The (Fujifilm) X-Files

SOOC

Gray barn with red door, overlooking mount Chocorua, New Hampshire winter scenery

Velvia

Sorry folks, no Mulder and Sculley here, the X-Files I’m going to be talking about have nothing to do with aliens or government conspiracies. These X-Files are the gorgeous straight out of camera jpeg files I get from my Fujifilm X-Series camera, the 24mp X-T2. 

Anybody who’s considered purchasing one of Fujifilm’s outstanding X-Series cameras has no doubt heard about the quality of the in camera jpegs. As an avowed (former?)RAW shooter, to say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I just couldn’t believe that a straight out of camera(sooc) jpeg could possibly match a processed RAW file. 

How wrong I was!

Dark shadowy stairway in an old brick mill building.

Acros

The straight out of camera jpegs, especially when utilizing Fuji’s film simulations, are fantastic and have greatly reduced my post processing time because I’m getting finished images when I press the shutter, no further post processing required. 

My personal favorite film simulations are Acros, for outstanding black and whites, Velvia, for rich landscapes, and Classic Chrome, which gives me a cool retro look to the image. 

Am I really done with RAW?

 
Not quite yet, at least not when it comes to commercial work. But I’m close. For critical work I’ll still shoot in RAW+jpeg so I have the RAW file as backup just in case extensive editing is needed for highlight recovery or white balance adjustments. Still, since making the switch from Canon to Fuji 80-90% of the images I’ve shared on my fan page have been the jpegs and not processed RAW files. 

Smiley face graffiti in wooden frame on a brick wall

Classic Chrome

WYSIWYG. 

Two additional features of the X-T2 that help make the jpegs so good right out of the camera is the live histogram displayed both in the electronic viewfinder (EVF), and on the LCD on the back of the camera. This takes the guesswork out of setting exposure since you can easily see how adjustments to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are affecting exposure. 

The next feature is the ability to set the camera to display the effect your chosen film simulation has on the final image before you press the shutter. Looking through the viewfinder is truly a, What You See Is What You Get moment. 

So that’s it, a few of the many reasons I’m loving my new Fujifilm camera and the X-Files it produces. 

Give Lens Flare The Finger!

Have you ever taken what you thought was a killer landscape photo only to get home and find it unusable, ruined by the dreaded lens flare?

lens_flare_in_a_mountain_sunrise_8000-Edit

Some lens flare is good, think of those light rays emanating from the sun.

Some  lens flare is bad, like the big balls of color in the photo above.

Would you like to know how a few simple steps taken while in the field, combine with a few equally simple steps taken during post processing can pretty much do away with lens flare?

Check out my article on Craftsy.com where I show you how to go from this…

beech_mountain_sunset_with_lens_flare_0929

 

…to this,

beech_mountain_sunset_acadia_mask_0931-Edit-2

By giving lens flare the finger.

An Introduction To Canon Picture Styles

Canon Picture Styles, what are they? How do I use them and why?

Check out my latest article on the Craftsy.com Photography Blog to find out more about how to get more out of your Canon DSLR.

5D Mk III LCD Picture Styles Menu 2091

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturate

Foliage again?

That’s right. And until it’s gone and all the leaves are on the ground, welcome to the Jeff Sinon Photography Autumn In Technicolor Blog.

I’m headed to the mountains soon, for what I hope to be a long and fruitful day of photographing this years glorious display of color, in hopes of bringing you new spectacular images.

I’ll be hiking in for sunrise to photograph a grand scenic view, and finishing off the day at the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge for a fall interpretation of my favorite view in New Hampshire.

*   *   *

Until then, here’s some of Mother Nature’s handy-work from a year or two ago.

Color On The Ridge

I’d also like to leave you with something more than a pretty picture, so here are a few tips for photographing all that great fall color.


–   1   –

Use a circular polarizer(CPL)

It’ll help saturate the colors and remove reflections and glare from the often shiny leaves.

However, if you’re trying to capture a wide scene using a wide-angle lens, leave the CPL off. Since the effect of the filter is greatest at 90° to the light source, in this case the sun, you’ll get uneven polarization across the sky.

That takes a lot of work in post processing to try to correct, and I’ve never been 100% happy with my results. THIS image shows how uneven polarization can ruin a shot. In it you’ll see how the sky on the right of the frame is much darker and gets gradually brighter as you look to the left. This is the result AFTER I think I spent an hour trying to”fix” that sky, and I’m still not happy with it. Lesson learned!

So in short, small intimate scenes with no sky, CPL on. Wide scenic vistas with a lot of sky, CPL stays in your bag.

–   2   –

Watch the reds.

The polarizer is great for helping to boost those fall colors, but be careful not to over-do it.

Over saturated reds are probably the most common mistake I see (and have made) in otherwise good photos of autumn.

My Canon cameras are particularly fond of over-saturating the red channel, so I’m constantly checking the histogram.

