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Author: Luke Galea

Instagram’s three new filters

Instagram’s three new filters

Instagram has just realised another 3 new filters. Now while this is exciting and all, it does show something much bigger. The filter culture is booming, Instagram was the first to successfully make it main stream, however till the last release that came out back in December with five filters, it had been nearly 2 years since any filters were added from the original launch filters. We apparently won’t be seeing extended gaps like that any longer.

Instagram has seen the likes of VSCO Cam steal the thunder, and it once again is trying to become the one stop shop for anything photo from editing to sharing.

The new filters are following the trend of being subtle, a far cry from the ‘bombastic’ original filters. The filters include Lark, which “desaturates reds while punching up blues and greens” for landscapes; Reyes, which is meant to add a washed out, vintage look to photos; and Juno, which “tints cool tones green while making warm tones pop and whites glow” and is targeted at portraits.

Its new releases are apparently working for Instagram with the two filters released in December, Ludwig and Crema, now being Instagram’s most popular.

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Lightroom 6 has arrived!

Lightroom 6 has arrived!

Lightroom 6, or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription where it’s called “Lightroom CC”, is finally out! Now this is nothing revolutionary in any sense of the word, but it is still great and that’s what counts.

Lightroom 6 at first glance is like any other run of the mill update from Lightroom 5, with no new killer features. It seems however most of the work was done under the hood. Performance improvements can be witnessed across the board on both OSX and Windows machines. Adobe says this will allow you to edit photos up to 10 times faster than before. What’s more, the company says it covers a wide range of computers, and even older machines will see an improvement thanks to the better utilisation of your graphics processor.

Of interest is that Adobe has added a few new features, the most notable ones being “HDR merge” and “panorama merge.” No more having to ‘Merge in -> Photoshop’, Lightroom takes care of it for you. The best part? These particular ones generate rich DNG files that can be edited without worrying much about quality loss, with support on select smartphones like the One Plus One and Nexus 5/6. Other features announced are the addition of facial recognition and finer control over the graduated filter tool.

The cloud has got some love too, with library syncing working across all your devices. With this version if it was not obvious enough, Adobe  is further stressing the value of its Creative Cloud subscription plan.  You can purchase a stand-alone version of Lightroom 6 for $149, you won’t have access to any of the file-syncing features, and you’d have to buy separate licenses for Adobe’s other software.

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Top Photography Apps

Top Photography Apps

Now this is not going to be about the best camera on a phone. If you want that, then get an IPhone (a discussion for another day), and this is coming from a Android users. What this means is that some of the best apps for photography are on IOS only, for the time being. So if you are an Andriod user don’t you worry. You will be getting them shortly.

The Classic Choices

VSCO CAM

First up is my favourite and most renowned around. With a wide choice of filters it has by far the best selection on mobile. The unique film look of these filters get an image to a usable state. However it is the editing tools that shine through. The editing tools are simple and easy to use. It’s still a really impressive piece of software that can handle almost anything you’d ever want to do to a photo on your phone. And outshines even single-function apps in most areas.

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Long Exposure

Long Exposure

Long exposure was one of the reasons I got into photography to begin with. There is something truly mesmerizing about capturing such a fast paced world over the course of seconds or minutes.  Light simply reveals more given the time. In this article I am going to give you a little insight into my workflow, equipment and set-up.

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Independence Day – Neon lights are a popular feature of long exposure.

Equipment

Camera

Most cameras are capable of doing long exposure. However one should see that there is a manual means of controlling the length of the exposure such as a remote trigger. There also exists a great third party firmware for Canons called Magic Lantern which has an In-camera intervalometer, great for long exposure and so much more.

It is interesting to note that with many crop sensor DSLRs such as my 600d, you are more likely to get nosier images when performing long exposures. These smaller sensors tend to heat up quicker than their full frame brothers, and thus they are preferred especially when pushing the 7 minute mark.

Lens

A relatively wide angel lens would allow for more to be captured in a single image, avoiding the complexity of stitching multiple long exposures. A good choice would be the Canon 10-18mm STM, check out my review.

ND Filter

There are many different kinds of filter grades and means of how they attach to your camera. They exist to ‘darken’ your image even in sunlight and allow for long exposure to take place. A good start would be  an ND 3.0 (10 steps) however it really matters on lighting conditions and needs, which is why a holder design might be more attractive. It is cheaper than buying a filter for each lens diameter and allows for multiple ones to be added on each other.

