ON1 Photo RAW 2018 – A Beginner’s Guide

When people start photography, or even after they have been doing it for a while, they find a time when they want to start learning how to do some processing on their computer. Then they are faced with a heap of options. There are so many choices and trying to work out which one to choose can be hard. One option that is becoming very popular is ON1 Photo Raw 2018.

You can buy the software outright, so you don’t need to worry about any monthly subscription costs like others are offering. It is easy to learn and you will find that ON1 can likely do everything you need to do. One of the best aspects is the community of photographers around the program as well.

On1 Photo RAW 2018 - A Beginner’s Guide - textured image

Having fun with layers and the textures.

Here is a beginner’s guide to help you find your way through ON1 Photo RAW 2018 and give you the confidence to start working on your photos. You can download the program from their website.

There is a 30-day free trial available to see if you like it before buying, which of course you will. You can also just pay for it which isn’t very expensive either. Finally, if you do purchase it you will have the peace of mind knowing it is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.

Browse Module

This is where you start when you open the program. Here you can find all your folders that contain your images. This is where you should start exploring what is possible inside ON1 Photo RAW. You can’t break anything and it is good to see what is available.

Hover over all the menu items along the top of the main window. You will see File, Edit, Album, etc., each of those has different options. While you may not use many of them at first, it is always good to know what is there. It will help you understand what is available and if you watch the many ON1 videos you will understand what they are saying and how easy it is to learn.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

In the Browse module. Hover along the top to see what is in each of the menus.

On1 Photo RAW 2018 - A Beginner’s Guide - photo of a marina

An image with only basic adjustments made to it using ON1 Photo RAW 2018.

The most important thing to do is to find where your photos are located. Then click on Browse and look below. You may have to go searching, but just use the same process that you would if you were looking for them on your computer.

Again, it’s simple. Just point Browse to where your photos are located for them to appear. You don’t have to import photos to start working. You can add folders, subfolders, albums and smart albums (collections) so that they are easier to find in the future as well.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

In Browse, you can see all your folders and subfolders.

Now it is time to pick a photo. Once you have one selected, double-click on it, press Enter, or you can just go to the side panel on the right, go to Develop, and your image will open there. Watch the short video below on the Browse module.


In this module, you can start to make changes to your images. This is where you can begin the process of creating the image that you had in your head when you took it. This is also where the first steps in raw processing will occur if you are shooting raw files.

Overall Settings

In Develop you can make many of the most common adjustments. Most images need something, whether that is changing the exposure, or perhaps bringing out the shadows, and you can do it all in the Develop module. If you’re just starting out with editing, the Tone and Color Mode is a good place to begin. From there you can make many adjustments to your image that will help make it look a lot better.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Overall Settings is where you can make most of the adjustments you will need to do.

You should play with all the sliders to see what they each can do. Don’t worry about going too far, nothing is fixed, and you can undo everything. In the photography industry, we call that non-destructive editing. You aren’t doing anything to your image that is permanent.

When using the sliders you don’t have to click on the actual pointer, just click anywhere you want and the pointer will catch up to you. You can slide along underneath it as well.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

You will make the changes by using the sliders in the appropriate panels.

Go to the Extremes

Another reason for going too far is that it can help you work out where you need to be with your image. Take the slider to the max, and then you bring it back to where you think it should be. As you do this, you will start to understand what each slider is for and how you can use it. Don’t forget to try it in both directions.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Take the sliders to the extreme, see how far you can go. Don’t forget to bring them back.

Resetting or Undoing

If you want to go back to where you were at the start simply go to the top of the section (where the heading is) for example, Tone and Color. On the right, you will see a half-circle with an arrow. Click on that and everything will be reset.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Press the icon in the top right of the adjustments window to reset everything you have done.

For individual sliders, if you would like to reset just one, double-click on the name of the slider.

You can see in this section you can also change the white balance, vibrancy, and saturation. You can add structure to the image, though this should always be applied with caution. Many people think it will help sharpen their image, but if the image is not sharp already structure will not do that. What it does do, is give your sharp lines more definition.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018

This is the section where you can change the color aspects of your images, like White Balance.

There are a couple of other settings used for portraits. If you are doing photos with people you should try them out and see how they work with your images.

Lens Corrections

Most lenses affect your images and it is in the Lens Correction area of ON1 Photo RAW that you can correct that. Most of the time the software can detect your lens is, but if you use an unusual lens then you may have to add its profile or tell the program which lens was used. You don’t have to do this, but if you are using a wide-angle lens then it can be good to apply this setting.

Lens Correction is where you can fix the distortion that your lens can cause.


The Details section is where you can reduce noise in your photos and do some sharpening. Both need to be used with caution. Overdoing it can cause unwanted halos and give your images a weird harsh texture.

As with the other sections, you should play around with all the sliders to see what they each do. Some will seem to make a difference, while others will look like they’ve done nothing. To really see what they do try enlarging the image to 100 or 200 percent. Some of them only work on individual pixels.

Details is the area where you can sharpen your image and reduce the noise in it.

Along the top of Details, you can see a default, low, high, and other options. These are like presets that you can use, or you can set your own and save it.

On1 Photo RAW 2018 - A Beginner’s Guide - pink flower

Using Detail to help reduce noise and sharpen the image.

Show More

Under Overall Settings, you will see a button that says Show More, click it. More adjustments will then be shown. If you select one a new window will appear under the others. Scroll down so you can make the necessary changes. Like many of the other settings try them all to see what you can do.

Under Overall Settings, you will see Show More. You will be given more options for adjustments to your image.

Local Adjustments

If you would like to make adjustments to particular areas of your image only, then this is the place for you to do so. Local Adjustments allows you to target parts of your images as opposed to global edits that apply to the entire image.

Local Adjustments is next to the Overall Settings tab.

If you decide that you want to make a certain part of the image darker or lighter (or add vibrance or detail) then choose Add Layer and a brush will come up. The brush has feathering which you can change to suit your image. The solid circle in the middle is how big the solid part will be and the dotted line around the outside is how far the feathering will go. To change that you can do it along the top, click on Feather, and move left or right to change the size.

The brush comes with feathering and it is good to know how to adjust it.

Along the top is where you change the brush settings.

Choose a setting that will make a big a difference for your image, like lighten or darken. Brush it over the area you want to change, this is how to make your selection. This is a good way to figure out and select the area that you want to edit or adjust.

In Local Adjustments, you can make the selection of the part of the image you want to work on.

Once you have the area you want to adjust selected, you can change the settings however you want. Undo the lighten or darken, go to the adjustments in that window and make the changes you really want. You can add as many layers as you want to make lots of changes to different parts of your image.

Experiment with this. Have a go at all of them to see how they work. It is a good way to learn what is possible. When you are done testing, you can delete any unwanted layers. Click the cross in the top right corner of each one.

Tools in the Develop Module

On the left side of the program, there are some tools. Some of them you can use straight away, other tools you can only use within the Local Adjustments tab.

Straightening Your Image

One of the questions that I get asked the most is “Why are all my images crooked?” It is such a common problem and something everyone does. Part of my answer is that it is so common, that most editing software has very easy ways to correct it. ON1 Photo Raw is no different.

The first tool in the left-side panel is the Crop Tool. Click on it and then look at the top panel across the image where you will see a small level. Click on that.

To make your image level you need to click on the crop tool first, and then look for the level icon along the top.

Pick a straight line to use in your image, like the horizon, or a tall building. Click on one end of your straight line, then hold and drag down to the other end. Keep the line along the straight edge and then click at the other end. You will see the image straighten, then just press enter to apply and crop it. The image should now be level.

Click along a straight line to make the image level.

Sometimes it can take a few times to do this, so if it doesn’t look level then just undo and repeat.

The image is now level or straightened.

On1 Photo RAW 2018 - A Beginner’s Guide

Making an image straight and level.

Removing things from your image

It is in the section, that you will find the tools you need to remove unwanted items from your images. The Healing Brush, the Eraser, and the Clone Stamp are all here. Again, you should play around with them to see how they each work and the effect they will have.

The tools you will use to remove unwanted things in your images.

Use Ctrl/Cmd+Z to undo what you have done.

The first two options, Erase and Heal are like brushes so you can apply them to the items you want to remove.

The third one is called Fix, but you need to take a sample of the image to copy over the unwanted thing. You can do this by looking for an area that can be copied and then apply Fix to that area. Once you have selected the area press Alt or Option and a circle with a cross will appear, click on that area. Now you can release the Alt or Option key and then click on what you want to get rid of.

Using those tools to remove a duck from this image.

It might take a few attempts, so don’t be discouraged. Just make sure that what you are replacing the area with something that will match.


There are a number of presets that you can apply to your image. These are great when you first start as they can really show you what is possible with the program. You can add a preset, but each time you add a new one it will cancel out the previous one. If you want to stack presets on top of each other, simply right-click on the preset thumbnail preview, and choose Insert Preset.

On the right-side, you will see a number of new windows appear with all the adjustments that were made to help get that effect. If you study them you will start to understand how ON1 Photo RAW works and what you can apply to your own images.

ON1 Photo RAW comes with a series of presets.

As all the adjustments are there from the preset, you can also make your own changes to fine-tune the preset to your liking You might find parts of it are not exactly how you would like them.

On1 Photo RAW 2018 - A Beginner’s Guide

The preset Firenza was added to this image.

When you go to Develop you can see all the presets on the left. Click on the different folders and quite a few of them will come up. You can see them applied to your image in small preview versions.

There are many different presets that you can use. You can see a small version (thumbnail) of each as a preview of how it will look applied to your image.

However, if you would like to see them a lot bigger then all you need to do is click the square in the top right corner of the window with the presets. It has four small squares inside a larger one.

Click on the four dots in the upper left corner to get bigger previews of the presets.

This will give a grid view and you can see how each one will look applied to your image. This is a much easier way to plan and choose which one to use.

The larger previews.

If you would like to see even bigger versions then simply click Ctrl or Cmd and the plus key. You can really see how the preset will look on your image. To exit, press Escape or the arrow in the top left corner.

Applying the preset to your image.

Moving on to Effects

One of the first things you will notice in the Effects Module is that there are more tools available. There are brushes and gradients that have masks attached to them. The mask will make it easier to make changes and corrections later on if you decide you don’t like them. Masks are good to use, but you do need to get used to them. It takes a bit of practice.

When you go to the Effects Mode you get a lot more tools to start using. Many come with masks.

Presets and Filters

Over where the presets were in the Develop mode, you will now find a series of Filters that can be applied to your image. As you did with the previous module, you can click on one, then the four preview thumbnails of the filters for that set on your image.

In Effects, you also get to use special filters to apply to your images.

You can also select the filters on the right under Overall Settings. If you know which one you want to choose then you can just select it there. When you do make the selection you will see that a new window will open up. In there you can adjust the filter as you want it. You can change the opacity, along with other settings that are used to make the filter. You don’t have to accept everything the filter gives you, feel free to tweak the options to your liking.

Click on the four dots again to get larger previews.

Over on the right under Overall Settings and Local Adjustments, there is a button called Add Filter, click it to see a list of the ones available.

