Tag: sleeklens

Reasons for Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII

On December 7 2018, Sony posted a notice on their websites regarding a data loss bug on Sony a7III and a7RIII models. You can view the notice here. Read on for details concerning this issue and my thoughts surrounding it.

image loss bug on sony a7iii

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – The Details

According to Sony on their site, users of the a7III and/or the a7RIII may experience some data loss issues. Apparently, these issues may only occur in rare cases.  Sony outline two potential scenarios where these data loss issues might occur. These are as follows:

  1. a7III or a a7RIII may stop functioning while writing RAW data onto the SD card which has already been used multiple times.
  2. The a7RIII may occasionally stop responding when taking a picture using the Auto Review function.

For the first scenario they provided some additional notes. They mention that some abnormalities in the files managing the images might prevent the images from displaying on the camera. Also, they note that no image data in the memory card will be corrupted or deleted. At least none aside from data in the write process at the time the interruption occurred.

If you notice that images no longer display on the camera, Sony advise to follow these steps:

  1. Use the “Recover Image DB” feature
  2. Select MENU → (Setup) → [Recover Image DB] → desired memory card slot → [Enter].
  3. Then, take a picture, back up your data on a PC or other device, and format the memory card on your camera.

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – The Solution

Sony stated that a system software update should be available later in December. Until the availability of the fix, Sony advise to take the following precautions.

  1. Before taking new pictures, back-up your data and format the memory cards in both slots on the camera, or use a new memory card.
  2. Ensure the Auto Review function is off when taking pictures.

data loss bug on sony a7iii

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – My Thoughts

The phrase Data Loss would frighten any photographer. The prospect of this occurring to a Wedding Photographer during a Wedding shoot is very alarming.  You only get one chance to capture the moment during a Wedding. So any data loss could ruin the day for both the Photographer and the married couple. Shooting weddings can be stressful enough without having to worry about losing any shots.

It is due to the seriousness of any potential data loss that Sony were quick to release a statement and solution. Despite the fact that they mention this data loss bug may occur only in rare instances. While data loss is perhaps the worst kind of software bug to encounter, at least we can be grateful that Sony are aware of it and working to resolve it.

Are you a Sony a7III or a7RIII user? Have you encountered or witnessed this data loss bug yet? I am hoping that you have not and that it will never happen to you. However, if it has, then perhaps you can let us know in the comments below.

Stay tuned to the Sony websites for further updates concerning this data loss bug.

Full Frame Mirrorless War Heats Up: What You Need to Know for 2020

For the past several years Sony has been the only player in the Full Frame Mirrorless market. But as 2018 begins to draw to a close, we now have Canon and Nikon joining the fray as well. Leica also offers a Full Frame Mirrorless option. And let’s not forget about the rumors of Pentax and Panasonic releasing their own Full Frame Mirrorless option in 2019. As the Full Frame Mirrorless war begins to heat up, which do you think will come out on top? In this article, I am going to highlight the current state of the Full Frame Mirrorless battleground along with the current models that are making war against each other.

Full Frame Mirrorless – The Story So Far

Sony has been the king of the Full Frame Mirrorless world for the past few years. The introduction of the Sony a7 series was groundbreaking. However, the position of “king” came somewhat easy for them though. Seeing as they were pretty much the only player in the market for the past few years. Outside of the Sony a7 series of cameras, the Leica SL TYP601 was the only other model available. The other Full Frame sensor big hitters, Canon and Nikon, clearly absent. While it is true that Canon was playing around with their APS-C Mirrorless range, the EOS-M. It is also true that the EOS-M was never going to compete with the Full Frame Sony a7 series.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 1 – Sony

Sony Full Frame Mirrorless

Since the initial launch of the Sony a7, new iterations have come along. The a7 series is now in its third iteration. One interesting thing to note is how Sony have chosen to keep all three iterations available on the market at the same time. Other companies tend to discontinue the older iterations once the new models become established in the market. I think this played well in Sony’s favor. The cheaper price points of the older models can be more appealing to certain people. The newer models come with improvements and new features but also a higher price tag. Sony also released the a9 model which boasts a faster frame rate aimed at sports and fast action photography.

The Sony Full Frame Mirrorless models currently available are:

  • Sony a7
  • Sony a7R
  • Sony a7S
  • Sony a7II
  • Sony a7RII
  • Sony a7SII
  • Sony a7III
  • Sony a7RIII
  • Sony a9

While the Sony a9 is easy to identify with respect to what type of photography/photographer it is intended for, the same cannot be said for the a7 series. If you were just to look at the above list, then how would you know what a7 model to go for? Well, we need to disregard the iteration numbers for the time being. We can see the models are differentiated by the presence of either an “R” or an “S”. The “R” models boast a higher megapixel resolution and a slower frame rate than the other models. The “S” models boast features that make it more suitable for video recording. The “a7” model lacking either the “R” or the “S” is more of an all-rounder camera. This model provides a moderate megapixel count, a decent frame rate and a better price tag!

Each iteration of the a7 series comes with some new updates and features. Before you invest in a particular model, explore the specifications of each online and see which fits your needs best.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 2 – Leica

Leica Full Frame Mirrorless

Leica, the camera brand that incites both excitement and fear in the minds of photographers. With its long history in the photographic community, excitement at just the mention of the name is to be expected. However, it is the price tag associated with the Leica name that brings fear. Leica has long produced great camera optics. Their lenses are some of the best available. And while we would all love to have one in our bag, their high price tags frighten so many of us away.

Leica was second to the Full Frame Mirrorless market with the introduction of the SL TYP601. This model boasted a moderate 24 megapixel sensor, 11 frames per second continuous shooting, 4K video, 2 card slots and an ISO range of 50-50,000. Not bad specifications at all. However, when you look at its hefty price tag, you would have to concede that it is not yielding the best bang for your buck. Especially when you can get one of the Sony a7 series models for a fraction of the cost.

Like all Leica cameras, this model will certainly appeal to a niche bunch of photographers, The ones with big bank accounts! However, it has not offered any real competition to Sony thus far. But who knows what the future holds. There have been announcements as of late indicating that Leica, Sigma and Panasonic are working together with new Full Frame Mirrorless offerings. Stay tuned for what unfolds during 2019.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 3 – Nikon

Nikon Full Frame Mirrorless

Earlier this year, Nikon beat Canon to the punch with respect to announcing and launching their Full Frame Mirrorless offering. Like Sony, Nikon opted to release a standard resolution and a higher resolution model. The Z6 provides a moderate 24.5 megapixel sensor, up to 12 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 100 – 51200. The Z7 model provides the higher 45.7 megapixel sensor, 9 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 64 – 25600. Both models provide 4K video and only 1 XQD card slot. Some professional Wedding Photographers would cry at the prospect of having no backup card slots during the wedding shoot.

The Z series models also boast a new lens mount and some new lenses to go with it. Nikon also introduced the FTZ Mount Adapter which allows for the use of F-mount Nikkor lenses. This certainly appeals to the Nikon users who may have a large lens collection already built up.

Although they beat rivals Canon with their Full Frame Mirrorless announcement, time will tell if their offering triumphs over Canon as well as Sony.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 4 – Canon

Canon Full Frame Mirrorless

Last, to enter the Full Frame Mirrorless battleground in 2018 we have Canon and their Canon EOS R model. Like Nikon, Canon also has introduced a new RF mount. Similarly, they also released a mount adapter to accommodate existing Canon lenses. In fact, Canon went ahead and released three different mount adapter options. The EF-EOS R mount adapters enable the user to attach Canon EF and EF-S lenses to the new EOS R body. This is very much welcomed by the Canon faithful who have collected various EF and EF-S lenses over the years.

The EOS R boasts a nice 30.3 megapixel sensor, a DIGIC 8 processor, 8 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 100 – 40000. Like the Nikon offerings, this model also features only one memory card slot but of the SD variety instead of an XQD.

Canon also announced some new RF mount lenses. Like Nikon, the range is limited right now, but this will grow over time. The same was true of the Sony a7 series when that first launched.

As a Canon user, the Canon EOS R tempts me and appeals more than that of the other brand offerings. But truth be told, I will probably invest in a Canon 5D Mark IV before I start investing in a Full Frame Mirrorless model. I must be one of the few people on the planet who prefers the bigger and heavier DSLR models.

Stay tuned to see how the Full Frame Mirrorless war heats up further and evolves during 2019.

Gift Ideas For The Photographer In Your Life

We have just past that time of year where many people across the world celebrate Christmas. Families, friends and loved ones often exchange gifts. But now is the best time to start planning for next Christmas, right? In today’s digital age, chances are that at there is a photography lover within your family or your circle of friends. Or perhaps maybe you are in a relationship with a photographer. But what can you gift to a photographer? Are you struggling to think of gift ideas for the photographer in your life? Well no need to worry, because below are some gift ideas for you to ponder about and consider as potential gifts for that special photographer in your life.

