Thursday, April 10, 2014

Learning New Things By The Handful

While Nancy and I were in NYC last week, I had the great fortune to rent the Fuji X-T1 and two lenses. I have to admit, I fell in love with the Zeiss Touit 12mm f2 lens. It was crazy sharp and allowed for nearly instantaneous focusing. I wish I could say that there is something horribly wrong with the Fuji X lineup, just to keep you from buying into a whole new system. Can't do it. If you're on the fence, buy the Fuji. You'll love it. Or you wont. Whatever. That's not what I learned this past week.

The first image in this series is an as-shot-JPG straight from the Fuji X-T1, with the Black and White Conversion with Red Filter added in-camera. Yup, this is pretty darned nice. I was mighty happy. I figured that it would still need editing once i got back into the studio, but nope. I liked this.

At the time (last week), the Fuji X-T1 was not supported in Lightroom 5.3 . As a result, when I tried to import the native raw files from the Fuji, the RAF files came up as unsupported. I tossed them into a separate folder and figured that sometime this summer, Adobe would release a LR update that would allow for the raw Fuji files to be read. I didn't expect that to happen this week!

The image that follows (below), in COLOR is the Fuji RAF, raw image. Surprise. Even though I had the camera selected to shoot in B&W, the raw image is in color. Hmmm. Very interesting.

Original raw Fuji RAF file, uploaded as DNG in Lightroom 5.4 this afternoon.

This image (above) was created simply by converting to black and white (B&W) directly in the Lightroom Develop Module/Basic. My usual method of working in black and white is to start here. I then adjust the "color" setting sliders. Even though the end result is B&W, by adjusting the sliders for Red, Orange, etc., you are able to affect the lightness or darkness of a given area (of color response) in the image. If you push or pull the slider for blue for instance, folks with blue jeans on (and your sky) will darken or brighten, depending on your personal preference. The image below shows what the settings for this particular image looked like in the LR dialogue for B&W adjustments in the Develop module.

This image was created in Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro2. Nik SilverEfex is loaded with choices, options, and sliders galore. It is incredibly easy to be overwhelmed. Most folks tend to take the easy path and choose one of the presets. I typically start with a preset that gets close to what I imaged the image to be like during my editing visualization process, early on. In this case, that preset filter is called Full Contrast and Structure. I dropped the exposure considerably since it had automatically brightened the already bright noon-day harsh highlights. It also bumped up the dark shadow areas considerably. In many circles, this could be considered black and white HDR. For me, it doesn't seem very real or pleasant, so it isn't what I would consider a "keeper".

This last image was made in OnOne Software's latest version of PerfectB&W8. I picked up the software about two weeks ago and am slowly figuring out how to best make use of the different style of editing software. This particular setting in PerfectB&W8 is called Palladium. The preset originally comes with a "palladium" border which looked like a sloppy emulsion laid down with a brush. Not the effect I particularly wanted for this image. So I switched the frame to something more subtle and discrete.

After all of that, am I happy with the image? Not really. It was a great "grab" shot, but it isn't my ideal image. I detest hot-high-noon photos. I would have been much happier with an early morning or late afternoon photo... but by then we were in a totally different part of Manhattan, (specifically, the Cloisters) and were on our way back to the Island. In terms of a scouting session, it gave me incredible feedback on the area (near the Empire State Building), what gear would make it easy to get the shot (definitely the X-T1), time of day (ideally morning or late afternoon), and where is a good place to stand. All of those issues play out in every single image I made during this trip. In each image, there is something I feel like I can improve... so we'll go back hopefully either at the end of April or the beginning of May.

Want to know more about the latest incarnation of Lightroom or any of my other editing software? Ask me questions, either here on the blog or on Facebook. Always happy to share my process.


  1. Funny my fave of all the tinkering is the Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro2 version. It really READS NYC, cool, crisp, stark, contrasty and in your face. Yup! Works for me! ;)

    1. I love that that is the one that grabs you. Always one to buck the trend! Thanks, Joe. That keeps me swinging. Always trying to see what's possible.

  2. got model releases from all those New Yorkers?

    1. Model releases are not required for photography in public places where anonymity is a concern. In addition there are no "personalities or celebrities" visible in the image whose personal image could be used for personal gain.