Once again, you should try them all and see how they work. Try adding several filters to the same image. If you don’t like it you can press Ctrl/Cmd+Z to remove it. Otherwise, click the cross in the top right corner.

For each filter there are windows where you can make adjustments to the filters you have applied.

Working with Layers

Layers can be scary, but once you know what they are and how to use them you will see a lot more opportunities open up for your image.

The Layers Module has a lot more tools and adjustments you can use. Plus it also gives you the added bonus of being able to apply other images and work with layers.

You can change the sky if you aren’t happy with what is there in your shot. ON1 makes this very easy with the masking brush. You can make it so that you only mask particular colors, for example, so you can remove just that one and show the image that is below.

To replace your sky or to add textures you have to be able to work with layers and learn about blending them. It can be very hard to grasp at the beginning, but if you keep experimenting you will figure it out.

Here you can see the effect of several textures added and blended to completely change the look of the image.

Resizing Images

This is where you can resize your images depending on what you are going to do with them. For most of us, that is probably going to mean doing images for Social Media. However, there are a lot of other options available so you can prepare your images for printing or whatever you need.

If you want big prints, Resize uses Genuine Fractals® technology to enlarge your images.

Resize is where you can get your image ready for social media or printing.

The ON1 RAW Community

If you really want to go to this level then consider watching the many videos available on their YouTube channel or on their website under product training. ON1 also has a great community (called ON1 Plus Pro, which is $149 annually, regular price) and always includes the latest edition of ON1 Photo RAW as a perpetual license. Or you can buy the lower priced standard membership, ON1 Plus, for just $49.99 per year without the upgrade to the next version of ON1 Photo RAW. ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is available for $119.99 for new customers and an upgrade price of $99.99 for previous owners.

The entire community is always happy to help you learn. The membership also includes different coaches, themes, and topics each month to teach to the Plus community. Some of the names coming to ON1 Plus this year include Matt Kloskowski, Tamara Lackey, Don Komarechka, Colin Smith, Hudson Henry, Colby Brown, James Brandon, Jim Welninski, and Dan Harlacher the Product Director.

You will find many videos that take you through the more complicated parts of the program step by step. Dan has a great voice and is a great instructor. They are all really good.

Editing Your Photos

Whether you are a beginner or more advanced user, ON1 Photo RAW will have what you need. It isn’t a hard program to learn, especially with all the added support that ON1 offers. If you are a very beginner then it is the perfect place to start and grow into.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a dPS advertising partner.

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How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

One of the questions that a lot of photographers ask, is how much I should charge for my images? It is very hard to do, and hence a lot of artists struggle with it. There is so much more involved, and many don’t quite understand. So, how do you go about pricing your photography?

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

Flinders Street Station, this image took me about 3 years to get and I spent hours processing it. Hence it would have a high price on it.

Learn from the masters

There is a great story about Pablo Picasso, the famous artist. It goes like this.

Picasso was sitting in a Paris Café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin – but not before asking a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked and asked, “How can you ask for so much? It only took you a minute to draw this.” Picasso replied, “No, it took me 40 years.”

Whether this story is true or not is hard to know for sure, but it has a very good point. Most people do not consider the experience of the artist. Along with that are many other factors, like your education, the cost of equipment, and not to mention the time you spend creating the photo.

How much to charge, as you are going to see, is a complicated question and does depend on many of those factors. They are often things that people don’t really think about. Many photographers just pluck a price out of thin air and go with it. If I’m telling the truth, I have to say I was the same. I would constantly give different prices for my images.

Now I have a system in place and it is all based on the following.

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - yellow flowers

I do macro for fun, so this was shot in my garden one morning and processed quickly. The price wouldn’t be high for this image.


You have to take into consideration any education you have done to learn or improve your photography. It doesn’t have to be formal education, like a university degree, but if you have paid money for it, then you need to consider the cost.

Something like a Bachelor of Fine Arts will cost you thousands of dollars. You will never recover your money if you are only charging people $20 an image, for instance. How many will you have to sell to pay off the degree at that price?

What about other short courses you may have done? Ones that are just a few weeks long, or those that are done online. You need to think about how much they cost and the time you spend doing the classes and learning to do all those new skills. There are so many online courses, from learning how to use your camera, to how to edit your photos.

dock with blurry clouds - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

While I enjoy this kind of photography, it isn’t part of my main body of work. Therefore, it would never be editioned as it isn’t worth as much.


If you are anything like me, you have spent a great deal of money on your photography gear. Though you also need to think about what you have bought in the past and what you have now. For instance, how many cameras have you had? How many lenses have you had over time?

Consider all your accessories as well. Think about your camera bags, tripods, filters, memory cards, camera straps, etc. These are often forgotten, but they all add up and should be considered when pricing your photography work.

purple flower - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography

This was taken with a good macro lens and an expensive camera so those factors should be taken into consideration when pricing the image.


Every time you go out to take photos, how much time do you spend in the field? Don’t think just about the length of time it takes to take a photo. You need to think about how far you traveled to get there and back. Did you have to drive around quite a bit?

When I go out shooting I can be gone all day. I might leave early in the morning and not get back until late that night. During that time, I may have traveled over 250 miles or 400 km, and used a tank of fuel. Not to mention having to buy two to three meals. It all adds up and if you are selling your images you need to consider these things as well.

Then what happens when you get home? The images are put onto your computer and then processed. It is going to be different for everyone, but you will likely spend anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours on each image. All this time should be considered when you are pricing your photography.

You should be giving yourself an hourly rate so you can add that up at the end to add to the price. While you may have gotten several images to sell in that one trip, you can divide it up and spread it out over the series.

How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - dark moody image

This image is a combination of two and I spent many, many hours on it. I would ask for a high price for this one.


If you plan on selling your work as limited editions, then it will be worth more as you can only sell so many. When you do a limited run of an image they must all be identical and numbered, according to where in the edition they are, for example, 1/10, or 4/10, etc.

An edition is where you decide how many of that image you will sell. The number is up to you, 10, 20 or 100, maybe more if you think the image will be in high demand. However, the more there are in the edition the lower the value will be.

You have to be very organized to edition work and keep very good records. Once the edition is sold, you cannot sell anymore. There is some debate as to whether you can rework the image so that it looks different, but that is perhaps for another article.

dark image of a city skyline - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography -

This image would be part of my body of work and would definitely be put into an edition, perhaps with a limited run of 10.


Most know that you have to include the cost of printing. If you are selling the image you need to make sure the print is a good quality. Printing it yourself with a cheap printer and ink is never a good idea. Most of those will fade with time and you will be selling someone a print that won’t last a lifetime or more.

Make sure that wherever you get the work printed that it is archival. There is nothing worse than buying a piece of art from someone and then in 10 years it is gone because it was printed badly.

When you are preparing your work for sale, make sure you get the cost of a professional printing job and include that in the price.

- How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography - lighthouse at night

An image that was done for fun. It would still be printed well, but the price would be lower than others.

Working for free

This may seem like a good idea, it gets your foot in the door, but the reality is that it rarely works. Once people know they can get images from you for free then they will continue to expect that. When you stop, they will just go to the next person. You should always charge for your images and your work.

You should also not sell your images for next to nothing. Think about how you are harming the industry by doing so. If it were any other industry and people were selling their services or products for much less than others it would be considered wrong, or cheap would mean not good. You need to consider every aspect when pricing your photography

sunset lighthouse - - How Much is an Image Worth? Tips for Pricing Your Photography -

This is a bit of a throwaway image, taken during a time-lapse with a few hundred others. Still, it would never be given away for free.

Next time

So when someone asks you how much is your image worth, think about all the things that have been mentioned here. Of course, you are not going to charge thousands, but you want to get some of what you have spent back. Each time you sell one photo you have to work out how you can start to recoup the costs you have outlaid for your photography.

Please share your thoughts, if you have anything to add, on pricing your photography tips in the comments section below.

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Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

A few years ago I become friends with a guy who likes dong infrared photography. It was something that I had tried when I was shooting film, but never quite figured out. My friend had converted an old camera of his and it seemed like a good idea. At the time, I had two old cameras and thought perhaps I could use one of them for infrared. However, the price was too high then.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

Port Arthur and the main Penitentiary looks a lot better in infrared.

Move forward to a few years, and after buying a second-hand camera from a friend, I found myself in the same position. I had two extra camera bodies, so why not convert one to infrared.

You can do this by putting a filter on the end of the lens, but from searching around for information, getting the camera converted specifically for infrared seemed like a better alternative.

What is infrared photography

Perhaps before going any further, it might be good to get an understanding of what infrared photography is actually all about.

Infrared photography is the capture of part of the spectrum of light that is invisible to the naked human eye. Infrared light is at the top end of the spectrum and is not visible to the eye, so to capture it with a camera some special techniques and equipment are required.

It isn’t an easy concept to understand, but once you get out there and start doing it, you will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

Late winter at Alowyn Gardens. It never snows here, but the infrared camera makes it look like it had.

Different ways of doing infrared

As with most types of photography, there are various ways to go about it. Infrared photography is no different.

Computer conversion to infrared

You can find ways to do infrared conversions on the computer. There are processes that you can use that will help give you that infrared look, however, it is just a look and won’t be the same as doing it with filters or a dedicated camera. If you are curious, though, you could try this first before investing any extra money into it.



Alowyn Gardens again, looking again like winter and snow, or perhaps a frost.

There are filters that you can get to put on your lens that will help you to get infrared-style images. These will let the IR light through to your sensor. The advantage is that you don’t have to give up a camera body to do this. I’ve never tried them, so I can’t comment on how good they are or are not.


One thing a lot of photographers who love this kind of photography do is to get one of their cameras converted to be dedicated just for doing infrared photography. Some do this themselves, or you can take it to camera repair place to do it for you.

I took mine to a place to get the infrared conversion done. I’m always wary of playing around with the sensor. They have to remove the filter that comes with the camera and replace it with one that will let through the infrared light, and block all visible light.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

Late winter at Alowyn Gardens. It never snows here, but the infrared camera can give it that look.

Choosing which sensor filter

You do have to choose which filter you want and some places will give you many choices. Where I sent my camera there were only two options.

The first choice is the 720nm filter. This will give you close to a full infrared effect, but it will allow you to put some color into your images. The second is the 850nm which would give you very rich dark blacks and perfect if all you want to do is black and white infrared.

For me the choice was easy, I wanted to get some of that color. Not all the time, but it was important to have a choice, so I went with the 720nm filter.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography - color infrared image

The 720nm sensor filter allows you to get some color, like having a blue sky.

What to photograph in infrared

Like any type of photography, you can photograph anything with an infrared camera or one with a special filter. However, not everything will have the same effect or give you great results. You really need to experiment with it to see what will work.


Portraits can be quite weird, and the infrared light does strange things to the skin and facial features. The hair can look funny too and the lips almost disappear. I don’t know that many people would enjoy getting their portrait done this way. Perhaps for a special event or something, maybe. Who knows.

infrared portrait - Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

The infrared camera gives Chris a completely different look.

