Tag Archives: lightroom

No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away

It is the latest album from one of my favourite bands, Mew. It is also somewhat fitting as I love to tell stories on this blog but I just don’t have a story today. Instead I have just a few images from my past weeks of work. Possibly not a bad trade, this is a photography blog after all.

What have I been up to? Well, I am saving all the images and stories for my new upcoming website. I am adding image files in the hundreds to my new site and typing in metadata till my fingers bleed. I am also processing all shots from the past 6 months of travel, including previously developed images from Thailand and Laos as I was unhappy with the stuff I developed on the road. Working 7-10 hours every day in Lightroom and Photoshop is a nice way to hone one’s post-processing skill. I have been toying with many new techniques and managed everything from awesome to plain weird results. Here’s a few images from Thailand and Laos, re-developed and different from my normal wide open spaces:

Thailand - Cosy Streetlife - copy - blog 

Laos Studying - web copy - blog

The street scenes in Thailand has awful colours from wildly different light sources at night. But once converted to duotone I felt the atmosphere come alive again. It is a great experience to eat at the street kitchens in the suburbs. Second image is from Laos, where I now have developed a lot more of the hmong children portraits. I re-discovered these images having not looked at them for long and am now loving them. Soft light blending of layers and high pass filtering with a healthy does of luminosity layers are Photoshop techniques that really shine on these sort of images I find.

That is all we have in the story book today. Much much more to come….launch approaching!

I’ll be in my light room

I must admit I much prefer shooting the images to processing them. For one thing, when I shoot them I am out in nature and loving it. When I post process, as much creative fun as that is, I am still inside staring at a screen. I was able to process some of my images along the way on my 6 months on the road, but I am now digging into 3,500 raw images from the 2 months in USA. Can get a bit overwhelming. All images to be revealed in good time, but here’s a tiny glimpse (sticky beak for you Aussies) into what I am working on:

usa lightroom - blog

I process such a large number of images using a recursive approach. I close Firefox (too distracting), put on headphones and fire up some tunes and enjoy a brew (coffee). I run through all images in Adobe Lightroom picking my ‘picks’ and dividing picks into groups using stars, 5, 4 ,3 etc. I repeat, honing the selection. I do some quick processing along the way to try out things. This is where Lightroom shines, I quickly play with many creative variations of an image. I do 80% of my work in Lightroom as it is so intuitive and much more fun and geared towards photographers than Photoshop. Photoshop is for my pixel level editing, selective editing using masks and sharpening etc. When I have the ‘hero’ shots narrowed down I develop them using an iterative ‘juggling many things at a time’ process. Not necessarily the most efficient way but this being my brain works. I cannot work on just one image, for me it is more like sculpturing. I work on an image some, feel I get stuck, switch to another image, sculpt that for a while and then onto the third and then perhaps back again to the first as a new idea strikes me. This repeats itself until I feel the image is good enough, for some images 5 minutes, some 5 days. I then mark this image ‘done’ in Lightroom with colour label green to tell my brain ‘It is done…stop tinkering!". Panos are then stitched in PTgui, editing is finished in Photoshop.

A small look into my light room. Not terribly exciting. I will persevere to write something better next time, I promise. Follow me on Twitter for more image previews as I get them developed.

What is your preferred tools and work method?

Field of Dreams in Laos

Clichéd title. Probably even used it before. No matter! My writing will not make me rich and famous anyway, might as well recycle my own clichés! Anyway to become a cliché it has to be extremely good. Or popular. Wish I could become a cliché!

This particular Field of Dreams is a rice field in the mountains of East Laos, driving towards the village of Nonghat close to the Vietnam border. After one day in the capital Vientiane – awful touristy place, more on that later, whoever rebuilt this city ruined it – we flew to the remote town of Phonsavan and met our car, driver and guide. We drive up the mountains on curvy small roads snaking their way through gorgeous landscapes and charming villages with nothing but wooden huts, smiling villagers and simple country living. I never want to leave. As the sun starts setting and golden hour is upon us we start scouting for a nice location. Being me I want a big wide open space, not easy to find in mountains. But suddenly this beautiful flat dry brown rice field appears as if someone heard my request. Perfect timing, perfect location. Perfect colours as the dry orange rice crops really pick up the colour of the setting sun. Perfect moment that I captured this way:

Laos Field of Dreams. Flemming Bo Jensen

You are not really supposed to walk off road or off path. Laos is still home to so many unexploded bombs dropped by USA during the Vietnam war. US Airforce used Laos as a garbage bin, you don’t want to land with bombs on your plane so if the pilots had any leftovers returning from raids in Vietnam, it was dumped unexploded on Laos before returning to base. Thanks USA! So any step off track could be your last. Here, it is a rice field though so plenty of footsteps before me and I was careful to only walk on the paths.