Gift Idea – Tripod

I consider a Tripod to be a fundamental part of any photographers kit bag. It can be surprising how many people attend my photography Workshop/Training who do not have a tripod. A tripod is very useful for capturing sharp and crisp images in various shooting scenarios. But it is especially vital when shooting Product Photography, shooting in low-light or shooting long exposure landscape imagery. A tripod helps to keep the camera from moving which in turn avoids any blur or camera-shake during the exposure.

There are various models of tripods available out there. Smaller and lighter models suited towards traveling or shooting indoors. And then there are the heavier and more sturdy models which are very much needed for shooting outdoors in more adverse weather conditions. Also tripods typically can consist of either two primary materials. These are Aluminum or Carbon Fibre.  The former is normally cheaper but heavier. Whereas the latter is more expensive but also lighter. If the photographer in questions shoots a lot of seascapes or spends a lot of their time by the sea, then I would recommend going with the Carbon Fibre options. Carbon Fibre is more durable and resistant against the corrosive effects of salt water. You can get cheap tripods but I would always spending a bit of money and invest in a good one.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Camera Strap

Photographers who are constantly on the move and shooting subjects with their camera in hand, then a strap of some sort would be beneficial. You can opt for a strap that wraps around the neck or one that wraps around the wrist. I think the wrist straps are certainly very useful for smaller cameras. But I would opt for a neck strap for bigger camera and lens setups. The straps themselves can come in various materials. Leather ones can look rather nice. But I would recommend straps consisting of a Neoprene material. The flexibility of Neoprene will ensure that the strap does not cut into your neck when attached to a heavy camera setup.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Fairy Lights

These small light bulbs held together in a string like fashion are a great lighting accessory for any photographer to have in their arsenal. They can come in various lengths and colours. The string like nature of Fairy Lights provides great flexibility with regards to their usage. Photographers can use them as blurred (bokeh) foreground or background details within their Product, Lifestyle, Still Life or Portrait style images. They can really add interest to Still Life and Portrait shoots by wrapping them around objects or even your models.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Magazine Subscription

The internet is great for photographers these days. Plenty of video tutorials and blog content available for free, just like here on the Sleeklens Blog. However us photographers still like holding and reading through traditional photography magazines in our hands as well. Some magazines come out every week, some bi-weekly and some every month. Most magazine providers offer subscriptions. These are always a great gift idea. Simply purchase an annual subscription for the preferred magazine of choice and your loved one will be thinking of and thanking you every time a new issue arrives in the post!

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Gift Idea – Power Bank

Power Banks are very useful indeed. There are times when our devices have run out of juice and yet we have no means of charging them. This can happen frequently when shooting at outdoors locations or when traveling out on the road for a while. These Power Banks are like portable charging units that do not require a power source of their own. Instead, you charge these up while at home or at the office. Then they hold this power for you so that you can charge your devices on location when needed. These are useful for restoring some much needed power back to your phones, cameras or laptops while out and about.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Memory Cards

Sticking with the technology side of things, another great gift idea is Memory Cards. Whether our cameras use SD card or Compact Flash type memory cards, we can never have enough of them. The come in various different capacity and speed combinations. You can get large capacity cards that have a slow speed rating. These are normally the cheapest options available. You can also get both large or small capacity cards that have a faster speed rating. These are usually more expensive. Faster speeds allow enable faster writing of the data to the card. This is useful and very much needed when shooting in burst mode or at fast frame rates. Photography genres such as Sports, Wildlife, Events, etc. spring to my mind.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Memory Card Reader

If you are going to get them some Memory Cards, you might as well get them a Memory Card Reader as well. After all, what good is a memory card if there is no means of getting the images off the card and onto the computer. Of course you can use the cable that comes with the camera to connect it to the computer. But a Memory Card Reader is much more useful. They offer slots for various different card formats. A perfect solution for the photographer who has different camera models and different card formats.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – External Hard Drive

Another form of memory but this is more of an add-on to your computer as opposed to a camera accessory. Over time the photographer in your life is going to amass a large collection of photographs. All of these digital images will consume hard drive storage. External Hard Drives are a great way of catering for these increased storage demands.  You can get various capacity external hard drives. Some models require mains power and others powered via USB. I always recommend having multiple external hard drives. Several drives will provide some redundancy for your data. A backup of the backup or so to speak. Nothing worse for a photographer than to lose their image files. External Hard Drives make for an excellent gift idea.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Glass Sphere

This next gift idea will not provide any real technological or practical assistance to the photographer in your life. However, it will provide the potential for increased creativity and even some fun! These Glass Spheres can be used with good effect to produce some interesting imagery. The Glass Sphere will reflect and refract all light that passed through it. By focusing on the Glass Sphere with a large lens aperture the photographer will be able to shoot an inverted version of the scene with the real scene outside of the sphere being blurred.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Gift Idea – Drone

This is probably one of the more expensive gift ideas on the list. But one certainly worthy of inclusion. Drones are all the rage these days. You can get small inexpensive models or larger more expensive models. They capture video footage as well as still images. Some are definitely better than others. DJI provide some great industry leading models. But the increased quality does come at a higher cost. However, if you look around, there are always options to suit your needs and your budget.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Film Camera

Film Cameras are the perfect gift idea for those in your life with whom photography is an obsession. Not only do they look cool and retro but they are great for learning too. Shooting with analogue film will teach you a lot about your photography composition, understanding of light and exposure. You only have so many exposures available to you on the camera film. It also teaches to appreciate how hard the great photographers of yesteryear had it! Digital Photography has brought along a lot of advancements in technology which really does make it easier for the modern day photographer. You can find some expensive Film Cameras online that are probably in high demands among collectors. But you can also find very affordable Film Cameras. Don’t forget the rolls of film to go with it!

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Gets a Facelift

Lightroom Classic CC has been given a slight renovation and a facelift. Back in April of this year Adobe released and introduced users to version 7.3 of the much used and loved Adobe Lightroom Classic CC software. This Lightroom Classic CC update included bug fixes, support for new camera models and lenses as well as some new features and enhancements.  In this article, I am going to review some of the changes that this latest update introduced to the Lightroom Classic CC user interface. Specifically, I am going to be focusing on the changes made to the Develop Module.

Do You Have An Active Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription?

Before I dive into the user interface changes, I just want to point out that this update is only available for Creative Cloud members with an active account. Users with expired accounts or those using the older standalone Lightroom versions will not be entitled to avail of these new changes. Now would probably be a good time to renew your Creative Cloud account or even sign up for the first time. You can do so over on the Adobe website.

As of writing this article, the latest version available is that of version 7.3.1. The latest minor release was made available also in April shortly after the initial 7.3 major release was published. Version 7.3.1 was issued to address a few bugs that were reported in the early days after the initial 7.3 release. The Creative Cloud application always pushes down the very latest release of the Adobe products so you need not worry about getting an older version while updating.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Gets A Facelift

Once you have downloaded and installed the latest Lightroom Classic CC update, which will require you to close your Lightroom Classic CC application before allowing the installation to complete, you will notice a few changes within the Basic Panel within the Develop Module. These are the changes that I am going to discussing throughout the rest of this article.

In summary, these changes are:

  1. Camera Profiles Moved from Calibration Panel to Basic Panel
  2. New Camera Profiles Added
  3. Dehaze Slider Moved From Effects Panel to Basic Panel
  4. Tone Curve Size Increased

The first three out of the four mentioned above will be obvious to you once you check out the new interface. I personally really liked what I saw when I first launched my Lightroom Classic CC application after updating to version 7.3. In my mind, I always wondered why they had the Camera Profiles hidden away down in the Calibration Panel. Choosing the correct Camera Profile to play a major part in the overall look and feel of your image while processing as the Camera Profile will adjust how the colors are displayed as well as adjusting the histogram.  Anyway, let’s dive into each of the four updates that I outlined above in more detail.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

Camera Profiles

Moving the Camera Profiles from the Calibration Panel to the Basic Panel is a fantastic change and one that many of us welcomed in Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3. I am happy to see that Adobe has listened to its users as many of us have been wanting this for several releases now. It made absolutely no sense having the Camera Profiles hidden away in the Calibration Panel as it is the last panel listed in Develop Module. It never really surprised me when most of my Photography Workshop clients would inform me that they had no idea they could even change the Camera Profiles!

You can access all of these profiles by clicking on the icon (the one that looks like 4 boxes) on the right-hand side of where it says [Profile:].

