Processing Options

For the last few days I have been playing with the post processing of some images. I have a variety of told and plugins to choose from, probably more than enough. My normal process is to use Aperture for my basic processing, and often this is all I do . If I want to go to monochrome then my plugin of choice is SilverEfex Pro II which is completely brilliant. However I thought I would give a few other options a go and see what I got.

A trip into Papanui yesterday took me past a church with an old graveyard and I took a number of images which leant themselves to different post-processing.


Processed with TopazAdjust, this plugin can generate some quite interesting and extreme effects. There are lots of sliders to play with, a good selection of presets and a random option which is quite fun.


A very different take using SilverEfex Pro II, I quite like this.


Not the same image but processed with another of my favourites, ColorEfex Pro. I really like the Tonal Contrast filter.

Today I was taking some macro shots in my garden of the spring flowers and again looking at different processing options.


This was processed only with Aperture, I really like it, quick and easy too.


The same tulip processed with Color Efex Pro 3


And finally processed with Silver Efex Pro II.

What did I learn? Nothing very helpful I suspect, I like all the options so I will continue to use them all more or less on a whim. Occasionally I don’t like the results but generally all these plugins provide very good and interesting effects which can enhance an image adding punch and drama.

Since I couldn’t really decided which version I liked most I thought a triptych would do instead.

Flowers_2011-09-25_10-15-18_Flowers_ Triptych_©RichardLaing(2011)

Playing With Reflectors

I recently acquired a soft box and have been playing with it to learn how to best use it. Quite interesting if a little limited by having to use myself as the model. It is definitely hard to get the lighting, exposure and focus spot on for self-portraits. At least with the soft box and a background I can set the aperture to f/11 or so for a decent depth of field.

One of the areas I was particular interested in was how using a white reflector versus a black reflector affected the image – obviously the black reflector takes light away while the white one adds it, but how much difference does it make? Quite a lot it turns out!

In each image the soft box is camera right, as close as possible without getting into the frame. The aperture and shutter speed were kept the same, shooting in manual mode. In the first image there is no reflector at all.

Soft Box, no reflector

For the second image a large white reflector was added camera left.

Soft bix with large white reflector

The reflector was moved closer, again as close as possible.

Soft box with large white reflector (closer)

Finally the white reflector was replaced with a black one.

Soft box with a large black reflector

The change in the light is quite clear in each case, which is best depends on what you want to achieve but it was an interesting exercise seeing how much the light was changed by the position and type of reflector. What I wanted for the final image was something fairly dramatic, more like this…


I really like Silver Efex Pro II.

A Quick Update

A very quick update on what is happening with SmuginForAperture and SmuginProForAperture. SmugMug updated their API a few weeks ago and I am busy working on supporting the new API in my Aperture plugins. The biggest change will be to use OAuth authentication, no more user name and password entry.

Moving to the new API should allow new features to be added so look out for a new beta in the coming weeks. Now if only there was an Aperture SDK update as well.

One Year On

It has now been one year since we experienced the first earthquake. Since that 7.1 magnitude quake centred around Darfield we have experienced over 8300 aftershocks including the terrible 6.3 magnitude quake on 22nd February which caused so much damage and the loss of so many lives. A lot has changed over the last year, buildings have been torn down or have fallen down and about 20% of the homes Kaiapoi are to be demolished along with many more homes in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs. The centre of Christchurch is still cordoned off and business has moved away from the town centre.



Despite the trauma and damage there are positives. The community spirit shown by so many over the last year, the great work from the student volunteer army and all the farmers from around the area. People have come together in their neighbourhoods to help out.

With the anniversary of the initial quake there have been a number of events organised and I was asked to take some images of the Light Up Kaiapoi concert at Kaiapoi High School. I had planned to go along anyway so it worked out well. The event was a lot of fun and well attended, the audience and performers seemed to enjoy themselves. Oh and we didn’t have any aftershocks during the show. This years Father’s Day was much better than last year.