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Tripod

Essential. Any sturdy tripod will do, and if it is super light make sure to weigh it down with bag.

Remote Trigger

IMG_6833 Highly Recommended. It is probably one of the cheaper accessories to purchase and a must have if you really want manual control over you exposure time. When photographing fireworks this will be a great help in stopping the exposure.

 


 

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HDR Long Exposures – Note the smoothness of the water.

Set UP

First of all, scout the location before hand and take a few photos to see what angles work and don’t. Experiment with different focal lengths and go with what shows true potential.

Then look at the clouds and watch just how fast they move. On windy days – and depending on the desired effect – extend the exposure time to about 1-2 minutes. If the clouds around rather rigid, it has to be more. 5 minutes or more as a guide.

It is at this point I would suggest using a Long Exposure Calculator, Android equivalents exist. Simply enter the filter density and base shutter speed (speed at normal exposure) and the calculator will suggest an exposure time (always keep in mind the effect you are after).

Experiment with different settings and see what works for you.

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Fireworks over the Grand Harbour – A remote trigger allows you to end your exposure before a new set.

The applications are truly endless.

Visit www.lukegalea.com for more long exposure photographs :)

Canon 10-18mm STM Review

Canon 10-18mm STM Review

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Rewind a few years ago, it was hard to justify the price tag on the old canon EF-S 10–22mm. However canon has finally seen the light and provided us with what could be a new plastic fantastic lens, the 10-18mm STM. Now I have owned this lens for a few months now. I was keen to purchase after the initial launch hype, and that wide angle goodness. Overall I am pleased.

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The 10-22mm Left and the 10-18mm Right

Lets start with all the pros for this lens, cause it does have a lot. It is cheap. I mean really cheap at $300 or €259 you can not find anything like it, even from third party lens manufacturers. Due to its mostly plastic construction and ill get back to this later, it is super light weight. This makes it most ideal for travel photography for both landscapes and architecture alike. Despite also having a plastic mount it still feels well made and sturdy. The plastic feels of a higher quality than the say the nifty fifty and all moving parts fit beautifully snug, proper plastic used by Canon in this lens. And this in a body that also provides IS (Image Stabilisation) . It is also no bigger than the standard kit lens. It takes 67mm filters, so do be ready for that. AF is virtually instantaneous, silent and accurate, you wont know it even did focus. Ergonomics are great with a fly by wire focus ring being used here. Optics are great overall, really little to complain about at this price.

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10-18mm Left and 18-55mm Right

As for cons there are a few nite picky things about this lens. One being it is an EF-S lens that means it can only be used on canon’s APS-C size sensored bodies, a bummer if you are looking to go full-frame in the future. However if you buy this lens than the probability is that you wont be doing that any time soon. The lens does suffer the usual vignetting, not too much however. The sharpness though, in my opinion was not what I was expecting. Now you will find else where it’ll say that this lens is optically superb, and that might very well be the case. However I have found the lens to suffer in this department maybe  controlled test shots will shed some light, stay tuned.

Conclusions

For Canon’s APS-C DSLR’s there is no other wide-angle worth buying. It’s price to performance ratio is superior to the competition. If you’re in the market for your first wide angle, look no further.

Some Canon 10-18mm Samples:

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The Film Look

The Film Look

There is not doubt that you have seen it, its literally everywhere.  Originally the staple mark of hipster instagram users, film emulation has become a much more evolved science. It seems that photography in itself has become nostalgic.

The photo books of our childhoods are being recreated. We are seeing film such as the Kodak Portra 160 and Fuji 400H both 90s classics reused for the modern day toddler photo, except this time with the convenience of digital. It seems we simply can’t part with the film look (and I’m not talking the vintage filters on your iphone or Android).

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Polaroid 669 Emulation
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Kodak T-MAX Emulation

The Software Packages 

Photo by Rachel A. K.
Photo by Rachel A. K.

There are many software options to get that film look out there. Now be warned. These offerings are pricey … and very much so indeed. Ranging from $49 to well over $149, they are are not what I’d call cheap especially when you’re a hoobyist looking to experiment with the look. The Nik Collection is especially tempting because of its free trials. However if you wish to not disturb your precious workflow then do take a look at VSCO Film, as it integrates seamlessly into your Lightroom set-up. These are a few packages I suggest:

Film emulation will not be the perfect substitute for most, however it must be said that great strides have been made in bringing film into the 21st century with an ever increasing range of films making the transition to digital. That said it is still sad to see that the true film experience will not survive the same transition.

Some Examples For Inspiration

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