Raw Processing Software Options

I am looking at software at the moment.

For a while I was working with Linux. I really loved the operating systems, I have used a few of them from Ubuntu, to Mint, to Crunchbang, but good RAW processing software is hard to come by on that side of the PC fence. I find the programs which are easy to use give poor results, while the ones which give good results are extremely complex. I had found a compromise with a fairly straight forward interface and good results from Darktable, but after it crashed and had to be completely reinstalled not once but twice, I decided to move back to Windows.

Everyone seemed to be using Adobe Lightroom, so I felt it had to have something going for it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I downloaded the trial of Lightroom version 5, and it was so slow that I could cook and eat a three course meal in the time it took to process a couple of photos. It turns out that if you are running it with sate of the art computer equipment, Lightroom is the best thing since sliced bread. Seeing how I only bought my “barely adequate” laptop last June, I don’t intend to pay out twice as much again for another one.

I have been getting along fine with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, but I feel I would like something a bit more workflow oriented. Something I can use to organize, tag, and process my photos. Basically an Adobe Lightroom which will work on my PC.

After some research, I ended up getting the free trial of Corel’s Aftershot Pro 2, and I must say I am impressed. I am pushing it hard before the 30 day trail expires. I have been editing landscapes, sunsets, and this evening some portrait work.

Now when I say I’m pushing it hard, I mean that I am testing it with the photos I got wrong. The photos I got so wrong in camera that I simply couldn’t use them no matter how much editing they got. Photos like this one from my shoot from a couple of years ago with the lovely Sarah…

IMG_6198_CR2_embedded

As you can see, totally overexposed. I made the mistake of thinking I was set to Aperture Priority, but I had accidentally switched to Manual. I had a whole sequence of photos which were unusable.

But now after running it through Aftershot Pro 2…

IMG_6198_1

It is still a bit overexposed, but has gone from being embarrassing, to being acceptable. The colours are more vivid, the shadows stronger. I would be happy to show this to someone, but when you go for a black and white…

IMG_6198

Everything is right again. I overexposed to get that look. Honestly, it’s more artistic right?

So, I’m continuing with my testing, but it’s looking more and more like Corel may be getting some of my hard earned cash yet…

Craig Lucas

Advertisements

Dakota

col-10

I met this lovely young lady named Dakota, along with her younger brother back in October 2010. Recently, her mother came into the photo-lab, and told me the very sad news that she had passed away last September, after a long battle with Leukemia.

I often admit to being an emotional person at the best of times, but with children, I am a really big softy. The news affected me deeply. At first I thought it was because she was a similar age to my own daughter, but on reflection it’s more than that. I knew Dakota. I may have only known her for the half an hour while she was in front of my camera but as a portrait photographer, I like to have a connection with the people I photograph and I definitely achieved that with this little girl. My current sadness is one of the risks involved with that connection.

col

Looking at the images I took that day, I remember Dakota so well. At the age of four, she was quiet, yet confident, and although she didn’t say much, those beautiful eyes of hers spoke volumes. There was so much love for her little brother, although it also came with that “long suffering” look of all big sisters.

col-17

I met Dakota’s mother again yesterday, and she gave me permission to write this post, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. She told me that the photos I took bring some comfort, and that she looks through them regularly. I’m so very glad that they help, and My deepest sympathy goes to all of Dakota’s family and friends.

Craig Lucascol-8

Make it fun!

IMG_0031

Back the hazy days of summer, you know, that good weather we had two weeks ago, we planned a barbecue for Sunday just gone. Well the weather let us down in a big way, so all the outdoor entertainment we had for the children was off the table.

Fresh from the Sam McCauley’s Photo Day in Bunclody on Saturday, I decided to arrange an impromptu mini photo-shoot at home. I had my bag of props still handy, mostly  a selection of hats and sunglasses, so all I had to do was say the words “Dress Up” and the kids were completely on board with it!

IMG_0042

Now getting kids to pose for photos can sometimes be a chore. It’s no great experience for the children who are being told to “do this,” “stand there,” “say cheese,” “do as you’re told,” and million other things we want them to do for the camera. And it’s no fun for us to be always telling the kids what the have to do, only to end up with photos which lack something, because lets face it, we can all spot a fake smile from a mile off.

IMG_0083-001

Well all kids love to play, and dressing up is always a hit. It’s a great way to get some fun, natural looking photos which are a bit different. I usually throw in a few questions to distract them too, like “what’s your favourite TV show?” Or “what did you have for breakfast today?” That moment when they are thinking of their answer and not about the camera in front of them, is pure gold.

IMG_0069

Do you have any tips for photographing children? If so, leave a comment…

Craig Lucas

A Satisfying day with Sam McCauley’s…

IMG_9999

A very busy day at St Aiden’s Hall in Bunclody today, but very satisfying too. I got a lot of lovely photos and we had a good bit of dress up fun along the way.

A big thank you to the lovely Niamh for all the help she gave me during the day.

Here is a small sample of the images taken today, the The Sam McCauley’s photo-shoot was so successful we are already talking of doing another!

Craig Lucas

 

Equipment checklist: Camera, zoom lens, old mattress…

Recently, we decided that our youngest daughter was getting a little too long for her junior sized bed. We also noticed how the springs on our eldest girl’s mattress were in danger of coming through the cloth in the not to distant future. I’m surprised she was able to sleep at all with all the lumps and bumps in her bed.