Trees and nature – give your scene the look of winter

Trees are fantastic for this type of photography. All the leaves come out looking white. The more moisture the leaves have the whiter they are in the image. The gum trees in Australia don’t have quite the same effect as trees that are not indigenous to the area.

It makes photographing in rain forests pointless as everything shows up as white and doesn’t have the same effect as it does with a color image. It’s hard to see any definition between the plants.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography - b/w of trees and forest in IR

Australian natives are a little different with infrared photography.

One thing I found was that dead trees looked amazing in infrared. If you photograph them surrounded by lots of other trees, or on their own you would get a very different look. They stand out with an elegance that color photography just doesn’t give them.

When traveling around Tasmania with my infrared converted camera I was looking for dead trees everywhere.

dead trees in IR b/w - Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

Dead trees on the side of the road in Tasmania.


One of the first times using the camera was in the city of Melbourne. I just walked around and took photos of the buildings and streets to see what could be captured in infrared.

The images were disappointing. Once converted to black and white they didn’t look any different than other images done with a normal camera. They did have a quality that gave them an antique look, but other than that there was no discernable differences.

b/w IR architecture - Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, it looks like any black and white image, though taken with the infrared camera.

While on that same trip to Tasmania there did seem to be some buildings that were really suited  to infrared, like some old sandstone structures. Places like Port Arthur, where all of the buildings are made of stone, came out looking really good with the camera.

When visiting Port Arthur I took images with the infrared camera and the normal one. Once the photos were on the computer it seemed clear that the ones done with the special camera were by far more interesting. Many of the images were processed, some hand colored and then published on social media. The color images of the same subjects were boring in comparison.


All the images taken with the infrared camera need to be processed. You may find the sepia quality of the images quite good, but there is so much you can do to them. You can convert straight to black and white or play around with the white balance to get some color in the images.

hand colored IR image of a church - Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

A small church in Tasmania, the sky was made blue because of the filter and the stone was hand colored on the computer later.


Really, this is what photography is all about. Get out there with your camera to see what you can capture, what will work, and what doesn’t. Each subject will look different with infrared photography, but you should try every type of photography you can think of to take images and then review your results.

Right now, I’m experimenting with a red filter on the lens. The images are interesting, but I need to try it a lot more.

Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography

Cascade Brewery is an old sandstone building that came out well. In the background, you can see the snow on Mount Wellington.


While it can be an expensive exercise converting a camera to infrared, if you have an old body lying around, then you might want to consider it. You can do a lot of experimenting with it and you will likely not regret getting it done.

If you like the look of this sort of photography, then there are also other options. It is amazing how much the world can change with infrared and it is a great way to add something different to your portfolio.

The post Tips for Converting an Old Camera for Shooting Infrared Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Software Overview of the New ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

The world of photo editing is changing and as more people are picking up cameras to take photos, it also means those same people are looking to process them. ON1 is one of the leaders in that change. They have been developing their software for a few years and pride themselves on having the only editing program that has been designed by photographers for photographers – ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

Software Review - ON1 Photo Raw 2018.1 - sunset

A sunrise processed with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.

You may know ON1 as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. While it is still available as such, it also comes as a stand-alone product. You can purchase the program and use it on your computer without a subscription to Adobe to use the plugins. This makes it far more accessible to most people. You can also buy it outright, so there are no monthly payments and you have options to upgrade as it is updated over time. It is only available as a perpetual license.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is available for both Windows and Macs.

ON1 Community

There is a community around ON1 and if you love being a part of one then you are going to feel at home. They encourage you to tell them what you like about the software and what you don’t like. They like to listen to the ideas submitted and if they are feasible will implement them in future updates. The community can submit their feature requests through the ON1 Photo RAW Project.

There are tons of free training videos available to help you learn how to use ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1. The videos are not too long and are made so they are easy to follow.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

A macro flower image, processed with ON1 Photo Raw 2018.

Opening up

When you open up ON1 Photo RAW you will go straight to the Browse mode. This is where you will find your photos.


When ON1 opens you are automatically taken to the Browse Mode. From here you will find the folders and files for your images on the left. In the center are the images. On the right is all the metadata information about your images. You will also see on the far right all the different modules in which you can work.

If you want to see the image on its own, just click the tab key.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

By clicking the tab key all the windows around the image disappear so you can get a clearer view.


The Browse module is where you can view your photos and all your folders. There are four different ways of viewing your images.

  1. The first, which seems to be the default, is a set of thumbnails of which you can adjust the size.
  2. You can view just one image on its own without the distraction of the others.
  3. There is the filmstrip method, with your photo blown up and the thumbnails below.
  4. The last method is like the previous one, but you can click on more than one image using Ctrl/Cmd which allows you to compare them side by side.

While you can see all the images that are on your computer, you can also import photos from your camera, phone, or wherever they are currently stored. The Import function allows you to rename your photos, decide where they will go, and you can also opt to change the metadata at the same time.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - browse

The Browse section where you can view all your photos.


Once you have decided which image you want to work on you are ready for the Develop module.

Here you can make all your basic adjustments like exposure, highlights, and shadows. You can adjust the white balance and look at adding sharpening or noise reduction. There are quite a few options in this section.

If you go to the top of where the adjustments are located you will see a button called Show More. From there, you will see more adjustments that you can use. They appear as more panes underneath the default ones that are available when you go to Develop.

Above the Show More button are two tabs. The first is Overall settings, and the other is Local Adjustments.

The first one, Overall Settings, will make any changes to your entire image. On the other hand, Local Adjustments is there to make changes to only small sections of your image. The tools you can use to do this are on the left-side panel. There are two, an Adjustment Brush and a Gradient. With these, you can work on only parts of the image where you want the desired effect.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - develop

Working on your image in the Develop module.

Local adjustment tools

With the brush tool, you can make changes to the size of the brush, amount of feathering, opacity and other things from the menu along the top of the window.

You will also see another option there, the Perfect Brush, which allows you to make selections or correction to parts based on the color on which the cross-hairs of the brush is placed. If you keep the brush over the color or tones you want to adjust, then nothing else outside those tones will be affected. It is a great tool to use when you want to remove or replace a sky.

There are other tools in the Local Adjustments tab as well. You can crop your images here if need be. The crop tool also allows you to straighten any wonky horizons.

Retouching tools are also on that panel. These will allow you to remove sensor dust spots, which is very important. You can clone, heal and use the content-aware Perfect Eraser with them as well. There are a lot of choices.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - split toning

Adding a split tone to the image in the Develop area.


In the Effects module, you have even more adjustments, though they are referred to as filters here (some of the most popular include Dynamic Contrast, Textures, Borders, Lens Blur, Skin Retouching, etc.). You can add as many as you like and then stack them on top of each over. The effect will be applied to the whole image, however, you can add a mask so it will be more local to the areas of your image that you want to affect.

You will notice in the panel on the left that there are more tools available, including two that are very important.

There is another brush tool, along with a gradient and they both have masks attached. As soon as you start working on the image with one of them a mask is created automatically. This is valuable because it means you can fix what you are trying to do if you make a mistake. Masks are a great way to work non-destructively.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - effects

Looking at the filters and presets you can add in the Effects module.


When you get to the Layers module, you can start using the workspace which is designed to be easy and help take your photos further. It is here that you can start editing your photos. It also gives you more choices so if you want you can add layers, or start compositing. You can also do specific edits to particular layers.

One thing that is amazing in this section is replacing skies. Using the masking brush you can switch it to the Perfect Brush so you select just the sky, then reveal the image underneath. To help with the edges of the subjects you can switch to the masking refine tool, or the chisel masking one. They work really well together to help you get clearer edges.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - Layers

Working in Layers doing a sky replacement.

If you look at the menu on the left near the tool panels you will see a section called Files. From here you can add extra images if you want. It is a great place to choose a new sky or find textures to add to your image. It even comes with a collection of skies you can use on your photos.

Once you make that selection you can also blend the images or layers. There are many different blending modes. You can try them all out to see which ones will work for your image.

You do have to be prepared to take layers back into Effects or Develop to make adjustments or add filters to them to get the desired results that you are after.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - replace sky

Looking at the different options for replacing the sky and applying it.


As the name states, it is where you can resize your images, though ON1 has packed it with far more. You can crop, level, sharpen, add film grain, add gallery wrap wings for canvases, plus many more things. It is a great place to finish off your images ready for printing.

There are also a lot of resizing presets that you can use to help you get the printed results and size that you are looking for.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - resize

Resizing an image ready for posting on the web.


In Develop and Effects, you will find a series of presets you can use to enhance your image. Unlike other programs you have options with them and can adjust them to suit the purpose of your image. You can also add a mask so that it is only applied to part of the image.

If you do your own enhancements and think you will want to use the same settings again then you can also save them as a preset. You can use the filters in Effects to get the image you want, then make a preset that can then be applied to your other images. This is really good if you like all your images to have a similar look and feel.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - presets

Adding presets and layers in Effects.

ON1 Photo for Mobile

There is also an app available for your phone, so you can process your images there. The advantage of this app is that you can send your photos straight to social media. Most of us do not like images straight from the camera and like to be able to edit them in some way.

The downside to this app is that it is only available for iPhones, so if you have an Android, you can’t use it. Unfortunately, I have a Samsung (Android) phone, so, therefore, have no idea how the app works. Though I am sure it is good if it is anything like the Desktop program.

Some of the improvements that have been made

With every new version that is released, there are always new features or some of the old ones are improved. Let’s look at what you will find with the latest release of Photo Raw 2018.1.


Doing High Dynamic Range (HDR) images in ON1 is incredibly easy and the results are fantastic. Aligning the images, along with deghosting have all been improved to help you get the best image. You are now able to mark which frame you want to use to help with the deghosting process, as well as decide how much movement you get with motion instead of the program doing it for you.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - HDR

An HDR image that was done with ON1 and then processed further.


If you’ve used an older version of ON1 Photo RAW, when you go to Browse mode, you should notice how much faster it is to look through your images in this new updated version. You don’t have to wait for eons while your photos all load. As soon as the folder is open you can view the images. They have improved the catalog searching tool as well so it also loads faster.

Noise Reduction and Sharpening

You can now sharpen your images to enhance the details on a micro level that will give you better results.

With so much people doing long exposure photography, one of the major problems is hot pixels. ON1 Photo RAW 2018 now will remove them automatically, along with the ability to remove high levels of noise from your images which all make your workload easier.

Chromatic Aberrations are caused by your lens and there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent them. But ON1 has worked on improving how to get rid of them, which is now much easier in this updated version of the software.

Panoramic Images

Many people like to do panoramas and you will find that ON1 has improved this feature so it will stitch your vertical images together far better. You can stitch together over 25 images at once. You also don’t need to worry about different exposures as it will compensate for them.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - HDR

A composite of two images where the sky was replaced.

New Features

With the latest release, some features were also added.


If you choose to use the import function you can decide where those images will go on your computer. As they are importing you can also assign metadata that you think is important, like copyright information.

Soft Proofing

The ability to soft proof has been added so you can simulate what your image will look like when it is printed. It should stop the surprises that you get sometimes when an image comes back from your printer.