This is a stitched panorama of 7 or 8 images, developed in Lightroom and stitched in PTgui. Images like these are easy. Nature is the artist. I merely composed, shot stitched, colour balanced and also painted a bit with light to enhance the hut. But Mother Nature is the artist here, love her to bits!

Field of Dreams in Laos was truly beautiful. Stay tuned for the sequels, Solitary Tree in Laos and Outback Road in Laos. I warned you I am a cliché!

The Dark Hole in the Universe Filter

I recently purchased a Heliopan 10 stop ND filter. This particular filter is almost akin to a dark hole in the universe although it does not consume you or open a worm hole if you look into it (I did, nothing happened. Disappointing). It lets in a mere 0,10 % of available light! This allows for very long exposures in full daylight, so you can blur moving elements like clouds, water, traffic. I bought the filter as I felt it is an interesting way to add otherworldly effects to daylight shooting. Also; I hear there’s a huge market for long exposure waterfall images so this filter should be a money maker!

Sunday provided some amazing storm clouds and some sunshine no less so I took the filter out for a test. Looking through the viewfinder is the dark hole; you are blind. So how do you focus and compose? Well, you either do it before attaching the filter – or if you own a camera with LiveView you simply use this incredible feature! The Canon 5D Mk II liveview just rocks, it is truly a spectacular thing and can see in the dark. 1/1000th of available light? No match for liveview! Even though the viewfinder is pitch black, liveview perfectly simulates a 30 second exposure and shows you the result on the 3” lcd complete with live histogram and no worries. Too easy! It is astounding that 0,1 % of light is enough for the liveview sensor. Ansel Adams would have loved liveview, he worked with huge manual view cameras at small apertures, composed using ground glass, and tilted the focus plane to get everything in focus. Takes a lot of experience to get this right. Except for focus plane shifting, by pressing a button we now have this live simulated with live histogram on a 3” lcd screen. I can even zoom in on the liveview image to check focus. Too easy almost!

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

30 Seconds of Storm Cloudscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This shot from Copenhagen Harbour was composed and exposed using liveview. With the 10 stop ND filter attached, this is a 30 second exposure at f/16.0 – in the middle of the day. Viewfinder is useless but using liveview the image on the lcd was clear as day. Colours were not interesting in bland midday light, a much more dramatic result to be had from a black and white conversion in Lightroom. Here the bright light actually helps, lending contrast to the image. I added a strong vignette and duotoned the shadows a dark brown. Notice the water and the clouds shows the effect of 30 seconds exposure with the 10 stop ND filter.

PS. Would the persons owning the two boats to the left and right of the above view please move their vessels? I wanted to stitch a panorama wider that this but the bloody boats are in the way!

The Unchosen Ones

On a busy day at a world class location like Hawk Dreaming or Purnululu National Park I may end up with hundreds of different compositions and several hundreds RAW files. I then spend many hours in Adobe Lightroom in preview mode, marking my ‘picks’ simply by pressing P. I repeat this until I feel I have found and developed all my Chosen Ones.

After a bit of time it can be a great eye opening exercise to filter out the picks and look at the rest with fresh eyes. Often there are subtle gems and future favourites hidden in these rejects; pictures that were left behind when all the obvious choices screamed “pick me! pick me!”. These are the stories of 3 photos that were picked late in the game but ended up outshining others:

Having climbed up into a rock art cave in darkness; I witness first light looking out over the Hawk Dreaming landscape. This shot is not wide angle for a change, but a 100mm zoom view of Cannon Hill in the misty morning light:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Misty Morning at Cannon Hill
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Trekking in the Bungle Bungle Ranges is an otherworldly experience. This image of blue sky, white gum trees and orange rock is perhaps only for outback fanatics like myself; but I like it very much:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Bungle Bungle Ranges landscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Purnululu National Park has very quickly become one of my favourite spots in Australia. Watching the sun fire up the colours of the orange Bungle Bungle Ranges is a visual wonder:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Bungle Bungle range in the setting sun
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The Unchosen Ones. Often ending up being some of my very favourite images!