Lightroom Classic CC Calibration Panel

This will then load the Profile Browser. By default, this is set to display in a Grid style layout whereby you will see Thumbnails of your current selected image with respect to each of the different profiles available for selection. You can change the layout from Grid to either the Large or List layout options but I personally prefer the default Grid layout.  The white box indicates the currently selected profile and the small star in the top right of each thumbnail indicates that the profile has been marked by you as a favorite.

Lightroom Classic CC Profile Browser

You can add and remove the various profiles from favorites list when and as you see fit. To do this, simply click on the star icon.

Not only have Adobe moved the Camera Profiles to the Basic Panel but they have also introduced updated and brand new profiles as well. Thanks to Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3, we now have the option and ability to choose between the new Adobe RAW profiles, the updated Camera Matching profiles and also some older Legacy profiles. As well as this, you can select between various new Creative Profiles that are contained within the Artistic, B&W, Modern and Vintage groups respectively.  Clicking on the drop-down arrow next to each of the Profile Groups will expand or collapse that particular group.

You can then simply scroll through the various Profiles until you come across one that you like. One of the features that I like here is that you can simply hover your mouse over the respective profile and it will render an example of the profile within both the Navigator image preview window to the top left of the Lightroom interface as well as in the main image preview window. The profile is actually only applied once you click on the profile.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

You will probably have noticed that I only had seven Profiles marked in my Favorites Group. My three favorite Camera Matching profiles and my 4 favorite Adobe RAW profiles. These are the profiles that best suit my needs and processing style. But of course, that is not to say that you cannot find something within new Creative Groups that will really suit your own style and help make your images pop!

Dehaze Slider Given A New Home

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Dehazed Slider

As you will see from the above screenshot of the Effects Panel the Dehaze slider has disappeared! Well, it hasn’t really. Adobe was again being nice and clever and moved it to the Basic Panel as well. It is now listed right under the Clarity slider and above the Vibrance and Saturation sliders. The new home for the Dehaze slider certainly makes sense, especially seeing as it is probably one of the basic adjustments that you might want to make while processing the image. I tend not to use the Dehaze sider a great deal myself but it is nice to have it available here in what is the main adjustments panels as opposed to being hidden away in another panel that I would otherwise never really go to.

The Larger Tone Curve

Along with the relocation and addition of new Camera Profiles as well as the relocation of the Dehaze slider, Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3 also introduced a larger Tone Curve. While the Tone Curve graph is definitely larger, I most certainly did not notice it straight away. But maybe that was just me? According to Adobe, “in this release of Lightroom Classic CC the Tone Curve has been expanded to optimize tone curve adjustments”. I never really had a problem with the old Tone Curve, so I will just have to take their word for it.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Tone Curve

 

My Thoughts On Lightroom Classic CC 7.3

Overall I really like this release. The relocation of the Camera Profiles from the Basic panel to the Effects panel was a great move. The addition of brand new Camera Profiles was a nice added bonus which I am sure will be appreciated and used by many Lightroom users. And the relocation of the Dehaze slider is also very welcome in my eyes. These changes certainly help speed up my processing workflow a little anyway.

 

Have you updated yet? How do you find this Lightroom Classic CC version? Let us know in the comments as I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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A Photographic Journey around San Felipe, Mexico

I have had the opportunity the past four months to live and photograph around San Felipe, Mexico. San Felipe is located in the Baja California and located about 2-3 hours south of the border along the side of The Sea of Cortes. San Felipe is filled with color, culture, great food, and beautiful desert land. Pack all of the correct gear for your travels and take an adventure to gather some great photographs. San Felipe SignOn your way to downtown San Felipe, you will first spot The Arches, a very popular monument of San Felipe. They call the arches “The Gateway To The Sea” The arches offers many angles. However, the only problem photographing the arches are all of the distractions around such as signs and wires, which you can Photoshop out later. Around and past the arches you will also find a hillside where you can explore to gather some more cultural photographs of the areas. This area is where you will find all of the best authentic food with local taquerias and is always a great photo op in itself by practicing your food photography. Down at the end of San Felipe is The Malecon, which sits next to The Sea of Cortes. The Malecon is lined with restaurants, shopping, and with a great view of the sea. This is where all of the events happen in towns such as food festivals, music festivals, and parades. This is a great place to take some iPhone street photography. San Felipe ArchesSan Felipe Culture

San Felipe Food Truck

San Felipe TacosSan Felipe TortaSan Felipe DowntownSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe Shrimp FestivalSan Felipe is also a great place to gather some night photography. One of the best spots for night photography is down at The Shipyard, which you will find at the end of The Malecon. The Shipyard used to be a marina but was flooded, and they could not move the ships, so they are left there are part of a San Felipe gem. Up on a hill, you will find a building, The Boom Boom Room, a place that has also been abandoned and a very interesting location to photograph during the day or evening. Up on a mountain, you will find a little yellow chapel that looks over the town of San Felipe and right next to it is the lighthouse, which you can shoot from ground level or up at the top where the prayer building is. This is a great place to work with your angles. If you are in town during the full moon make sure to catch the moon rise over The Sea of Cortes: I was there for supermoon, and it was an incredible experience and a really good opportunity to try my moon photography skills and also work with some post editing. San Felipe Tampico ShipSan Felipe BoomBoom RoomSan Felipe MexicoSan Felipe ChapelSupermoon in MexicoThere are many smaller day trips you can take from San Felipe for some great opportunities including more water and desert land. On a note of transportation, you will need some form of 4-wheel drive out in the desert. It is a famous landmark in the area is The Valley of The Giants and a photo opportunity you will not want to miss. The valley holds cardon cacti that stand nearly 50 feet high. You can also drive further south to Percebu where you will find a little more surf in the water and also a great location to find treasures along the beach. Along the way, you will find more abounded buildings and interesting homes and land to photograph. The desert land has a lot of beauty to offer, and San Felipe is surrounded by beautiful desert land. You can take a drive out west closer to the mountains for some more variety in your desert landscape. The desert also offers some interesting finds such as bones, rocks, and maybe even a carcass or two. If you are going out in the middle of the day, you will have problems with harsh lighting in your landscapes, but you can always enhance your lighting in post production with landscape Photoshop actions or Lightroom Presets and Brushes. Valley of the GiantsValley of the GiantsPercebuSan Feipe DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertI hope you have the opportunity to visit San Felipe in your future travels or even Baja California to discover color, culture, and beautiful desert land by the sea or ocean side. As they say in the Baja “No Bad Days!”

How to Improve a Dull Photo in Lightroom

Lately, I have been sharing with you several photographic journeys around Catalonia. I have shown you places as La Garrotxa, Sitges, and Barcelona. For me, nature and portrait photographer, it has been a nice challenge to take photos of streets and buildings. I discovered I like it a lot! Once back home, with the photos already in my Lightroom presets catalog, click here. I faced a new issue: how to improve some of the street photos I took? Some of them looked quite dull. My brain is used to think about softening images: I soften flowers to make them look more delicate, I soften wedding photos to make them look dreamy… but softening a street or a building?? It didn’t seem right to me. I did a bit of thinking and a bit of trying and I ended up finding a post-processing workflow that I like to use to improve dull photos. Are you interested in installing presets? See the details here.

I shot this photo in Olot. It might be familiar to you because I used to illustrate one of my last articles.

dull photo

You agree that this photo looks pretty dull, don’t you? However, if you look at the histogram you can see that this image has a lot of potential because no pixels were either too bright or too dark. They were all inside the dynamic range of the photo (If you are not familiar with histograms I invite you to take a look at the article of Julian H about Lightroom Histograms. Before starting working in Lightroom, I recommend you to stop and think what you want to achieve. This will give you an indication of which slides you need to move. In this photo, I wanted to do 3 important things: increase the contrast, give a bit of color to the buildings and recover the sky.

General adjustments

I always start by doing general adjustments (they affect the whole photo). For the first steps processing this photo, I used some of the slides in the Develop Module, specifically in the Basic panel.  I wanted to increase the contrast, so I moved the Contrast slider to the right (+19 in this case). To recover the sky of any photo, you can start by moving the Highlights slide to the left. In today’s photo  I moved it to -100. And to gain a bit of color I increased the Vibrance by moving its slide to +43. Just these 3 adjustments can already improve a dull photo, a lot.

dull photo

However, the buildings had too many shadows, so I moved the Shadows slider to +100 and I increased the exposure a little (+27).

dull photo

It is quite common that when you reduce the shadows of a photo, the contrast gets weak. But it is ok because just by darkening the blacks a bit (-36) you can recover the contrast.

dull photo

Local adjustments

The photo looks better already. However, it can be improved much more by doing adjustments to just some parts of the image (local adjustments). In this case, I wanted to recover the colors of both the sky and the buildings even more. There are several ways to add local adjustments to a photo using Lightroom. Today I used 2 brushes: one for the buildings and one for the sky. If you are not familiar with Lightroom brushes, don’t worry! There is a guide written by Mantas O. Ciuksys on how to use them that will help you a lot! The first brush I used all over the sky and as I wanted to recover the colors I moved the Highlight slider to -100 and I also gave a punch to the saturation (+13). More uses of brush in editing, see here.

dull photo
In pink, the area I brushed for editing just the sky.
dull photo
Here is the sky after applying the local adjustments using a brush with the settings marked by the red square.