Batch Renaming

While a lot of people don’t worry about this, it is a great feature if you have to send a bunch of photos somewhere. The ability to select the images and then rename them all at once is a fantastic feature that has been added to ON1 Photo RAW 2018.

Edit Capture Date

This was added so if you want to change the date and time that a photo was taken you can do so. This is a good feature if you’re like me and are too lazy (or you forget) to change the time and date on your camera when you are traveling. You can now fix it with ON1 Photo RAW.

Auto Advance

When you are going through your photos picking your faves, once you have culled one image the program will automatically move to the next image. This makes moving through them much faster.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

The final image of the cloudy sky.

More information

When you purchase ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 it also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with it, no questions asked. Though if you want to try it out first you can use the full program for a free 30-day trial. It doesn’t stamp a watermark on your images making them ineligible to use, so it’s fully functional.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - b/w

Converting an image to black and white.


ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 is a good alternative for you if you wish to edit your photos, but don’t want to be locked into a subscription.

It is also suitable if you want to learn about image processing as the community that surrounds ON1 is welcoming. There is a lot of help available if you are just learning. In some ways, it is perfect for beginners, but also for others who want to get the best possible images they can.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Software Overview of the New ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review of the Nikon D850 DSLR

The latest addition to the Nikon line up has been a highly anticipated full frame camera. While many other cameras were being updated rumors started circulating 12 months ago that the D810 would be updated. Finally, the news came that the Nikon D850 was being released. It seemed like everyone in the photography industry was looking forward to it. So much speculation – what will it have, and how will it perform?

Review of the Nikon D850 DSLR

The Nikon D850 with the 14-24mm lens.

The Hype

There was similar hype around 5 years ago when Nikon released the D800. It was almost 12 months before I was able to get one, and when the talk started on this one I knew that I would be getting one. The D800 has been an amazing camera and by far the best I’ve ever owned. But it is showing its age and doing long exposures with it was becoming harder. The logical update was always going to be the replacement for the D810.

What I needed was a camera capable of taking long exposures without the problem of dead or hot pixels. I wanted a touchscreen as others I’ve used have been fantastic. I had hoped that with Live View it would be possible to see through ND Filters without having to remove them all the time. While it wasn’t necessary, being able to transfer photos from the camera to the phone would be handy as well.

Once the camera was released and I finally got my hands on one, there was nothing to be disappointed about. It lived up to my expectations, perhaps even more. It is a complicated camera, and the phrase being used, “A game changer” is true. It does a lot and it is going to take some time to learn all that my new camera can do.

Nikon D850 cityscape

An early morning image of the city with reflections.

First impressions of the D850

For most people, it will seem like a gigantic camera. However, those that have been using the D800 or D810 will not be surprised. It is slightly bigger, but not a lot. The weight is around the same as well. Overall it looks almost the same. As you start to study the D850 you can see how some functions have changed positions. I keep pressing the mode button now to change the ISO.

Nikon D850 long exposure

Doing a long exposure on the top of a cliff with the Nikon D850.

45.7 MP Sensor

The big thing to test was going to be the massive 45.7-megapixel sensor. In most of the other Nikon cameras Sony sensors have been used, however, Nikon has developed their own for the D850. It is said to be sharp and create very crisp images. That would appear to be true so far. There is a warning about using low-quality lenses on it, which can create a lot of chromatic aberration. So far, I have noticed that.


Nikon has given the D850 a touch screen, and I am so happy. Touchscreens make navigating around the menu so much easier. You can flick through your photos very easily, or change a setting in the menu.

With the touchscreen activated, you can also focus the camera and take your photos, whether you are using a tripod or not. With the Bulb setting, you can now touch the screen to open the shutter, and then tap again to close it. This means that when you go out to take long exposures you don’t have to worry so much about a remote shutter release or intervalometer. It doesn’t have a timer or display how much time has elapsed, but there are always ways around that, like using your phone.

Nikon D850 night photography

Capturing a single light trail from a bicycle along Southbank at night.

The LCD Screen can be manipulated

Like other models, you can now manipulate the screen so you can move it to help you take photos in Live Mode, or when using the playback function. If you like taking photos close to the ground you can do that now without having to get on the ground yourself or having to guess at the composition. I’m getting too old to get down on the ground, getting back up isn’t so easy, so this function is one that I’ve been eagerly awaiting.

Nikon D850

The front of the D850, set up for a long exposure.

Using Live View for Long Exposures

One of the frustrating things about doing long exposures with the D800 was having to constantly remove the filters every time you wanted to recompose your image. They were too dark for the camera to see through. The Canon 5D Mark IV is capable of seeing through the filters in Live View, so I was really hoping the Nikon D850 would have that capability as well. I’m happy to report that it does.

It doesn’t quite work the same way, you do have to open the aperture up a bit, but you don’t have to remove the filters. If you can open it up to f/2.8 then it is like there are no filters there at all. It will also make it easier to use graduated filters and polarizers when doing long exposure photography.

Nikon D850 Seascape

The camera photographing the Dragon’s Head.

As someone who loves doing long exposures, this new feature is a very welcome addition to the camera. It is something that I will use a lot. My workflow when shooting has changed from never using Live View, to using it constantly.

One of the major advantages of shooting with Live View is that your mirror is up, so you don’t get those minute vibrations when you are taking an image.


One of the biggest problems with photography is low light. While in most situations you can use a tripod, there are some situations that mean it is just isn’t possible. With an ISO rating up to 25,600, you can take photos easily without a tripod.

Nikon D850 high ISO

Capturing Christmas windows using ISO 25600.

There will be noise in the images, that is one thing you can’t avoid. However, compared with what you got with the earlier models in the D800 series it’s a big improvement. You could comfortably go up to ISO 2000, perhaps even higher and get images that you would be happy with.

At the other end of the scale, you can go to ISO 64 when you want the best quality images in the right lighting conditions or when using your tripod. Most cameras only go to 100, so having that extra step means finer grain or almost no noise in your images.

Some of the controls are in different places

While the basic setup is very similar to all Nikon cameras, there are some things that have changed from previous models (for me, that is compared to the D800). The Mode button is on the left top buttons with the WB and QUAL. ISO is now over near the Shutter button. The Bracket feature is now set where the flash button used to be.

Overall, the camera is much the same. The menu system remains very similar to previous models and is easy to understand. It is one thing that has always been good with Nikon, you can go from one model to another and still be able to figure out how it works.

Late afternoon in the city of Melbourne.

No flash

One major change from the D800 and D810 is the removal of the built-in flash. For most users, it was not necessary and the flash popping up could create problems. You can still attach an external flash to it, so for most this isn’t going to be a problem as they would use that option anyway.

3 Different RAW sizes

One the main concerns with the camera was the 45.7-megapixel sensor. The more MPs it has the larger the images will be. Storage can become a problem, especially when shooting in RAW. The D850 now comes with three different sizes of RAW files. You can choose to shoot RAW images in Large, Medium or Small. The large will take images that are 8256 x 5504 pixels, while the small will take images that are 4128 x 2752 pixels, similar to a cropped sensor.

Having the choice of deciding how big your image will be is a good function to add. If you know you are going to take a photo for social media, with no intention of doing anything else, then using the small option makes sense. However, if you are going to be taking photos for a client or for printing on a big scale then the large size is the best choice.

Nikon D850 seascape

Doing a long exposure of the Dragon’s Head on the Rye back beach.

Fast frames per second burst mode

I went from a Nikon D300s, that could shoot 6-7 frames per second to the D800 which was capable of only four. It was a shock and possibly one of the biggest disappointments with that camera. It always seemed clunky when you were taking several images at once, especially for bracketing.

It’s good to see they have sped up the frame rate in the D850. It will take around 6 images a second, so it is reasonably fast. When you are bracketing there is less chance of a mistake when taking a series of images. It is great to hear how fast it shoots the frames.

Nikon D850 Bird photography.

Using the Nikon D850 at the zoo to capture birds.

The XQD card

With the release of the Nikon D850, we also see that it has two memory card slots; one for an SD card, and the other for an XQD card. As the file sizes are large, and you can take many images per second, you also need a card that can keep up. The XQD cards are good for writing your images quickly so you shouldn’t have moments where you can’t shoot because the camera is saving your images onto the card.

These cards are quite expensive. Not many manufacturers are making them, the one I got was made by Sony. You also need to get a memory card reader for these as well. I purchased mine from B&H, it was 128GB and cost almost $200.

Nikon D850 Waterfall

Capturing a waterfall with a long exposure.

Wifi and Snapbridge

Nikon cameras that have Snapbridge allow you to use your phone with the camera. You can download images to it, for easy loading to social media when you are out and about. There is also the option for your phone to capture GPS data for future reference.

When Snapbridge was first released there was a lot of negative publicity about it. People said it didn’t work properly, and if we are being honest, it wasn’t great. But it has improved a lot. It is now easier to connect your camera to your phone to look at photos. You can have it set up so it automatically transfers the images to your phone. They go into the cloud, so they don’t take up any room on your phone.

The only downside seems to be that to get your images to your phone you have to shoot in jpeg format. Considering the target market of who will be using the D850 (mostly pros), it is a bit disappointing. Most users will be taking their photos in RAW format and won’t be able to do that.

To overcome this, I decided to shoot in RAW and basic JPG. You don’t need high-quality JPGs to share, and basic is fine for social media. Once the files are all downloaded to my computer I select all the jpegs and delete them. It does mean that you will be using more memory on your cards, but I have 128GB cards, so it isn’t going to be an issue that often. I would also only use this selection if I knew that I wanted to capture an image to share, otherwise I would choose RAW only.

Snapbridge will keep the firmware on your camera up to date which is great, otherwise, it only happens if you get it serviced. One thing that is a definitely a plus for someone like me is that the app will also make sure the time and date are correct on your camera by syncing it with your phone. You don’t have to worry about daylight savings and changing the camera settings for it anymore (or when you travel and change time zones).

Nikon D850 macro

The D850 with the Lensbaby Velvet 56 photographing macro flowers.

Battery life

The experience of other cameras has shown that using Live View can drain your battery. Earlier this year I had an opportunity to try out the Canon 5D Mark IV and when using Live View for long exposures the battery did drain very quickly. You would get maybe three hours with it when using that mode. With the Nikon D850, using Live View it doesn’t drain the battery as quickly.

A fully charged battery for normal use will last a few days, with heavy use a day or so. The Nikon batteries are very good, and if you want spares, it is advisable to go for regular Nikon ones over third-party options.

Nikon D850 City image

An image taken at sunrise with the Nikon D850.


Without a doubt, those who described the Nikon D850 as a game changer were not lying. It’s one of the most sophisticated cameras on the market. While hailed as a great camera for landscape photographers, it is also suitable for many other genres of photography as well. One has to wonder what they will do to the next generation of the D5 to make it better than the D850.

For more information on the specifications, click here to go to Nikon. The camera retails on Amazon for $3,295.