Hawk Dreaming Magic through Lightroom Magic

Hawk Dreaming is a magical sacred place so it is only fitting I use a Hawk Dreaming image to show a bit of Adobe Lightroom 2.0 magic.

Hawk Dreaming Magic

The image was photographed at my beloved Hawk Dreaming, home of Bill Neidjie and the Bunitj clan, in Kakadu National Park, Australia. Long time readers will be quite familiar with this, newcomers can read more by clicking here. It is one of the most magical places in Australia and I twice I have been fortunate to visit this incredible place with just me and a guide from Aussie Adventures (the area is sacred and closed off, you cannot visit without a guide)!

I am standing alone at the East Alligator River feeling truly at one with the landscape. It has been a humid and hazy 39 degrees warm day. Just as I like it. The wind has picked up and sweeps across the plains. The setting is timeless and takes you back tens of thousands of years. This is untouched. I am preparing to shoot Cannon Hill lit up by the sun across the river. But a bush fire has created a strong haze that eats and diffuses the setting sun so tonight’s light and photo is happening behind me. Always be aware of the light and clouds and approach with an open mind. Be prepared to shoot an entirely different scene than what you envisioned; you have to connect to the place and take what it gives you rather than force your own ideas! I do a 180 and move a bit to find a good composition I like that includes the clouds, ranges and savannah. I forget rule no. 1 when looking through a camera – look where you’re going – and nearly back into the river and join the crocs! I take a few steps forward onto dry land and end up making this image:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sunset over the ranges at Hawk Dreaming
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Lightroom Magic

This is two images stitched with all post production done in the brilliant Adobe Lightroom 2.2. I develop the RAW files in Lightroom and then export for stitching in PTgui. I find Lightroom to be so intuitive, easy and powerful that I then import the stitched panorama tiff file back into Lightroom to do final post processing! Lightroom was made for photographers and version 2 is brilliant. For pixel editing, layers and masking etc. you need Photoshop – but Lightroom is now about 90% of my post processing workflow as Lightroom offers post production in such an easy non-destructive intuitive way that creativity is always at the forefront and not technical Photoshop skills.

Lightroom 2 offers some amazing features that I use a lot: Virtual graduated neutral density filter, Retouching brush, Spot Removal and post-crop vignette. You can accomplish the same using layers and masks in Photoshop, but it is a longer workflow and in Lightroom it is just too easy. You’ll be laughing as the Aussies say. Grad filter emulates a real grad filter but you can add as many as you like and then have the filter change exposure, contrast, saturation etc. This video shows the filter in action. I shot this using my Cokin ND grad filter but still ended up with a dim foreground as the dynamic range is huge. So I used a grad filter in Lightroom to add some contrast to the sky and lighten the foreground as I am shooting into the light and also another filter to brighten the foreground. Adjustment brush enables you to paint in adjustments such as contrast, exposure, saturation to localized areas of the image. I used it in this image to paint light back onto the ranges. Post-crop vignette is simply the easiest and most powerful vignette feature. Spot Removal is an easy way of healing dust spots and as this was shot at f/22 with a dusty Canon 5D sensor I had quite a bit of spot removal to do. Too easy in Lightroom! The small web version (downsizing can heighten contrast and saturation) here makes it look perhaps slightly overcooked but the full size large version is sweet .

Hawk Dreaming. Adobe Lightroom. I highly recommend a magic location with a touch of software magic!

Two Toned World Strikes Back

Kimberley Gum Tree, Flemming Bo Jensen Photography Previously I have blogged about A Two Toned World and Return of the Toned World so I messed up the sequence a bit, but this is the 3rd of my tutorials on black and white and can now only be called: Two Toned World Strikes Back!

Following in the footsteps of all the classic and contemporary black and white landscape photographers; I show you how to and create stunning black and whites from your digital images – click ‘Keep reading’ link.

