50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Editing, Photography

Made With Luminar: Dolbadarn Castle

This shot of Dolbadarn Castle was taken on August 18, 2016.

ISO 500 f/11 1/100sec 50mm

Usually, with photos included in this series, I show the original file. I opted not to with this post because one of my children was in the original file. Other first adjustments included white balance and an increase in the luminance of the greens and yellows in the image. I did also crop this image. The Luminar Look, Past Days, was added at 100% with adjustments to the split toning and texture amount filters.

Added to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, Decayed or Rusty.


The Made with Luminar Series

This image is part of a project I am calling Made with Luminar. What the images in this series have in common is the software used to edit them, Luminar 3. As with my usual blog posts particulars of the camera settings can be found in the caption below the image. I’ll then explain what other filters and edits have been applied, often mentioning what layer and therefore order that they were applied. The text of these posts includes any Luminar “Looks” that have been applied to the photo. Each look is a series of presets that are applied to the photo. Where applicable I will mention what changes I have made to any of the looks. A full explanation of looks is available here on their website, https://skylum.com/luminar/user-guides/chapter-14-working-with-luminar-looks

You can assume basic edits have been applied. My most common edits are cropping, detail enhancement, and vignette. Specific questions or thoughts on the image are welcome in the comment section below.


50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photography, Squares

April Squares: Top Shots, Conwy

ISO 500 f/11 1/1000sec 50mm

Day 1, find other responses here.

Date and Location of Photo: August 19, 2016

Thoughts on the Edit: It was hard to choose how to set the square edit within this photo which was shot on my Canon 50D. I’ve added the Luminar Look, That Glow Faded at 68%. Conwy is in Wales. This photo was from our first of three trips to Wales.

April Squares, an Explanation:

When Becky announced that the April Squares theme was going to be “top”, I thought it over and then sent her a message, then pitched my idea. She was open to my theme within the theme and the result is my response to the April Squares challenge.

I move a lot and I have a move pending. I’ve lived here in England for about four years and will be heading to the United States. Exact dates to be determined, given the current world situation, details have yet to be worked out. My April Squares is a “top shots” reflection on the last four years. Each square represents some moment or place that was meaningful to me. They are in chronological order moving forward in time. I’m attempting to post every day. All photos will be edited in Luminar 3. I hope you enjoy following along, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating. Your comments and thoughts are welcome below.



50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair, travel, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Editing the Landscape

I do a lot of photo editing and it is easy to get into the habit of using the same filters every time.  In order to encourage myself to try different things, I watch a lot of tutorial videos on Youtube. I feel free to adopt some suggestions and leave others, but I think it is important to understand that most photo editing software has lots of options and so knowing what is even available is important.  One of the files I was working on the week was this photo, taken at Mt. Snowdon in Wales in 2016:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

It was a fabulous view, even if this particular file doesn’t really seem to suggest that. I was also watching this tutorial on Youtube. It’s specific to editing a landscape in Luminar which is the software I am using, but I would say that the suggestions made can be applied in other editing software as well. One of the first suggestions was to use the dehaze slider. Now that happens to be a slider I almost never use but for this file, it seemed like a really good starting place. For this edit below, I then went on to use the sky filter, the foliage enhancer, the HSL panel for luminance, and the small details slider for sharpening. The final edit was this one:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

I think this edit is a pretty close representation of what I saw that day. From there I decided to do a more creative edit. This particular edit has two additional layers, the first was the Luminar look, Overlook, added with modifications and the second layer is an AI filter and vignette. Here is that version:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

I like it also but will readily admit it is not what I saw. The Picfair version of it is here.

So which version is better? which do you prefer? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Back Catalog.


50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, travel, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: LUT’s

Before I get into the steps and explanations I’ll say that I wanted to experiment a bit with this file:

ISO 800 f/13 1/2000 sec 50mm

It’s shot from Mt. Snowdon in Wales, a hike that is popular but needs to be treated with respect, so if you are thinking of doing it some planning and also checking the current weather conditions are necessary.

The final edit is this one:

ISO 800 f/13 1/2000 sec 50mm

I was thinking about two things in this edit. The first was that in person, the haze that shows in the photo file seemed less. The second was that the contrast between light and dark seemed more pronounced. I’ve reflected this in both the sky and the shadows on the mountain. The final edit is more like the hike that resides in my memory.

I started with editing the sky on its own layer. In this past post, I talk a bit more about that and include a link with video instructions. What I would point out here is that I think it is important to do sky specific edits on its own layer because this makes it possible to revisit the edit and make changes without having to effect other edits done on other layers.