I would give the camera a rating of 9.9 out of 10, maybe even a 10. I love the Nikon D850, it is the best camera I’ve ever used

The post Review of the Nikon D850 DSLR by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Lensbaby has been producing lenses that create interesting effects since 2004. During that time people have been experimenting and trying out different ways of using them. In the spring of 2015, they introduced the Velvet 56 to the joy of many photographers, especially those doing macro. This year, their newest lens in the line-up was released, the Lensbaby Velvet 85.


The Lensbaby Velvet 85

The Velvet 85 promises to be a great lens for portraiture creating impressionist-like portraits of people. It does indeed do that, but you can use it for so much more. It is a great lens for photographers who like images with mood and which concentrate more on the subject with a lot of bokeh.

First Impressions

The lens is very well made and when you hold it in your hand you can feel the coolness of the metal it is made from. It is not an overly heavy lens, but it’s also not light. It is bigger than the Velvet 56, which is to be expected, though not a lot heavier. They are both very well made, high-quality lenses.

Using the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Like most lenses that are available on the market today, the Velvet 85 can be used for many different types of photography. I use it mainly for macro photography and find it really good. However, you can also use it for portraiture, city photography, and landscapes. It doesn’t work the same as other lenses as you get a really soft-focus effect with it, but for most people, that is exactly why they buy it.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

A macro image that was taken with the Lensbaby Velvet 85.

Manual Lens

The lens is completely manual and you cannot use your camera to control it, as you can with other lenses. You need to change the aperture and focus it yourself. You will not be able to see what aperture you used when you download the images to your computer either.

Manual Focus

Focusing is also manual and you need to adjust it as you take your photos. It does turn a long way and you have to twist the focusing ring a lot. Some cameras can tell you when the image is in focus, for example, Nikon does. When you are at that spot of good clarification, then the round dot in the viewfinder appears. However, as you get used to the lens you will need to rely on that less.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Opening up the aperture gives you images with a lot of soft-focus.

For macro photography, most people tend to use manual focus anyway and it is easier with this lens. You can focus where you want and then move yourself and the camera to a spot where the image will be in focus.

For landscape photography, you can set it to infinity and you should get images that are sharp, depending on your aperture. For objects in between macro and infinity, you will have to practice and see it goes. That is probably the area I found the hardest, though as I did it more, it became easier.

Controlling the Lens

With many lenses now you can change the aperture with the camera, however, the Velvet 85 is more like a vintage lens from older style cameras. It does not communicate with your camera and you need to control the aperture yourself. To change it there is an aperture ring on the lens which you turn to adjust it to the setting you want.


Unlike other sorts of dedicated macro lenses, the Velvet 85 doesn’t use aperture in the same way. You can take photos of flowers at f/2.8 and get a fairly decent image. If you tried doing that with, say a Nikon macro lens, you will find the photo would almost be an abstract version of the flower with very little in focus.

The aperture starts at f/1.8 on the Velvet 85 and goes up to f/16. At the latter, you will get the greatest depth of field and if using the lens for landscape photography it is a good one to choose. If you are taking macro images of flowers then the wider end is much better.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Using a smaller aperture such as f/11 gives less soft-focus and you get more of a natural looking image.

One thing the lens is really good for is the soft-focus effect that is possible. You can control how much of it you want by using different apertures. The wider it is the more of the effect appears, and the opposite happens as you close it down.

Interesting effects

If you like to get different effects with your lens then the Velvet 85 will be fantastic for you. You can get interesting results for portraits, though I don’t do them if you go to the Lensbaby website you can see some good examples. If you want to give your clients images that are not the same as what others are doing then you should consider adding this lens to your kit. Click here for images.

Bokeh Effect

Without a doubt one of the most special and addictive aspects of the Velvet lenses, and perhaps more so with the 85, is the blurring you can do with it. You won’t find any other lenses available that will give you the same effects. You can play around with the aperture to change how much blur you achieve in your images.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Creating a bokeh effect with a poppy flower and bee.

Whether you are photographing a landscape or a macro image you can use the aperture and blurring effect to highlight your subject. The Velvet 85 is fantastic for this. You can change the aperture to different widths and that will determine how much blur you will get. From that, you can decide what level of blurring you want in your image.

Tilt-Shift Effect

This was a popular effect a few years ago, though, there is no reason it can’t be again. This is where you use blurring effects to make objects in your image look like they are miniature or toy-like. By controlling the aperture and giving the images a lot more of the blur you can get images that look as though your subject is miniature. The lens does not do it all, but it gives you a good starting point.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

The soft-focus is a good start to creating tilt-shift images.

Moody Images

Using blurring effects is a great tool for giving your images a moody feel. You can apply it to most types of photography and get those sorts of images that people love. You can use it for most types of photography, try it out if you can.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Playing with the aperture you can create a mood in your image.

Comparing the Velvet 85 with the Velvet 56

There is an obvious difference between the size of the two lenses, which you can see in the image below. However, you will find the same with most fixed or prime lenses.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

The Lensbaby Velvet 85 next to the Velvet 56.

If you change the focus to point so that you can get as close as you can to what you are photographing, they both seem to capture the same image.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

How close you can get with each lens, the Velvet 85 on the left and the Velvet 56 on the right.

However, if you are trying to photograph something from a fixed point, then the Velvet 85 will allow you to get closer images. This is great if you are taking photos in a location like a garden, you can photograph those flowers that are at the back and harder to get to.

Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85

Standing in the same place, the difference can be seen with the Velvet 85 on the left, and the Velvet 56 on the right.

If I had to choose between the two lenses, I think I would want the Velvet 85. The longer reach is appealing, and the soft-focus effect is really interesting. There isn’t a great deal of difference in the price, so it would be my choice.

Adding the lens to your kit

It is not an overly expensive lens, Lensbaby sells the Velvet 85 for $499. It is available for most cameras on the market today. You can get a full list on the website.

If you are looking for a lens that is capable of macro photography, then this is a good alternative to the more expensive macro lenses that many companies make. It would also suit a portrait photographer, however, don’t forget street photography and landscape. It is a versatile lens which you will enjoy, but don’t expect to get the same results that you’d achieve with normal lenses.


The post Review of the Lensbaby Velvet 85 by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The dPS Ultimate Guide to Fine Art Photography

Daring to be Different

One of the contentious topics in the world of photography these days seems to be what exactly is fine art photography. Ultimately it is what the photographer deems it to be, but in the world of art, there is a lot more to it. If you want to get recognition as an artist that uses the medium of photography, then there are certain expectations of what your body of work should be like and how you go about executing it.

Galleries and collectors are not going to collect work or invest in art when there isn’t a lot of consistency within that body of work. One fine art image is not enough to make you a fine art photographer. The work needs to be done with intention, with a direction, and have a consistency over all the images. A style is developed that is recognizable in all the images.

It is important to look at other famous artists, not just photographers, but painters and sculptures, to see how their work has evolved. See how you can do something similar with your photography. Photography is no different to those other mediums and the same definitions that apply to them are also applicable to fine art photography.

Who can be a fine art photographer?

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A long exposure that was taken during the day, but the light in the image has been manipulated to make it look like it was taken at a different time.

Anyone can be a fine art photographer; there are no hard and fast rules about it. Though it does demand a fair amount of dedication. There are no rules or special qualifications that a person needs to follow or have before they call themselves a fine art photographer.

Some of the things that help define a fine art photographer

Perhaps the best way to describe how you can be a fine art photographer is to look at how they work. There is a lot more to it than simply creating beautiful images. We can all do that, but an artist works towards something. Their work is done with intention, and they have a direction they are following. Finally, there is a consistency to their work. Let’s take a look at each of these points individually.


Often when you go out to take photos, you pick a place because you think you might get nice images at that location. That is most likely never going to be a problem for you. But if you want to be considered more of a fine art photographer then you need to go to places that you know will help you create images that will further your work, and build your portfolio. There has to be some intention behind why you photograph things.

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The cityscape that has some differences, but it is quite effective and if I was short of images for an exhibition this one would be included.

For example, a fine art portrait photographer who does images of people in certain scenes, like dark moody beach scenes, is not going to go and take photos of a baby in a park. Well, they might for a friend, but they wouldn’t include that work in their portfolio.

Artists are always trying to take photos that work with what they already have. They go out with the intention of photographing subjects that follow the direction of their work.


This is a lot like intention, but it means the photographer has direction. If they are taking photos somewhere, they are being directed by their previous work. This helps them to get images that will continue to follow that style.

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Before processing.

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After processing to give it my signature style.


For the same reasons as intention, that same portrait photographer is not going to photograph a baby because it won’t give their workflow any consistency. For a fine art photographer, you need to have work that is fairly consistent and looks like it all belongs together.

That doesn’t mean it has to be the same subject all the time, it can also be a similar processing style. All the images are processed in a similar way so they look consistent when a gallery or investor is looking at the portfolio.

The more consistent you are the more galleries and investors will be interested in your work.

Consistency is important and making sure the images all have the same feel and look is important in creating a body of work.

This is definitely the case. I asked the curator for Stills Gallery in Sydney, Josephine Skinner, about how important it is that there be consistency in a body of work. This is what she had to say:

It’s very important. If an artist were contacting us, I would hope to view a resolved body of work, both conceptually and materially. Of course, we’re used to working with artists as they develop new work for an exhibition, but a cold submission won’t pique my interest unless you establish your capacity to deliver.

What is a body of work and how do you create it?

A body of work is where you have several pieces that show the consistency and intention that was spoken about earlier. When you have a body of work it should have a similar style and look as though one person created it all.

The subject matter should be all the same or very similar. There needs to be a number of images in the body of work so you can have an exhibition. The actual amount will depend on where you are exhibiting and how many are needed.

This is a selection of my work, notice the similar processing style, subject matter, and mood across all the images.

Contact sheet 02

Contact sheet 01

Artist Statement

Whether you want to believe it or not, an artist statement is very important. It doesn’t have to be an essay, but putting what you are trying to achieve with your photography down on paper is a great way to help with those areas that we just discussed; intention, direction, and consistency.

When writing one you want to be clear about why you are doing what you are doing. What is important about it and why you have chosen the medium of photography?

Here is what Josephine had to say about artist statements:

An artist statement is helpful: be brief, clear and use accessible language.

Some statements can waffle on and not make much sense. It is good to sound professional, but it should be concise and leave the audience of your work with a very clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

This image was taken with the intention of being able to change the mood and make it look different.

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The final image. Many aspects were changed so this image would look like it was taken at night with just one light shining.

Look at some fine art photographers that are practicing now

Have you ever been told that if you want to be a good writer that you should study and read the writing of those in the same field? The same can be said for fine art.

If you want to be an artist then you should study and look at the work of other great artists, in this case, fine art photographers. Though, you should include a wide range of artists as photographers can also learn a lot from painters, drawers, printmakers, and sculptors.

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This image of the 12 Apostles doesn’t really belong with most of the work, but it still has the same. The light has been manipulated, so it almost belongs. But, the different subject matter would make mean it would probably not be included in an exhibition.

You really need to look at what your work is and find similar photographers. There is such a large number of photographers working at the moment, that it’s hard for me to tell you who to study. But here is a list of a few fine art photographers to give you a starting point.

