architecture, cityscape, culture, history, landscape, meeting, nature, photography, travel, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #72 – Waiting

Another week of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This week’s topic is “waiting” and Tina wrote a few paragraphs to explain her idea.

Here is my story:

Back in the 1980s when I had my first car I persuaded my younger brother to go with me to France for a photo trip along the river Loire and visiting all the famous chateaus. For the end of that trip, a visit to medieval town Mt. St. Michel was planned. Mt. St. Michel is built on an island near the coast between Brittany and Normandy. At that time I had my first job and a car. My younger brother was still at school but he was able to speak french. So, without him, I wouldn’t be able to travel to France. At that time, the French were considered to only speak French and nothing else. I don’t know the reason anymore, why we canceled that trip. But, later I was sure of never seeing Mt St. Michel.

In January 2009 I joined a group of photographers. Each first Saturday of a month we’re meeting for photography trips in our area. Although we’re living distributed over nearly half of our state, we’re able to meet. The organization and planning are done via the internet.

Over time some friendships grew among some of us. We even organized some trips to locations a bit further away and for quite longer durations than one afternoon a month. In 2011 we used a public holiday (a Thursday) for a trip to Brittany. While planning the week, I came up with my long-time dream of visiting Mt. St. Michel. I even was able to persuade the others, despite the quite long distance from our vacation home at the Côte d’Emeraude. We were traveling with 2 private cars. Unfortunately, two of us were unable to start with the other on the same day and stay the full week. Instead, they started on Wednesday after work and arrived late that evening, while we others already had 4 days of driving around and seeing some parts of that area, including Rennes.

When they arrived, they told us about the fantastic sky at sunset and that they were near Mt. St. Michel when the sky turned red for sunset. So, they decided to take a photo stop at Mt. St. Michel 😢 I felt terrible when they told us about this. Mt. St. Michel was so near to me and the chance for canceling the planned visit was increasing rapidly. But, the previews on their camera displays made the other eager to want to go to Mt. St. Michel, too. Tides are turning 😀

Finally, the next day we headed to Saint-Malo first and later that day to Mt. St. Michel. Walking up the hill was a fantastic experience. I felt like thrown back in the medieval age. Unfortunately, the town was very, very crowded.

In the end, I was able to get this image (and a few more – but I love this one most). I have printed it and it’s hanging in our living room. At the same time, the others were in a pop-up theatre attending the opera Madame Butterfly right at the foot of the hill. When we arrived they were persuaded by a sales agent to use that night for a once-in-a-lifetime experience watching the Puccini opera in an open-air opera near that centuries-old town. I refused to accomplish them. My plan was very different and you know, why. 😀

It was kind of hard, to find a spot where the pop-up theater won’t ruin my image.

But, I found one 😀

You see, I had to wait about 25 years to see this iconic town.

Take care!

photography, Computer, technic, postprocessing, software, review

Luminar 4 is just around the corner

You might have noticed some images online on social media created with Luminar 4 beta. I was also able to have a short test on the beta version recently. I gave it a try, hoping the flexibility and image quality of Luminar 2018 would survive and bring it to a new level in terms of supporting more recent cameras, too.

When starting Luminar 4 and looking at the user interface, it’s very similar to the older versions. As a user of the older versions, you’ll feel being at home at once. Slowly, you’ll discover the improvements, as most of them are under the hood.

For those of you, not familiar with older Luminar versions: it’s a photo editing software in means of processing and enhancing an image just the way the lab did in the old film days. It’s not for doing compositions and montages. It’s for processing raw files and develop them as well as enhancing jpg files i.e. lighten the darks, correct the horizon, remove dust or noise, correct distortions or enhance contrast. All the tools are organized into 4 groups (essential, creative, portrait and pro), plus raw development (canvas) and levels. All edits are done without changing the original file

A very important improvement is the progress in the AI filters. AI is short for “artificial intelligence” and means, the software is analyzing the image and tries to improve it in a means of a very natural mood. I tried it with some of my own images and I was very impressed. Here, in this post, I included an image taken during my recent trip to the baltic sea. It was taken at a windy fall afternoon. The sky was mostly grey with some small blueish areas in between. Not, what you want to have in your images. The bracket fungus on this tree is located on the shadow side of the tree. So, we have a kind of backlit scene that helpt blowing out the sky in the image while having the correct exposure for the tree and the fungus.

out-of-camera JPG

You know, I’m a raw shooter and don’t use the out-of-camera jpg’s, because I know, the raws have much more details, which are lost when shooting in JPG only.

