Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New Photo Processing/Editing Software: Affinity Photo for Windows

In the journey of rediscovery that I am taking as I get back into photography, one of the areas that has really change since my college days is the move to digital. Now, I can't say that I am a complete novice with photo editing, I have been doing for a number of years with photos taken on compact cameras or on my smartphone. However, now that I am getting more serious with my photography, I am going into a lot more depth with the software side as well.

RAW file edited with Affinity Photo Beta



There is an endless selection of photo processing and photo editing software available and most of it seems to do a fairly similar job. There are clearly leaders and also a lot of smaller companies trying to grab some of the market. As well as dabbling with Photoshop, I have been using Serif's PhotoPlus (along with PagePlus and WebPlus) for many, many years. I have always found it to be good stable software that did a great job for a very reasonable price. Serif recently decided to retire the *Plus range of software (although I am not sure about WebPlus) in favour of their new Affinity brand which has done very well on Macs apparently... I have a copy of Affinity Designer and just recently installed the Beta version of Affinity Photo. I must say after a first run through I am very impressed with Affinity Photo it handles the RAW files very well and then combines both processing and editing very well.

RAW file edited with Corel Aftershot Pro 3


I won't be completely converting over to Affinity Photo anytime soon, especially as the PC version is still in Beta testing. Corel Aftershot Pro 3 and Photoshop still have the edge, but I will be playing around with it a lot more and will certainly consider it once it comes out of Beta testing.


NB: I took the photos on this page this last weekend. The location is Scotstown Moor on the northern edge of Aberdeen. It was particularly frosty and made for some interesting photos.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Crathes Castle Gardens

I am not normally a formal garden fan, but the low October sun really accentuated the beauty of both the gardens and the castle itself. 

The first photo is a long short of Crathes Castle with the formal gardens and some topiary in the foreground. The clear blue sky and the angle of the sun adds some drama to this composition.


As a total change of focus, I felt the colour of these flowers along with the bees made for a lovely bright image.


I have always avoided taking photos straight into the sun, but as an experiment, I tried a few.  They turned out very well and I will certainly be trying this again in the future.



Finally, another long shot of the castle. I am not quite so happy with this one, but i think it still has some merit.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sunset over Westfield Park


A quick snap of a nice dramatic sunset. Taken with my Huawei P9, tweaked in Photoshop.

Some more in-depth posts coming in the very near future...

Friday, 2 September 2016

Dawn over the Don series

Over the last couple of years, I have taken several photos in this series. Usually taken from the Don bridge where King Street meets the Ellon Road in Aberdeen.

Taken this morning, around 7.10am, with my new phone, a Huawei P9.

The Huawei P9 has been promoted for the quality of its camera, which was developed in collaboration with Leica, and features Leica lenses.


I did a bit of tweaking in Photoshop. Minor adjustments to the contrast, played around with the colour balance a little, and finally a slight crop.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Steam Rally and Post Processing!

On Sunday I took my boys along to the Deeside Steam and Vintage Rally at Milton of Crathes. Seemed like a good opportunity to take some photos... Now I normally favour landscapes and more wild environments, however, all the colourful steam engines were too good to miss.

The show ground was very busy, and the weather was reasonably bright, with the sun making a few appearances throughout the day.

This seems like a good opportunity to start talking about software and post processing photos. Now I will not claim to be an expert in this field, however, I have played around with Photoshop and several other photo-editing packages on and off for many years. We use Photoshop at work and I know enough about it to muddle through some minor edits with it. On my personal computer, I have been using Serif PhotoPlus for many years. It may not be the professionals choice, but I have found it covers everything that 99% of people could possibly need.


With the following photos, I will give both the unedited photo, straight from the camera and the finished image that I have tidied up and adjusted to improve the final look.

I took quite a few photos on the day. These are my favourites.  Camera: Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm lens. Post Processed in Serif PhotoPlus X8

First up we have a nice crisp miniature steam engine. The gorgeous red colour really stood out on the green grass. The photo straight from the camera was OK, but it was a little washed out, so I played around with the Levels and also the contrast. It gave the final version a lot more punch! I also cropped the image, just a little, to try to remove some of the uninteresting background. The engine was attached to a trailer, and I tried to crop as much of it as possible. I may go back later on and remove the trailer completely with the Clone Tool (see the last photo in this set).


This next couple of photos share some similar aspects. The layout of each photo is virtually the same, with the gravel in the foreground and trees and sky in the background. There was also quite a lot of steam/smoke around too. The first one was pretty good straight from the camera. I gave it a slight crop, adjusted the levels a little and the used Dodge and Burn around the foreground and background to emphasize the steam engine.


I did much the same with this one although I think I may have overdone the Dodge and Burn a bit...


This row of vintage cars was in amongst a tightly packed section, and it was also very busy, with people walking around. As such, it was very difficult to get a good shot of the cars without too much distraction. The photo turned out pretty well and only needed a minor crop and a little tweaking of the colours.


The final photo is of a small steam train that runs alongside the showground. The colours were pretty good and just needed a little brightening up. I did crop the image quite a bit, removing the station house and then used the Clone Tool to remove the small table on the platform.


 I am reasonably happy with these photos, and as they were all taken while simply wandering around with my boys, I don't think they are half bad. I do look forward to visiting a location by myself, so that I can really experiment and take my time preparing the shots.



Friday, 12 August 2016

Dawn over the Don


Taken with a Samsung Galaxy S4 through a moving bus window...


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Egret at Loch of Strathbeg

We took the boys up to the RSPB nature reserve at The Loch of Strathbeg on Sunday for a couple of hours.

I didn't get many decent photos, as most of the birds were too far away for my 55-200mm lens to get any decent photos.

Here are a few of the better photos, featuring either the landscape or the local horses.

Firstly a simple landscape. I ran this through Photoshop to give it a bit more punch, as the dull weather (overcast and extremely windy), made everything a little grey...


Some of the horses that were roaming around did put on a show for us!



As I said earlier, the bird photos were a little disappointing.

I did catch a few shots of a lone Egret (that was clearly a long way from home...). But they were at such a great distance that I really am only showing them for the bird watchers to see rather than as examples of photography.

This first one shows the kind of distance that the bird was from  our hide.


These two photos are blown up from much more distant shots...



Finally a very rough and ready little animation that Google backup automatically generated from several photos of the Egret moving around the wetland.


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