What is an Artist CV?

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A cityscape image before processing.

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The final image showing how the light has been changed to create this look.

This is very similar to a work CV (curriculum vitae) or resume. But instead of listing all the jobs you have had, you list everything that galleries and other people in the art world might want to know about you.

They usually start with your education, where you have studied and when. Then you list what solo exhibitions you have had if you have had any. The goal is to end up with a massive list of those. Then you follow those with the group exhibitions in which you have been involved. Then you might add what prizes you have won.

Finally, comes a list of places where your work has been published. For example, if you have had work published in a magazine. You can also include collections and in this section, you will mention if you have sold work to important places like a major public gallery, for instance.

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Another image that has the same look and processing, but doesn’t belong. It does belong more than the image of the 12 Apostles though.

Every time you approach a gallery you will be asked for your Artist’s CV. If you don’t have one, it is time to start working on it. They are usually one page.

Here is a link to my CV as an example.

Do you need to study Fine Art at a Tertiary Level?

The simple answer to this is no, you don’t have to study at a tertiary level to be a fine art photographer. But the long answer is that if you do, you will gain a greater understanding of the many aspects of being an artist. The really good places also give you studio space and impose the need to work in that space like a professional artist would.

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Another one of the power stations, that could work, but wouldn’t be included in an exhibition.

There are so many other things you learn as well, for example, how to develop your style or your body of work. Or, how to create the consistency we talked about earlier. You begin to understand how the gallery system operates and how to approach them. Often you are given opportunities to exhibit your work so you can get an idea of what it is like. These can help you to get a start on your artist’s CV.

The lecturers are usually artists themselves, so they can guide and mentor you. They understand what you are going through and their advice can be invaluable.

Getting a Bachelor of Fine Art is never a bad thing. Many other artists and galleries will take you more seriously because you have shown a commitment to your practice.

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This one is a little different, but it still fits the artist statement.

Where to study it if you so choose

There are places all around the world and where you study will depend on where you live, the cost, and if you are accepted. Look at other artists and see where they studied. Do your research to find out what is available near you. Find out how many graduates of that institution have had successful careers when they finished.

Not all art schools are equal. Some have very good reputations, while others will get you the degree, but not necessarily the prestige. For example, in Melbourne, you can get a Fine Arts Degree from many places, but two are more sought after, University of Melbourne, Faculty VCA, and RMIT University. People take more notice if you have attended and graduated from those schools.

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This image appears as though it would work, but since the rest of the images are more cityscapes and not close-ups of anything, it would not be included. If more similar images were made, I may have to reconsider that decision.

Keep in mind that this type of degree will not lead to a paying job, and you are being trained to be an artist. It is expected that you will work at it full-time when you finish. Of course, most artists end up doing other jobs to supplement their income until they are making enough from their art. Though this appears to only happen for a few. Nearly all teach or have other jobs to pay the bills.

I had a lecturer once that told us if we were still doing art and exhibiting our work 10 years after graduation we would make money from it. Unknown if this is true, but it is a nice sentiment.

Visit galleries and see what others exhibit

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This was taken near a marina, but it is too different and I couldn’t make it look like the other images, so it would never be included in an exhibition.

To get a great understanding of what fine art photography is one of the best things you can do is visit art galleries, both public and commercial. You can see how the artist works, look at the consistency and also how the work all looks when it’s put together in an exhibition.

Look for commercial galleries that are exhibiting photography works, or better still find ones that specialize in fine art photography. If you can’t visit them in person, then look on the internet. They all have websites and usually show the works of the artists they represent.

Study the work and the artist. If you find some whose work you really like, pay a lot more attention to them. Find out what motivates the artist, look at their artist CV, and see if you can find an artist statement. That will really help you to understand their intention, direction, and the consistency.

Public galleries often have some of their collection online, but you are usually required to go and look. Don’t be disappointed if the photography section if very small, other artworks often get more wall space. You can look for galleries that specialize in photography, for example in Victoria, Australia there is a place called Centre for Contemporary Photography and that is all they show. It’s a great way to see what other photographers are doing.

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Like the ocean image, this has the same look and feel, but the subject matter doesn’t match.

Here are a few others:

Study about all art, its history and what is happening now

Part of being an artist is keeping yourself informed. As previously stated, you should be going to galleries and seeing other exhibitions. It is so important to read and study other artists. It can help you understand what their lives were like and what drove them to create their art.

It is also good to keep up to date with what is happening in the world of art. Who is winning awards, what work is really popular right now, and how you could fit in. Look at who is being exhibited and which galleries are showing their work.

Look at painters, sculptures, and other mediums

Don’t limit your photography study to just photographers. You should also look at painters, sculptures, printmakers, and drawers. You can learn a lot from them as well.

Rembrandt lighting is a type of lighting pattern that portrait photographers strive to create. It involves a triangular spot of light on the cheek of the portrait subject. Photographers have been trying to replicate that style for years, but it came from a painter – Rembrandt.

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The image is similar, but it probably wouldn’t be included in an exhibition. It doesn’t quite fit.

In some ways, painters were our earliest photographers as they tried to paint what they saw. Looking at their work is very important. You can learn a lot about subject-matter and more importantly, about composition. For those artists, the composition was key and they would have spent a great deal of time working on that element of their craft. Study how they put their paintings together and learn.

Sculptors create compositions and often work conceptually. If you are interested in conceptual photography then looking at how these artists work can help you find direction. See what lengths they go to in creating their sculptures.

Living an artist’s life and what that means

There is a myth that many creatives were “suffering artists”. That to be an artist you had to be in some kind of struggle. The other myth is about being the “starving artist”, so if you are going to be an artist you have to also be very poor.

An image that would be part of the body of work. It follows the theme of the rest of the images.

The first is a myth, you don’t have to be on some internal struggle to be an artist. It has been said that you have to go through disasters in your own life in order to help you create masterpieces. It isn’t true, of course. Very normal people create the most amazing artworks. There is a lot more to it than some emotional suffering.

In the past, many artists were starving. Even in today’s world, making money as an artist is incredibly hard. There are more people wanting to be artists than there are people wanting to buy the work. The reference to starving was more to do with making no money and not having enough to buy food.

The reality is that most artists live very normal lives. They often work part-time jobs to survive and live in ordinary houses. They are often very normal people. There are some eccentric artists, but they are more the exception to the rule. Many have studios and workspaces, and every free moment they get, they work in their art practice.

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A cityscape that would work in an exhibition, it has the same feeling as the others.

Exhibiting your work

There are various different kinds of galleries and if you want to exhibit your work then you need to start studying them. Find out which ones are the best for you to approach first of the several different types (large public and private).
First, you need to find out what the galleries are looking for. Once again, Josephine has some advice for those wanting to approach galleries:

The first piece of advice I would have is to do proper research into which galleries you approach and be selective with those you do. We get submissions from painters, for instance, who haven’t even looked on our website to find out we exhibit photomedia and video. In the process of narrowing it down, bear in mind that if a gallery has an emphasis on photomedia that doesn’t mean that all forms of photography will fit with their broader aesthetic and focus. Also, be conscious that each artist brings something unique to a gallery so diversity is desired – they probably won’t want someone whose practice mirrors an existing represented artist. Lastly, each gallery has a different policy for receiving submissions, so a good idea is to call and ask what they prefer. Don’t just show up and expect to sit down with the Director!

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A cityscape taken from an observation deck. While it is a cityscape it also would not be included. It really does not have the same look at the others.

That is great advice and a good idea for all artists. Do your research and study the galleries you are interested in to see if they are a good fit for you. You can also ask questions to see what they have to say. They will often be more than happy to talk to you about what type of work they are looking for, and how to submit your work.

Josephine has provided some information on how they find new artists:

Our focus is contemporary photomedia and video, so we tend to look at art prizes that are often interdisciplinary, such as the Hatched Graduate exhibition at PICA, and keep an eye on what’s happening in ARI (Artist Run Initiatives) spaces. These platforms provide an initial filter because the work has already undergone a process of competitive selection. Galleries with a more traditional or commercial aesthetic would probably look elsewhere.

Most galleries will have information and guidelines about how to send in proposals for exhibitions; you need to follow those closely. They get a lot of submissions and if you don’t do what they ask then you could be eliminated straight away. Do everything you can to get them to look at your artwork.

Preparing your work to exhibit

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The subject matter fits with much of what the fine art work is about, but it’s the wrong colors and sends a different message than the others.

Having an exhibition of their work is the ultimate goal for most artists. It is where they develop a name and reputation. If you want that too, then you have to make sure your work is good enough to show.

There are so many decisions to be made before you do a show. You have to decide who will print your work and how it will be printed. Part of the reason for exhibiting is to sell your work and if it doesn’t look good then people won’t buy it.

Before the work is sent to be printed you need to make sure that there aren’t any defects in the images. When they are blown up, sensor spots or other unwanted items in your scenes will be enlarged as well. They could end up standing out so much that they take over the image. Magnify the image on your computer (view at 100% or 1:1 size) and look very closely for any mistakes or faults.

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Work in an exhibition.

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Work that is packaged and ready to be sent to an exhibition.

Find a professional printer who will work with you. Look for one that you can rely on, and who knows their business. They should be able to help you figure out the best way to present your work. There are so many options for photographs these days. You can do canvas prints, put images on fine art paper, and even have them on metal, which is very popular right now.
Then you are faced with the option of framing or not. Most galleries will answer that question for you.

Read my article: How to Prepare a Photography Exhibit of Your Work for more on this topic.

Editioning your work

This is not compulsory, but one thing that many photographers do is edition their work. This means they will only sell a certain number of that image or a limited edition. The artist sets the edition to what they think they might sell.

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A cityscape that is very similar to many I do, but I wouldn’t include this image as it doesn’t have the impact that many of the others do.

For many artists starting out, the number of editions is usually small, around 10 or 20. The more successful an artist becomes, the more expensive the images get, and often the edition number increases as. Some will do editions of up to 200 photos.

For most of us though, especially starting out, it isn’t necessary to do editions. You may only sell one or two copies of an image. As sales pick up and you begin to make a name for yourself it is good to consider putting out editions of your work.

If you die your work will double in price

This is probably the biggest myth out there about fine art photography and art in general. While it is true that when some artists die their work becomes a lot more valuable, it isn’t the same for everyone. If the artist had a successful career and was being collected by a lot of people then there is some truth in this.

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Image with similar colors and a long exposure, but it is not an image I would include in an exhibition.

When they die their work gains in value because it becomes rare. As no new work will be produced, all of their previous work becomes more valuable. That’s all there is, a finite amount, so it will increase in value.

For most artists, our death will only matter to those around us and our artwork will only increase in sentimental value. It’s sad, but you dying likely isn’t going to cause an increase in the value of your work.

Being a fine art photographer

There are many steps you can take that will make you a fine art photographer. There are many different paths and it is up to you to decide which ones you will take. In the end, being an artist is about doing work with intention, having a direction and working consistently.

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This would very definitely be included. The light has been changed and it works with the artist statement.

