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Early morning at the Ramstore Bridge in Nur-Sultan

I still find it strange that Astana is now called Nur-Sultan. Not really a usual thing to see a whole city being renamed. But it was. This is one of the photos I took there last year around this time, at the Ramstore Bridge. It was very early in the morning, around 4 AM. But as I did not go to bed during the night, it was easy to go out to take photos. And this one was at a walking distance from the hotel.

As you can see, this was after quite a strong rain, that create all the puddles that I like to use for reflection. But you may have noticed, that often if you take photos after a rain, they are not as sharp. This is due to the huge amount of moisture in the atmosphere. We do not notice it that much, but it creates a bit of haze, and that prevents one from getting a sharp image of faraway objects. Here I did not have that problem, as I was shooting with the 12mm lens, so I was quite close to the bridge.

This is a blend of three exposures, done in Photoshop.

Early morning at the Ramstore Bridge in Nur-Sultan

Sharpening photos

I got a question recently, how I sharpen my photos. And as this changed a lot over the years, today I will show you how I sharpen them right now. Maybe next week I will use something else. I always look for the best. But right now I use Raya Pro 4 panel for Photoshop, and I will show you how easy it is to sharpen using it.

Btw. for the next 24 hours, you can still get Raya Pro 4 panel with a huge 50% discount, that is only 22.50 USD for this great tool. Check it out on the official site here.

Sharpening with Raya Pro 4

Sharpening with Raya Pro 4 is very easy, and the whole procedure is only in few steps. Of course, you have to have Raya Pro 4 installed before you can do that. Please note, that this also resizes the image. The thing is, if you post images to the web, you should first resize it to the desired dimensions, and only then sharpen it. This will give you the best results.

  • Open the image you want to sharpen
  • Open the RP4 Actions And Filters panel. To do so go to Window/Extensions and select RP4 Actions And Filters
  • Now in this window, you have a section named Sharpen And Resize For The Web. Under this, there are two buttons, By Width and By Height. You can use any of these to do the sharpening
  • If you choose By Width, the number you put into the next window, will determine the width of the resized photo. If By Height, it will determine the height. I personally use height and the size I use is 1050px.
Sharpening photos for web with Raya Pro 4
  • A new file is created and you will be asked if you want to change the color space to sRGB. If the photo is for web, you should do that. On the web sRGB defaults to safe colors, and like that the photo will be properly shown in all web browsers.
  • In this new file, you will have 4 layers. The base is not sharpened, and the three on top are Sharpened, Sharpened More and Extra Sharp for Larger Images. By turning the visibility of these layers on/off and changing their opacity, you can change how much sharpening you applied to your image.
Sharpening photos for web with Raya Pro 4

I tent to leave the Sharpen layer and Sharpen more visible, then change the opacity of the Sharpen more to about 50-70%. In a few cases, I also used the mask to remove sharpness from a few areas, where it was just not needed.

And that’s it, your photo is ready to be saved and shared on the web.

At the rocks in Vernazza

I was just looking at the new Sony a7R IV specs and while they are good, nothing that really gives me that, I have to have one, feeling. It’s an evolution to what the old one was. The more I take photos, the less I’m impressed by specs of cameras. I dont use most of the things anyway when shooting in Manual.

But let’s get to today’s photo. This one is from the rocks next to the town of Vernazza in Cinque Terre in Italy. It was a very sunny day, with the sun right above the town when I took this. So instead of taking a photo of the city, I did some of the rocks. I used the VFFOTO 10 stop ND filter here to get the water silky smooth.

This is a blend of three exposures, done in Photoshop. I used Topaz Adjust AI to get a bit more color into it.

At the rocks in Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

How many lenses to carry

When you do photography for a longer time, you tend to accumulate gear and especially new lenses. But how many do you carry with you? All of them? Just one? Today I will share with you my thought on this and which lenses I carry with me when I go out to take photos.

Lenses

Depending on what kind of photography you do, you will tend to gravitate towards certain kind of lenses. As I do mostly landscape and cityscape photos, I mostly go with very wide angle lenses. But it’s different for everyone. Still, I have also zoom lenses and some fast lenses and similar.

What to take?

I never carry all of my lenses. Actually, 90% of the time, I would be fine with a single lens. One that has a nice range, that fits most of the situations. For me, it’s the 24-70mm 2.8 lens (but a 24-105 would be probably even better). Most of my photos are from this lens and it’s really great in almost any situation. It’s wide enough for landscapes, and you can do panoramas if you need to go wider. It zooms in enough for things like portraits or event photos,  and with a high megapixel camera, you can crop a lot, and get even closer.

I try not to carry more than three lenses. Mostly, fewer the better. You can then just focus on what you are doing, and not thinking about switching the lens and trying something different.

How many lenses to carry

The classic approach for a lot of photographers is to carry multiple lenses, that cover a big zoom range. So the classic would be a 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm (or instead of the 16-35mm an 11-24mm or 14-24mm, depending on the brand). This gives a really big range you can work with, from ultra wide to a decent zoom. And it’s together only three lenses, which is not that many.

What do I take?

This three lenses, wide, medium, and zoom is a good tactic if you have no idea what kind of photos you will or want to do. You are ready for most things. I don’t go with it. I just know that I don’t like to zoom in that much, that even if I carry a lens like 70-200mm, I will not use it at all anyway. So while I still carry three I select them differently.

The three lenses I take with me are an all-purpose lens, a specialized lens, and a unique lens. In my case that would be the 24-70mm f2.8, the 17mm f4 TSE lens and the 12mm f2.8 one. Why these three?

As I mentioned, you should always have an all-purpose lens with you. The one that you use most of the time anyway. The 24-70mm or 24-105mm is a good range for it. I would not go with a bigger range. There are lenses that can cover a bigger range, but the quality and sharpness of the photos are worse, and they are not that fast.

The second lens, I choose a specialized lens. For me that the tilt-shift one. It’s just so great for vertoramas, architecture and city shots. Exactly what I specialize in. For you, this may be something different. If you always do portraits, this may be an 85mm f1.2 lens. If you do macro photography that a good macro lens and so on.

How many lenses to carry

The last lens, a unique one. With this I mean a lens, that will give me a view that most photographers won’t get. If you take photos in places that are popular, having a lens that gives you a less common view is a plus. That why for me this is the 12mm lens. Not many photographers use such a wide lens, so my view is more unique. You can even try a very fast lens or a fisheye or whatever you like to experiment with.

I don’t want to get the same photos and views other photographers got, so going a bit differently helps with that. Of course, when I’m going for an assignment, I take the lenses and cameras I know I will need based on the job. But when I take photos for myself, this is what I do.

Which lenses do you prefer to take and how many do you carry?

Night tram on the Old bridge

Today’s photo is of a night tram passing on the Old bridge in Bratislava. As you can see, the bridge is quite colorfully lit up in this one. This is not every day, this was just because of the White night even last year, when they install lights all over the city. I was ever standing on the tracks when I took it, which I would not do any other day there. And I don’t suggest anyone does it.

At first I was not sure if I even edit this photo. It was very dark and a little part of the bridge was missing. And I really don’t like that. But I tried and I got a result I liked. This is a single exposure, broken up into multiple and then blended back together. Then I used a second photo from that night, from which I pasted in the missing part.

Night tram on the Old bridge

And here is also a comparison to the original RAW file. As you can see, it was really dark, and the size is a bit differnt, as I added the part on top.

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