Photoshop has built-in actions for a variety of functions that not many people that I know of actually use.
Not that I personally use those a lot, but, these built-in actions can save a huge amount of time if you need to do anything similar.
Before we look at the actions, there are a couple of points to keep in mind…
If you invoke Photoshop from Lightroom, you will get all kinds of errors and this is definitely a bug in the Lightroom-Photoshop workflow.
In case you get any errors while running these actions, just reset the settings for Photoshop by pressing CMD+OPT+SHIFT and then clicking on the PS icon to start PS. You will be prompted to reset the settings and just click okay on that.
Now that we are done with the issues, let us take a look at all the goodies we have already built into Photoshop.
To my way of thinking, working with layers implies the ability to precisely mask areas or subjects and apply effects based on the selections or masks.
This is exactly what makes the Luminar 4 layers practically useless. The implementation of the masks/selections is similar to using a paintbrush app vs something like Photoshop.
In Luminar, you only have the fixed brush and gradient tools for the masking. There is no option of something like an edge/tonal detection auto-mask (as in LR) or the perfect brush in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.
This means that you cannot really do clean masking or selection of any subject. Since you cannot make a clean mask, the whole purpose of layers is defeated.
Although there is a luminosity mask in Luminar 4, the same issue makes it practically useless. There is no control over the luminosity mask as in LR (which is not great) or ON1 (which is far better than LR).
While Luminar 4 remains a choice over LR and ON1 for noise reduction and the AI-based image enhancement features, the layers can be ignored almost completely.
The only place you can use layers is when you have shots where you can apply one of the blending modes in Luminar 4 and achieve the effect you want. Other than that, forget layers in Luminar till they have better masking tools.
As always, I will try to avoid tech and math as all that can be found on the net already.
First, a look at the logic behind using ND or solar filters and glasses.
Looking directly into the sun is not recommended in general for a variety of reasons and I would strongly suggest that you avoid doing that. There are times when we move out of our homes and look up to the sky to adjust our eyes to the light around us a bit faster. A passing glance at the sun is okay, not looking at it.
This is where solar glasses come in. These are available online from a variety of online stores and should be used if you want to look at the eclipse.
ND or Neutral Density and Solar filters can be used on cameras and telescopes for the same purpose. In general, Solar filters are recommended over ND filters.
I had neither the glasses nor the filters. I did not quite imagine myself waking up in time for the eclipse anyway, so, did not bother with those.
For some reason, I woke up and took it easy since I had no intension of going to my rooftop till I started looking at some shots people had already started to share on social media.
Okay, so, I was not too concerned with the fact that I had no filters for the camera, but, I was concerned about my eyes. I thought over that part for a while and went to the roof to take some shots of the little of the eclipse that was still around on a cloudy day.
I had to wait a while for the clouds to clear a bit and meantime I set my camera for the exposure that I thought would be correct.
I set the shutter speed to the maximum I have on the D850, i.e., 1/8000, Aperture wide open at f/5.6 and the ISO to the base native of 64. Then I set up the bracketing for a 1 EV change for 7 and later 9 shots.
Generally, I use AF-C priority as Focus (as discussed in an earlier video), so, I changed that to Release for these shots since I already know from experience when I shoot skies for backgrounds, the autofocus generally does not lock. The lens I used was my normal Nikkor 200-500mm.
Since it was still cloudy and the sun not visible, I focussed onto the clouds where I had a good enough focus lock using the AF of the camera instead of manually trying to set it to infinity.
Once the clouds cleared a bit from the sun, I looked through the viewfinder to the area next to the sun, which is like shooting any normal sky. Then, I started moving the camera towards the sun and the moment the light got brighter, I half shut my eye and looked down instead of through the viewfinder since I could “sense” the light through my half-shut eye. The moment it was bright enough to “feel”, I released the shutter for bracketing the first lot.
As we can see, it was over-exposed and I stopped down to f/16, f/18 and finally landed up at f/32. Of course, I was bracketing 9 shots for all of these apertures since the clouds were coming and going it was always safer to bracket.
After I got a bite of the sun, I waited for a while and thought I would get a different image in a while. Not really, the eclipse was over when I tried after about 30-40 minutes and I got only the sun instead.
As we can see from some of these, I probably touched the AF at some point while trying to keep my eyes from looking directly at the sun and the focus shifted completely.
So, I fixed the focus at a patch of clouds and took another 9 shots only to find that the eclipse was over. Oh well…At least I got one piece of the pie 🙂
After this, I went to the rooftop later as I have been since the lockdown and took my daily shots as well. Same gear.
A warning for your gear! Do not use the live view or long exposures. That can totally damage your gear most of the time. Do not try and focus on the sun directly. That will not work. Just try to focus on a patch of clouds and then take a shot as I have described above. My gear was exposed to the eclipse for only about 1 second for the bracketed shots at 1/8000th of a second.
For you as well…Get solar glasses for the next time. I already did 🙂
Even after all these updates and features, the one thing that is still lacking in the Nik Collection, and some others as well, is the almost total lack of attention to the UI/UX and consistency of usage.
Let us look at the latest version of the Nik Collection, one by one, and see what I mean by this.
Inconsistent menus, zoom, pan, navigation, buttons and settings. No standard shortcuts apply where they could.