Continue reading

Improved colours in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Colour profiles is one area where I always felt Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw could be improved a lot. Rawshooter Premium had the brilliant ColorEngine plug-in with colour profiles from colour wizard Magne Nilsen. I was never able to quite repeat these colours in Lightroom or ACR.

Lightroom colour profile comparisonUntil now. Fortunately Adobe Labs have come to the rescue with their much improved color rendering package. Have a look at this comparison of my Hawk Dreaming landscape, the top photo is the new Adobe Standard beta profile, the bottom photo is the standard Lightroom ACR4.4 profile.

The rendering of red and orange hues is much improved in the new profiles so if you’re a Lightroom 2.0 or Camera Raw (you need to get at least version 4.5) user waste no time, download the profiles and follow the instructions from the Adobe Labs page and enjoy much improved colours! I recommend using the "’Adobe Standard beta’ profile in the package but try them all and see what you like best.

Lost and Found

I am back in Copenhagen after a long 30 hours of flights from Sydney to Denmark. I hardly know how get back to normal life and write normal blog posts again; this time my soul never made it back with me and will forever live somewhere in the outback. I would want to go back tomorrow if possible.

I have a lot of work to sink my teeth into fortunately. Have transferred all RAW files from Lightroom 2.1 on my laptop to my main workstation and have developed exactly 1 RAW file! A sentimental can-stare-at-this-forever-brings-back-memories Hawk Dreaming at dusk silhouette shot:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Hawk Dreaming Sand Palms at Dusk
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Normal service will be resumed shortly on this blog when I find my lost marbles!

Return of the Two Toned World

I recently wrote about black and white conversions in the Two Toned World post and I have since continued my test of different techniques. Selling five 70x100cm prints in black and white recently for a client taught me a thing or two about black and white conversions and printing them!

Another advantage of black and white photos – besides being able to shoot in the middle of the day – is when it’s raining cats and dogs you can escape into Photoshop and go through old shots and try them in black and white. This Saturday it rained non-stop so I spent the day gathering and checking all my gear before takeoff this Wednesday to Australia – and toying with black and white conversions in Photoshop. With no colours in the world on a gray rainy Saturday I thought it only appropriate to work in glorious black and white:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Nambung National Park in Western Australia
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen’s Lake Peblinge in duotone
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Duotone Tree in Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The first two shots were converted using Alien Skin Exposure2 plugin which I have found to be by far the best way to convert to black and white. The level of control is incredible and the results are perfect. No posterisation or any problems at all in the converted files; they’re gorgeous and will print big with no visible pixel problems. The last shot of the Tree in Fog was converted directly in Lightroom 2.0; also a good way to convert. All 3 of them are in duotone where the shadows are pure black, but highlights have a slightly warm sepia tone. This lends the photo a bit of warmth while steel keeping it in stark mono.

Here’s a few tips on the conversion and printing process:

  • Viewing reflected light off a print compared to direct light from a monitor (calibrated of course!) are two different beasts. With no colours, a black and white print may appear somewhat darker than the image on screen so experiment to find just the right conversion. You may need to do an image that onscreen appears slightly too bright to achieve the print you want.
  • You want a full range of tones from black through all shades of gray to white. Don’t leave big areas of pure black or white though; they look less satisfying in print. Make sure you have shadow detail, don’t burn any highlights. Use shadows and highlight tool in Photoshop for this. White on paper in a black and white print just means no ink is used; so you’re just seeing the paper colour.
  • Create contrast and more contrast than you would in a colour photo – or the print looks a bit dull. Remember though; no burned highlights and no big black areas, always have some detail. Create different layers for shadows and highlights adjustments and blend them manually using masks to ensure contrast but also have detail.
  • Black and white prints can hold a lot more sharpening than colour prints but still you must watch out for unsharp mask halos. They are very visible in big prints.
  • It’s very easy to overdo the conversion and create posterized areas; usually the sky is the first to suffer. This may look alright on screen but is to avoided like the plague once you’ve seen it on a print! You may be tempted to do something like +140% red channel, -50% in the blue channel but it will severely posterize your sky and ruin your print.

After a lot of work I feel I have finally learned how to do satisfying black and white (well duotoned) digital files, something which I have previously found almost impossible and one area where I used to think film was so much better. With some clever techniques; a digital Ansel Adams style print is possible (now if only I had his eye for compositions).