I’ve just got back from a weekend in the Peak District National Park and, rewarded with clear blue skies as dawn broke yesterday morning, I rushed to the top of Mam Tor to rekindle my long-dormant desire to make great landscape photographs (I’m no Joe Cornish, but there has to be some reward for leaving my tent at 5.15).
It gave me a chance to try out a number of things that I’ve wanted to do for a while – shooting camera raw (.NEF) images and using the Lee Filters 0.6 ND graduated filter that I bought a couple of years ago. I have to say, that I am definitely a convert to these features (although they would not be practical for the majority of my photography which falls into the “snapshots of the kids” category). Both the OS X Preview application and my post-production tool of choice (Adobe Photoshop CS2) had no difficulty opening the camera raw files and the quality is excellent (Windows users might find this post useful). Meanwhile, whilst using a large graduated filter on a camera with only a 24mm image sensor makes it slightly difficult to position, using the 0.6 ND filter to tone down the sky by two stops meant that I was able to take pictures with a well-exposed foreground, without washing out the highlights.
I also found a couple of little programs came in useful when I got home. Firstly, having had some issues with my CF card before leaving home, I formatted it and the file numbering recommenced from DSC_0001.* – thanks to a little recommendation from my buddy Alex, I used Renamer4Mac to bulk rename the files. Also useful (although not for the RAW files) was Ali Ozer’s Simple EXIF Viewer for Mac OS X, which let me easily examine the EXIF data on my images (something sadly lacking in the OS X Finder).
Finally, whilst writing about OS X and digital photography (apologies to Windows readers but my digital photography workflow is based on a Mac) it’s worth mentioning one little tip that can come in useful (much as I hate to publicise anything from Scott Bourne, whose “advice” often serves only to fuel Apple elitism and general Mac vs. PC bigotry, I think I picked this up from an iLifeZone podcast). Unlike the Windows Preview function, which lets viewers page forwards and backwards through a directory of files, the OS X Preview default is to open just a single file. Switchers are often frustrated by this (I know I was) but it is possible to open multiple images in Preview (by selecting multiple files, then choosing to open with Preview), after which the cursor keys can be used to scroll through the list.