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Young Monks with apples, Paro Dzong, Bhutan.
My feet didn't really touch the ground while I was in Bhutan the last couple of weeks. Along with a tour group of fantastic people (we all got on so well together), Robert van Koesveld, Libby Lloyd and I spent a magical time exploring and re-exploring this amazing country.
One of the things that really hits me is the colour. Yes, parts of Bhutan are old and dusty, even musty, but when the people come out to play, to attend their festivals, they are resplendent in their attire. I'll have a lot more to say about Bhutan over the coming weeks as I share my photographs and try to convince a dozen or so people to join me in 2016 when I plan to return.
A couple of comments about the trip this time. First my Wacom Companion. It's a fully fledged Windows 8 PC which runs Capture One, Photoshop and all my regular programs. It's touch screen, or I can use a mouse, a stylus and a keyboard as I wish. But most importantly, it's the screen. No, it doesn't have the widest colour gamut, but its distribution of tones from black to white is really good. It means I can edit my photographs while on the road and when I bring the files back home, they look very similar on my studio system. I am really impressed with this little computer!
Second, I really enjoyed using the new Capture One to process my files. The extra features provided with the layered Adjustment Brush gave me plenty of control and I continue to rate it above Adobe's raw processing. Of course, I'm still working my files in Photoshop, but it's the starting point I get with Capture One 8 that I really love.
The above photograph was taken on our first day in Bhutan. We touched down just before lunchtime and immediately drove to the Paro Dzong (monastery) where a festival was in train. While the monks were dancing in the courtyard, I went exploring around the back rooms of the ancient building. I saw these young monks walk past to go down stairs, so with only seconds to spare, I ran over and pointed my camera downwards. I took around 7 frames as they descended and this I think is the best one. My only regret is not setting the camera's auto ISO to use a slightly higher shutter speed as there is a touch of movement in the boys. On the other hand, I could say this was creatively intentional and just live with it!
FUJIFILM Australia has a $200 Cashback promotion on its entire range of XF lenses in the lead up to Christmas.
From 20 October 2014 – 24 December 2014, FUJIFILM Australia will offer a $200 cashback with the purchase of any lenses within the XF range that have been acquired from an authorised Australian participating retailer.
The $200 Cashback offer will also be available for the following camera and lens bundles:
• X-T1 Black + XF18-135mm
• X-T1 Black + XF18-55mm
• X-Pro1 + XF35mm
• X-E2 Silver + XF18-55mm
• X-E2 Black + XF18-55mm
To take advantage of this limited special offer, purchasers should simply visit www.fujifilm.com.au then click on the link to visit the cashback website. Once you fill in the details and provide a scanned copy of the receipt, the $200 cashback will be transferred via electronic fund transfer or cheque within 28 days. Cashback claims need to be registered by 15 January 2015 to be eligible to receive the cashback.
For more information, visit www.fujifilm.com.au.
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!