The second brush was used on the houses. BUT just on the houses that I wanted to emphasize (the 3 first houses from the left side). This time I increased the saturation quite a lot (+80).

dull photo
In pink, the buildings I brushed in order to apply the local adjustments.

dull photo

You can see how the 3 houses changed after applying the brush to increase the saturation.

Final sharpening

The last adjustment was to increase the sharpening of the whole photo to +64 (Sharpening is in the Detail panel).

dull photo

Here you have the final photo. Much more colorful and vibrant than the dull original one!

dull photo

Using the Sleeklens Brick and Mortar Workflow

If you want to save time in your editing like the one I just showed you, I have good news for you!! You can use the Brick and Mortar Workflow, that comes with 78 presets and 28 brushes. I have been trying it for editing urban photos from my last articles and I am really happy with the results I got with just a few clicks.

The thing I like the most about these presets is that you can stack them, meaning that you can use several of them in the same photo. I will give you an example of this workflow using the same photo from before. I started by applying the following presets:

0-All In One – Beautiful Daylight. This gave already a great improvement.

5-Polish- Make it Pop (to increase the colors of the image).

5-Polish-Sharpening.

6-Tone-Warm-Highlights.

For local adjustments I used 2 of the Brick and Mortar Brushes on the 3 first houses on the left:

Exposure-Brighter Shadows.

Color-Saturation.

And that’s all! It took me less than 2 minutes to edit the photo! Here is the final result!

dull photo

I hope you enjoyed giving a bit of color to some dull photos. Feel free to contact me with any question or suggestions. What do you do with dull photos? Do you do something similar to what I do? Do you have a totally different workflow?  Have a happy post processing!!!

12 Best Light Meters Reviewed & Tested in 2020

I think that anyone with any basic knowledge of photography should be able to easily guess what photography light meter is used for because its name says it all. A camera light meter is used to precisely measure the amount of light around you so you can always be sure you are using the correct exposure on your camera. Light meters give you all the necessary values needed to achieve the perfect exposure like ISO, aperture and shutter speed. There are two major types of photography light meters, incident and reflected meters.

Incident light meters measure the amount of light falling onto the subject while reflected meters measure the amount of light that’s reflected from it. Incident meters are proven to be more accurate because they will provide accurate exposure even if you’re measuring light of surfaces that are too dark or reflective. Their only flaw is that they aren’t ideal for subjects that are too far away or moving too fast.

Reflective meters are more common since these type of meters are the ones used in cameras themselves. They measure different light levels in the scene and give you an average value based on these readings. All though they are faster than the incident light meters they can also be fooled by areas with large amounts of contrast or many different levels of light. Other two terms that need to be explained are spot meters and flash meters.

What’s a spot meter?

Spot meters are reflective meters that are used to very precisely meter certain objects in the scene with their readings unaffected by the very bright or dark spots in your image.

What’s a flash meter?

Flash meters are designed to measure the amount of light coming from a flash which can’t be done by traditional meters because of it’s very short duration that’s usually greater than 1/1000 of a second. There are also some special types of photography light meters available like cinema models with expanded settings for frame rates that can display lux, shutter angles or foot-candles or color meters or spectrometers that can measure color temperature and CRI or display spectrum graphs.

12 Best Light Meters

Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478DR-UGo to Amazon
The first thing you'll notice when you take a look at this meter is it's large 2.7 inch touchscreen providing for an easy and intuitive control over the interface and it can be used for both ambient and flash metering.
Overall rating:
73
Weight:
0
75
100
Design:
0
95
100
Price:
0
30
100
Features:
0
90
100
Pros
  • Incident Metering for Ambient & Flash
  • Range: -2 EV to 22.9 EV at ISO 100
  • Cine Setting: Frame Rate & Shutter Angle
  • 2.7" Color Touchscreen LCD
  • Flash Analyzing Function
  • Filtration Compensation Mode
  • Illuminance/Luminance Measurements
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Language is fixed depending where you bought the product
Click to read the full Review
It can function in the range of -2 to 22.9 EV at an ISO of 100. Beside being used for stills it can also be used for video with it's Cine and HD Cine modes which give you the ability to set your desired frame rate from 1-1000 fps and shutter angles from 1-358 degrees. Other features worth mentioning are flash analyzing function that uses both ambient and flash metering readings, filtration compensation mode which compensates for the light that is lost by using a filter and a memory mode for 9 readings. The maximum ISO range it can measure is from 3 to 409,600 in 1/3 increments. It runs on 2 AAA batteries and also features a mini-USB port for firmware upgrades.
Sekonic DigitalMaster L-758DRGo to Amazon
This multi-function meter is so feature packed that it's hard to decide where to start when talking about it's features.
Overall rating:
75
Weight:
0
80
100
Design:
0
97
100
Price:
0
25
100
Features:
0
98
100
Click to read the full Review
It offers both spot and incident measurement modes as well as flash and ambient. It also offers PocketWizard wireless triggering, exposure proofing, 14 slots for custom settings and even pre-exposure warning. All it's measurement capabilities can be calculated from ISO of 3 to 8000. Incident and reflected modes can work together to give you highlight, shadow and mid-tone measurements all displayed on the meter's analogy scale. Looking through it's rectangular 1 degree parallax-free spot viewfinder you can see f-stops, shutter speeds and a lot more in both dim and bright light situations. It can sense light down to f/-2.0 at an ISO of 100.

