Hi {name},

Welcome to Lenscraft in Focus for June 2023.

This past month, I’ve managed a couple of photo outings and wanted to share one of the shots in this intro. When I started planning the introduction, the image I had in mind showed an intense sunset in the Peak District. But then I shot this image of the Cotton Grass on Saddleworth Moor.

Infrared shot of Cotton Grass on Saddleworth Moor

I captured this using an Olympus EM5 that I had converted to shoot infrared probably 8 or 9 years ago. I hadn’t used it for probably 3 or more years. But as I was walking from home and taking another Micro 43 camera, I thought why not. That’s also when I remembered how much I liked the size and feel of the original EM5. It’s tiny compared to my Fuji and Panasonic G9 bodies.

If you’ve never tried Infrared landscape photography, it can be wonderful. The world looks very different in infrared, and it’s perfect for shooting in the middle of bright summer days. I’ll certainly be digging out this old EM5 more often as I love the results.

But the reason I wanted to share this image was that it’s caused me to revisit some of my older Olympus RAW files. And that’s the subject of the first article.

I hope you enjoy it together with the rest of this month’s newsletter.


Revisiting Old RAW Files

Do you ever go back to reprocess old RAW files?

Not ones from last year but ones from 5 or 10 years back. If you haven’t tried this, I would really recommend you do. Processing old RAW files using the latest software can be a revelation. It’s quite surprising what results you can achieve. Take this example that I’ve been experimenting with.

Hall of Mosses Trail, Olympic National Park, USA

I shot this back in 2016 using an Olympus EM5 and Olympus 12-40 lens. It’s on the Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park, Washington State, USA. I can’t imagine where it gets its name. When I took the shot, I knew that I liked the composition, but I never had any real success producing a finished image.

But a few things have changed over the years since I took this photo:

  • The possibilities created by today’s software
  • My photo editing skills have developed
  • My personal taste and ideas of what makes a good image have also changed.

And all these things combine to create a different image than I would have produced in 2016.

When I approached the RAW file this time, I began by processing it using DxO PureRAW 3. It seems to have recovered highlights and shadow detail that I struggled with in the past. It’s also produced excellent detail and left the image noise free in the shadows. This means that I don’t need to worry as much about image quality when applying my Lightroom adjustments.

Lightroom too has become more flexible, and now has a great set of selection tools with almost limitless possibilities. If you’re a Lightroom user who doesn’t use the latest selection tools, see my book Mastering Lightroom Selections and Masks to learn what’s possible (apologies for the shameless promotion).

In terms of my editing skills, I’m now editing more with a graphics tablet, and I can see the benefits. I’m also using Luminosity Masks much more for simple changes. In this example, I’ve used Luminosity Masks to pick out highlights in the shadow areas of the moss, and where light is hitting the tree branches. Most of my edits now involve small changes built up over multiple layers.

As for the light rays, I’ve added those using Luminar Neo. In my defence, I could see faint light rays at the time, but they are barely visible in the original. Comparing the image with and without the rays, I think it looks better with them, although I may need to tone them down a little.

So, I would urge you, please revisit your old RAW files.

New Lenscraft Content

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

Easy Way to Blur the Background Using Adobe Photoshop
In this tutorial, I want to share an easy process for blurring the background in a photo using Adobe Photoshop. This is a three-stage process:
What’s New in The Nik Collection 6
On the 16th of May 2023, DxO launched the Nik Collection 6. In this article and video, I look at the changes to the previous version of the software. This…
How to Add Light Rays in Adobe Lightroom
In this article, I’ll explain how you can add light rays to a photo using only the tools in Adobe Lightroom.

The Cautionary Tale of a Smouldering iMac

Regular readers of this newsletter and my Lightweight Photographer blog may know that I’ve been suffering from a long running chest infection. It started at the end of January when I picked up a virus and I couldn’t shake it. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now recovered in a rather surprising way that I want to share. No, this isn’t a new medical feature, but it has a lot to do with my image editing computer and backup.

