Tag Archives: Cedar Waxwing

Infrared evolutions

This is a long article about Infrared (IR) image processing.  If you don’t process IR photos, feel free to just look at the photos!  And please take a look at the new Infrared Gallery I added under the Galleries / Portfolio menu at the top.

You probably know I like IR photography. I’ve written about it before (click here to review my posts) and I often include IR photos in this blog. Here’s a recent example:

Circle B Bar Infrared 1Circle B Bar Infrared 1 (four frame vertical panorama)

Infrared’s an interesting medium.

  • IR captures invisible light:  a portion of the spectrum that’s different from what your eyes can see.
  • The spectral response makes blue sky look dark and foliage bright.  This reverses a normal daylight scene’s brightness values.  It helps tame contrast and allows you to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky.
  • Since your eyes can’t see infrared, your interpretation of the alternate reality is up to you.   You can process IR in Monochrome or as a false color image.
  • IR can sometimes capture details that aren’t seen with visible light.
  • If you use a modified digital camera, you may see improved detail in your photos. The conversion process removes the IR blocking / anti-aliasing filter.  In many digital cameras this slightly blurs the image during capture to lessen Moire and other aliasing artifacts.
  • I’m not really qualified to discuss shooting IR film – I’ve only done it a few times.  But I will say that modifying a mirrorless digital camera is a great way to approach infrared.  The mirrorless design eliminates any issues with IR focus.  The camera’s built-in exposure meter works well and values are close to the normal visible light ones, so you can hand hold in daylight conditions.

Another example:

Circle B Bar Infrared 3Circle B Bar Infrared 3 (three frame vertical panorama)

By the way, all of the images in this post are from from an early March trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I’m really glad I carried my IR camera on our hike!  Here’s another:

Eight Cedar Waxwings

Eight Cedar Waxwings – I forgot to bring the spare battery for my main camera and ran out of charge. So I switched my long lens to my IR modified body and kept shooting.

So what’s the point of this post?  I’ve been struggling lately with how I process my IR images.  The work flow I’ve been using seems to result in too much contrast / clarity.  I just felt that the results looked a bit “digital”.  So I’ve been searching for new methods and I’ve found one that I like.  I’ve used it on all these photos and I feel that they look much more “organic” and much less “digital”.  What do you think?

Five nest Cypress

Five nest Cypress (five frame vertical panorama)

Here is my updated workflow:

  • Capture the RAW images with a modified micro 4/3 mirrorless camera.  Aperture priority, mostly handheld (although I do occasionally use a tripod).
  • Import into Lightroom to save the master files.  Then decide which ones are worth processing and discard the seconds / rejects.
  • Batch process the “selects” through DxO Optics Pro to take advantage of its noise and camera / lens module processing.  This step returns copies back to Lightroom in Adobe DNG RAW format.
  • In Lightroom, apply a custom camera profile to optimize the white balance (see this article for how to create one).  And if it’s a multi-frame image, stitch it together with Lightroom’s merge to panorama function.
  • Sometimes, you can use Lightroom’s B&W conversion and finish an image.  But I’ll open ones I really like in Photoshop.
  • There, straighten and crop, use the content aware fill, and clone if needed.
  • And here’s the new step in my workflow:  I’ve been using Skylum Software’s Luminar for IR B&W conversions. I found a very nice starting point for IR processing here: Laurie Klein’s Infrared Mastery presets.
  • Finally, it’s back to Lightroom for any final adjustments (tone curve, sharpening, vignette, grain, etc.).

Circle B Bar Infrared 6Circle B Bar Infrared 6 (five frame horizontal panorama)

Could I achieve this look some other way?  Maybe even with a lot fewer steps?  Yes, I’m sure it could be done.

Circle B Bar Infrared 2Circle B Bar Infrared 2 (three frame horizontal panorama)

Just a few years ago, we only had Adobe Photoshop and then Lightroom to process RAW images.  One of the great things about photography and image processing today is that there are so many ways to do things.  That’s also bad, because it takes a lot of effort to study all the options and find out which ones work best.   It seems like each program has strengths and weaknesses.

Software is changing every day, but I don’t know if there will ever be a single image processing program that does every thing I want.  For now, I’m happy with the results I’m getting using this somewhat complex workflow.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop looking for new or simpler ways to do things.

If you have time, please take a minute to look through the new IR gallery.  I think it represents some of my best IR images.  I also have a Flickr album with many more IR photos at this link:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157628062119778.

