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Monte Fitz Roy, Patagonia.
When giving presentations and workshops, I am very flattered when photographers walk up and compliment me on my work, but invariably they also have a question or two about my technique and approach. One common question is where does my colour come from.
I haven't really given this much thought as surely everyone has the same access to colour? But perhaps that's not quite true. In the next issue of Better Photography magazine (it's just been sent off to the printer), I compare Adobe Camera Raw (and Lightroom) with Capture One raw processing engines. I was using Capture One 7 which has now been replaced by Capture One 8, but that is not the point: the observation I made was that each application does things differently.
Capture One might process a red to look like a fire engine, ACR might process the same red to look like a cherry. The colour differences might be subtle, but when you multiply these differences by thousands of colours, you can end up with significantly different photographs.
As a test, open up the same raw file in both programs. You can download a free 60 day trial of Capture One if you don't use it already (I'm assuming you already own Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom). Have both applications open on your screen, side by side, so you can see the same photograph duplicated. Now, try to process the photo so it is exactly the same in both applications. If you can do it easily, that's remarkable, so try another photo. What I've found is that there are invariably subtle but important differences.
And all I can think is that these differences help create the colour in my images. Of course, it's the adjustment layers I use that create the colour and the contrast, but these adjustment layers have to start with something and maybe my starting point is different to yours?
I use Capture One to process not only my Phase One files, but my Canon, Fuji and Nikon files as well. And as I explain in the article - well, I guess that doesn't really matter. What I like about Capture One files doesn't really matter, it's whether you like them that counts.
You can download Capture One from the Phase One website - www.phaseone.com.
If you're not sure about Capture One 8 and if you're happy to leave the comfort of Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw behind for a short while, here's a suggestion. Download a free trial of Capture One 8. It lasts for 60 days. And with support for over 300 cameras, you're on a sure thing that it will work for whatever equipment you're using now.
For readers who already have Capture One, what's new? Why invest in this new version? Phase One has made many refinements. The overall functionality is the same, but expanded with many new features including an improved Repair Layers tool to remove unwanted objects or blemishes. The new clone and heal layers allow you to perform simple cloning or advanced healing, with full control over the size and shape of the affected areas.
Capture One Pro 8 now comes with a larger complement of Local Adjustments - the equivalent of layers. New adjustments include localised luminance noise reduction and white balance adjustment. And a new (but poorly named) High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature lets you bring out even more detail in highlights and shadows (but you don't get that unwanted HDR effect).
For photographers wanting a grainy effect, the Film Grain tool lets you add grain directly to your images to mimic film stock, hide noise or simply for creative effect. The advanced film grain algorithms are based on a physical model for how light interacts with silver halide to create authentic grain that is fully scalable and natural to the eye.
There's also a new Black & White Conversion algorithm with an array of controls to precisely adjust the colour channels and create split toning effects.
Other improvements include a better Catalog workflow, soft proofing your output, and a Smart Preview feature, enabling you to perform advanced image adjustments without having direct access to your raw files. Tasks such as keywording and metadata editing are also possible. The adjustments are stored in the Catalog, and do not alter the image file itself.
To read all about the new Capture One 8 or to download a free trial version, visit www.phaseone.com.
Classic Landscape and Overall Winner: Neville Jones.
There was once again some really strong competition in the Better Photography Magazine Photograph of the Year competition and our 2014 winner is Neville Jones. Congratulations!
Neville's photograph of a lone tree in a lake is a popular subject, but it was handled so strongly that it was a clear winner for the judges. Neville's prize is AUS $5000 cash!
Neville is also the Classic Landscape category winner, and as such, he and all the other category winners will take home a sponsor pack comprising a Datacolor Spyder4Express, a Canson Infinity paper pack, a Momento Photobook to the value of $150, a Sandisk memory card and a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet and stylus. Thanks to our great sponsors for supporting our competition.
And thanks also to our esteemed judges David Oliver and Tony Hewitt, AIPP Grand Masters of Photography, who joined me to make the deliberations.
This year there were around 1100 entries and we estimate that the majority earned a Bronze Award or higher. A Bronze Award is given where the judges can see some elements of photographic skill and imagination and want to acknowledge what the entrant has submitted. And given our competition is entered by passionate photographers, it's gratifying to have such a high overall standard.
And we hope the short judge comment will be of use in your future endeavours.
However, if you're wanting to challenge yourself, the award to aim for is a Silver. Earn a Silver Award in this competition and you have achieved a level that has a very good chance of scoring Silver in a professional competition as well. And if you earned a Gold? Congratulations! You've really impressed the judges and they'd like to have a photo like that in their own portfolio.
In the next few days, we aim to have the competition website updated with the winners, and you'll also be able to view the top 50 entries in each category. To get there, please visit the Better Photography website and click through to the competition site via the Links menu, or you can go there directly at http://competition.betterphotography.com. And just a reminder, the site probably won't be updated until Monday or Tuesday.
Creative Flair Winner: Vinci Weng
Emotive Portrait Winner: Jayanta Roy
Exotic Travel Winner: Nick Ng
Incredible Sport Winner: Lorraine Jones
Revealing Nature Winner: Phil McFadden
THERE WAS AN element of disappointment at Photokina 2014 when Canon didn't release a 30- to 50-megapixel DSLR to match the Nikon D810. I was convinced it was going to happen! Instead, the featured camera was the EOS 7D Mark II which certainly has some very impressive features and, let's face it, the 20-megapixel sensor is more than most people need.