I won’t bore you with the full details but will share that for a little over 12 months I’ve had problems with my iMac’s fan running constantly. The performance of the 7-year-old iMac was degrading and it was now struggling with photo and video editing. This was often accompanied by a strange acrid smell. Strangely my wife couldn’t smell this, but at times I found it so strong that it triggered my coughing.

On searching the internet, I found similar reports of this problem. Some had returned their computers to Apple for a fix whilst others with older units opted to replace them. No one seemed able to trace the root cause of the problem.

Then after returning from a break (where my cough subsided), I turned on my Mac to see a message that I hadn’t backed it up for almost 600 days. This was the first time I had seen this message and I was confused because my Time Machine backup disk is always on. Then the message vanished, and everything seemed to be working.

Something else that I noticed was that my cough was back within a couple of hours of using the iMac.

Then the following day, I saw the message again for a couple of minutes before it vanished. After a few days of this, followed by detailed investigation, I identified the cause of the message. After I had updated the iMac OS in November 2021, the Time Machine software on the iMac had stopped recognising my Time Machine drive. Despite this, the software continued with its hourly backup, holding these on the computer hard drive instead. As the Mac is in almost daily use, the hard drive quickly filled with the backups. This was why the fan was constantly on and the performance had dropped.

I decided to reformat the Time Machine drive and gave it a new name. I then pointed the Time Machine software at the drive and let it run. It took 4 days to complete the first backup, but the fan started to subside after day 2. By the time the first backup completed, the burning smell vanished, and a couple of days later my long-standing chest problems cleared up.

This was all just over a month ago and everything is still working as it should (and I feel great). I wanted to share this in case I can help just one other person. Given how much this affected me I would hate for it to happen to someone else.

From Around the Internet

A selection of interesting photography related resources from the internet.

Photography News 107

Edition 107 of Photography News is now out. This is a great newspaper for photographers which you can read for free using the following link.


Photographers You May Not Know – Sarah Marino & Ron Coscorrosa

Sarah Maino and Ron Coscorrosa website

This month’s Photographer you might not know is a little unusual for two reasons.

First, I have two photographers you may not know, Sarah Marino & Ron Coscorrosa. The reason that I’m featuring both is that they share a website, an Airstream Trailer and a life. So I can’t really separate them even though they both deserve a separate mention.

Second is that I didn’t know about the pair, although I did recognise some of their images. It was Lenscraft in Focus reader Bryan Moore who highlighted the couple to me having attended a presentation by Sarah. I want to thank Bryan for the recommendation as their photography is both beautiful and refreshing. You can view the work for yourself by visiting their website https://smallscenes.com/.

Books & Course News

Latest book and course news.

JUST LAUNCHED: Mastering Adobe Photoshop Luminosity Masks

Luminosity Masking Cover Image eBook

When I wrote the first draft of the newsletter, this section was apologising that the book was still waiting approval. Since then, it’s been approved and is now available on Amazon and my Lenscraft website. It's priced at £6.99 or similar in other currencies.

I’ve tried to create a comprehensive workbook for photographers who want to produce professional quality images. There is step-by-step instruction and practical examples of creating Luminosity Masks and applying adjustments with them. All you require is a basic knowledge of Photoshop; everything else is explained.

I’m now working on the layout for the print edition which I expect this to be available in 3-4 weeks.

Thanks for your patience.

Print Book Prices

It’s with great regret that I’m having to raise the price of my print books.

Amazon, which prints my books, has increased its print charges. Unfortunately, because of my fine margins, this leaves me making a loss on every book I sell. To be fair to Amazon, this is the first time they have raised their print charges since 2016.

I’m very sorry that I’ve had to take this step. I have a strong believe that photography knowledge should be affordable for all, but I must balance this with earning enough to pay my bills. I hope that you understand.

Until next month, I hope that you continue to enjoy your photography.


Modify your subscription   |   View online
facebook  pinterest  youtube  instagram 
Lenscraft Photography
Unit 8693, PO Box 4336, Manchester M61 0BW
Copyright: Robin Whalley 2020