So there was a fairly complicated shuffling of beds, with our elder daughter have the new bed and a redecorated bedroom, and the younger, inheriting the older bed but with a new mattress. Both girls are now sleeping better than ever, which gives Mummy and Daddy a lot more peace in the evenings…

 

IMG_6896

 

The question is, how to get rid of a knackered old mattress? Well, we didn’t. We threw it in the garden and let them jump on it. It’s a very cheap trampoline. Also a great photo opportunity, as you can see the effect on hair is pretty amazing if you capture it at the top of the jump.

 

IMG_6688

I simply put my long zoom onto my DSLR, switched to continuous, kept my distance and started snapping. After about 400 photos I went through them all to find a few hidden gems…

 

IMG_6742

The best part of of doing this was watching the kids have so much fun with something so simple. I can’t wait for the next time.

Craig Lucas

A day after the Communion…

Eileen asked me a month ago, to take photos at her son’s communion, but as I had already committed to another client for the Bennekerry communions on the 10th May, it was out of the question, I only get one Saturday off work per month you see.

She contacted me again recently to see if I could manage the Sunday instead for a photo-shoot and this time I was available.

IMG_6585
IMG_6585

The photo-shoot was held at her home, and I found it far less stressful, and much more relaxed than trying to get everything done after the ceremony, at he church, when everyone just wants to leave and go back to whatever celebration has been organized. I think in future, this is the way to go…

Click on the photo above to see the full gallery

Craig Lucas

.

 

Sarah’s photo-shoot happens at last…

 IMG_6184

I have been trying to arrange a photo-shoot with the lovely Sarah since October last year. Every time we have it organized something has come up and we’ve had to cancel for one reason or another; injury, sickness or most commonly bad weather.

Well, on Easter Sunday we finally got to go ahead with our shoot, the weather was lovely, and although Rathwood was busy with the Easter Egg Hunt, we managed to avoid the crowds of children running around.

There was a particular photo I was desperate to capture, involving Live View on my DSLR and a tripod. I have seen it done many times on the internet with sunsets and landscapes, but I really wanted the shot with a pretty girl on screen. I took the image with my old film SLR, the Canon AE-1, and it is everything I wanted it to be. Thank you Sarah for your patience… Doing something new always takes longer to set up.

000011

After Sarah’s photos, I met up with Sandra and Amelia. What a character! With a 2 year old as spirited as Amelia, there wasn’t much chance at planning my poses. All I could do was keep snapping and hope that something worked, which thankfully it did. We got some lovely ones.

IMG_6215

IMG_6255

Well, I’ve been bitten by the bug again… I can’t wait for my next portrait session.

Craig Lucas

New Year, New Project…

I’ve read a lot recently about people’s New Year’s Resolutions, whether it’s to give up smoking, go on a diet or go to the gym more. We photographers tend to think a little differently.

I want a New Year’s Project. Something to get me out and taking photos more often.

I tried the 365 Project a couple of years ago but I found that I ran out of inspiration very quickly. For those who haven’t come across this before the 365 Project is simply one photo for every day of the year. It’s a kind of photographic diary. Unfortunately I found that on a day to day basis, I had very little time to put into my photography, which resulted in me running out of ideas very quickly. After two weeks of taking photos of my trip to work, I gave up.

The following year I went with a 52 Week Project. As you can guess, it involves one photo per week for a year. It was suggested on a blog I follow, and I signed up for it expecting great things. This time around there were themes involved. The blog host would give a theme for the week such as “Cold” and again I ran out of time and ideas.

I have since read about a project called “100 Strangers.” The idea is to take photos of 100 different strangers, in order to get used to interacting with people and to get over the shyness that a lot of photographers have with people they don’t know. This struck a chord with me as I really want to get into Portrait photography more but I have a shortage of willing subjects.

What I am going for, is a combination of the 52 Week project and the 100 Strangers. I will call it The 52 Portrait Project and I have the gallery started up under my Photo Gallery tab. Getting out to take photos of strangers, is not something I will be able to do every week, so I’ll go with anyone available; family, friends, strangers, anyone.

The first entry of the project is my own daughter Milla. It had to be really as her birthday is also the first week of the year!

Milla

I hope you’ll come back soon to keep an eye on my progress. And please do get on to me if I fail to post!!

Also I’d love to know what projects you have planned this year, let me know in the comments.

Craig  Lucas

Just take the damn photo…

was trying to take a photo of my daughter recently. I wanted to get a close up of her eyes, focusing on her eyelashes.

All I wanted her to do, was to stand still and look at the camera.

But kids being kids, she fidgeted, kept bouncing up and down and kept pulling the most ridiculous faces possible. It was a little frustrating, but if a 6 year old is hyper, there’s no hope of getting the image you have in mind.

I could have told her off, and made her sit still, but I want to enjoy taking photos and that would spoil the fun.

I could have given up, and ended up with nothing.

Instead, when I realized she wasn’t going to listen to me, I just went with it,  laughed with her and took a few shots of her silly faces.

Once I got them onto the laptop, I saw I had something special and it wasn’t what I was after at all. So the moral is, whatever happens, just take the damn photo!

You may be surprised with the results. I know I was.

Craig Lucas

IMG_4546

Ruth’s Photoshoot at Duckett’s Grove

Ruth

I had a lot of fun on Friday afternoon. A camera and a pretty girl, what more can I say?

My young friend Ruth agreed to come with me to Duckett’s Grove in Carlow for a photo shoot. It was her first time modeling, and she was fantastic. She was a little nervous to begin with but it didn’t take long for her to relax and enjoy the experience.

Thie photo above is my personal favourite. I had made a comment to her about the way she was looking at me, her forehead had wrinkled up slightly. She found this hilarious, and I got the most natural shot of her laughter. Totally spontaneous and easily the best of all of them.

Craig Lucas