Hi {name},

Happy New Year, and welcome to Lenscraft in Focus for January 2024.

At this time of year, it’s customary to talk about plans and resolutions for the year ahead. I’m no different in that I’ve been thinking of ways to improve my work. One of my goals is to become more creative by exploring new photography concepts and approaches. If you are a regular reader, you may know that I’ve begun using my iPhone for photography, and that’s beginning to pay off. Another goal is to venture out, whatever the weather.

In the past few years, I’ve tended to head out only when the weather looks promising. That’s great for getting keeper images, but it has a couple of drawbacks:

  1. All my images look quite similar in style.
  2. It makes for much less photography, as the weather is often dreadful, particularly in winter.

In the run-up to Christmas, I tested this idea with a trip in poor weather. It was raining hard at the time, and I was soaked. Despite this, I like the photos I captured a lot, including this one.

Lenscraft in focus January 2024 newsletter main image

I shot the photo using the Olympus EM5 Mark 3 and Leica 12-60 lens at 60mm. The camera was on a tripod with the aperture set to f/6.3 and ISO64. This produced a 0.8-second exposure, but because I was shooting with the camera in high-resolution mode, it produced a wonderful surface texture on the stream.

When it came to processing, I did the RAW conversion in Lightroom using the Dark Image System I’ve been developing. I then applied additional adjustments using the Nik Collection in Photoshop.

This isn’t my usual subject matter, but the conditions prevented me from shooting much else. When I spotted the log, I thought the texture and shape were wonderful.  As usual in the rain, my camera was set to shoot black and white. It wasn’t until I came to process the image on a computer that I found the colours were amazing. Another great surprise which highlights why it’s important to experiment.

Although I’m delighted with this image, it’s not the only new area I want to explore. For some reason, Fuji Film Recipes have also caught my attention in recent weeks. You can read more about those later in this newsletter. I hope you enjoy it together with the other articles this month.



Website Improvements

I’ve been struggling with the design of a section of the Lenscraft website for a while: the Tutorials Page. There are now hundreds of tutorials on the site, spanning a wide range of photography and photo editing subjects.  So many in fact, that it’s becoming difficult to find what you need. That’s why I’ve made a couple of changes.

The first was to revise the search feature in the menu.

Lenscraft website improvements, menu search feature

If you look at the menu on any page, you will see an icon displaying a magnifying glass. Click this to open a search field where you can enter keywords you’re interested in, for example, “PhotoLab Soft Proof”. Then, when you press enter on your keyboard, it returns a list of related articles with the most relevant first.

The next change is to the Tutorials Hub page. You see this when you click the “Tutorials” heading in the menu. It now shows recent tutorials and articles grouped by subject. For example, if you are interested in Affinity Photo, scroll down to that section where you will see the most recent Affinity Photo articles. If you want to see more than the few listed items, click the “More…” link at the bottom of the section.

In addition to the new Tutorial Hub Page, I’ve also created a Search page for tutorials. You can access this from the new “Search Tutorials” option under the Tutorials menu. Here, you can select from one of three categories or search them all. You can then filter the results using a dropdown list and keywords.

I hope you like the improvements and find them helpful.

New Lenscraft Content

Over the past month, I’ve focused on publishing new tutorials and updating old ones. Here’s the list of the changes you can find on Lenscraft.

How To Blur The Background In Affinity Photo
In this tutorial, we look at three steps to blur the background of a photo using Affinity Photo. The starting image below features two people against a slightly blurred background.
How To Find Missing Photos in Lightroom
In this article, we look at how to find missing photos in Lightroom. We also look at why photos can go missing to help you avoid this problem in the…
Fix Converging Verticals With DxO ViewPoint 4
In this article, I'll explain how to fix converging verticals using DxO ViewPoint 4. It is, of course, possible to avoid converging verticals when you capture your photo. If you'd…
How To Avoid Converging Verticals
Converging verticals is the name given to a perspective effect seen in photography. It's commonly associated with using a wide-angle lens. Because of this, some people mistakenly call it wide-angle…

From Around the Internet

Here are some of the interesting photography resources I’ve found online this month.

