Keith H. had his Olympus EM-5 MII camera converted to infrared, so one day after lunch we stopped by Central Winds Park in Winter Springs so he could test it. I’ve had my IR E-PL5 for a while, but wanted to see how it worked with the Oly 50 – 140mm f/2.8 lens.
Flower in IR
This frame was at ISO 200, 150mm (300mm equivalent), f/5.6, 1/80 second. It’s handheld, but I braced the camera and the winds were calm so the shutter speed was high enough to prevent motion blur. And the long focal length and close focus makes the blurred background look very nice. So I think this lens works well in IR.
The processing was comparatively straightforward. I ran it through DxO Optics Pro for noise reduction and detail improvement. The rest was in Lightroom: Crop, exposure, contrast, clarity, to taste; spot removal for small specs of dirt on the flower; and then small doses of post-crop vignette and de-haze to get to an initial false color IR image.
As a last step, I tried something new. Instead of converting to Black and White, I played around with the vibrance slider to partly desaturate the colors in the image. This gave me the “pseudo B&W” you see above. I like this rendering and I’m going to try it in the future for IR images.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
There’s a new feature in the latest Creative Cloud versions of Lightroom and Camera Raw, and if you stitch together multi-frame panoramas like I tend to, then you should take a close look at it.
It shows up as a new slider called “Boundary Warp” in the “Merge to Panorama” dialog and it’s designed to help fix the empty areas along the edges of some stitched panoramas. You can see an example in the first image below.
An easy way to fix this is to crop out the empty portions of the frame, like this:
But that throws away pixels that you may want to keep. You can also try to fill in the empty areas with content aware fill or the clone stamp, but that often leaves some anomalies that take time to clean up.
Using the new function is easy. It keeps all the pixels in the image and warps the edges to fill in empty areas.
I like the way it works. It’s better than cropping or trying to fill in missing portions with the clone stamp. Try it – I think you’ll like it too.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos and warp some boundaries!
My friend Tom M. wanted to go out shooting last week and hadn’t ever been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The drive itself is only open to cars from Friday through Sunday, so we met on Friday morning and went over. It was raining when I got up and still cloudy on the way over, which made for interesting skies in my infrared photos.
Lake Apopka Pump House – 2 frame panorama, infrared, black and white.
We did have a bit of good light while we were there. We saw this bird struggling to swallow a fish and stopped to watch for a few minutes. It was on the side of a canal with the clouds reflecting in the water behind it and flowers blooming in front. I stayed in the car so I wouldn’t bother it and shot a series of single frames while we watched. This one was the best one of the series.
Nice catch! – an Anhiga tosses a fish it caught along a canal on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.
On this trip, I brought my micro four thirds cameras. I’ve used the system for about four years and they’ve worked very well. The dynamic range and noise performance are not as good as larger sensor cameras, but it’s “good enough”. And the noise is not an issue for me. DxO Optics Pro does an outstanding job processing the RAW files. The focusing capabilities have been fast for static subjects – but I’ve never been able to do very well with continuous focus. Well, I recently traded up to a used Olympus E-M1, which has phase detect sensors built into the image sensor and it’s been doing a great job with continuous focus. So much so that even for birds in flight it’s working “good enough” too. Here’s an example from Friday:
Checking me out – A hawk in flight looking at the camera
Good morning, wonderful readers! I hope you don’t mind a short post today with a few more photos from Death Valley. The place made a big impression on me. I hope to return sometime in the future.
Desert rain water – A different view of the post storm water in Death Valley. Some locations had 5 inches of rain on October 18th. The water here collected in small puddles.
Overbury Building ruins in the Rhyolite Ghost Town near Beatty, Nevada. Black and White Infrared panorama.
Death Valley Sundown – I like the sun rays and reflections from the wet mud below.
Mosaic Canyon Monochrome – Rushing water carved these canyon walls, resulting in a variety of textures to explore.
Monochromatic textures – Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is a wonderful place to photograph. The hills vary in color and with the changing light and clouds, it seems there are always new textures, shadows, and compositions to focus on (pun intended). I wanted to emphasize the textures, so I used Lightroom to convert this one to monochrome. For some reason, this was one of the first photos I made there and one of the last that I finished processing.
We’ve added even more photos from our Death Valley expedition in the albums at these links:
When you think of the desert in the western US, you might imagine extreme heat and monochromatic scenes of empty barren land. If so you probably haven’t been to Death Valley. There is some empty barren land:
Badlands sunrise – This was my first visit to Death Valley and what I thought it would look like.