The next phase of the editing process was more experimental. In this case, I am using LUTs to create a new look for the photo. LUT stands for lookup table and when you apply one it will change the color and tone of the image based on the instructions that are in the LUT. This explanation of LUTs and how they work I have chosen to link in because I think it provides a good explanation of what a LUT is and then directions of how to access them within Luminar which is the software I am using. The further step that I have taken is to use two LUTs on the photo. I have each of them on a separate layer. Having set the two layers in place, I could then use the sliders available on each to control the amount of LUT applied. When working with this type of preset, it is important to remember that once applied, you can make edits to the preset, you are not obligated to keep it as is.

Editing software comes with all sorts of presets and as you are learning to use it, I would advise experimenting. Making even small changes from a preset can help the photo you are working on look more like the vision you have for it rather than a set idea the software has added. Feel free to comment or ask a question below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Tourism.

Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Old Files

From time to time I go through photographs that I shot several years ago to see if I would like to try a new interpretation of them. That’s how I came to be working on this file:

ISO 250 f/2.7 1/60sec 4.3mm

This photo was taken at St. Michael’s Church in Betws-y-Coed, Wales, in 2016. So, some things haven’t changed since then, like the fact that I enjoy visiting churches and graveyards. This photo was taken with my point and shoot that only has jpeg file capability.  That means there is a limit to how much detail I am going to get out of the sky. To work around that one of the filters that I used was “dark fog”. I paired it with a filter called “Old Timer” that I have in a collection of Halloween “looks”. I felt that a Halloween filter was appropriate with it being October and the photo being an old graveyard. My final edit was something much darker than the original:

ISO 250 f/2.7 1/60sec 4.3mm

Do you like the edit? That tree was really something else! and I feel like it adds a lot of character to the photo. Feel free to leave a comment below.


Added to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Circles, Curves, and Arches.

iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

I am a bit of a history buff.  I enjoy thinking about how generations before me lived, which is why I was fascinated by the interior of this church:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17 sec

It’s a reimagining of what the church would have looked like in 1520 :

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/250

The church is part of St Fagans National Museum of History which is just outside of Cardiff, Wales. It’s an interesting collection of heritage. This museum is unique in that they have collected various buildings and homes from different time periods and parts of Wales and moved them here to this site. Visitors have a chance then to view a wide variety of the history of Wales in one place.

The interior of this church was interesting because it brings to life what it would have looked like in the Middle Ages. Usually, churches from this time just have traces of the paint, and you have to use your imagination as to what the original would have looked like.  This particular example brings to life the use of the church almost as a book and guide for those who would not have been able to read.

As for the photos, it was raining that day, and so I had to be selective of when I would take out my larger camera.  For most of the day I relied on my iPhone.  I keep my phone in a pretty decent case to prevent damage from when it gets dropped.  On days like this I also keep in in a very technical waterproof case, a ziplock bag. That meant for the shot of the sign, I just had to slip it out for a moment.  The inside of the church was easier as it wasn’t raining in there.  The low light and the small interior of the church meant that the iPhone was a good choice for getting a representative shot of church.

I did edit the photo a bit in Photoshop.  It’s been sharpened and I also increased the exposure a bit. A large part of why I took the photo was to remember this space.  I’ll probably even come back to look at this photo the next time I am in a church that has remnants of a similar style of painting.  Have you ever done that, taken a photo as a point of reference, to help you better understand?  Do you have a favorite history museum?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Childhood, Instagram, iPhone, Parenting, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

In case you thought it was safe to leave the house, my teenager will tell you it’s not:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/250

Pictured above, a dinosaur, not my teenager.

This is the terrifying or hilarious sight that awaits you at the entrance of National Showcaves Centre for Wales. It kind of depends on how you feel about dinosaurs. As I was sitting eating my lunch not far from this dino, the reaction was mixed.  Some young visitors were really excited.  Others were wondering what they had done that their parents were punishing them this way. My  teenager was firmly insisting that we walk straight past the dinosaurs to get to the caves and not take photos like this to post to Instagram:

But as my teenager can tell you, there is a danger in leaving the house with your parents.  They are likely to do highly embarrassing things while at the same time making it obvious that they are your parents.  So, what’s a teen to do? Consider these steps:

  • Ignore parents, perhaps they will stop talking about stupid poses they want to do.
  • Hiss at them to be quiet, in the hopes they will drop the subject of posing with dinosaurs. Be careful with your technique when applying this step.
  • Agree to one photo, after all Mom like never actually posts photos of you to social media, so probably no one will ever see the photo and you can move on to seeing the caves.
  • Consider rolling your eyeballs (no wait, definitely roll your eyeballs) as you finally move on to the caves and wonder why your parents are so impossible sometimes.