If you’ve read this far, thank you!  That probably means you’re very interested in IR.  If you have any questions about this, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some IR photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Circle B Bar Reserve – March 10, 2018

When I began writing this post, I looked at the Circle B Bar Reserve category on my blog (https://edrosack.com/category/circle-b-bar-reserve/).  To my surprise, once again it’s been about 2 years since my last visit!  Every time I’m there I think I should go more often.  This time I mean it – it’s a wonderful place!

It’s also a popular place – there’s a lot to see and a lot of people looking.  Kevin M. and I went over last Saturday and here are some highlights from our visit.

Great Horned Owl parent and chickGreat Horned Owl parent and chick

There’s been a Great Horned Owl nest along the entrance road for several years.  It’s marked off with tape and signs and there’s usually a crowd observing so you can’t miss it. The image above is a composite. They didn’t both look toward me at the same time, so I combined two exposures in Photoshop.  The chick seems pretty large.  I’m guessing it must be several weeks old.  They grow fast – go over soon if you want to see it before it fledges.

Cooper's HawkCooper’s Hawk

This hawk startled several birds (and me) when it launched towards a coot on the surface of the canal by Marsh Rabbit Run.  It missed and then stayed in this tree for a bit before moving on. I almost didn’t make the photo, since at first glance, it looked like a Red-shoulder Hawk to me.  But luckily someone nearby said “That’s a nice Cooper’s”, which is a new life bird for me.  It’s young so the colors aren’t typical for an adult, but the eyes give it away.

I also tried one of the features in the new firmware for the Olympus E-M1 MII camera:  Pro Capture (hi) mode with the PL 100 – 400 lens.  I wanted to catch the bird as it launched off the branch.  It didn’t quite work because hi speed Pro Capture freezes focus after the first shot.  It took off at an angle toward the camera and the bird isn’t sharp in the frame.  Oh well, another thing to add to my ‘try again’ list.

Pig and PeoplePig and People

This wild pig was foraging along the Heron Hideout path. It’s pretty small, seemed very calm and used to all the curious people, and minded its own business.  But I’d still be cautious around it.

Gray CatbirdGray Catbird – infrared, monochrome

I forgot the spare battery for my main camera back in the car and of course it died on our hike just after the hawk photo.  But I also had my IR camera with me with plenty of battery left. So I switched my long lens over to it and kept shooting.  We spotted this Gray Catbird in the bushes, and I like the way the bird stands out from the vegetation in IR converted to B&W.

Cedar Waxwing @ Circle BCedar Waxwing @ Circle B (Photo by Kevin McKinney, used with permission)

We found a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the branches above the path – but my photos of them are in infrared too.  Unlike me, Kevin was prepared and he was kind enough to let me use one of his from the day for this post.

Since it’s a long drive, we got lazy and slept in – so no sunrise images.  I did make some infrared landscapes there and I’m planning to use them in a future post, so check back for that.  Maybe I’ll include the IR Waxwings too.

We usually walk down Alligator Alley but it’s closed.  The gators are apparently active in that area although we didn’t spot any.  We did spot Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings, a Barred Owl, Blue Wing Teals, Double Crested Cormorants, Anhingas, American Coots and chicks, a Purple Gallinule, the usual Herons and Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Warblers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, turtles, and more.  Like I said – a lot to see!

You can view more Circle B Bar Reserve photos in my album on Flickr  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157625343566505) and in Kevin’s  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/44542650@N08/albums/72157666796492018).

Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack and Kevin McKinney. All rights reserved

Avocets and Cedar Wax Wing at Black Point Wildlife Drive

Lynn and I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge this morning and drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Water is very low and much of the bird population seems to have gone elsewhere. But we did see the regulars, including Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Great Blue Herons, Mourning Doves, Kingfishers, Black Vultures, Blue Wing Teals, and Red Wing Blackbirds.  We saw only a few Coots and Moorhens – nowhere near the hundreds that are typical.

The highlights of the trip for me were:

American Avocets
American Avocets in breeding colors: We saw a few of these and heard many others. They’re much more fancy at this time of year than with their normal black and white coloring.

Solitary Cedar Waxwing
Solitary Cedar Waxwing: I usually see these in flocks. This one just sat there looking around. It’s the clearest photo I’ve made of one.

There was a Northern Bobwhite male near the restroom parking area, but it moved into cover before I could raise my camera.  I also added an Eastern Kingbird to my life list.  And I saw a Swallow Tail Kite on the way home along State Road 50, but again was unable to get a photo.  Something about me driving and photographing at the same time seems to make Lynn nervous.

It was a very pleasant trip — especially with Lynn along!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now, go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.