Tag Archives: equipment

Digital Infrared Photography – a post processing example

Introduction

If you’ve read through my blog or looked at my photostream on Flickr, you’ll already know that I enjoy black and white photography and occasionally post B&W images. Removing color from a scene abstracts reality – and emphasizes shapes, composition, and texture. The image becomes a bit unreal, but since we’re used to B&W  – not too unreal.  This makes B&W a great way to make your images stand out.

Another way to make your images stand out is by using infrared (IR) film or an IR modified camera:

  • IR captures a portion of the spectrum of light 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, helps tame contrast, and allows you to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky.
  • You can interpret this alternate version of reality by processing your IR photo as B&W or various types of false color images.
  • IR can sometimes also capture details that aren’t seen with visible light.
  • If you use a modified digital camera, you may see improved detail in your photos, since the conversion process removes the anti-aliasing filter that most digital cameras use to slightly blur the image during capture (and remove Moire patterns and other aliasing artifacts).

I’ve gotten some questions about my infra-red images.  And I haven’t written anything about technique recently, so in this post, I’ll go into detail about a recent IR image I made.  I’m relatively inexperienced at this, but as a IR n00b I’ve learned a few things that may come in handy if you want to try it.

Messy knees

Messy knees:  Cypress trees on the south shore of Lake Jessup.  Cypress trees and their roots are good subjects, especially along the water where they’re usually found. The light hitting these tree trunks and the Spanish Moss also caught my eye.  I’m still playing around with infra-red. There’s a range of post processing options available. I was hoping that this false color version looks just alien enough to make people take a second look.  Click here to view a larger version of this photo on Flickr.

Camera

I use an Olympus E-PL1 modified for IR by http://www.lifepixel.com/ and I’m very pleased with the result.

Using a micro 4/3 camera has advantages for IR:

  • Older models like the E-PL1 are relatively inexpensive;
  • They have a large sensor (compared with compact cameras) which helps image quality;
  • They use the sensor for contrast type focusing so there are no focus calibration issues that can occur in a DSLR
  • Most have RAW format capture available

Settings

I shoot in RAW, not jpeg.  For IR, it would be tough to get all the settings perfect in camera.  Plus, there are a lot of post processing options which you’d give up if you only capture jpeg.

White balance is one thing that you should set.  If you shoot in RAW, white balance can be adjusted in post processing.  But setting a white balance in camera is important since it lets you judge your shots on the LCD screen as you take them.  Unless you set a custom (preset) white balance all IR images would look very red. On my E-PL1 I use a temperature setting of 2000K which is as low as it will go.  This camera has no tint adjustment, so photos still look blue, but it’s good enough for judging exposure.

Workflow

Here are 7 versions of this photo that show the processing steps I went through along the way.  Don’t be alarmed – this is quicker and easier than it sounds.

This is the RAW photo straight out of the camera. My custom white balance adjustment isn’t able to completely correct the IR spectrum so there’s a pronounced bluish tint.

 

This is the image after white balance and levels adjustment in Photoshop. Other initial adjustments in LR or Photoshop may include a bit of noise reduction, lens corrections (if available), cropping / straightening, and spot removal.

 

In this version, I’ve used several copies of the same scene (shot from a tripod) to smooth the water’s surface and make the trees / knees stand out more.

 

This version has a Channel Mixer preset adjustment layer (red and blue colors swapped).  Debra Sandige’s IR page (listed in the references below) has  detailed steps on how to do this in Photoshop.

 

A Hue / Saturation / Brightness adjustment layer was used to modify the Hue in the cyan and blue channels so it looks a bit more natural.

 

This is after final adjustments in Lightroom: clarity(+47), vibrance (+24), medium contrast tone curve, sharpening with edge mask.  (note: this is the same image as at top of post).

For comparison, a black and white conversion of the final false color image.  I like the false color version better.

References

You can find out more about Infrared photography at these places:

  1. This Wikipedia article has some background information on infrared photography – especially film techniques.
  2. I had my camera converted by LifePixel and was extremely pleased with the result.  They have a huge amount of IR information including tutorials, FAQs, and a blog on their website.
  3. I read and enjoyed Debra Sandige’s recent book about IR photography. She’s very creative and presents a lot of good information.  She has a page on her website with IR information.
  4. Lloyd Chambers also has an intro to infra-red on his site and offers a paid site with more info.
  5. The Khromagery website has several good articles on IR cameras and processing.  They also offer an IR Photoshop action as a free download.