There's also the ability to set exposure compensations up to +/- 9.9 EV for custom film exposure corrections or bellow extensions and +/- 5.0 EV for filter compensation. This meter offers one interesting feature that analog camera shooters will love and that’s dual ISO capability. With it you can take a single measurement and display shutter speed and f-stop for two different film speeds. There are three different exposure profiles that can be saved and easily switched between and can also be created on your computer and transferred via an USB cable. At the bottom of the list of impressive features lies yet another one and that’s weather sealing.
Sekonic Flashmate L-308S-UGo to Amazon
If you aren't interested in all the fancy bells and whistles that more advanced models offer and you're looking for a more affordable but still quite functional solution this meter could be just for you.
Overall rating:
69
Weight:
0
95
100
Design:
0
60
100
Price:
0
50
100
Features:
0
70
100
Pros
  • Incident Metering for Ambient & Flash
  • 40° Reflected Light Metering
  • Range: 0 to 19.9 EV at ISO 100
  • Flash Range: f/1.4 to f/90.9 at ISO 100
  • Cine Setting: Frame Rates from 8-128 fps Repeat Accuracy: ±0.1 EV or Less
  • Compact Size with LCD Screen PC Sync Terminal
  • Cordless Flash Option Runs on One AA Battery
Cons
  • Expensive for what it offers
  • Batteries can run out quickly
Click to read the full Review
It meters both ambient and reflected light by using a 40 degree angle reception lens and it also meters flash lighting. While being very pocket friendly it still has a respectable metering range from 0 to 19.9 EV at an ISO of 100 and can also work with flash light ranging from f/1.4 to f/90.9 at the same ISO. It was also made with video and film makers in mind with included frame rate range of 8-128 fps and a shutter angle of 180 degrees. Lastly there's a 3-8,000 ISO range and it runs on just one AA battery.
Gossen DigiPro F2Go to Amazon
This is a good all-around flash and ambient light meter that can measure incident and reflected light in both modes.
Overall rating:
65
Weight:
0
98
100
Design:
0
30
100
Price:
0
70
100
Features:
0
60
100
Pros
  • Incident and Reflected Readings
  • Cord or Cordless Operation
  • Multiple Flash Measurements
  • Integrated Contrast Measurement
  • Swivel Head
  • Intuitive Digital Interface
  • Memory Function
  • Simplified CINE Meter
  • Exposure Displayed in 1/2 or 1/3 Stops
  • Ergonomic One-handed Operation
Cons
  • Expensive for what it offers
  • Outdated model in comparison with other brands
Click to read the full Review
With the help of integrated contrast measurement you can get an indication of whether the sensor of your camera can handle the high contrast subjects. It also features a convenient swivel head which gives you more control over your readings. The unit is quite small and ergonomic and can easily be used in one hand. It can display exposure values in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments, digital readout in 1/10 stops and analog indication of contrast in 1/2 step increments. There are also shutter speed and aperture priority modes available as well as an extensive range of frame rate speeds for video makers including the 25 and 30 fps modes. It can show exposure times from 1/8000 of a second to 60 minutes, has flash sync speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 of a second and can measure light in resolutions of 1/1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps.
Kenko KFM-1100 Auto Digi MeterGo to Amazon
Sometimes all you need is a simple, user-friendly and reliable meter and that's where KFM-1100 steps in.
Overall rating:
69
Weight:
0
90
100
Design:
0
30
100
Price:
0
75
100
Features:
0
80
100
Pros
  • Simple and easy-to-use ambient/flash meter
  • Accurate and full featured
  • "Analyze" function for mixed lighting
  • Flash-ambient ratio calculations
  • Cord or cordless operation
Cons
  • Can only store two measurements in memory
Click to read the full Review
An ergonomic design that sits comfortably in your hand and a large LCD display are the first things you'll notice while looking at it. Across the top of the display you'll notice a pointer scale which shows exposure in 10ths of stops and in 1/2 stop increments. Supported shutter speeds range from 1/8000 of a second to 30 minutes and 1 to 1/1000 of a second for flashes. It's cine mode supports frame rates of 8-128 fps. It can be used as an ambient meter as well as a flash meter with or without a sync cord and has an aperture range of f/1.0 to f/128. There’s also a calculation function that averages measurements stored in the memory which can be useful when measuring reflected light and you can store up to 2 of these. One last feature worth mentioning is the analyze function that uses both the flash and the ambient metering to help you measure the amount of light more precisely in mixed lighting conditions. On the power side of things the meter runs on 1 AA battery that can last up to 50 hours in ambient mode.
Sekonic C-700R SpectroMaster Color MeterGo to Amazon
If you've ever wondered what a real professional's light meter should look like than the C-700R should give you a general idea.
Overall rating:
70
Weight:
0
60
100
Design:
0
100
100
Price:
0
20
100
Features:
0
100
100
Pros
  • Measures Flash, LED, HMI, Fluorescent
  • Measures Tungsten, Natural Light
  • 100' PocketWizard Triggering Range
  • 4.3" Touchscreen
  • Color Spectrum Graph
  • Displays Rosco, Lee, Fuji, Wratten Names
  • Displays CRI, White Balance Compensation
  • Multiple Light Comparison
  • CMOS Sensor and Linear Variable Filter
Cons
  • Amazingly expensive
  • Big screen display can be fragile
Click to read the full Review
Right out the gate it boasts one very impressive feature and that's the ability to measure the amount of light of any type of light source be it LED, flash, natural, HMI or incandescent light. You can view all your readings on a spacious 4.3 inch color touchscreen and use one of the meter's many functions like spectrum graph, camera filter, CRI, lighting filter and white balance compensation. The R in it's name shows that it's capable of wirelessly triggering a PocketWizard connected flash at a maximum distance of 30 m or any flash for that matter just with a touch of a button. It's capable of measuring the amount of ambient light in the range of 1.0 to 200,000 lux and color temperature in the range of 1,600 to 40,000K. There's also a display mode called text mode which gives you the ability to see your color temperature, color compensation and light balancing filters for the color temperature you wish to achieve. While we're mentioning color temperature it's important to add the fact that it's linear CMOS sensor is very sensitive and can analyze the color temperature of any light source from 380 to 780 nanometers in 1 nanometer increments capturing spikes in the output.
Sekonic L-398A Light Meter Studio Deluxe IIIGo to Amazon
Here we have something a little different than anything else on this list and it's an analog light meter.
Overall rating:
54
Weight:
0
87
100
Design:
0
40
100
Price:
0
60
100
Features:
0
30
100
Pros
  • Amorphous silicon photocell
  • Needle lock for quick and easy measurement readings
  • Memory pointer for quick and easy reference to your last measured value
  • Swivel head and needle lock facilitate easy and accurate readings
  • No need for batteries
Cons
  • Analog meter
Click to read the full Review
I know that many of you wouldn't consider an analog meter to be comparable to it's digital peers or even useful in this day and age but you'd be surprised when you find out that it's not the case. This one is a redesign of their old classic meter and brings many new features that make it a competitive offering on the market. Firstly, it works without a battery, how awesome is that? It's made possible by using an amorphous silicon photocell. There's a needle lock for quick and easy measurement readings and a memory pointer so you can easily reference to your last measured value. Other features include a lumidisc that gives you the ability to adjust illumination contrast and measure illumination intensity and a lumigrid for measuring reflected light.
Gossen GO 4046 Starlite 2Go to Amazon
Another meter on this list that is catered to professionals and it has the features to prove it.
Overall rating:
47
Weight:
0
75
100
Design:
0
42
100
Price:
0
30
100
Features:
0
40
100
Pros
  • Waterproof Housing
  • Ambient, Flash, Cine and Luminance
  • 1-5° Metering
Cons
  • Expensive for what it offers
Click to read the full Review
First, it can work in ambient, flash and spot metering modes and can measure both incident and reflected light. It boasts an ISO range of 3 to 8000 which can be set in 1/3 step increments. Supported shutter speeds range from 1 to 1/1000 of a second for flash sync and 1/8000 of a second to 60 minutes in ambient mode. One of it's most impressive features is it's waterproof housing which makes it an interesting choice for outdoor shooters looking for that extra level of protection. You can measure ambient, spot or flash exposures in 1-5 degrees angle using it's viewfinder. Video makers will find it interesting because this meter requires no formula conversations. Using the 11-step gray scale you'll be able to obtain precise black and white values and you'll also be able to obtain foot-candles, lux and other readings by using the photometry. The power source for Starlight 2 is just one 1.5V AA battery.
Kenko KFM-2200 Cine and Flash MeterGo to Amazon
Firstly, this meter is capable of both incident and reflected light measurement, flash and strobes included.
Overall rating:
51
Weight:
0
82
100
Design:
0
30
100
Price:
0
41
100
Features:
0
52
100
Pros
  • Incident and Reflected Light Measurement
  • Flash Metering and Sync Terminal
  • Spherical 270° Diffuser
  • Spot Angle of 1°
  • Three Measuring Modes
  • Digital LCD Display
  • Viewfinder with Diopter Adjustment
  • Frame Rates from 2 to 360
  • Shutter Speeds of 30 min to 1/16000 sec Aperture Range of f/1.0 to f/128
Cons
  • Expensive in comparison with other competitors
Click to read the full Review
It's equipped with a spherical diffuser which can be rotated up to 270 degrees and can take spot measurement readings using the viewfinder. Like it's name implies it has enough features to be suitable for both photographers and video makers and the large selection of shutter speeds from 1/16000 of a second to 30 minutes really helps here. There's also an aperture range of f/1.0 to f/128 as well as the ISO range of 3 to 8000. You'll be viewing your measuring results on it's backlight display and you can also take spot measurements parallax-free viewfinder. It's able to store up to 10 measured values and has a custom alt mode that let's you set the meter to your liking. Lastly, there's a flash sync terminal that allows you to easily attach and meter flashes.
Gossen Digisky Digital GO 4039 Exposure MeterGo to Amazon
Modern and lightweight, these are the two major attributes that make this meter stand out from the crowd.
Overall rating:
77
Weight:
0
80
100
Design:
0
88
100
Price:
0
67
100
Features:
0
72
100
Pros
  • Incident, Reflected, Flash Readings
  • Color Graphic Display
  • Built-in Rechargeable Battery
  • Display: 1/10, 1/3, 1/2, 1/1 Stop
  • Cord, Non-Cord, Radio Measurement
  • Memory Function
  • Cine Meter Setting
  • 1/8000 Sec. to 30 Min. Shutter Speeds
  • 1/1000 Sec. to 1 Sec. Flash Synch SBC Silicon Photo Diodes
Cons
  • None
Click to read the full Review
Looking at the esthetics it's bound to attract attention with it's 2.2 inch color TFT screen, symmetrical button layout and shiny black plastic housing dominated by the red Gossen logo. It has an interface designed and optimized for easy one-handed usage and high performance that can also be updated via the integrated USB port. The software on Digisky also has four built in profiles that can all be individually customized and switched between at any time. If you're a video maker or a cinematographer you'll surely appreciate the built-in movie function which gives you the ability of setting values like ISO, EV steps, cine speeds, photometry, filter values and sector angles. HDR photographers will like the option to measure the contrast and illuminance of a subject. On the hardware side of things there’s also an integrated rechargeable battery. In the end, let's talk some numbers. It can display apertures from f/0.5 to f/128, shutter speeds from 1/8000 of a second to 30 minutes and flash measuring times from 1 second to 1/1000 of a second.
Shepherd Polaris Karat Flash MeterGo to Amazon
Full-featured and priced well, these are the two major things that mark this meter.
Overall rating:
87
Weight:
0
82
100
Design:
0
94
100
Price:
0
80
100
Features:
0
93
100
Pros
  • Incident and Flash Metering
  • Flash Duration Measurement
  • Multi-Flash Capability
  • Backlit Display
  • Custom Program Level Function
  • 2.4 GHz Wireless System with 300' Range
  • Receiver with Hot Shoe for Flash
Cons
  • None
Click to read the full Review
It measures both ambient and flash light in incident or reflected modes. One very rare feature it offers is the ability to measure flash duration. The front of the unit is dominated by it's backlight LCD display and a set of buttons underneath it and it's all packed up in a very sleek and functional package. The ISO range you'll find on it is from 3 to 8000, f/Stop range of f/0.5 to 90 and a measuring range of EV 1 to 19.9 in ambient and f/2.0 to f/90.9 in flash mode. It can store information of measuring modes, ISO and shutter speed in it's memory and is powered up by only one AA battery.
Ikan CV600 Digital LED Light MeterGo to Amazon
The last item on the list is a real treat for every enthusiast out there, so brace yourselves for some mean specs.
Overall rating:
67
Weight:
0
71
100
Design:
0
76
100
Price:
0
20
100
Features:
0
100
100
Pros
  • Exposure and Color Meter for Imaging
  • Designed for LED Lights
  • Measurement Range: 70-70,000 lux
  • Wavelength Range: 380-780 nm
  • CCT, CRI, TLCI, and More Color Options
  • EV, A, and T Modes for Exposure Readings
  • Flicker Detection up to 100 kHz/sec
  • 3.5" Color Touchscreen LCD
  • Runs on Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • SD Card Slot & USB 2.0 for Data Transfer
Cons
  • Amazingly Expensive
Click to read the full Review
It's design is rather understated but don't let that fool you, this is meter is a workhorse. The front of the device is dominated by the large 3.5 inch LCD touchscreen display and a simplistic graphical interface consisted of different colored tiles making it very easy to navigate through.

