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Five Adobe Alternatives for Raw Image Editing

July 8th, 2024

I believe editing RAW images is an essential part of the image creation process, and many people rely on Adobe products like Lightroom and Photoshop, which are often regarded as industry standards. However, on more than one occasion, Adobe’s business policies and terms have frustrated users and some have even decided to cancel their subscriptions, looking for alternative software to edit their photography. In a recent video I gave an overview of five of my own favourite Adobe alternatives for RAW image edting.

Apple Photos

If you’re a Mac user, Apple Photos could be the hidden gem you didn’t know you had or needed! It comes bundled for free with macOS and although not obvious, offers editing tools, including sliders similar to those in Lightroom. While the de-noise and retouch tools are not as good as they could be, and it lacks selective editing tools, Apple Photos does have excellent cataloging features. This software is excellent for basic raw image editing and offers a user-friendly experience for Mac users.

Darktable

Darktable is a robust, free RAW image editor with an extensive array of features, including cataloging and selective editing tools. However, its comprehensive interface can be overwhelming for some users. Performance may be slow unless you have the skills to ensure it is optimised for your hardware. Despite the steep learning curve, many users find Darktable more powerful than Lightroom once they master it.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is a paid option but significantly cheaper than Adobe software, with a one-time fee. The software offers a “Develop Persona” for raw editing, similar to Lightroom. It also includes a “Photo Persona” for image manipulation akin to Photoshop. While its selective editing tools may not match Lightroom’s, Affinity Photo provides a comprehensive suite for both RAW and JPG image editing.

Luminar Neo

Luminar Neo focuses on AI features and offers cataloging, selective masking, and AI masking for automatic selection of skies, mountains, water, and more. Its AI-driven tools, like sky replacement, are excellent for beginners. However, advanced users may find it lacks granular control. While not free, Luminar Neo is more affordable than Adobe products, making it a good choice for those looking for quick and easy editing solutions.

RawTherapee

RawTherapee is another powerful, free tool with extensive options for fine control over the various elements in your images. Though it lacks comprehensive selective editing tools, it offers a grad filter for basic adjustments like darkening the sky. RawTherapee includes cataloging features but isn’t quite as comprehensive as Lightroom’s. Despite the learning curve, it’s a solid option for those seeking a free alternative with in-depth editing capabilities.


You can see this article in a video format below.


Can you use a Nikon Z30 for Bird Photography?

June 4th, 2024

I recently replaced my main vlogging camera (the Sony ZV-1) with the Nikon Z30. The ZV-1 was having issues and I would be able to use all of my Nikon lenses with the Z30. So from now on, it will be the primary video camera for the channel, but before fully transitioning to it, I decided to test its performance as a stills camera with a fun challenge: bird photography. This certainly isn’t the first camera you’d think of for doing bird photography, but I really wanted to see what it was capable of. I paired it with the Nikon 300mm F4 PF lens, along with a 1.4x teleconverter and the FTZ adapter for the Z30 body. My plan was to head out to a local area and see what bird shots I could capture.

The First Hurdle and Initial Impressions

Firstly, don’t make my mistake: check your firmware before heading out. I reached my location only to find out that the FTZ adapter’s firmware needed updating in order to use the 300mm with the Z30 body. This required a trip back home, downloading the update, and then returning to the spot. I visited a local reservoir during late morning light, which was quite bright. This meant no concerns about ISO, though there was the potential for harsh shadows. Starting with ducks and geese was a good warm-up since they are easy to photograph and accustomed to people.

In the Field

After spotting a heron the distance, I realised that the 300mm lens wasn’t going to have quite enough reach, even with the Z30’s crop size sensor, so I added the 1.4x teleconverter, giving me around 420mm (equivalent field of view to 630mm when using a full frame sensor). I was shooting mostly wide open at f/4, (f/5.6 with the teleconverter) and I used aperture priority mode, adjusting the ISO to produce my desired shutter speeds. Manual adjustments is my preference over auto ISO. I spotted a few robins early on, which are also really easy subjects due to how tame they are, and they often pose nicely. These type of subject always provide good practice and confidence when getting started on a shoot.

Focussing on the Challenges

I managed to get a shot of a buzzard flying overhead which was a challenging but came out surprisingly well. The autofocus performed excellently, latching onto the bird and staying in focus for most of the shots in my burst. I was using continuous autofocus and dynamic area autofocus, This meant moving a focus point with the left-right-up-down pad (no joystick on the Z30), but around the focus point are a number of additional ones that will also attempt to focus n the subject, should it leave the centre. I also bagged a shot of a little tree creeper with the combination of lens and body pulling out some great detail in the feathers.

Conclusion

Overall, the Z30 is not my top recommendation for bird photography. Its lightweight and portability are great, but the absence of a viewfinder and reliance on the back screen in bright light posed challenges. The autofocus and burst rate can’t keep up with higher-end models, resulting in missed shots.
However, the Z30 does have excellent image quality. Although definitely helped by the fantastic Nikon 300mm F4 PF lens, the sensor in the Z30 does also produce brilliant results. When it comes to stills, the camera may be more suitable for landscape or portrait photography (when paired with a good lens), rather than action. It is definitely more suited to videography, as its marketing would suggest.
So, to sum up – it’s not that you can’t get good still images with the Z30, it will just be harder and less consistent than other cameras,

You can see the camera in action in the video below.


Packing Light For Travel Photography: What’s In My Bag?

May 15th, 2024


When it comes to travel photography, every gram counts. The last thing you want is to be weighed down by heavy gear while exploring new landscapes and cultures. Careful consideration about the gear you take can be very important. In a recent video I ran through the gear I had packed for a trip to the Norwegian Fjords. In this article I’m going to break that gear down and explain why it’s great for travel photography.

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5 Reasons Why Using a Dedicated Camera Is Better Than a Smartphone

April 3rd, 2024

In today’s digital age, smartphones have become ubiquitous tools for capturing photos and videos on the go. However, despite the convenience and advanced technology packed into these devices, there are still compelling reasons to consider using a dedicated camera like a DSLR or mirrorless camera. In my latest video, I explored five key benefits of opting for a “real” camera over relying solely on a smartphone for photography.

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Exploring RAW Image Editing with Photoshop Elements

February 26th, 2024

In the realm of photo editing, Adobe Photoshop has long been the go-to software for professionals and enthusiasts alike. However, its accessibility can be daunting for beginners, and the subscription model might be a turn-off for some. This is where Photoshop Elements steps in, offering a one-time payment model and a more beginner-friendly interface. In this post, I navigate the process of editing a RAW image using Photoshop Elements, highlighting its features and comparing them to the full version of Photoshop.

In a recent video I explored Photoshop Elements and its benefits for photo editors. You can watch the video at the end of this article, but here is a summary of what I covered.

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