And there are sand dunes and wind-blown textures:
Photographing Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – A distant photographer lines up his shot.
But there are so many more things to experience there.
It’s the largest national park in the contiguous US at over 3.4 million acres. The habitats are varied and the elevation ranges from 282 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America) to more than 11,000 feet at the top of Telescope Peak.
Panorama of Badwater from Dantes View, looking west toward Telescope Peak
Many of the places we wanted to see weren’t accessible while we were there. The good news is that there were more than enough locations we could still get to, and the water created some rare views of the area.
Death Valley Reflections – Some locations had 5 inches of rain. The following morning, we saw large pools of water west of route 190 and north of Furnace Creek. It was a long walk (~1.5 miles from the road) to get close, and at times I wondered whether it was a mirage. I’m guessing it’s rare to see the mountains and clouds reflected in standing water at this spot.
And are there any waterfalls in the desert? You wouldn’t think so, right? We decided to find out one day and after a long drive, hike, and rock scramble through a gorgeous canyon, we arrived at Darwin Falls, which seems like a miracle in the middle of such arid country.
Darwin Falls – This desert waterfall in Death Valley had about a 40 foot drop. It’s spring fed and flows year round, although the rains may have added some water while we were there.
There’s a lot of history in Death Valley too. The Native American Timbisha tribe have lived in the valley for at least 1000 years. Gold and silver mining started in the 1850s and Borax was discovered in the 1880s. There are also several ghost towns to explore in the park and the surrounding areas.
20 Mule Team Wagon Train – Used in 1885 to haul Borax From Death Valley to Mojave. Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California
There’s also a surprising amount of wildlife. While hiking back from the Mesquite Flat Dunes we spotted some motion ahead that turned out to be my first sighting ever of a fox in the wild.
Kit Fox at Mesquite Dunes – We saw it from a distance. At first I thought it was a coyote, but Eric Vanbergen on Flickr suggested it might be a Kit Fox. Judging by the info on Wikipedia, he’s right. I made the photo handheld (with my tripod still attached!) using a 24-120mm lens that I was using for landscapes. This is a small crop from the frame. It was nice of the Fox to stop, stand in the light, and look at the camera for me – but it should have come closer!
We also saw several of these, curiously along or as they crossed the road. They’re large enough (~3 inches across) to spot as you drive by.
Classic Death Valley (Photo by Kevin McKinney – used with permission) – We saw several Tarantulas while we were there.
Here’s one last photo. We’d been searching for a Road Runner all week but hadn’t seen any. On the last afternoon we finally sighted this one as we drove by the visitor’s center. Of course, none of us had our camera gear – thank goodness for iPhones!
“Beep Beep” – A Roadrunner outside the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek. I think this is the one the rangers have nick-named “Robbie”. It’s very tolerant of humans and went about catching and eating bugs while we watched.
You can view many more photos from our trip at these links:
Link to Tom M’s album on Flickr (No longer available)
This is really more of trip report than a review or guide. With so little time on site, I’m not qualified to give you much specific advice on photographing Death Valley. But here is some info I found very useful:
Florida has wonderful weather photography opportunities. They’re not often the kind that you see from tornado alley out west. But the clouds here are awesome too.
Lynn and I traveled recently (New Jersey, Virginia, and Georgia). I realized when going through those photos that they lacked dramatic skies like we often see here in Central Florida. Maybe our timing was just bad. Anyway, it inspired me to put together this post with some examples of our weather along with a few hints.
We’d had several days of rain last August and even though afternoon light isn’t usually the best for photography, I decided to drive over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and see if I could capture some of the weather drama. This one is from the south-east side of the causeway. There was a slight drizzle where I was standing and rain drops ruined several frames. This one must have been right after I cleaned the lens.
Storm Ahead (stitched panorama, nine frames at 24mm focal length).
This next photo is from September of 2012, also at Black Point Wildlife Drive. These clouds actually stopped me in my tracks and made me shift out of bird photography mode to make this B&W, IR image. You can see a color version of this here.
A little stormy (stitched panorama, three frames at 24mm eq. focal length).
These next two have been on the blog before, but they also illustrate my point: Clouds and storms in Central Florida are photogenic!