If your camera is capable of doing so, set the LCD to show the RGB histogram(read the manual, it is your friend) during image preview, and make sure to keep an eye on the histogram for the red channel.

If it’s bunched up on the right, you may have to dial back the exposure a bit.

Over-saturated reds, or any color for that matter, not only don’t look right, you’ll also lose quite a bit of detail in the over-saturated parts of the photo.

If I do find I’ve got over-saturated reds, I’ll run the image through Viveza 2.

By dropping a few control points on the areas of over saturation, I can adjust only the places and colors in the image that I feel need it, without affecting the rest of the image.

(See the power of control points HERE)

The adjustment brush in Lightroom can also be used to tone things down as well.

–   3   –

Embrace drizzly, overcast days.

If you want to see the already brilliant fall color really pop, grab a raincoat for you and your camera and get out there.

The best color is very short-lived, and with limited time to capture it I’m not about to let a little rain stop me.

Some of my best fall images, like this one from last year, were made on days I was constantly wiping water off of my lens.

(Yes, the sky will be boring and give you exposure headaches on overcast days, so include little to none of it in the frame.)

–   4   –

Preventing over-saturation in post processing.

Now that you’ve captured your beautiful fall images it’s time to enhance them to create the feeling and mood you’re after.

There are two steps I’ve found to help prevent me from unleashing over saturated, gaudy looking images on you, my adoring fans.

Everyone wants their fall foliage photos to pop, so the saturation slider is the first thing they reach for.

But the human eye is a tricky thing, so as you’re slowly move that slider to the right a little at a time trying to achieve that pop, your eye very quickly gets use to what it is seeing.

A little looks good, so bump it up another notch and admire your handy-work. Well that looks good, but it need MORE. So you give it another tiny nudge to the right. And on it goes, your eye adapting at every step.

Soon you’ve got colors not from this world, Yikes!

So here’s what I do.

Grab that saturation slider and give it a big shove to the right, right into “that hurts my eyes” territory. Then slowly bring it back until the image looks normal.

Works pretty much every time, giving you an image with vivid, vibrant colors, but not causing visual pain to your viewers.

Lastly, as a safety measure, just to make sure, I’ll walk away from the image. Letting it sit on the computer for a bit, often a few minutes is enough.

If when I come back to it I don’t think “what the hell was I thinking?” I’ll call it done.

*   *   *

Do you have any favorite fall foliage shooting tips that work for you? I’d love to hear them.

Watermarking Made Simple.

Make Your Mark

Sunsets Witness

I get a lot of comments about my watermark. Surprisingly, quite a few people aren’t sure how to create their own. Here, in my latest article for the New England Photography Guild, I explain how to create a simple text watermark using the tools available in Adobe Lightroom 4. I also tell how to make a more personalized watermark, such as mine, using a .jpg or transparent .png file of you brand or logo.

Stop by and give it a read. And while you’re there, take a look at the outstanding work of some of the New England Regions best photographers.

Nik Software Savings Update!

Nik logoI just wanted to write this short update to the post from two days ago. I have been informed by the powers that be that as of April 2nd I’ll be losing my standing as an affiliate for the Nik Collection by Google  will be terminated. While you will still be able to purchase this great software at an incredible new low price, I will no longer be able to offer you the 15% additional savings. I’m not sure exactly when on the 2nd my status is to be terminated, so if you were planning to make a purchase using either my affiliate LINK, or by entering the code: JSINON during checkout, I suggest you do it by midnight on Monday the 1st.

I felt it very important to share this change to my affiliate status and urge you to make your purchase before the discount code and link are no longer functional. Not because I will earn a few more dollars in commissions, which I thank each and every one of you who’ve made a purchase for, but because I would feel terrible if someone attempted to use either the discount code or affiliate link after April 2nd assuming they were to receive the additional 15% savings.

I still firmly believe the Nik Collection by Google, as it is now known, is the best suite of image enhancement plugins on the market, regardless of my affiliate status. Even without the savings I think you’ll feel it is one of the best $149 you’ve spent on your photography. I still feel this way and I paid the old $299 price!

Don’t Be A Pixel Peeper!

Are you a pixel peeper? 

Do you zoom in as far as you can looking for the slightest flaw in your images? My latest article for the New England Photography Guild tells a few of the reasons I have stopped myself from becoming a Pixel Peeper.

A small group of sail boats moored in Great Bay near Adams Point, Durham, NH. The boats seem ghostly in the heavy fog.

Digital noise is one example of the things most photographers obsess over and pixel peep at. But should they? The image above, Masts In The Mist, is a prime example of why I no longer worry about noise. It’s a very noisy, very grainy image that is one of my most popular. Nobody has ever said, “looks great, if only it wasn’t for all that noise.”

If pixel peeping causing you to reject perfectly good images because of the slightest perceived flaw, have a look at my latest article and you might peep a little less and enjoy your photos more.