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Tiffen DFX v4 Digital Filter Suite Lightroom Plug-In Review & Photo Example Walk-Through 

(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

I'll be honest with you here, post processing isn't my strongest point as a photographer. I really enjoy going out and taking photos, but when it comes to editing my images I'm competent, not too imaginative, and want to be better.

The difficulty is that there are so many options in Lightroom and Photoshop that it can be tricky knowing where to start, especially if you're also not sure about where you want to end up with the look of your photographs, and this is why the new Tiffen DFX v4 Lightroom Plug-In is so, so useful.

I need you to understand that to use the term Plug-In to describe DFX v4 does it no justice whatsoever. DFX is incredibly powerful, giving you the option to apply its numerous effects in layers, using masks and applying different opacities. DFX v4 is almost a complete editing solution in itself, so don't balk at the $149.99 price tag, it really is worth it in the way it simplifies and improves your Lightroom work-flow.

The headline feature for me is the traditional film simulation presets. There are hundreds to choose from - black and white, colour, slide, instant, lomo and more in all your favourite manufacturers. Fancy some Tri-X? It's here. A taste of Kodachrome 64? Done. Ilford FP4? Of course. All of these presets are customisable too, and as I show in the above video, you can apply them to your image in a layer, change the opacity or strength, add masks, and then add other effects too.

Tiffen are known for their glass filters for your lenses, and the selection available here is exhaustive, with everything from colour-correcting to photographic effects. You simply have to give the simulated polarising filter a try on any photos with a nice blue sky - it works very well indeed.

These words aren't really good for describing the power of DFX, the video is better, but I recommend you download the free trial and give it a go yourself. Take a look at the free tutorials available on the Tiffen site too, and play with the different parts of the software.

I tend to fire up Lightroom, import the photos, do a little straightening and lens correction, then edit the images in dfx v4. I normally cycle through the film stocks, then add a little contrast and effects, then I round-trip back to Lightroom to key-word, geotag and export, but you'll come up with your own workflow.

Give DFX v4 a go, I'm sure you'll find it as powerful as I have, and you'll fall in love with post processing all over again.

Cheers, Rob.


Easy TTL Wireless Flash Photography With The Canon 600d T3i & The YN565EX 

(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

Todays video is about off-camera flash using the 600d t3i and the Yongnuo YN565EX, and not just off camera flash but ttl off camera flash, where the camera is going to wirelessly control the flash exposure.


Thats right, wireless flash, automatically controlled where we don’t need to worry about guide numbers, f-stops or ratios - the camera and flash will work everything out for us, with no need for any extra controllers or transmitters. We’ll even be able to control the strength of that flash, and wait for it, we can even have our on camera flash fire at the same time, and change the strengths of both of the flashes independently!

Let's take a step back first. We know that our little on camera flash is great for emergencies, but it's not very powerful and gives a flat unflattering light. A separate light, like the 565 is much better, even when it's on the camera, you can bounce it and aim it in all different angles, and because it's a ttl flash it will handle exposure automatically.

What makes our light even more dynamic is if we can get the flash off the camera. We can light from a different angle, normally up and at an angle, and play with distance, diffusion, power and balance - way better than when our flash is on our camera.

Now, normally when we get off camera there’s some compromises. We can use a TTL wire, but that limits distance and can be a tripping hazard. We could use radio triggers, but unless you want to spend a fortune you’ll be working on manual. Now manual’s not bad - its fairly simple to learn and gives great results, but obviously if you want to make adjustments it’s a little slow, and if you’re in a situation where the scene is changing quickly then you could miss shots.

This is where our wonderful 600d / t3i dSLR’s and the budget Yongnuo YN565EX flash come in. This camera and flash combination are capable of talking to each other wirelessly, via the flash, to give you automatic flash. It’s not only the 600d, the 7d, 60d, 650d, 700d and most of the newer canon dslr bodies can act as wireless master too. If you’re after a budget wireless flash to compliment your body, then there’s this, the YN565ex, plus also the 565ex II, and the 568.