In addition to providing those helpful tips for dealing with impossible parents, I will talk a bit about the actual photos.  The top photo was taken with my Canon 50D. While I was taking the photo I thought about composition, I wanted the dinosaur to mostly fill the frame. I also considered a few different angles, trying to get as much of the metal fence and shop that was next to the dinosaur out of the photo, so I wouldn’t have to worry about cropping later.  In Lightroom, I sharpened the photo a bit and also did a white balance adjustment.  In this case I just used the eyedropper tool, picked a neutral white spot, and Lightroom made the white balance adjustment.

With the Instagram version, white balance is out the window.  The photo, taken with my iPhone, is more about setting a scene than reflecting the actual scene. What the two photos have in common is my thoughts on composition.  In both of them, I thought about filling the frame with the subject and about keeping later cropping to a minimum.

Also, there were caves, but the dinosaurs were awfully fun to photograph.  Has that happened to you, you go out with the thought of taking photos of a sight, but then get distracted by something else like dinosaurs? There are a lot of ways to manage white balance in editing software, do you have a favorite method? Parents! like what is with them?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair

Is That What I Meant?

Sometimes the image you create takes awhile to get to its final form.  I was working on a panorama recently that did not have the most auspicious beginning:

A screenshot of the work in progress in Photoshop

A screenshot of the work in progress in Photoshop

It’s a start, but it needed a lot of work.  I started with the crop tool.  That way I could get an idea of what problems were going to need fixing, and what I was just cropping out, so therefore didn’t matter.  Once I had done that, the three largest problems were the missing sky, the missing building in the lower left corner, and the boats.  To re-create the sky and building in Photoshop you can use the lasso tool to select the area, then edit-fill-content aware fill.  This tells Photoshop to put in that area what it thinks should be there based on what else is close by in the photo.  In this case, it did a very nice job.  For the boats, there were just too many masts hanging out in the bottom of the photo, it was a pretty big distraction.  For those I used the healing brush, so where there were masts there was now just water.  The photo now looked something like this:

Not Quite There

ISO 500 50mm f/11 1/1000

This version shown is the Photoshop edits, plus some of the tweaking I did in Lightroom.  I wasn’t crazy about this color cast, but a bigger problem was lurking in the sky.  It’s a bit hard to see on a small screen, but there are a few spots where you can see the Photoshop transparency where there should be sky.  Just a few spots I missed when recreating the sky in that section of the photo.  So with that fixed, here is my final version:

Panorama final

ISO 500 50mm f/11 1/1000

I fixed the sky and dialed back the sepia tone in the water and land.  I did want to give the photo a bit of a nostalgic feel, so I kept the colors muted.  This is the final version that made it to my Picfair portfolio.  In this case, worth the effort of editing I think.  If you were wondering this photo was taken from Conwy Castle in Wales overlooking the harbor.  What do you think of the added in sky and building? I think Photoshop did a pretty good job filling those spots in.  Do you like the tone in the photo? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Canon 50D, iPhone, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Designed for You

When we were planning our trip to Wales, we decided we wanted to explore Snowdonia National Park.  Our hardest hike of the week was going to be Mt. Snowden.  For us, the path that made the most sense was the Llanberis Pass, at nine miles, it was the longest way up and back, but is the least technical of the six main paths up the mountain.  We would be climbing 3,199 feet and the Llanberis path had the most gradual ascent of our choices.  This is what awaited us at the top:

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

Technically, this is a panorama.  It is two photos stitched together.  The originals were incredibly hazy, but after I had created the panorama in Photoshop.  I used Lightroom’s “dehaze” sider to make it clearer.  I also used the clarity slider and sharpened the image a bit.  I didn’t take the haze out completely though because I knew I had a clearer image.

I also had hiked with my iPhone and I created this panorama:

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

It’s clearer, and certainly the sky is bluer, but to me the first photo more closely represents what this hike meant to me. We had designed our trip around this hike.  It was what we scheduled ourselves for the first day in case we had to delay or reattempt it another day later in the week.  It was the hardest hike I’ve done in awhile.  So getting to the top was more about the serenity and silence of the first image than the community that is represented in the second.  The haze and lack of people in the first image to me look more like a postcard or an image you might print and put on your wall.

Do you plan your holidays around a single activity or goal? Do you bring back a photo from your holidays that represent the trip? Do you sometimes go with out a camera on purpose?  How do you feel about my two images, they do represent two different things don’t you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.