There is a large amount of different modes available for color readings like CCT, CRI or LB and shutter speed modes for exposure readings. It's measurement range is from 70-70,000 lux and it can record wavelengths from 380-780 nanometers. Other specifications include a flicker rate of 100 kHz/sec, maximum stray light of -25 dB and a spectral bandwidth of 12 nanometers. Last two features worth mentioning are the integrated Li-ion battery with a runtime of 5 hours and an SD card slot that is used to store JPEG images or Excel documents generated by the meter that contain important data about your lights.

Selection Criteria

Buying anything technology related can sometimes be a real chore if you don’t fully understand what you’re getting yourself into and things aren’t any different when it comes to products related to photography. What’s even more interesting is that it’s sometimes easier to choose a more complicated device like a camera itself, than some of its accompanying accessories. The story is pretty similar when it comes to choosing the best light meters; on the surface, they are simple devices with a very straightforward purpose and thus it should be really easy to pick the right one that will suit your needs, but often it’s the exact opposite and it can be hard to differentiate one light meter from the other. For that reason, we chose to create a model by which we can choose the best ones out there for you and create a list that will help you make the right purchasing decision and be satisfied with the item of your choice. So, let’s see what criteria we’ve used when writing this article and let’s examine each of its aspects in more detail.

The method of taking a reading – Most of the photography light meters can measure two different types of light: incident or reflected. Depending on your needs, you will either have to choose a camera light meter that’s able to measure one of those two types of light or one that can do both if you are prepared to accept a higher asking price. If you aren’t aware of what those types of meters are, then check our FAQ section in this article and read about them in more detail. Either way, we will always try to point out the exact functionality of each of the light meters in our article so you can be sure that you’ll pick the right one for you.

Power requirement – Photography light meters can either be digital or analog and despite all the advances in technology photographers and videographers alike still have use for both types in today’s times. Analog meters allow you to acquire your readings faster than the digital meters, but lack the advanced functionalities and features brought by modern technology. The analog meters also have one other advantage and that is their ability to work without batteries, which can be very beneficial in a lot of different situations. While the digital meters are more widespread these days, we will always make sure to offer you at least one analog meter to choose from in case you need that exact type of light meter.

Price – Just like with any product, for a lot of users the price is the most important factor that affects their final purchasing decision and the story isn’t any different with light meters. This means that you get a lot of choice when choosing the best light meter; you can opt in for a basic one that won’t cost much money, one with a nice balanced set of features and a reasonable price and also a high-end model that offers all the bells and whistles that are needed by any professional out there, but of course at a premium price point. While the latter are the most exciting ones to look at, our focus will always be on picking ones that will give you most of the functionality you would expect to find on a modern light meter, but without costing you very much money.

FAQs

What’s an incident reading and what is it used for?

Incident reading is used to measure the light that is falling directly over your chosen subject from a source that’s used especially expose that subject before anything else. To acquire the necessary reading, you’ll have to point your camera light meter toward your camera from the subject’s position. If you’re working in a controlled environment like a studio the incident meter will probably be your best choice for most of your needs since it doesn’t have to deal with the light changes brought by very dark or reflective surfaces and you’re in a total control of your lighting.

What’s a reflected reading and why should I use it over the incident reading?

Reflected reading is used to measure the entire scene and give you an overall estimation of the exposure settings you should use with your camera to get a photo with balanced exposure in each of the important areas. Since most of the people will be shooting in those conditions where there are constant changes in lighting, reflected meters are most commonly widespread out of all the other types. Even your camera light meter uses the same technology. There’s also a way to improve the accuracy of your readings even further and that’s by using something called an 18% gray card. It’s actually a very simple method as its main purpose is to provide you with a consistent surface that is easier to read the amount of light from.

What’s flash metering?

As its name already implies, flash metering is a special type of metering that only applies to those working with flashes and the specific type of light they emit. More than anything, this is due to very short bursts of light that are hard to measure by more conventional types of meters. These require a constant connection to your flash unit either via a dedicated PC port or wirelessly by using a strobe.

What’s spot metering?

Spot metering is a method of measuring the amount of light that reaches a very small portion of the image frame (usually one that ranges from 1 to 10-degree angles of view). It is based on reflective metering, but still requires a different type of meter altogether since a traditional reflected meter would be thrown off by all the different light sources in the scene and wouldn’t be able to acquire a very precise reading of the amount of light found in your desired spot. Some meters can also be adapted to work as a spot meter by attaching a special accessory to them.

What are specialty meters and what are they used for?

While the more traditional photographers will be satisfied with all the functionality brought on by the usual types of light meters that can be found on the market, there will always some users that require something with a couple of additional features and made for an entirely different use. When talking about specialty meters we are mostly referring to those working with video, rather than still pictures. Since movies are made out of a lot of different frames that move very quickly it is very hard to accurately measure the light in your scene without a special cine model of light meter. These are usually equipped to take into account the different framerates and also display their measurements in units such as foot-candle or lux. Other than those types of meters you can also expect to find some that are able to provide you with extra information such as color temperature or even provide you with a spectrum graph.

Why should I consider buying a dedicated light meter when my camera already has one?

While it’s true that most of the basic functionality provided by a dedicated light meter is already contained inside of today’s cameras and will be enough for casual users and amateurs there’s still too much use case scenarios in which the integrated light meters won’t suffice. This is particularly true in terms of metering precise parts of your scene, for those occasions when you’re doing professional work with the use of flash units and especially if you’re a videographer or movie maker and getting the most accurate exposure possible is of utmost importance. So, in a nutshell, dedicated light meters aren’t made for everyone, but if you’re considering yourself to be a professional of any kind, you should seriously consider having one as a part of your gear.

Travel Photography – How to Shoot Crowded Locations

Introduction In travel photography, it can be difficult to photograph locations filled with tourists, but nevertheless, we want to get amazing photos of the great places on this earth, which often happens to be filled with tourists.In this article, I will give you some tips on how you can photograph places with a lot of tourists and get incredible results. I will be using my trip to Venice as an example throughout the article.

Before you go

If you plan to visit popular tourist destinations and look to do a lot of photography I highly recommend that you go off-season, when there are fewer tourists. In Europe, the high season will be during the summer months for most places, and therefore it is preferable to visit sometime else during the year. Depending on the location the months just before or after summer can be great to visit but also during the colder months. By choosing seasons with low numbers of tourists you will find it much easier to photograph places without getting tourists in the frame anywhere you point your camera. I went to Venice in October which turned out to be a great decision, the weather was nice with temperatures reaching twenty degrees celsius (still needed warm clothes for sunrises and sunsets) and primarily there were considerably fewer tourists compared to the summer months.VenedigPS21-2

You also need to bring a suitable camera equipment depending on what you will be photographing, Besides from your camera I recommend that you at least bring a normal zoom lens and if you have, a wide angle and telephoto lens. If the normal zoom lens doesn’t have an aperture of f/2,8 you could consider bringing a normal prime lens as well. For my style of photography a tripod is invaluable, so I recommend bringing that as well if you are going to do anything else than shooting in daylight, which I strongly encourage for many reasons (more on that later). In Venice, I almost exclusively used my 24-70mm f/2,8 on my Nikon D800 which was a great setup that worked for street photography, cityscapes, and various other shots.

