.

If you are interested in my opinion buy a white, grey and black, those with a set of coloured filters will do most jobs.

Back in the Studio with Social Distancing over the last couple of months

Jasmine in Red

Before COVID-19 my last shoot was in February with the lovely Helen at https://www.twowei.co.uk

Helen in late evening window light

Helen was my kind test subject while I tested out this new fantastic location and I also got to use Pixapro / Godox flash for the first time.

I worry about cheap flash, working flash hard I managed to get a cheap studio flash head to burst into flames, but the Pixapro worked well. Many people consider Pixapro / Godox disposable flash. As its relatively, so cheap you can just buy again. They are slowly getting their customer service together, at least in Europe and the products are getting better and better.

I own a Elinchrom Quadra portable system and I have used Bowens, and I intending testing Profoto soon. Buying flash is a long term thing, while many people replace cameras with every new model, people tend to keep flash heads for twenty years plus. One thing to consider is as technology changes colour temperature of flash heads can also change. So mixing flash heads between generations and between manufacturers can cause issue with colour management.

So with COVID-19 and the summer lockdown in the UK that February shoot was my last. Now over the last couple of months things have opened up a little and I got back into the studio

September I hit the studio with full social distancing in force and I photographed the lovely Jasmine. It was 2006 when I last shot with Jasmine, after which she retired to have children. Now that the children are older she is back and as wonderful as ever.

October saw me experimenting with the light a lot more, fewer great pics but I learnt a lot by pushing the limits. Plus while my assistant changed backgrounds I took a few snaps while Nicola was resting between sets.

While I finish my edits of my October shoots, I had booked my November shoots and I was planning for December. I was concerned that with rising rates of infection we would be under more restrictions again but I needed to organise. Just waiting for COVID-19 to be over is not an option.

This weekend the UK government announced another four week lockdown. So planning for December has now been pushed back, and I have been contacting the models booked for November to try and re-arrange for December.

Halloween PhotoWalk

What better then on a spooky halloween’s night and a full moon at that; then to wander through our scary village taking pictures with my Leica. High ISO, an f/1.4 Summilux lens, and with it being a mirrorless, no mirrorslap, makes nighttime photography if not easy than at least achievable.

Adobe release Lightroom V10

So this week has been Adobe Max and they have been releasing their new products.

Jasmine in Red, Nikon D800, Elinchrom Flash – edited in Lightroom V10

As is usual; I have not upgraded my main desktop yet, but have upgraded on my laptop. I have a catalogue of my recent shoots on the laptop and after backing it up and putting a copy on my desktop, just in case I need to edit V9, I had a go at editing in V10.

So far, it seems better, slightly faster, I am not seeing the blackout that used to happen for a second when switching to cropping mode, but the big change is the new colour grading section.

Jasmine, Nikon D800, Elinchrom Flash – edited in Lightroom V10 with colour grading

I use the split toning function a lot in Lightroom, and I use it in colour as well as black and white. Its in black and white where you can really notice it. Her is a simple platinum blue applied to the highlights and a warmer brown/orange tone to the shadows.

I would say its worked quite well. I’ll likely wait for a point release in Lightroom and for me to be more familiar with the new tools before I upgrade my main machine and risk upgrading my master catalogue, but things look good.

Arguments on crop factor – 35 mm or Medium Format

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

Since full frame 35mm digital became affordable there have been arguments about format.  

MicroFourThirds and their size and weight advantages.  Increased depth of field; a pro and a con depending on the type of photographs you take.

DX crop against full frame, and now 35mm full frame against cropped medium format.  Over the last couple of years I have seen the argument growing.

Since the release of relatively cheap (and I mean relatively cheap) cropped medium format; I am now seeing arguments about full frame 35mm verses cropped medium format explode on the forums.

It is fascinating that the 35mm crowd are using the same arguments small factor crop proponents  used against them, to defend themselves against the proponents of cropped medium format.

Get the Light Close – edit completed

The question of whether to buy 35mm or medium format I find somewhat confusing, I don’t think of the different formats as competitors.  If you need the dynamic range and a file that can be edited, edited and edited again, then go medium format.  Also medium format and the lens have a certain look that 35mm cannot match.  Cameras like the Nikon D800, D850, Leica SL1, SL2 and lets not forget the high tech killer that is the Sony A7R IV a 61 MP monster, etc; come close in the dynamic range but they still do not have the look that medium format can give you and the endless editing that the files can take.

Hasselblad V Medium Format

If you need medium format buy it, if small format (35mm full frame) will do then use that.

Ultimately I think it comes down to cost and the key features you need.  I love medium format, but at the moment my medium format is film and an old PhaseOne 16 MP back. This is well outclassed by my Nikon D800.

Out of camera jpeg from a Fuji Film GFX 50S

The Fujifilm GFX 50mm and has a nice look to the files but while the sensor is 50 MP the tech is old compared to a Nikon D850 with its 47MP or a Leica SL2 with its 47MP sensor and not in the same league as the new Sony.

While sensor is important what about the glass?

The L mount glass from Leica designed to exceed 60 line pairs per millimetre at 50% contrast is simply unbeatable, but it still does not have the look of medium format.

For my studio work/portrait work I would still lean towards medium format but the Fuji has a flash sync of only 1/125 while the Nikon and Leica have 1/250 with the flash at full power. If your serious about flash then a Hasselblad with a leaf shutter giving you flash sync up to 1/2000. The question is cost. A second hand Nikon D800 and a high quality lens is hard to beat. A second hand Fuji or Hasselblad and portrait lens it going to cost at least three times that.

What are the features you need, what is the look you want, lens draw, depth of field, flash sync, handling, weather sealing, focal length and focus performance, lowlight ability.

I know of some photographers their field of photography means a simple Ricoh GR III is the camera of choice, others a high end PhaseOne. Draw up a budget, pick the focal lengths you need for your work and then look at what’s available, gives the image you want and feels good in the hand.

Remember that now the difference between the worst and best camera is very small and all are very very good.