CameraCraft Free Nov/Dec Issue

In the days before Christmas, I received an interesting email saying the Nov/Dec issue of CameraCraft magazine was available to view for free. I subscribed to this magazine for quite a few years back in the early 2000s but stopped after it was sold. Now that David Kilpatrick has returned as the editor, things have changed, and the magazine has regained its appeal.

This magazine is for real photography enthusiasts and isn’t just designed to sell equipment. David Kilpatrick is an extremely knowledgeable photographer, and when I contacted him, he was very happy for me to share the free edition with you. Please feel free to share it with other photographers who you think might be interested. I hope you enjoy it.


Fuji Film Recipes

Following my recent foray into iPhone photography, I have a newfound respect for the humble JPEG image.  As I explained recently in an article where I tested my iPhone enlargements, I’m not finding quality an issue when working with today’s software. And this set me thinking…

In the past, I’ve tended to shoot with my camera set to record only RAW data. I would completely ignore the in-camera processing features responsible for creating JPEG images. But based on my iPhone experience, I’ve decided 2024 is the time to challenge this.

As some of you will no doubt be aware, one strength of the Fuji system is its support for Film Recipes. These are custom settings you can dial into the camera, and which are then applied to the captured images. Because the results are saved as JPEG images, I ignored this feature. I’ve now realised this may be a mistake.

Film Recipes can produce a distinctive look, often injecting mood and atmosphere. While they may not suit my taste for landscape photography, I love them for urban and travel work. I’ve also discovered I feel more enthusiastic when photographing using a film recipe. I think it’s because I’m not viewing a regular rendering of the scene. It seems to encourage me to explore new subjects and shoot differently.

Here are four useful sources I’ve found that share a host of film simulations for Fuji cameras. I would be interested to know if you have any different ones of your own.






Photographers You May Not Know – Laura Oppelt

Laura Oppelt Photography website

It’s always nice to come across a young photographer with skill. I first found Laura on Instagram and, from there, followed the link to her website.

I always prefer viewing images on a website as they are usually larger and easier to enjoy, and Laura’s website is no different. You will find a short Bio there, listing her equipment, but then there is a great portfolio of images well worth exploring.

If you like her work, take a moment to send her an encouraging word.


Books & Course News

Latest book and course news.

Dark Image System for Lightroom

I’m now well underway with the first draft of the eBook for the Dark Image System. I have also organised an online workshop (two 2-hour sessions) to teach the system to a small group of photographers. There is still a place available if you are interested: https://lenscraft.co.uk/workshop-booking/. This is a paid workshop, and you will need to attend both sessions. The first is on Monday, 15th January at 19:00 GMT, and the second is on Thursday, 18th January at 19:00.

One question that has frequently been asked is, “Can I use this with Affinity Photo?”. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Lightroom has some special features that allow you to apply the editing needed to implement the system. This has proved extremely difficult to replicate in Affinity Photo. You can, however, use the Dark Image System in Adobe Camera RAW if you are a Photoshop user.

Mastering Affinity Photo Selections

I hope Affinity Photo users don’t feel left out by my recent focus on books for Adobe products. If you do, you might be interested to learn that I’m researching a book about making selections in Affinity Photo.

Selecting specific areas of a photo for editing is a key skill, and it seems one that many users find difficult. If this is you, please email me with details of any areas you would like to see covered or things you find difficult when making selections ([email protected]). Depending on the numbers, I may not be able to reply to everyone, but I will read and consider all input. I want to make this book the best possible by addressing real-world problems.

Until next month, enjoy your photography.

Robin Whalley

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Lenscraft Photography
Unit 8693, PO Box 4336, Manchester M61 0BW
Copyright: Robin Whalley 2020