Enough talk, let’s get started. First, lets get the YN565EX ready to accept instructions form the 600d /t3i. Lets turn it on. the flash is in ettl mode at the moment, but thats for when the speedlite is on top of the camera. We need to turn the correct slave mode on. press and hold the zoom button. the slave selector menu now comes up, and we just cycle through to sl on, then press the centre of the selector pad. you should see that the display tells us that we’re in slave mode, with ettl too. the cn letters mean that the flash could accept instructions from a Canon or Nikon master unit - if you want to check the instructions for your flash to make the unit only accept canon instruction, handy if you’re on a shoot with other photographers who may be using Nikons and you don’t want them firing your flash by mistake.

Now we can use the selector pads to brighten or darken the flash, but remember we don’t need to - we can control everything from the camera, so lets set that up next.

Right, lets set the 600d / T3i up next. i’m going to be shooting in aperture priority mode, f/5.6 i’m going to shoot at iso 400 to speed up the flash recycle time. I’m going to pop the flash up because remember the camera talks to the flash via the pop up flash. lets get into the first menu and go to flash control, lets go to built in flash functions. lets make sure we’re in easy wireless - this is where our pop up flash will fire to control our slave, but won’t really contribute to the overall exposure of the photo. We can change the power of the flash by clicking down to this icon and adding or taking away some compensation.

So, thats using the 600d / t3i using one flash, lets go back into the settings and mix it up a bit. Go to the menu, and this time we’ll set the built in flash setting to custom wireless, and if we come down to wireless function we can choose whether we want both flashes to contribute to the exposure or just the external flash. If we click down a little further we can see that we can now use exposure compensation to adjust the relative power of both flashes - a little to the off camera, less to the pop up, and vice versa.

So, there we go, hopefully I’ve wet your appetite for using ttl off camera flash with your 600d T3i and a compatible flash like the YN565EX to do very simple TTL off camera flash without the need for triggers or wires - and as I’ve shown you can even throw the pop up flash as a light source into the mix.


Now, obviously this has all been about technique, how to basically fire a flash wirelessly, the next steps are to practice, grab a friendly subject, practice some more and create some great portraits, interiors or creative flash photography.

Thanks, Rob.


Using The Lastolite Xpobalance Calibration Card For Youtube dSLR Videos

(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

White ballance can seem like a bit of a black art, and I have to admit that I am rubbish at trying to alter my white ballance by eye, but with the Lastolite Xpobalance Card I think I'm getting a little better...

Thanks, Rob.


SCL Photography Podcast 255 - April Assignment - Going Abstract

A catch up with what I've been doing for the last month...


Subscribe on Itunes. (Will open Itunes, then you need to click on the "subscribe" button.) (Free)

Subscribe with other Podcatchers. (Google Reader, etc) (For Free)

Download / listen to the mp3. (Right-click then "save target as" / "save link as".) (Did I say it was free?)

Download / listen to the LOW BANDWIDTH (small file-size) mp3. (Right-click then "save target as" / "save link as".) (Again, free!)


Please check out

Tony Northrups Crop Factor Video.

Amateur Photographer Of Year 2015 Overview

Amateur Photography Of Year April Assignment Details (Link with go live around April 5th)

Our Flickr Thread For Aprils Going Abstract Assignment

If you'd like to contribute a little something to SCL, please Donate!

Come on over and join the Flickr group.

Cheers, Rob.


Canon 55-250 IS Lens Smashed! Or Is It?

(If you can't see the video, please click here.)

Every photographer at some time, whether that be sooner or later, will have that experience of opening your camera bag to find that one of your lenses has broken.

That sinking feeling as you examine the glass to see if the damage is repairable is not very pleasant - so look after your kit, add extra padding to your bags, but don't sweat it too much if it does happen.

It's an excuse for an upgrade!

Cheers, Rob.