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Hilltop monastery, near Haa, Bhutan
Phase One XF 100MP Trichromatic, 240mm Schneider lens, f5.6 @ 1/800 second, ISO 200

One of the limitations of medium format is the lack of a super telephoto lens. In fact, the problem applies to all photographers who don’t own a super telephoto lens. And the solution is the same: crop. We all have more than enough pixels these days to crop our images, sometimes quite severely, and (technically speaking) still come away with a good quality file.

Take a look at the photo above taken near Haa in Bhutan. You’re almost guaranteed one or two days like this on a two week trip, with swirling clouds engulfing towering peaks that in turn dwarf a tiny dwelling or monastery: man’s insignificance in nature.

On this particular day, we were driving up to Chelela from Haa. It seemed every time we turned a corner, there’d be a dzong or a temple partially hidden by clouds. However, the distances were great and I needed to crop, certainly for a small image on social media.

One of the aspects of photography we don’t talk about enough is the size of the photograph when presented for viewing. In the digital world, we have no idea whether our image is going to be looked at on a small, ageing iPhone screen or a brand new EIZO CG318 4K monitor – yet size is important. If you’re looking at these photos on your phone, you might not even notice the temple at first. On the other hand, imagine looking at a one metre tall print on a wall: you’d certainly notice the tiny temple then. So, scale and the physical size of your photograph when viewed is incredibly important.

In this case, for my website and blog, I felt I needed to crop the image quite severely (middle and right) so the small temple is more prominent. On the other hand, the wider crop (left) for a large print would make me very happy!

Come along to Bhutan at the end of this year with David Oliver and me – we have a new itinerary going from west to east Bhutan! For more information, visit the website or click here.

Mountain scenes above the Neumayer Glacier, South Georgia
Phase One XF 100MP Trichromatic, 240mm lens, f4.5 @ 1/800 second, ISO 200.

I’d like to say this simple photo didn’t take me too long to edit, but it did. However, the challenge wasn’t procedural, it was aesthetic. In other words, the physical act of editing the photo hasn’t taken too long, but exploring different colour balances and tonal ranges took quite a bit of time. More than I expected. I think I’m happy with this rendition, but time will tell!

However, with a busy 2019 booked ahead, I am realising that I have a limited capacity for editing my work and so I’m thinking of challenging myself this year: edit everything in Capture One!

This image was done wholly in Capture One 12.

My new year resolution means no Photoshop. Now, before I go too far, there are a few exclusion clauses I’d like to add in. For instance, if I’m working on images for an exhibition or book, then I reserve the right to use Photoshop. But for general purpose work – such as editing images from my trips and posting up shots for the blogs, then I am to keep it quick and simple.

When I analyse the work I do in Photoshop, most of it is broad brush masks. I am not doing much in the way of channel masking, although it will be disappointing not to have access to the blend modes. However, on the plus side, I still have layers in Capture One (which for me personally, are much easier to access than the adjustment brush in Lightroom) and I hope to process more files.

Now, more output isn’t necessarily a good thing. Quality is far more important than quantity, but I am a little frustrated about how few photographs get to see the light of day. I am hoping I can produce portfolios of work that are 95% polished and finished – because that extra 5% of quality might take me an extra 50% in time. I can live with that as an equation – given my ‘get out of jail’ card mentioned before for exhibitions and books.

So, while I still love sitting in Photoshop and I’m very comfortable with the workflow, it’s time to see how far I can push a lowly ‘raw processing’ app!

Regular readers will know that I’m in the process of publishing a book for photographers, called The New Tradition. My wife Kathie has tweaked the design, including a change to the cover which features a castle in Cardona, Spain.

One of the points I raise in the book is how do you find great viewpoints from which to shoot subjects like castles, mountains or other points of interest. The answer is to go to the castle, mountain or point of interest first and then look around. What can you see in a straight line that could be a good vantage point?

For instance, from the castle walls in Cardona, I could see a road disappearing over a distant hill. Given it was a road, I figured I could drive there, so early the following morning, I used common sense to get me to that road and parked the car. The view was behind me!

Of course, sometimes the roads are private and sometimes the foreground is horrible. In fact, the foreground in the Cardona shot was a bit busy, but this was solved with a little judicious cloning.

At the end of last year, the printer sent me an email asking what colour we wanted the head and tail bands (the little bit of stitching you may have never noticed that sits inside the spine of a hard cover book). It’s a little detail (we decided on black), but important in giving the book a great finish.

We also received a mock-up of the book sitting inside it’s mailing carton (padded on all four sides for extra safety). Which way did we want the book in the carton – cover up, or back cover up? We went for the cover!

So, at this stage, the book is ready to be printed and bound and it will be shipping its way to us in Australia in mid-February. And then we’re into postage mode and sending out the books to the orders we currently have – thanks for your support!

There’s still a chance to secure a copy of the book with a special pre-publication offer – just $95 including postage and packaging ($145 outside Australia) – but you’ll need to purchase it before the book arrives (because then it won’t be a pre-publication offer)!

And because I’m a firm believer in not just the printed page, but the photographic print as well, I have a special ‘book and print package’ which includes an original, limited edition print, from the book and signed by me! For $295, it's an amazing offer that my accountant says everyone should have!

Click here for further details and the website page: https://www.betterphotography.com/online-shop/new-trad-book

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