If you haven’t already been to the location you are going to you should also research what places are good for photography. Sites like 500px.com are great to get inspiration from. Knowing what places to visit before you go can save you a lot of time and effort when you arrive and will, of course, help you find good places to photograph.

VenedigPS34

Shooting beautiful places and avoiding tourists

If you want to get fantastic photos of usually crowded places a quite obvious solution is to go when the place is empty, luckily this is usually the same time that the light is the most beautiful, only drawback being that your sleep might suffer. Sunrise is a great time to capture places that are usually packed full of tourists since most of them still will be sleeping and the light usually is perfect. I recommend that you wake up with enough time to arrive at the place you plan to photograph (know where you are going in advance and stick to one place per sunrise) and still have some time to set up before the sun actually rises, and sometimes you can find some great photos just before sunrise. This might mean that you have to wake up as early as 05.00 in some cases, but trust me, it’s worth it.

VenedigPS11-2
Early sunrise in Venice
VenedigOktober2014-D800-Redigerade-153
The same location later on the same day.

Another alternative is to photograph places at night using long exposures, this will, of course, yield an entirely different look to the photo and the risk of tourists will be entirely eliminated (for the most part at least).

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If you are staying in the same place for a while it can be a good idea to come back to a place several times if you are not happy with the photos at first. Maybe you wanted to capture a fantastic sunset looking out over a city but when the time comes your sunset is ruined by a thick layer of clouds. In this case, you might be able to come back the next day and get a fantastic photo.

Another important tip is to be patient. Try not to be frustrated when a couple of selfie stick-wielding tourists are blocking your perfect shot of the Rialto Bridge, but rather set up your tripod, frame the picture and be ready to press the shutter as soon as they move out of the way. This is relevant not just when waiting to get a clear shot but also while waiting for the light to change for the better, I once stood for two straight hours on the top of Tour Montparnasse in Paris packed full of tourists waiting for the light to be just right so I could get the shot of the Eiffel Tower that I really wanted. Eventually, I got the shot.

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Since the tourists are gathered among the most famous sites you can try your luck exploring less known parts of a city, you might be surprised by what you can find. But when you are photographing those famous landmarks, try to do it differently from everybody else. This can be done by finding unique angles or concentration on details among other things.

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Also, you should not rely on Photoshop to fix issues there might be with your picture, like bad technique or tourists in the frame. Yes, you can do a lot in post-processing, but it is always best to start out with the best possible shot, so if there is something you are not happy with, try to fix it on location. But don’t forget that if it’s done right it can be really interesting to have people in your images as well.

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If there really are too many tourists that won’t be moving out of the way at any time soon (and you can’t come back later) you can use a really dark ND-filter to achieve a very long exposure, which will make the tourists disappear, as long as they are not standing still.

Summary

In conclusion, we can say that it is important to plan ahead and time your shots if you want to avoid tourists ruining your photos. But there are also some techniques for dealing with the tourists if you really have to face them. With this in mind, I hope that you will capture some truly amazing photos on your next visit to a tourist magnet!6-2

Night Photography: Tips & Tricks

Photography is about light and shadow

, but which camera settings and equipment should be used for night photography when there are low light conditions? To show you how night photography works let me teach you some tips and tricks to get the most out of your shot.

Tripod

A tripod is an absolute must

if you want to shoot in the night because you will mainly shoot with a slow shutter speed and a tripod will avoid camera shake, even the slightest bit of camera movement will result in a blurred picture. So, you will receive much sharper images while using a tripod. Just choose a basic tripod, it should be solid and stable, but it shouldn’t weight too much and it should hold up your camera equipment weight.

A tripod with a spirit level would be a nice extra, but it’s not necessary because every modern camera has a built-in digital spirit level. For example the “Hama Traveller Pro” is a great basic tripod to start with, it has a spirit level and a ball head in order to be flexible. If you, for any kind of reason have no tripod with you, just place your camera on a steady surface in order to take a sharp image, but this is not recommended, so be sure to bring along your tripod when photographing a night scene.

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Remote Control

Using a camera remote control will make night photography much easier, it will minimize camera motion, despite they are actually not very expensive. While shooting a beautiful night scene, the best option would be to choose a wireless camera remote control to get the best out of your image.

Wide angle lens

I would recommend choosing a lens with a 2.8 aperture, so you can shoot at low ISO’s. Choosing a zoom lens for night photography can help getting better results because you will become more flexible, you can easily zoom in and out depending on the focal length you need. A great wide angle zoom lens for beginners would be the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, it has a wide aperture (2.8), has an image stabilizer, a good sharpness, the 15mm focal length is very wide and overall range available in this lens is quite useful.

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Use live view

If your camera supports the live view function, you should turn it on. It will help you to get more control over focus because you can easily zoom in to test your image sharpness and to see where your focus point is. So in the live view mode, you can adjust your focus point precisely while using the manual focus ring of the lens.

 

The starburst effect

You can achieve the starburst effect by using a narrow aperture, set the aperture at f16 and all the city lights in your image will become nice shiny stars. But mind that you will lose a lot of light while using a narrow aperture, so you have to use a slow shutter speed in order to get enough light.

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Long exposures at night

Long exposures at night will bring stunning results

, for example, if you photograph a street which has a lot of traffic at night, a Ferris wheel or simply stars which can produce beautiful light trails in a combination of a slow shutter speed and the rotation of the earth. Don’t forget to bring along your tripod, as it is impossible to get a sharp image when you take an image at a slow shutter speed.

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White Balance

If you shoot RAW, which I recommend for night photography, white balance actually is not as much of an issue since you can adjust the white balance in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw. Simply use the auto white balance setting if you are unsure about which white balance mode you should choose.

Image Composition

I would recommend studying the scene you want to photograph before it starts getting dark, so you have enough time to decide on an image composition, because as we know image composition is one of the most important elements of photography.

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We hope you enjoyed this guide! Now it’s time to pack your gear and set off to take some amazing night photographs to dazzle your clients. See you next time!

All images by Phil Davson.

Sleeklens Rain and Snow Overlays: A Comprehensive User’s Guide

Introduction to Rain and Snow Overlays

By using rain and snow overlays you can make your photos more interesting and to a greater extent control the look of your photos. Maybe you wish to achieve a moody look but were afraid to get your camera wet in the rain, or you may wish to create the perfect ambiance in a winter scene but the snow is missing, then our overlays will come to great use.

The principle for applying rain and snow overlays are the same and this article will focus on how to apply and adjust the overlays to your liking.

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Snow overlays

work best when there is snow already on the ground, but it will also work in situations when there might be fresh falling snow. The key here is that there shouldn’t be clear (too) clear skies and that there are no elements showing indications of another time of the year, for example, certain blossoms or the lushness of various vegetations. If there are no signs of snow on the ground it might be smart to use an overlay with less intensity, to really sell the effect.

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Rain

Rain overlays

can, of course, be used on photos from the entire year, but it is still important that there are no signs of very clear weather or similar. If the selected photo is pretty bright and vibrant an overlay with very heavy rainfall would not be a suitable choice. Generally speaking, you can use more heavy rainfall overlays as the photos get darker and moodier. There are of course exceptions to this guideline.

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How to Apply the Overlays

Here is the list of steps you need to take to apply the overlays:
1. Importing and resizing
2. Choose Blend Mode and Opacity
3. Colouring and Blurring (not always necessary)
4. Applying layer mask (if needed)

1. Importing and resizing

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The first thing you have to do is to import the overlays you want to apply to an image, this is easily done by dragging the overlay from its folder onto your image in Photoshop. When you import the overlay you should be able to resize it directly and now you just have to make sure the overlay covers the entire image, or you can make it even bigger if you like. You can always change the size and position of overlays later using the Free Transform tool (Ctrl + T).

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When you are satisfied with the size and position of the overlay just accept by clicking the checkbox icon at the top or press enter.

2. Choose Blend Mode and Opacity

What blend mode you choose is important for the look of the overlay, and you can also change the opacity to get the desired intensity of rain/snow. To choose blend mode you need to have the layer containing the overlay selected and then selecting the blend mode quick menu above the layer panel. The recommended blend modes are “Screen”, “Color Dodge” and “Linear Dodge”. These will make all the black parts disappear leaving just the rain or snow left.