The next image is still the same raw but handed over to the AI of Luminar 4. I know, other raw developer software can do the same, but it’s not as easy as with Luminar 4.

sky enhanced by AI

No further processing, then simply clicking on the AI for analyzing and improving the sky parts. Done!

But, the AI can do much more. You can also use it for replacing the sky. Although I don’t need it in my workflow and don’t like such editing in general, I tried it for you. Luminar 4 comes with a set of different skies, but you can also use your own skies. So, you could take a photo of the sky in addition to your photo and combine them in Luminar 4 for getting the final image.

sky replaced by AI

There are many more options to try and to use for improving your images. In general, the improvements look very natural and much better than they look after using HDR software to process them.

Currently, Skylum offers Luminar 4 with a Launch-Discount either as a pre-order or you can get Luminar 3 at once and Luminar 4 as soon, as it is released. Remember, the release is just around the corner: Nov. 18th, 2019!!! So hurry, to save some money and get Luminar 4 as soon as possible. As in the past, Luminar 4 is for Windows as well as for macOS. You can use it either as stand-alone software or as a plug-in to Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Apple Photos. On the other hand, other plug-ins like Aurora HDR or Nik Filter are usable from inside Luminar 4.

I don’t want to conceal a disadvantage of Luminar 4: Just like Luminar 3, all your edits are saved in the Luminar catalog. Maybe, saving the edits as separate files will come back, as several testers brought this up as a complaint. Remember, it came back with releasing Luminar Flex as a result of the complaints on this same behavior when Luminar 3 was released. Luminar 3 and Luminar Flex are the same, but with the difference in the style of saving the edits: Luminar 3 saves them in the catalog while Luminar Flex saves them as separate files.

Nevertheless, when you can live with this, Luminar 4 is a fantastic software to bring up the details in your images without too much work. So, it can ease your workflow when improving your images! Not convinced yet? Skylum offers a trial period with a money-back guarantee for 30 days!

animals, bird, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: cranes

common, Eurasian, grey or gray cranes (grus grus) / Grauer Kranich or Eurasischer Kranich

These cranes resting on a harvested patch in northeastern Germany. In this region, the cranes stay for approximately 4 weeks in fall before heading to the south of France and Spain to spend the winter in those warmer areas.

This year we saw plenty of birds, but only few of them were adolescents. The last two years were hard for them because they need wetlands to find food and also for protecting their nests from predators like foxes. The two last years were very hot compared with the usual summers. The months of summer also lacked rain. And the last winter was also way too dry so that the reservoirs were not properly refilled before the next hot summer started.

This hot summer ended way earlier than the last one, although the temperatures were much higher. We cracked the 40°C mark. While the highest measured temperature in 2018 was 39°C (36°C where I live), we got 43°C this year where I live. In 2018 the fall started in about mid-November, while it started this year by the end of July to get back to our ‘normal’ summerly weather and even fall started early. Up to now, we have several wet weeks again. No hard rain, but much of spray-rain and drizzling. Showers every now and then. I really hope, this will be enough to refill the natural reservoirs.

Take care!

flowers, landscape, nature, photography, plants, seasons, travel, world

Travel Tuesday: yellow spots beside the street

These yellow daffodils are common in Germany, too. But, here they don’t grow literally everywhere besides the streets. Even in the middle of nowhere. Who planted them? Or, do they grow wild? I don’t know.

Take care!