Conclusions?

So, is IR an infatuation? Will I use it for a while and then let it fade away? Will I only bring it out for special photo ops as inspiration? Will it take over my photo life to the exclusion of all other approaches? Who can say? You’ll just have to keep reading my blog and see what happens. Along with me.

You can visit my IR set on Flickr to see more examples of what I’ve done.  What do you think?  Is IR photography something you’d like to explore?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some IR photos!
©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

[Additional info, added 1/24/2014]:

Rectaflex Italian 35mm SLR Camera

NOTE: I’ve posted updated info about this at this link: http://edrosack.com/2015/12/20/rectaflex-update/

 

Italian Rectaflex 35mm film camera and lens, front view
Italian Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera and lens, front view

You don’t see Italian cameras and especially Italian Single Lens Reflex cameras very often.  We inherited this Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera from Lynn’s Grandfather.  Camerapedia has some information on the brand.  They were introduced in 1949, and the company went out of business by 1955.  It was one of the first SLRs to have a pentaprism.

Italian Rectaflex 35mm film camera and lens, top view
Italian Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera and lens, top view

Judging by the serial number, this particular one was probably made in 1953 or 4.  It came to us in a leather case with accessories including extra lenses, extension tubes, and a flash unit.

Italian Rectaflex 35mm film camera lenses, extension tubes, cases
Italian Rectaflex 35mm film camera lenses, extension tubes, cases

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to run any film through it.  The shutter’s inoperative and repairing it would probably be an expensive custom rebuild job.  But it looks good sitting on the shelf!

I think it’s fascinating to look at these older cameras to see how things worked WBD (way before digital).

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Orlando American Photo Model Shoot Workshop, December 2011

Intro / Description

Well this is a bit different from what I normally photograph and post about.  But to keep learning, it’s good to occasionally stretch your skills, move outside your comfort zone, and try something you haven’t done before.  And as your intrepid Central Florida Photo Ops reporter, I have an obligation to report on more than just the landscape and wildlife opportunities in the Central Florida Area.  Right?

Flavia
Flavia, in color

So last Saturday, I found myself at the American Photo Magazine Model Shoot Workshop at the Marriott World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  The magazine organizes the event, hires models, brings lighting equipment and sets everything up for you.  You just need to show up with your camera and plenty of memory cards.

They also bring in an instructor for the day.  For this session it was New York Photographer Lindsay Adler.  She provided some very good information on lens choice, lighting, posing, and creativity in two different sessions during the day.  She and the other instructors also circulated and offered advice and help while we were shooting.  It’s a great opportunity to learn, especially if you’re not familiar with this kind of photography.

There were 15 different models there.  I’ve included four photos of three of them in this post.  You can see more photos I made (including the other models) in this gallery.  You can also look at other photographers’ images at this link.

Tiffany
Tiffany, in fur

Since I’m normally a Nature & Wildlife photographer, I found it quite fascinating to think about the differences between those genres and Fashion and Model photography:

Nature and Wildlife Photography Fashion and Model Photography
The light is what it is.  You may be able to change it a bit with flash for fill and catch lights. You control the light.  Indoors, you control it completely.
High Dynamic Range is common for landscape photos to control large contrast levels. Since you control the lights, you control the contrast.  HDR isn’t required.
You rarely interact with the subject.  And if you do, you usually scare it off. You must interact with the subject.  Building a rapport and directing the pose is critical.
Very wide (landscape) or very long (wildlife) lenses are favored. Large aperture lenses are favored:  50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 70 – 200mm f/2.8
It’s all on you – a one person show. You’ll require a team: models, make up artist, costumes, sets, etc.
Knowledge / experience and persistence are necessary to find good subjects. Portfolio, reputation, and relationships are necessary to find good subjects.
You go to where the subject is. The subject comes to you in a set or studio.
Post processing: Color adjustments, HDR (landscapes), Selective sharpening Post processing:  Color adjustments, Retouching, Selective sharpening

I’m sure I must have missed something.  What else is different about these two types of photography?

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

At this type of event, everything except you and your camera are provided:  backdrops, lighting (hot lights and soft boxes), sets, models, costumes, makeup, etc.  The instructors will help with light adjustments and offer advice if you’re having any problems.  Flash isn’t recommended, since the lighting is provided and flash will interfere.  It will also be a lot harsher than the large soft box hot lights that are used.

