RAW

Black and White Editing

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Black and White Editing.

I like to keep my Black and White workflow as simple as possible and have refined my systems and processes over the last ten years. I use Lightroom CC and Silver Efex Pro 2 for all my black and white images. I shoot most of the time in RAW but this process is just as effective with Jpegs, you just have less latitude with the Jpeg file. SEP2 is part of the Google Nik Collection and was made free to everyone last year.

My workflow is simple and after a day out shooting I pop my memory card in to my MacBook Pro and copy the images in to Lr CC this is where I view the images and make my selections. I might shoot 40-60 images in a session or more but I normally only end up with 3-5 keepers if that. Once I have made my selections I then open each image in turn in SEP2 for conversion to black and white. After a few small slider movements I import the image back in to Lr for some final editing and then star rating this whole process takes less than 3-6 min per image.

I view each image on my 27” Eizo Monitor, the monitor is calibrated regularly even though this is a black and white process I need to see every tone between the black end of the spectrum and the white end.  If you don’t have a calibrated monitor or an old monitor its best to buy a new up to date LED type monitor as these are great out of the box. You can download a test card from the internet to check your screen, if you can’t see every band in the chart you need to calibrate of upgrade your monitor.

I will take you through my very simple workflow from start to finish with this image taken of Glenfinnan Scotland, this is the RAW file out of camera converted to Jpeg.

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First I import my images in to Lr and once in Lr I then view all my images and the images I want to keep I give a one * I do this in the Library module. Once I have made my keeper selection I then highlight and delete the rest of the images leaving my keepers and these are all the ones with the one* sometimes at this point I will remove a couple of the one* images if I think the others are stronger. At times, I have deleted the whole lot.

Once selected I will then import the first keeper in to SEP2 this is a simple right click open in SEP2.

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Once the image opens in SEP2, I do not touch the left-hand side of the program as this is mostly pre-sets and there is no point in opening a pre-set because I will then have to spend the next 10-20 min trying to get the image back to the way I want it from the pre-set. I only ever use the sliders and the controls on the right-hand side of SEP2 and only use the main sliders and not open them up for fine control. The main sliders I use are Brightness Contrast and Structure and I make changes by eye to every single image I open.  I start at the top and work down the sliders.  I normally brighten most images by about 20% then contrast about 20% and then apply quite a lot of Structure to make the images pop about 60% but this is all by eye and not an exact science. On the Glenfinnan, I am going to go Brightness 22 Contrast 22 and Structure 66.

If I need to just make controlled adjustments I use the control points so as not to cause over processing of artefacts in the complete image. This is mainly with people’s faces or complicated backgrounds with out of focus areas. I don’t need to do that in this image, I am happy with the way the image looks so I then import the image back in to Lr.

Once in Lr I switch to the development module.

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I again start at the top right of the sliders and work my way down sometimes a few tweaks and at others hardly anything at all, therefore I don’t use pre-sets in Lr as I would spend most of my time correcting the changes the pre-sets make.

I always keep an eye on the Histogram for clipped highlights as these look harsh in digital images and even worse printed. I ignore the clipped blacks as these looks great when printed and I do like quite dark blacks in my images.

The first thing I do to this image in Lr is add a graduated filter to the sky and use the exposure control to darken the Sky by one stop. I then use the shadows slider to just pull back the shadows from the mountains. I then make a second graduated selection and darken the top of the sky to about half a stop.

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I then work my way down the sliders Contrast +24 Shadows +18 Blacks -31 Clarity +31 and finish off with a post-crop Vignette of about -7 I would also use the adjustment brush to lighten the snow areas and darken any areas using the exposure slider. This is about the same way you would dodge and burn in the Dark Room. This is all to personal taste, I prefer my whites to be white in an image so do tend to burn in the white but without over exposing them.

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I would then rate my image for personal use between 3* and 5* if I felt at this stage the image was 2* or 1* I would delete it.

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The image looks quite dark in WordPress but looks great printed or on my Eizo, I hope to run a Black and White editing workshop for Fujiholics later in the year so please keep an eye open on the Fujiholics website.

Gnarbox

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I was planing on bringing you my review on my Gnarbox but due to my heavy editing workload this month and the fact my new G Tec drive has not arrived I am going to have to bring it to you next month.

I am now the only UK member of the Gnarbox Pro Team. I am really happy to be working with Gnarbox as I feel Gnarbox is a perfect fit for my workflow.

I have had a play around with this great product and I am happy to say it’s easy to use and I see some great potential in the Gnarbox for my back up solution in the field.

I don’t normally have much time for editing in the field the most I do is a couple of quick edits for Social media. The fact I can edit RAW files on my phone or iPad with the Gnarbox really does appeal to me. I am getting more and more in to Video and being able to use the Gnarbox to throw some quick edits together for Social media is also great.

It’s not got massive storage but most of the time I don’t need it to back up my Street Photography.

Tec Specs

Intel Quad Core, 1.92ghz CPU

128GB or 256GB Solid State

USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD and Micro SD Ports

4000 mAh 3.7v rechargeable battery

4 Core Intel HD Graphics GPU

2gig of Ram

Duel Band 300mbs 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi

Data Transfer up to 4GB per Minute

iOS & Android Compatible

Battery Life 4-6 Hours

Water Shock and Dust Resistant

5.3″ x 4.3″x1″ / 1lb

Check out the Gnarbox website for full details and the amazing helpful Learning Tab.