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Here you can see how the blend mode “Screen” has removed all the black and adding rain to the image beneath. You can also try “Color Dodge” and “Linear Dodge”, these will give you a brighter, almost glowing, look to the rain or snow.

Next, you can reduce the opacity if want a more subtle effect, simply type in the percentage you want or drag the slider.

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3. Colouring and Blurring

This step is not necessary for many occasions, but sometimes it can make a big difference for the overlays. If you find that the rain or snow looks too harsh you should fix it using “Gaussian Blur“. Since the rain doesn’t really have any color in itself but can be “coloured“ by the light in a certain situation, for example, the rain can have a slightly warm tone during sunset. To mimic these situations you need to add some colour to your overlay using a Hue/Saturation filter. If you use the blend mode “Color Dodge“ you do not need to do this since it will pick up some of the ambient colour.

To add a colour tone to an overlay you need to open a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer while having the overlay layer selected. You then need to link it the layer below by clicking the “clip to layer“ icon, the icon furthest to the left in the icon row in the bottom of the Hue/Saturation panel. You also need to tick the box “Colorize“.

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You can now change the hue, saturation and lightness sliders to set a fitting tone for your overlay. Keep in mind that it should make the overlay blend better with the rest of the image. In this case, we can see that the photo has a quite cool tone to it, so we need to set the hue to something blue, and we will also keep the saturation low because we do not want the rain to look too much coloured. The lightness should usually be around zero.

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As you can see the difference is quite small, but it is important that the rain or snow fits in the picture.

If you want to make the rain or snow a bit softer you can apply a gaussian blur. Go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur while still having the overlay layer selected. Type in a value somewhere around 1 to 4, depending on the size of rain/snow. In this case, I will choose 0,8 since the raindrops are small in this overlay.

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Now the basic look of the overlay is finished.

4. Applying Layer Mask

If the snow or rain is covering an important element of your picture you can remove with help of a layer mask. In this case, the raindrops are covering the girl’s face and clothing, and since the overlays are made in such a way that displays depth this can look a bit weird on some occasions. Since rain falls at different distances from the camera it would be strange if the small raindrops, that should be further away, falls in front of a subject closer in the frame. This might completely ruin some pictures with a lot of depth, primarily portraits. For the same reason, we also need to make sure that the bottom of the frame is free from rain since the bottom is closer to the camera and that means that the smaller raindrops should not be visible.

First, you need to create a layer mask, by clicking on the layer mask icon in the bottom of the layers panel. This will create a layer mask in white, and everything that is white in the layer mask is visible, while everything black will be hidden.

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Now you simply have to select the brush tool (B) and make sure the brush is soft and color set to black. By painting on the area of the overlay you want to remove you can get rid of rain/snow that is unwanted.

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Here is the finished photo

Conclusion

We hope you have found this guide useful and that you will be able to use these techniques in your own photos. When you have mastered these basic skills for applying overlays you can go on with experimenting with other ways to get the most out of our rain and snow overlays, or our starburst overlay. You may also try our sky overlay for PhotoShop. The possibilities are endless and just waiting for you to explore them.

Recovering blown out images in Lightroom

Fall can be a great time to capture many different looks, because of the constant change in weather and colors. On the day of the photo, I wanted to be able to move around quickly and did not want to lug around a bunch of equipment that would get wet and dirty, so all that I used was my camera and tripod. Only using natural light saved me from having to bring extra gear, but also presented a problem. On this day it was very rainy, misty and foggy which gives me the atmosphere I am looking for, but it often times looks washed out in the raw file. If you have ever shot in fog, you know that it can be hard to capture enough detail in the distance and keep your subject properly exposed. All of the moisture in the air catches the light and often times gives you blown out the part in the image.

In this tutorial I am going to walk you through what you need to know to be able to recover an image in Lightroom, that may be blown out.

1. Temperature

This is what the RAW file looks like straight from the camera. The only difference I made was turning down the temperature slightly, as I had my original at around 5500. Now you may be wondering, how do you know where to set the temperature and in reality I don’t. All of these adjustments are not in an exact order, there is a lot of jumping back and forth, from section to section and tweaking until you find what you like. I turned down the temperature knowing that I wanted a cooler and more moody feeling to the image. I wanted to bring out the cold and lonely feeling of someone in a world of their own.

Before we go to the next step take a look at the Histogram and notice the lack of detail in the sky portion of my image.

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2. Exposure

This is where we are going to make the adjustments to be able to recover some of that sky. I mentioned earlier that shooting in this kind of weather becomes hard to expose properly because the dynamic range can be so vast. When I was shooting, my objective was to set my camera so that I could get as much information in one exposure as possible. There were other ways I could have set the camera (like boosting the ISO) to capture more info, but I kept getting the little island blown out, so I stuck with the settings you see (right under the histogram).

I boosted the shadows/blacks and brought down the highlights/whites. I normally would not do such harsh adjustments, but I needed to in this situation, to achieve my end result. If you compare the histogram of the 1st image with the one below, you will notice that not as much of the right side (white/highlights) of the histogram is clipping.

We can now see that there are some clouds in the sky (slight as they may be) and it is not all white, with no information. This is not enough, though, we have information in the sky, but the image looks bland and the color still does not fit the mood we set out to create originally. The next few steps will be more about editing the color.

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3. Color

Steps 3,4 and 5 are a peek into some of the color editing decisions I made to pop the subject out at the same time as showing some of the background information we recovered, using the previous steps. I will be doing a color editing tutorial in the future, but in the meantime check out our tutorial for giving your photos a retro feel. In the previous step we recovered the highlight and shadow details, but in the process, we flattened out the image. To fix those adjustments one way to add contrast and color adjustments to your photos, is to use the Tone Curve.

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4. Color

Next, I played around the HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance), again just a peek at your own photos will ask for different settings.

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5. Split Tone

Then I added more of a cool color to my shadows, using the Split Toning.

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6. Final Steps

After getting the color  I was going for, I did some light spot removal and added some noise. I do have to mention that for the color work mentioned above, I did use a preset as a starting point and then tweaked it to fit my needs. If you want some presets to speed up your process or to just get you going in a direction, check out the presets available by Sleeklens.

7. Additional Tips

Like many things, when it comes to editing photos in Lightroom/Photoshop there are many ways to get to the final result. If you need to be more precise using tools like the adjustment brush or graduated filter, it will help you get results to specific areas and not have to worry about affecting the whole image.

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8. Conclusion

Remember, the best way to set yourself up for success in your post processing is to have an idea of what you want your final image to look like. Shooting to capture all of the information in the raw file will help you later.

Make your B&W Pictures Stand Out with Sleeklens Presets

Black&White photography despite being a common theme in both amateur and professional photography requires a good amount of skill in order to transform your pictures properly into Black&White. Even if some cameras can shoot in this mode, it is better if you shoot in normal tint mode and then use external software in order to create the Black&White effect. With the help of Sleeklens presets, we are going to create a stunning B&W picture inside Adobe Lightroom!

Open up Lightroom and import the picture you want to edit. In my case I’ll be working with this picture of a goat resting on what seems to be a chopped tree. Switch to the develop module.

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For this workflow, we are only going to adjust the White Balance in the Basic Adjustment panel.

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As you can see, the image now looks warmer.

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Now it’s time to work with the Black&White preset bundle from Sleeklens. One thing to consider is that this preset bundle makes a difference with images in RAW and images in JPEG, which is quite the advantage since color management doesn’t work the same way with unprocessed files such as RAW photos.

The bundle allows users to adjust the image with regards to the amount of Contrast managed with the Sliders. In my opinion, I usually work with Medium Contrast presets in most cases, since they apply to almost every kind of scene we have, but on certain occasions we may use either High or Low contrast settings.

First I am going to apply a MedCont2 preset for this image. Why didn’t I choose MedCont1? Because as you can see the result would have ended up being brighter than what I intended. Since I plan to add a black vignetting effect to reinforce the B&W feeling, the MedCont2 works better, whereas the MedCont1 works perfectly for a white vignetting effect.

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Add an Ultrasharp preset to this composition in order to bring in more detail. Be careful if you previously added some extra adjustments with the Basic Panel, as the image might start looking like an HDR from the excessive detailing, rather than a stunning B&W.

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Finally apply the AddVignetting preset for creating the vignetting effect and voilà!

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If we do a Before/After shot now we can appreciate how, in only a very few clicks, we managed to make this common image into a beautiful Black&White picture.

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Presets apply to all users, regardless of their skills or their experience inside Lightroom. Just try to “label” your work in order to make the decision easier of which preset bundle suits your needs, and let Sleeklens do the magic for you!