Artists usually exhibit their work with the idea of gaining a reputation so collectors will purchase it. This, in turn, leads to their work increasing in value and they can sell more. Being an artist is a noble profession and one that dates back hundreds of years, who doesn’t want to belong to that group?

The post The dPS Ultimate Guide to Fine Art Photography by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

As the use of mobile phones as cameras become more popular people want to get the best possible images with them. In some ways, they are very limited in how you can take photos. There are many companies now making lenses for mobile phones to help you get much better images.

Some are better than others with most requiring a magnetic ring to attach them to your phone, over the camera lens. They can have varying degrees success. Some have good lenses, but the rings don’t work, while others are designed for a particular camera and aren’t good on other models.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

The Struman Optics case, the clip, and three phone lenses.

Struman Optics has come up with a set of lenses that consider all aspects of using them along with different phone products. Through phone cases for the most popular brands, or a special clip for the others, you can now use their lenses (the macro, fisheye, wide-angle and telephoto) with any phone.

Phone cases

Unlike many other lenses for mobile phones, the Struman Optics ones have covers for the top two brands – both iPhone and Samsung. The phone covers have a section where the camera is that allows you to screw in the lens so it is aligned perfectly with the camera.

The case makes taking photos a lot easier as you can hold your phone in any manner, and not worry about the lens coming off. It makes the whole system much sturdier.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

The phone case with a lens screwed into it ready to be used.


If you have one of the lesser known phone brands or models, the lenses come with a clip that allows you to put them over the phone. They come with a spongy surface that sits against the screen so it won’t scratch. This takes a little more mucking around to get the lens correctly aligned, but once it’s done you can take your photos.

You can put the empty clip to help you work out where it should go. You can then screw in the lens that you want to use and take your images. If you decide you want to change to another lens, it isn’t a problem as they are easy to swap out.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

The clip on the phone with a lens in it.

The Lenses

There are two kits available. The first includes a macro, wide-angle and fish-eye lens. The second is a telephoto lens that also has a holder for your phone and small tripod that you can use to help you steady the camera.

Macro Lens

Trying to get really close to objects for macro photography with your phone seems to be something that so many of us try to achieve. Some phones do it well, while others struggle. My current phone has trouble getting close and it can be frustrating. I do like macro photography, so having a lens I can put on my phone is great.

The Struman Optics macro lens is incredible. It will allow you to get a lot closer to your object than your phone can. It gives you a great amount of detail and is very sharp. When you go to take an image you can get as close as a couple of centimeters or an inch away from the subject.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

This photo was taken with my phone and the macro lens screwed into the phone case.

Perhaps the one negative thing about this is that you don’t have a lot of choices, you only get the one focal range. All images have to be taken from the same distance, which is really close. However, if your intention is to get as near as possible, then you will love this lens.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

This is as close as you can get with just my phone and no added lens.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

When you screw in the Struman macro lens, you can get a whole lot closer and capture a lot more detail.

If you decide you want to get a little further away the wide-angle lens is what you need.

Wide-Angle Macro Lens

The wide-angle lens will let you take photos at any distance. You can get a wider angle than what your phone will take. If you have a subject that is hard to photograph because you can’t quite get it into the frame, then this lens will allow you to get a wider angle of view.

Compare the images below. The first image shows you the lighthouse taken with the phone and no lens. It is a tight image, and to get more distance I would have to move farther back. But as there was a cliff behind me so that was not an option.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

The lighthouse taken with the phone and no lens attached.

The Struman wide-angle lens was attached to the phone and now you can see that there is a lot more room around the lighthouse. This made it a better image.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

Same Lighthouse, but with the wide-angle lens attached.

The lens also has macro capabilities. If you find that you don’t want to get as close as you have to with the macro lens, put the wide-angle on and you can get that distance. It is good for photographing the whole flower or getting more than one in the shot. It is a great lens to go with the macro.

Fish-eye Lens

The fish-eye lens is a lot of fun. When you use one for the first time it is addictive to see what you take with it. This lens is similar to other fish-eye lenses for phones in that the image is a circle. If you give your subject enough space you can crop it so it is square or rectangle. However, if you do that you are reducing the size of the file.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

Fish-eye lens used to photograph the lighthouse and then cropped to make a normal rectangular image.

Like the wide-angle lens, the fish-eye can also do macro. It can be used when you want to highlight an object in particular. It creates a bokeh effect with everything around it.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

Some shelves with an assortment of things, taken with the fish-eye lens.

Carry Case

The above three lenses and the clip all come in a little case that fits in your bag or your pocket. It makes it very easy to carry them around. There is a little pocket that has some instructions and a cleaning cloth for the lenses. The case is not soft and is quite solid, so it keeps everything inside safe.

Telephoto Lens

As stated earlier, Struman Optics also makes a telephoto lens which you can purchase in a kit with a stand and a holder for the phone. This also fits into the phone cover case or the clip to help hold it still. You do really need the stand and phone holder as it’s a large lens. It is hard to hand-hold it to take photos.

When you find a subject you want to photograph, you have to be a certain distance from the object, a meter or a yard away. You do have to focus it manually, so if you find it is too hard to focus that could your subject is either too close or too far away.

Out of all the Struman lenses, this is the hardest to use. You do need to use the stand, or a stand with the phone holder. It does mean you have to carry a bit more equipment with you if you want to use this lens.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

The telephoto lens in the phone case, with the phone secured by the holder and kept up-right on the stand.

Stand and Phone Holder

The stand is basic and not very big, though it is easy enough to carry around. You do need to have a surface to put it on and that isn’t always possible.

The phone holder screws onto the top of the stand and you put your phone in it. It is easy to use, though it can be a bit stiff to mount your phone. The holder will also fit on other tripods or Gorillapods. That allows you to use it with your other gear if you decide to throw the holder and lens in your kit when you go out.

Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

This flower image was taken with the wide-angle lens, shot very close to the flower.

In Practice

When I went away recently I put the cover on my phone so I could use the lenses anytime I wanted. I didn’t take the telephoto lens with me, but I most definitely packed the other three. They were always with me, either in my bag, or my pocket.

They are the best mobile phone lenses I’ve seen yet. The images are amazing and the detail you can get in your images is so sharp. If you love using your phone for photography and want to get more out of it, then here are the lenses that may be perfect for you. Struman Optics is an Australian company, but they ship all over the world.

I would give these lenses 9 out of 10, I love them.

The post Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

The 7000 series of cameras from Nikon have been very popular since they were first introduced in 2010. It is a mid-range camera in their lineup but sits at the top end of the amateur level cameras. As with many of these cameras the new one in this series, the Nikon D7500 can also be purchased with a kit lens, this one came with the 18-140mm lens.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

The Nikon D7500 with the 18-140mm kit lens. Image courtesy Nikon Australia.

The new D7500 is in the DX format or crop sensor camera. It has a 20.9 megapixel CMOS sensor and is said to be “equipped with a high-performance EXPEED 5 image-processing engine.” Nikon also claims that it is a good camera for video and that it supports 4K UHD. For more technical information please go to the Nikon website.

Nikon D7500 out of the box

When you first get the camera out you’ll notice it’s surprisingly light. I use a D800, so most cameras are light compared to that. However, the D7500 is a good size and feels nice in the hands. There is some weight to it, but it’s comfortable. When you have the camera, with the kit lens attached, hanging around your neck the weight doesn’t hurt you.

They have made the grip deeper so it is easier to hold onto, and also more comfortable to hold. With some models, it feels like you are digging your nails into the camera, but that hasn’t happened with this one.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

Holding the Nikon D7500. Image courtesy Nikon Australia.

Easy to use

When it comes down to it, what you really want from a camera is one that is easy to understand and use. There is no doubt that you will find both of those with the Nikon D7500. In previous models you had to go into the menu to change some settings, a lot of them are now buttons on the camera. ISO is changed with one up near the shutter button. You can change aperture with the scroll wheel at the front and the shutter with the one at the back. It is easy for your fingers to find everything you need.


It has a high range and will go up to 51200 and the slowest speed is 100. It has enough of a range that would suit most people who want to take photos in both low light and on sunny days.

With images taken at 12800 during a night show at Sovereign Hill you can see noise in the images, which is to be expected, but the amount isn’t that bad that the images are not useable. When compared with what older cameras did at ISO 3200, this camera takes a good image at the higher ISOs with much less noise as on other models. It fits in with many of Nikon’s cameras for using in low light.


The Winter Wonderland at Sovereign Hill was dark and to get images the ISO was put up to 12800.


Nikon has worked on the autofocus features with the D7500 and it is fast. You can track subjects and get fast focusing to get sharp images of whatever you are trying to capture. It doesn’t take long to get any subject in focus. It means you can work quickly, especially if you like doing street photography or something else where fast autofocus is needed.

Touch screen

Like most new cameras it does come with a touch screen which makes accessing sections in the menu easier and faster. You can just click on what you need. You can also use your fingers to scroll through the images you have taken. It turns the menu into a series of buttons, so you can move around it much faster and find what you need to make any necessary adjustments.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

Another night image that was hand held and taken with ISO 128000.

LCD screen

The screen at the back is tiltable (it’s not full articulating) so you can change it when you want to use Live View. This is especially good for places where you have strange camera angle, for example, when you are photographing something that is close to the ground. You can put the camera in Live View mode, and then tilt the screen so you can see what you are shooting without having to get down on the ground as well.

Live View is really good, though you always need to be careful with how quickly it can drain the battery. Without a doubt, you will use the battery faster if you use this mode all the time. If you use the viewfinder instead the battery will last a lot longer and you will get plenty of photos.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

This image was taken at Abbotsford Convent.

DoF preview button

It has been pointed out that the current model, the D7500, does not have a depth of field preview button (shows you what your image will look like with your selected aperture). Though it seems that many cameras are now removing this feature. It is not something that I either use or have looked for in a camera, but if it is an important aspect in your photography then it may be a problem for you.

Long exposure photography

You can use any DSLR camera for long exposures, and this one is no different. The images come out very sharp and you get the great effects that you would normally expect. One part that was surprising to me was using Live View with an ND filter on the camera, I could still see the scene. Many Nikon cameras do not do that. When the filter is on you can’t see anything, and you need to remove it to refocus and recompose. This is a great added advantage and makes taking long exposure images that much easier.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

Long exposure taken at Banyule Flats using the D7500 and the 18-140mm kit lens.


The camera has wifi, Bluetooth and Snapbridge. You can now connect your camera to your phone and get photos to instantly publish on social media. In other cameras the Snapbridge hasn’t worked well with Android phones, but with the D7500 I had no trouble getting my phone to find it and download images. It worked really well, and so far the best experience I’ve had with this app.

The 18-140mm kit lens

This is an interesting lens to include in a kit and many people would be really interested in it. The usual 18-55mm has been replaced with this one. It is a good choice for most people who are starting out with photography.

It has an aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and when you zoom to 140mm the aperture range starts at f/5.6. It is much the same as other lenses of this type. For most photography, you are not going to want to go wider than those. It is a kit lens and you aren’t going to get something really amazing. If you want higher quality you need to buy the body separately and then get a lens separately.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

The kit lens takes pretty good images of flowers up close. Not quite as close a macro lens, but fairly good.

