A Bee Flying

Wasp on Lavender by Ste Manns on 500px.com

Again I have been looking through old Fuji .RAF files and I came across this picture, taken a couple of years ago with my Fujifilm X-E1 together with a very old (£3!!) Helios 58mm f2 lens, using a cheap M42-X mount adaptor.  I originally over edited this image on an uncalibrated rubbish screen and had never been happy with the result.  The original shot wasn’t spectacularly  sharp to begin with considering it was a handheld shot using a manual focus lens, but it wasn’t bad.  Today I stumbled on the original RAW file and decided to have another go at editing to see if I could improve on my previous result.

Firstly, if you would like to make pictures like this, I have found the best way to do it is as follows:

  •  have as fast a shutter speed as is possible
  •  pre-focus your lens (if you are using an auto focus lens make sure you switch it to manual focus otherwise the lens will ‘hunt’ trying to find something to focus on)
  • focus by moving your body closer and further away
  • take lots of shots.  This technique is very hit and miss.

This way of working takes lots of patience and you won’t get many keepers – in fact you’ll find, if you’ve never done it before, you’ll need to practice moving in and out and holding your position when you find focus.  Don’t try to hold your breath as you’ll find you’ll never get it right.  What I do is time my shutter press to coincide with the moment I naturally pause breathing in between breathing in and out, it’s fine to try to hold that moment a split second but holding your breath fully will introduce ‘stress’ which then makes it harder to stay absolutely still.

I also find sometimes for fast moving subjects such as the bee in this case, a high speed continuous shooting can help, although in this case I shot in single shot mode and got away with it!

Back to the processing.  This time around I have only used Lightroom 5.7.  I haven’t done a lot, except brought the Blacks down slightly, added a small amount of Clarity (+20).  I gave the colour of the Lavender a very slight boost in saturation (+3) and my sharpening was as follows:

  • Sharpening : default (25)
  • Radius : default (1.0)
  • Detail : 100
  • Masking : 30

I have found these settings the most pleasing for Fuji .RAF files in general, I use other settings depending on the subject and how I want the final image to look but you won’t go far wrong with the above settings, in my opinion.

Finally, I created a virtual copy and converted it to black and white, just to see what it would look like.  I adore monochrome images and tend to try it for most of my images.  I like to have different ‘versions’ of images so I don’t have to decide on one particular look.  I also find clients like to have that choice too.

 

Wasp on Lavender by Ste Manns on 500px.com

 

 

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A Bee Flying

Thoughts on Fujifilm X Series RAW files

Pebbles by Ste Manns on 500px.com

I have recently been revisiting old Fujifilm X Series RAW files I have sitting on my hard drive gathering virtual dust.  A quick search on the internet will bring up a plethora of issues with Fuji’s .RAF files, how best to sharpen them, what is the best converter to even how to open them in the first place.  Everyone has their own opinion on the hows and whys, I prefer not to get too bogged down with that sort of thing preferring to concentrate, at least for personal work like the above photograph, on the emotive and aesthetic side of the end result.  I am a great believer in getting things right in camera, especially when I am using Fujifilm X series cameras, however as will become clear over time as I develop this website I am also very keen on the post processing aspect of modern digital photography.  It is a duality I am perfectly at ease with and I can switch happily between the two depending on how I feel at the time or indeed where necessity lies.

One of the great joys of the Fujifilm X series cameras for me is how you can embrace both these different approaches.  These cameras, as every X shooter knows, produce simply amazing and breathtaking Jpegs straight out of camera, and also the RAW files have great latitude and are fantastic for getting creative with, at least now we have the right support from the likes of Adobe and their latest Camera Raw plugin.

The above image was originally shot with a Fujifilm X-E1 together with the excellent Fujinon XF 18-55 kit lens.  I was on a day trip to Bridlington with my family, I took a lot of pictures that day and it is a fond memory for me, I remember shooting RAW + Fine, using the wonderful Fuji film simulations and I was experimenting with the various aspect ratios built into the camera.  I believe I originally posted this image straight out of camera in black and white + red filter at 1:1, which brings me to those RAW files again.  Because I kept the RAW files I have now, almost two years after the original outing, been able to make another version of the same picture in colour and at 4:3 aspect.  I also tweaked the image a little, using a subtle gradient layer to give the shot a calmer mood and to give it a completely different atmosphere.

I love the Fujifilm X series cameras and this image is a prime example of why.  The retro design gives me that certain nostalgic feeling lacking in most modern cameras and the fantastic Jpegs coupled with the film simulations allows me to pop out on a photowalk and feel as close to the ‘good old film days’ as possible whilst also giving me the advantages of the modern digital world.  I’ve had many digital SLRs but they’ve always lacked a certain something and I was never able to put my finger on it until I used a Fujifilm X camera, and of course I can still capture RAW files for when I want to get creative in post production.

 

Thoughts on Fujifilm X Series RAW files