You do need to use a higher ISO setting.  I used ISO 800 almost all day.  I shot with my lens wide open and my exposures ranged around f/2.8 between 1/60 of a second and ~1/320.  A capable high ISO camera will come in very handy as well as a large aperture lens with VR.  The Nikon D700 and 70 – 200 f/2.8 VRII combination worked well for me.  I did have some issues with overexposure.  I don’t know why these scenes were fooling my meter (maybe the dark backgrounds?), but I sometimes had to dial in some negative exposure compensation.  Make sure to check your histogram often.

Flavia
Flavia, in black and white

White balance was tungsten on some sets and daylight on others.  I shot in RAW mode, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  I just set my camera in auto white balance and then corrected it (if needed) in post.  If you shoot in JPG mode, pay attention to the changing white balance.  I overheard a lot of discussion that day from different people about “degrees Kelvin”.

The overall experience sometimes resembled a paparazzi shoot out on a red carpet.  Popular models would attract a crowd of photographers.  Courtesy is very important.  Take your turn and let others have theirs – there was plenty of time for everyone.  It was also fascinating to be one of  the photographers in the crowd and hear shutter clicks sync up when a model changed position or where they were looking.

Tripod/Monopod:  Not recommended – it’s too crowded and would definitely be in everyone’s way – including yours.  It would also slow you down.  The models do move around, so you need to  react quickly to get the compositions you want.

Lenses:

One of the event sponsors was Sigma.  They brought a couple crates of lenses and would let you borrow one for a session.  This is a great chance to try glass that you haven’t used before.  I checked out an 85mm f/1.4 for the first session, but ended up not using it very much.  I wasn’t getting many sharp images even when I stopped it down.  I didn’t have time to diagnose the issue but I think my problem was a combination of very shallow depth of field and blur caused by slower shutter speeds with no VR.   I switched to my 70 – 200 f/2.8 and used it the rest of the day.  It was occasionally a bit long at the 70mm length, but I compensated when needed by taking multiple shots.

Jennifer
Jennifer, in close

Best time to visit:

You’ve missed your chance for this year.  To see when they’re coming back to Orlando, you’ll have to check the American Photo Website.  They told us they’d be posting the 2012 schedule soon.

Other:  I had a great time, but it was a long day.  You’ll be on your feet a great deal of the time, and you’ll be shifting positions often to get a good vantage point.  I was quite tired at the end of the day.

Summary

You can view a higher resolution gallery of other photos I made at the link in the table below.

My Gallery:  http://edrosack.com/APMS
Their Website:  http://www.americanphotomag.com/modelshoot/
Their Contact Info:
apmodelshoot@bonniercorp.com
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A different kind of CFL Photo Op must do!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

My "New" Olympus Pen Camera

I acquired another “new” camera.  This one is an Olympus Pen FT, from the late 1960s.  These cameras are “half frame” meaning they use standard 35mm film, but make two exposures in the space of a single 35mm frame.  Modern Olympus micro 4/3 digital cameras are also half frame (actually the 4/3 sensor size is ~1/4 of a full frame camera).  You can buy adapters to use lenses like the 40mm f/1.4 that came with this camera on digital 4/3 system cameras.  They’ll be manual focus and there’s no electronic coupling with the body.  But f/1.4 is nice.

Olympus Pen FT camera with Olympus G.Zuiko 40mm f1:1.4 lens
Olympus Pen FT camera with Olympus G.Zuiko 40mm f1:1.4 lens

Aside from a few scratches on the body, this camera’s in pretty good shape.  The lens is clear and the focus and diaphragm work correctly.  The body is relatively clean too and the shutter and exposure counter work.  The self timer is a bit dodgy, but that’s OK.  The FT model has a built-in light meter, but it uses a mercury based battery which is supposed to be hard to get in the US.  I haven’t even tried to get a battery, so I don’t know if the meter works or not.  It’s surprisingly heavy (all metal construction) and very well made – it lasted for 45 years so far and still works.  Do you think today’s cameras will still work in 2056?