I hope to bring you a review over the next few weeks.

Fujifilm XPRO 2

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Fujifilm X10

My Fujifilm journey started back in 2011 but it was hit and miss.  I was a Nikon shooter and had been for over 40 years. In 2011 I found myself looking for a camera system that was smaller and lighter than my Professional Nikon system. I looked at Sony and Panasonic  but wanted great glass and realised that only the top players in the camera market could offer this. I picked up a Fuji X10 and had a love hate relationship with it so in the end sold it. I read all the reviews and was put off the X100 but in the end found one for a good price on ebay and purchased a really nice camera.

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FujifilmX100
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Fujifilm X100

The image above was one of the first images I shot with the X100 and I was hooked. This amazing little camera was producing images far cleaner than my Nikon D3s and for a fraction of the cost. Yes focus was slow and it only had one lense but it was the way it made me feel that shocked me, this camera had set me free.

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Fujifilm XPRO1 14mm f/2.8

It was not long before I walked in to Cambrian Photography and took a massive leap of faith. I bought the Xpro1 along with the 18mm, 60mm and the 18-55mm Kit lens and decided to give it a go on my trip to Venice. I had made up my mind that if it worked for me I would come home and sell all my professional Nikon Gear.

Before I went I was almost convinced this would not happen, how could this Xpro1 replace my D3s and Pro glass as it was so slow to focus and so awkward to use !

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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8

I came back from Venice and the decision had been made this XPro1 was perfect for me. I was convinced that stepping away from mainstream DSLR’s and choosing a camera that slowed me down and made me think out of the box again was the way forward. So I took the leap and sold all my Nikon gear.  I said to myself that if I needed a Pro DSLR for a job I would just hire one. That was four years ago and I have not needed to use a DSLR and will never look back.

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Fujifilm XPro1 18-55mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm XPro1 18mm f/2
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Fujifilm XPro1 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140MM F/2.8

It’s amazing how the reason you changed gets under your skin at times and the slow focus on the XPro1 drove me to buy the X-T1 and the X-T10. These cameras work perfectly for my event photography and due to the small size of the X-T10 I started to use two of these stunning little cameras back to back one with 27mm f/2 and one with 90mm f/2 lenses. It is quite amazing how small the X-T10 is with the 27mm lens it’s almost the same size as the X100T.

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Fujifilm X-T10 35mm f/1.4
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Fujifilm X-T1 50-140mm f/2.8
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Fujifilm X100T

My plan was if I am totally honest was to wait for the X-T2 if there was one and use my X-T10s for Street and the X-T1 for Landscape and wet events and bring the X-T2 in to play.

But then BOOM Fuji asked me to test out the Xpro2 and it’s just changed my photography all over again. When I first picked it up my first thought was where is the tilting screen ? It’s hard to go out and test a camera that is not due out for three months when you are a Street photographer I can tell you.

I started using the Xpro2 and at first I was not blown away, but this was the same feeling I have had with all the Fuji X Cameras. They are like magic in your hands, the more you get to know the camera, the more they come alive in your hands. This camera is fast to focus, it surely has to be the fastest yet.

The shape of the camera is a vast improvement over the XPro1  and the inclusion of two fast card slots is going to make quite a few wedding shooters happy.  The inclusion of the ISO dial in with the shutter speed dial, puts all the buttons and knobs back on the outside of the camera so you have the exposure triangle where you need it. There is a neat little joystick on the back of the camera and the buttons are all in the right place for me.

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8

 

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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (ooc  jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 ( ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 35mm f/2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 (ooc jpeg)
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Fujifilm XPro2 27mm f/2.8 (Silver Efex Pro 2) (Japan Gallery Image)

You all know I am not one for technical write ups as all the pixel stuff does not do anything for me and there are camera testers all over the UK that can test this camera to death for you all. But one word of caution, I was put off the X System for six months before I got the X100 because of all the reviews so be careful what you choose to read. This system is not all about pixels and super fast this and that, it is about changing your way of thinking.

So why do I love this camera ? It’s easy,  I don’t have to edit any of my images any more. I have always been a RAW shooter converting in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 until now. This camera is a game changer for me and the file size is just about right. The XPro2 is going to change my photography for the better.

The design of the XPro2 compared to the Xpro1 is completely different making the XPro2 sit so nicely in your hand.

I am going to be shooting Jpeg with the XPro2 for the next year with the 35mm f/2 lens for a Street Project I am doing with a few friends on Flickr. I love a good project and this project will help me to learn how to setup and use the Xpro2 for Jpeg and never have to edit again. The time this is going to save me is life changing. At the moment I have the camera set up to black and white with green filter. I have Dynamic Range set to 200%, Highlight Tone -1, Shadow Tone +3, Sharpness +1, Noise Reduction off. I will be playing around with these settings a lot more over the coming months.

It’s been a pleasure testing this new camera for Fujifilm and it was also an honour to have one of my images that I shot on the XPro2 selected for the Exhibition in Japan with 100 other X Photographers from around the world.

I think Fujifilm have made a stunning camera and I would like to thank them for for listening to all the X Photographers and Fujiholics around the world and adding most of the requests and ideas to this little camera.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I am so glad I made that leap of faith nearly 5 years ago. The Xpro2 is a huge step forward I am quite sure the Fuji roadmap is going to be very exciting…

Here is a video I shot about the my Fujifilm journey including some XPro 2 images.