So let's get over the pixel envy and check out what the 7D Mk II has to offer. Harnessing technologies found in the flagship EOS-1D X, the 7D Mk II can capture an incredible 10 frames per second (fps) without a drop in resolution thanks to new Dual DiG!C 6 processors. And with 65 cross-type AF sensors, focusing accuracy has been beefed up, especially with the centre point offering dual cross-type focusing at f2.8 and the AF system operating down to EV-3. That's excellent low-light sensitivity.
Additionally, you can tailor the AF system with a customisable menu similar to the EOS-1D X, providing free reign over sensitivity and subject tracking, while a new dedicated AF Mode Selection lever lets you instantly switch between AF area modes without taking your eye from the viewfinder. It's an ideal camera for sport, action and wildlife.
The sensor itself is APS-C size and features a native ISO 100-16,000 range, expandable to ISO 51,200. Together with an advanced high-resolution 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor and innovative flicker detection, the EOS 7D Mark II should have no trouble nailing the exposure under a wide range of lighting situations. We're looking forward to testing the camera and seeing if its low light performance matches that of the 1DX.
The new camera is very adaptable to the way you shoot, offering customisable body controls, while a new Intelligent Viewfinder II with approximately 100% coverage lets you shoot and change settings while looking through the viewfinder, so you don't need to take your eyes off the action.
Finally for the videophiles, cinematic movie operation captures every split second of the action in Full HD quality, with a choice of frame rates from 24p to 60p for smooth movement and slow motion effects. It also supports uncompressed HDMI external recording including audio.
To read more about the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, visit www.canon.com.au.
David Oliver and I get quite a few inquiries about how photographers can take their work to the next level. In the past, we'd take people out on David's boat for the day and talk photography. These days, the boat's been sold and he's on a farm! I just tag along...
Our Portfolio Review is an open program. We placed a little structure around the day, but essentially it's about sitting down and talking about your photographs. It might sound confronting, but we're not into giving you a hard time! We've been doing this long enough to know how to encourage and give direction where it is needed.
The Portfolio Review day involves a maximum of six students, so you get personalised attention with two of Australia's leading professionals and a handful of like-minded photographers, discussing, reviewing and exploring the art and craft of photography.
It can be challenging, but also liberating to see how others view your work – and the suggestions they make for improvement can be simply invaluable. Or perhaps your work is already very good and all that's required are some polishing refinements. This is your chance to have a portfolio review like no other.
Our next Portfolio Review is on Saturday 8 November up in the Hunter Valley. Love to see you there! Visit the website to find out more by clicking here.
Flash and studio lighting opens a whole new world of portraiture and in this workshop, David and Peter will share their lighting techniques, both in the studio and out on location.
The venue is David's farm in the Hunter Valley and his 'dairy' studio. And while they will demonstrate some techniques using studio flash, all the techniques can be replicated with a standard accessory flash unit and some inexpensive accessories. They will show you how! This seminar is for everyone so bring your camera and learn how to master portraiture lighting with flash.
To read more about the program, visit the Better Photography website online shop under workshops. Or you can click here!
Karjini National Park in the Pilbara is an unbelievably cool place to photograph. And given the number of photography workshops that are being held there next year, the word is obviously getting out!
However, if you want to go with the original and the best, then you need to sign up with Tony Hewitt and Peter Eastway. (Christian can't make it this year - we think he's sailing on True North around the Kimberley, but that is his loss!)
There's a great little e-brochure on the website which has all the details - click here to have a look!
I'll be spending this weekend at the Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards, part of the Digital Playground event at Luna Park in Sydney. The judging is open to the public and runs all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, the category judging will be finished.
Attending a judging is always educational. Sometimes there can be longish periods of not much happening, but when the judges discuss a print or make a comment, there can be gems of wisdom and clarity that really help your photography along. Even if you don't agree with their sentiments (and generally speaking, if they haven't scored your own entries highly you don't agree with them), it's really useful to understand how other people see the world - and your photos.
The Better Photography Photograph of the Year Awards is also being judged. Tony and David have finished their part and I am part way through the final judging and feedback, so it will be me who is providing the brief suggestions.
However, what I'm really enjoying just now is choosing to play with photographs that I like, unworried by what a judge might think. Yes, competitions have been an important part of my career, but there are many photographs that I simply love, but will never enter into a competition. Oh, I think that they'd do okay, perhaps, but it's not the point. I feel a lot freer in working the file, tweaking the image on my Cintiq 24HD touch, knowing I don't have to impress a detail-obsessive judge (and I'm one of those judges too!).
The photograph above was taken on Lago Grey in Chile earlier this year. I'm returning there next month on a job, but it will be spring instead of autumn and I'm thinking there might be a little more snow and ice around. For me, what makes the photograph is the wild sky, the line of cloud against the deep blue, and how this is reflected diagonally by the line of sunlit mountain against other mountainsides in shadow. I also like the splash of colour and how it's just a thin sliver. But it's my photo, so maybe I'm imagining all this? Who cares!
I also think this is a photograph that needs to be contemplated. It's not going to survive in a photo competition where the judges have only a few seconds or maybe half a minute to view it. It's simply not competition fodder.
So, if you've recently entered APPA or the BP competition, or the Epson Pano Awards or the International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards, now's the time to forget about competitions for a little while and just focus on what makes you happy. There will be time enough next year for more competitions, to show the world what you've been working on and see if they like it.
But for now, enjoy the personal side of photography, just for you.