Most lenses for cropped sensors are of a similar quality. The images from this lens appear sharp and the quality is good. While testing this camera and lens the combination was used for night photography, long exposures, walking around, and some macro. It performed well in all circumstances.

The lens does have Nikon’s Vibration Reduction or VR, which a lot of users now want. Though you can choose to turn it off, which you should do if you are using the camera on a tripod. You also don’t have to use this function.

I tend to turn VR off on my lenses so I don’t leave it turned on when using my tripod. I haven’t found it a problem, but if find that your images have some movement, or you have trouble holding the camera very still then you may find it easier to keep it turned on.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

This image was taken as walking around the city.

Who would buy this camera and lens?

The Nikon D7500 is the top level amateur or non-professional camera that Nikon makes. It is for serious amateurs who want to get the best out of their photography, but can’t quite justify the extra expense of a full frame camera.

It would suit someone looking for a second camera after learning how to take photos with one of the entry level Nikon cameras, like one of the D3000 series models. It is a good step up and there are many features that the D7500 is capable of that the others aren’t.

There is no reason why someone who is new to photography shouldn’t purchase it either. It would be an ideal camera to learn and experiment with as you grow into the camera. The kit lens will also give you a lot of room to advance as well.

Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens

Another long exposure that was taken with the D7500 and the 18-140mm lens


Amazon has the Nikon D7500 body listed at $1246.95, and if you want to buy the kit with the 18-140mm you can get it for $1546.95.


Overall, the Nikon D7500 would suit someone who is fairly serious about their photography and wants to get the most out of their camera. Someone who wants to take a lot of photos and also wants a model that is capable of doing many different types of photography. It is a camera that will do everything you want it to and you won’t be disappointed.

The post Review: Nikon D7500 with 18-140mm Kit Lens by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

ACDSee has released Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows and is the new update for their photo editing software. They have given it a new name, introduced new features, and made improvements to others. With so many people looking for other software packages that you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for, this makes it a very attractive program for people to use.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

What part of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 looks like when you open it up.

I recently wrote an article, Photo Editing Alternative – An Overview of ACDSee Ultimate 10, that will guide you through the different modes and what they do. If you are new to this software, it would be best if you read that first. This review goes into more detail about Edit mode and what is possible. It will also look at some of the features that are now available in this new release.

First Impressions

It would be easy to expect it to look like Photoshop when you first open it up. However, there are many similarities that can help make it more familiar to use. You can work in layers for your images, which enables you to go back and make adjustments to particular ones or delete them if you no longer want them. Many of the adjustments and tools have similar names which make it easier for you to learn. You can use the History function to go back to see what you have done. You can work nondestructively so your original images are always protected.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Edit Mode, working on an image.

There are also many differences. Some of the tools may have the same name, but to get the same results you have to use them in a different way. When you click on one of the tools and adjustments in the Edit mode menu, located on the left side of the workspace, you are taken to a different screen to make the changes. When you are done, you click either Done or Cancel, and you are taken back to the main Edit mode window.

New and Improved

As you start using Photo Studio Ultimate, you will find many new tools and adjustments to help you work on your images. The latest release features many new tools that work really well and will be mentioned soon. It also includes older tools, which have been developed over decades, yet still, stand up to today’s demand. The software is becoming very sophisticated and should suit the needs of most.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Working on an image in Edit Mode.

There are so many improvements, it would be hard to do them all in one article. So, this overview is focused on the ones that ACDSee is the most excited about and those that I really like.

Pixel Targeting

There is a new feature in the software that gives you more opportunities to be creative with your work. You can select a specific color to apply adjustments to, for example, you may want to make the reds brighter, or tone them down. You may want to sharpen only the greens. Or you can decide to change all the yellow tones to purple. With Pixel Targeting, you can do so as you please. You can also apply masks to specific colors or brightness ranges.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Using Pixel Targeting to give the yellows and oranges more saturation.

One application that a lot of people may use this feature for is to convert an image to black and white and have just one color coming through. By selecting your image and then going to Select to choose Pixel Targeting, you can decide which color you want to select. Once you click OK, you will see your selection and when you add the Black and White adjustment layer, the selection is turned into the mask. You will have your image in monochrome, except for the one chosen color.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Using the tool to select which color you will target with Pixel Targeting.

It is easy to use, although, you may have to play around with it a little. Remember that all colors are made of other colors. You may also need to do more work on the mask to get the look you really want. Overall, it does a decent job of the task, and there will be many people who will like this function.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Once you have done the selection and created the mask, then inverted it, you are left with color only for the tulips.

Smart Erase Tool

Along the top of the toolbar in Edit mode you will find the Smart Erase tool. This tool allows you to remove objects in your image that you don’t like, or don’t want. You often find unwanted subjects in your images, and being able to remove them is important. This has always been one of the best things about digital photography.

The tool is easy to use; you simply click on the image and start painting over what you want to be removed. You can set it to show up as a red overlay so that you can see what you’re doing.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

When you find an unwanted person in an image you can use the Smart Erase to remove them. The Red shows where it is being applied and then the final result.

The Smart Erase tool seems to work best on small areas and on images with a plain background. Think about what you want to remove and look at the size of it, and the background. If you don’t get the results you’re looking for, you can always run the Smart Erase command again and again until you get a natural look. Play around and see what you can achieve.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

The Smart Erase did a good job of removing the woman from just inside the door.


The Liquify tool is what they use in the fashion industry to make models thinner. It is easy to use, however, should always be done with caution and used subtly. This tool allows you to move the pixels around to where you want them.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

You can use Liquify to move pixels around and to make someone look slimmer.

You can turn objects in your images into funny shapes with the Liquify tool. However, common sense and what works best for the image always must be the first consideration.

Inside the tool, there is a Restore setting, which allows you to brush or push the moved pixels back into place without losing image quality. Even after you press Done in the Liquify tool, you can still undo while still in Edit mode. That said, since the Liquify tool is not a non-destructive adjustment layer, you cannot exit out of Edit mode and then later undo what you did.

Why would you use it? It is usually used to change parts of people, to remove a double chin, or a bit of overhanging skin. You can make people thinner, as previously noted. You can pull the waist in, or make legs that look a little less chunky, or make clothes fit better. Every time you use it, remember you are moving all the pixels in the area, and that includes the background.

The Liquify tool is great to play around with to familiarize yourself with what it does. Try out the different settings within the tool to see which one will suits your needs.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

You can just play with it to see what else you can do. This flower now looks crazy, but great effect.

Frequency Separation

This is a technique used by many portrait photographers. It allows you to soften the skin, but keep detail around the eyes, nose, and mouth. When doing close-ups of people, you often find the skin looks dry, or you may see the pores. By using Frequency Separation, you can add some blur to the skin, but leave the detail at the same time.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

What a normal face looks like just after you have taken the photo.

In other programs, you need to do the layers yourself and work it all out. But with Photo Studio Ultimate, you just click the Frequency Separation button and it works like an action, separating the high-frequency and low-frequency layers for you. It will provide the low-frequency layer for blurring and then the high-frequency layer that holds the detail. You are all set to go.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

You can use Frequency Separation to give their skin a much softer appearance.

This is a great tool and anyone doing portraits will find it useful. It doesn’t require a lot of research to figure out how to use it and anyone could start playing with it. You could try and use it with other types of photography as well. I’ve tried it on images of macro flowers and have found it really good. There are possibly other ways of using it as well.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Frequency Separation was used on the flower to soften parts and give more detail to the edges.

Lens Correction and Perspective Correction

It’s always good to use lens correction wherever possible. It helps fix up any distortions that your particular lens will give an image.

You can also use the Perspective Correction, which will allow you to change the perspective. If you have an image that looks strange because all the buildings are pointing in towards the center, you can correct them. You can click on the corners and move them so you get what you remember seeing, buildings with straight lines.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Using the Lens Correction and Perspective Correction together to make buildings straighter.

In some ways, the Perspective Correction is far more useful than Lens Correction. It is not something that Photoshop seems to offer. You can do it, but have to do it in a completely different way. This works really well and I use it a lot.

Chromatic Aberration

These are colored lines that appear around objects in your images. They seem to appear around buildings a lot but can happen anywhere. Chromatic aberration is caused by your lens, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, but you can work on this in post-production.

Photo Studio Ultimate has a special adjustment for correcting chromatic aberration. You will find it under the Repair section in the column on the left. Click it and you will get a new window where you find five sliders. Zoom into 100% on the image so you can see the edges and the aberrations. Move the sliders around and see what happens. Each image is going to be different, so you might have to try different adjustments.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Using the Chromatic Aberration adjustment to remove the color fringes around objects caused by your lens.

Once you are happy, press Done and it will take you back to the normal workspace.

Split Tone

A new split tone adjustment layer has been added so that you can nondestructively tint highlights and shadows in Edit Mode. As an adjustment layer, you have the advantage of being able to apply split toning any time in your processing, and on several layers. You can also easily delete the layer if you decide you don’t like it.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

A before and after with the Split Toning.

Clone Tool Pressure Slider

If you go to the Edit mode menu and look under Repair, you will see the Repair Tool. When you click on it, you are taken to the work area for the tool and from there, you can see the options, Heal or Clone. If you click Clone, a new slider will appear called Pressure under the Nib Width and Feathering sliders. This allows you to control the strength of the cloning.

At the default setting, it will do a straight copy. However, as you reduce it, the strength is also decreased. This is especially useful when you want to want to clone something out, but you don’t want to lose all the detail. A perfect example is when you want to reduce the darkness under someone’s eyes. You want to reduce the dark color, but you may want to keep the lines that are there as well but soften them at the same time.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

Adjusting the Pressure slide for the Clone tool you can use to it remove the bags under the eyes, without taking away too much of the detail.

A Couple More Options to Mention

A Grain tool has been added to Edit Mode. You can add grain to your images to give it texture and create a vintage effect.

A new tool has been added to the toolkit; the Polygon Selection Tool. This selection tool and allows you to select an object in your image by pressing on the outside of it and doing like a dot to dot to get the selection you want.

Working in a Different Way

If you are used to using a program, like Photoshop, you will find that some functions don’t work the same. That is to be expected, it is different software. However, it doesn’t take you long to get your head around how you can do certain processes. In many ways, you do have to think outside the box, and so far I’ve managed to find many ways to do what I would do in Photoshop by using different tools.

Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee

I do a lot of processing in Photoshop and I wanted to see if I could achieve a similar look on one of my images, this is the final result. It’s good.


It is good to see other software that makes it possible to do just about anything you want to your image. While Photo Studio Ultimate may not be as big as Photoshop, there is no doubt that it will enable you to do just about everything you want to your images. The new release will offer users more tools and adjustments to help them get the look they want. It is a great program and one of the best alternatives I’ve seen. You can download and have a free trial for 30 days. Just remember that you will have to work differently, but it is worth it.

The post Overview of Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows by ACDSee by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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