I did run some black and white film through it.  And I re-discovered that manual focus can be a bit tricky, especially if you shoot at f/1.4 with a relatively dim view finder, like this one.  Here’s a couple of sample images:

Metalwork:  Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film
Metalwork: Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film

 

Figure, Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film
Figure, Pen FT, 40mm f1:1.4 lens, Kodak BW400CN film

My first photography teacher – Mr. Dove, had an Olympus Pen.  I don’t remember if it was an F or an FT model.  Someone stole it from him while he was teaching us and he really missed it.  I wonder if he ever recovered it or replaced it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Rochester 8×10 View Camera

I was out with Lynn last weekend and she saw an antique store that she wanted to browse through.  I went in with her, and we noticed this wooden 8×10 view camera from around 1910.  Well … I’ve always wanted one and couldn’t resist.

Having some fun with my new toy – a Rochester View Camera, circa 1910.

Although it doesn’t have a name plate, because of markings on the film holders I think this one was made by the Rochester Camera Company.  I’m not entirely sure what model it is although it strongly resembles this one.  It did come with a tripod, case, and several backs including the ground glass and film holders.  The Goerz Dacor f/6.8 Series III No. 4 lens appears in Rochester catalogs from the time and so is probably original with this camera.  The lens is clear and the shutter seems to work fine too, although the rubber pneumatic shutter release has hardened over the years.  All in all, the whole kit looks to be in very good shape given its age, and I might experiment a bit more with it.

Looking it over, it’s hard to imagine carting something like this all over and even climbing mountains to make photographs with it.  It’s huge, heavy and very primitive compared to what we’re used to today.  And once you exposed the image you still had to deal with developing and printing it.  Given all this, it’s amazing how good the results are from back then.  Or is it maybe that only the best photographs survived all this time?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog – now go make some photos!

© 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

A few more updates

Sorry for not posting last weekend.  Much to do and little time to do it.  Here’s an update on three recent Central Florida Photo Op topics.

Ravine Gardens:  We made another trip up there and I’ve refreshed the main Ravine Gardens post with a few small revisions and two additional photos following our visit yesterday.  Bottom line:  A nice place for spring flowers.

Dogwood blossom in front of azaleas

Dogwood blossom in front of azaleas at Ravine Gardens

Viera Wetlands:  Kevin M. and I went by last Saturday.  Highlights of the trip were the White Pelicans in the click ponds (migrants in Florida) as well as getting images of 3 new (for me) birds.  By the way, the Tree Swallows are very difficult to photograph.  They never seem to perch and their flight patterns are very erratic.  But they are good practice for flight shots!

Least Bittern in the reeds

Least Bittern in the reeds

Tree Swallow?

Tree Swallow

European Starling

European Starling

Sigma 150 – 500 OS:  I did use this lens at Viera last weekend.  It worked well, but started to  “chatter”  one time.  Then it stopped and worked fine after that.  Not sure what to make of it, other than to keep an eye on it over time.

Thanks for stopping by!

© 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 150 – 500 returns and more flowers

I mentioned at the bottom of this post that I was having trouble with my Sigma 150 – 500mm OS lens and that I’d let you know how it turned out.  I said that I’ve been very happy with it and one of my few complaints was that the Optical Stabilization was a bit noisy.  Lately, it’s developed a “chatter” where it sounds like the OS motor is vibrating back and forth.  While it does this, you can see the image vibrating through the viewfinder.  I sent it back to Sigma to have them check it out.

Sigma called after about a week and said that it tested OK for them.  I described what I’d seen happening in detail and they agreed to look at it one more time.  They called again and said that it still checks out OK and that they were sending it back.  They did mention that cold weather (which can lower the power available from the camera’s battery) might make this happen.  But I shoot in Florida, so I doubt that’s it.  They also said that hitting / knocking the lens can make the OS oscillate.  I’m very careful with my gear and don’t remember hitting it at all, much less the several times when it’s done this, so I don’t think that’s it either.  It arrived late on Friday (after work, so I actually was here for the UPS guy!).  I’m under the weather with another bad cold, so I haven’t had a chance to try it out.  But I will.  I do have two more years of the extended warranty remaining, so I’m not too worried.  If I learn anything more, I’ll update you.

And just so this poor blog doesn’t go too long without an image, here’s one that I reprocessed this morning.

Composite Black and White Image

Composite Black and White Image

The original photo was made in October of 2004 with a Minolta Dimage 7Hi.

Source image

Flowers in glass water bowl

This morning, I ran it back through Nik Silver Effects Pro with four different settings and re-arranged the results into the single B&W image that leads this post.

© 2004 and 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.