Travels with Luminar

I’ve had a little more time to work with Luminar and in general I’m liking it.

But there are some changes from Lightroom that take getting used to.

  • If you use Apples Photos as your Digital Asset Manager (DAM) then your Luminar processing history is not retained by either app. This may be rectified when Luminar’s bespoke DAM arrives.
  • This lack of history makes it hard to remember how particular images were processed and therefore it’s can be hard to recreate styles, unless you made a preset of the style.
  • There is a vast array of variables when processing in professional mode eg workspaces, filters, presets and LUTS. This makes a powerful processing tool, but it is slightly overwhelming in the early days. Hopefully this will be refined as the software matures.
  • The gradient filter appears slightly more subtle than Lightroom’s. Although I may be applying it incorrectly.
  • Because Luminar uses layers, sometimes I’ve had difficulty combining these rather than a new layer cancelling or masking an earlier one. Again this can probably be dealt with by understanding blend modes.

 

Having said all that, I’m generally happy with the results.

 

Processing plunge

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I have just started to migrate from Lightroom to Luminar.  At the moment it means using Apple Photos as my catalogue and Luminar as an external editor.

Luminar has a few rought edges which I think Skylum is addressing. For example, I find it a little laggy at times, it actually crashed twice during the first couple of hours of experimentaion. There also seems to be an issue with the apparent sharpness of files during processing. With regard to sharpness, I found it best to apply sharpening in Photos itself after processing in Luminar.

The Luminar user experience is very different to Lightroom and I’m taking a while to acclimatise. However, I have hight hopes that I will be able to develop a streamlined workflow.

The main reason I moved to the new software is the subscription model that Adobe has established. Call me a luddite, but, where possible, I prefer the standalone software option; especially at a third of the price (Luminar is currently on sale on the app store).

 

Change of direction?

Today I am reduced to posting the kind of image that inspires within me self loathing; a hipsteresque image of coffee and my camera (the only thing I despise more is the horrible ice cream glass some chains insist on for lattes).

I lost my bottle. I tried to take an image of a guy on a BMX, lost confidence so asked, and was told to beat it (in more colourful language).

I should have carried on shooting elsewhere, but instead gave up for a while. The reality is there is very little conflict in street photography. Yet, when it happens, it makes me want to give up. I listen to John Free tell me that street photography is a noble endeavour. But sometimes it seems to be perceived as less than honourable.

It is a fairly mainstream activity. Today I listened to part of the fascinating story of Vanley Burke documenting the experience of the African-Caribbean community in England. This was a Radio 4 programme. Hardly an underground or especially edgy source. The story told the response of some of his subjects discovering his candid shots. In the main they sounded ok with it and some sounded pleased.

However, with some of the present anxiety over GDPR (which will hopefully turn out to be unwarranted) and the potential for conflict, I wonder if it’s time for a change of direction.  Or at least until I get my bottle back.

In these circumstances I enjoy doing something different. For example, occassionally I get the opportunity to photograph events. It gives me the chance to plug in the flash and take some non-candid shots and portraits. I find that mft cameras can generally deal well enough with the light conditions and my little Nissin i40 flash does a brilliant job with the problem situations.

Photo workshops

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed running a small photo workshop in association with a local school. Today we climbed above the town for some great views across Perthshire.

I’ve been really impressed, and a little envious, of the natural talent of the participants. And I learned quite a bit myself; not least that technical knowledge of cameras cannot compare with great composition.

Here’s one of my efforts, it was quickly snapped while showing the effect of grads and polarisers.

2. Ilford XP2 Super in Ilfosol 3

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Here is one resulting image from the processing of XP2 in Black & White chemistry.

It’s clearly very high constrast, which I quite like, and that may be due to the developing time of 21 minutes (this came from the Massive Dev app). I’m pretty happy with the results. There is very little grain, which is ok with me, and the negative seems sharp (I’ve cropped and added a little sharpening (+10) and clarity (+5) in lightroom).

The negatives have a mild magenta cast, but that has made little difference in B&W.

Nowadays, the benefit of C41 high street processing is long gone. There is nowhere in my town that could process and return the same day. I think they all have to send images off for developing. The only place I’ve found 1 hour or same day processing is Snappy Snaps, Byres Road in Glasgow and that’s too far for regular processing.

So, apart from an incredibly long processing time, I’d say that it’s worth processing XP2 at home in Black & White chemistry.

1. Ilford XP2 Super in Ilfosol 3

Before I knew the difference between film types I saw what looked like a good deal in a high street store.

I bought a handful of Ilford XP2 which appeared to be at a discounted rate. I’ve since discovered two facts which have made me regret the purchase.

1. Even at the discounted price, these films cost considerably more than they would have from an online specialist.

2. More importantly, XP2 is a C41 type film, meaning it can be processed with colour films. But it’s generally better to get C41 processed professionally, unless you’re feeling confident.

I had two XP2 film’s professionally processed. One turned out great but the other had a milky sheen across many images. I was told that these were under-exposed. But I read that this phenomenon possibly relates to insufficient fixing.

So I was left with the remaining film, which had quickly expired (hence the discount). I tried to swap it but to no avail. I then went to my local camera shop and asked if they collected expired film. They didn’t. But they did have an expert on hand who suggested processing the XP2 in Black & White chemicals.

I’d heard this suggestion before, but had been reluctant to try it. Ilford recommend not doing it and comments online report mixed results. However, given that my other option was to ditch the redundant film, I decided to try the Black & White approach.

I used the ‘Massive Dev’ app recipe for XP2 in Ilfosol 3. And so far so good. The image above shows that some sort of images have appeared. But I’ve still to scan the negatives. Once that’s done, I’ll provide an update.

Urban Playground

As we wandered through the city, we came across these guys doing parkour (or free running).

It amused me that they had found an alternative use for the security barriers that could block the route up to Edinburgh Castle and Royal Mile.

I took some shots and got chatting with them. They were happy to be photographed and we talked about the simple beauty of their sport; basically requiring only a pair of trainers and some concrete obstacles.

That’s one of the things I love about photography. Although street photography is often solitary, sometimes it affords the opportunity to speak with fellow citizens.

Comfortable shoes and concrete are essential to street photography too, and I appreciate the shared simplicity of exploring the metropolis, albeit at a slower pace than parkour.