Stormy Shore: Storm clouds blow through north of our hotel on Casey Key, Florida. June 15, 2015 (stitched panorama, eight frames at 24mm eq. focal length).
Lakes Jesup Wildflowers and Rainstorm (105mm eq. focal length).
We don’t have mountains here in Central Florida. And we don’t have very good waterfalls either. But our clouds are just as good as anywhere else. How are they where you are?
Although you can see interesting weather all year, the best time here is summer afternoons and evenings.
The storms are big. As you can see from the captions, many times I find myself using a wide-angle lens or stitching panoramas for this kind of photography, although some situations (like the last image) benefit from a longer focal length.
You can shoot from your car in many cases or just dodge the showers. Do bring a lens cloth and maybe a towel or some plastic to cover your camera if it’s not weather resistant.
Be careful with your exposures. If you have clear sky behind the clouds you can easily blow out highlights in the image which will be tough to fix in post.
When processing your photos, try using some mid-range contrast / clarity to bring out details in the clouds. Don’t go too far though or your results will look unrealistic.
Find yourself some good foreground locations so you’ll be ready to head out when the weather gets interesting.
And be careful – don’t get struck by lightning or ruin your equipment!
Florida is blessed with a terrific State Park system. According to Wikipedia, we have 161 locations in our state.
Lynn found a new one (to us, at least) online and mentioned how nice the cabins looked. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is up in the panhandle, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side, and St. Joseph Bay on the other. They only have eight cabins and are usually fully booked – but cabin #4 was available for a single day, so we decided to drive up and see what it’s like. Although it was a brief trip, it was a wonderful opportunity to explore a part of Florida that we don’t often get to.
On the way, we stopped in Perry, Florida for some great seafood and then went by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge where I made a few photos. I’d love to visit there more extensively. I wish we lived closer.
Marsh land – View from the observation tower next to the St. Marks Lighthouse. IR, B&W, panorama
It’s no wonder that the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park cabins are usually booked. They’re fairly new, well-kept, fully furnished and ideally located – especially if you like the sun and water. It’s one of the top rated beaches in the US and swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, and even scalloping are all very close by.
Blazing Clouds – the morning, bay side view from cabin #4
We took a late afternoon walk along the bay shore. The photographic glory was somewhat dampened by aggressive horse flies — we should have used insect repellent! But I thought the clouds and driftwood were remarkably attractive. This is the last of five photos I made on the walk. You can see the complete sequence in this album on Flickr.
St. Joseph Bay stroll (5 of 5). IR, B&W, panorama
Alas, we had to leave after a single night – much too short a stay to do the area justice. Maybe another time we can get a longer reservation.
On the drive back, we stopped for coffee in Apalachicola and stumbled on this. I love old boats and this one is about as rundown as I’ve ever seen. Another place that needs a longer look.
Welcome to the Venezellos. Panorama
If you get a chance, I highly recommend you check out the area. Seafood, sun, sights, water – what more could you ask for? Oh yes – perhaps a vacancy or two.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Here are three photos from last week that I made in and around Central Florida. First up is the Cocoa Waterfront. I liked the early morning look of the clouds and water at River Front Park.
Calm morning on the riverfront. (Two frame vertical panorama, Infrared, B&W, 34mm eq. fl, 1/40 sec @f/5.6, ISO 200)
The morning light was also nice at Viera Wetlands, and this American Bittern posed for us in the reeds. I’ve been lucky enough to see them there several times over the years. I’m sure they’re in spots like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge too, but I’ve never spotted one there.
American Bittern. (600mm, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 320)
Orlando Wetlands Park opened again February 1st. It’s one of my favorite places for sunrise. Our walk on Friday morning was brisk and breezy, but I like the wind’s effect on the water in this photo.
Wee hour winds whisk water and reeds in the wetlands. (Two frame vertical panorama; 120mm; I shot the bottom frame at f/22 and ISO 50 to extend the shutter speed to 8 seconds and maximize depth of field. I made the upper frame at f/8, .5 sec, ISO 100 to maximize sharpness)
So that’s some of what I photographed last week. What did you shoot? Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
So I went to two different places last week. Kevin M. took me to the Lake Apopka Restoration Area to look for the Groove Billed Ani that’s been hanging around. I’d never been there and was glad he invited me, not only for a chance at a life bird, but also to scout the area. I’ve also driven around Lake Lawsona in downtown Orlando and thought there might be some photos lurking there, but couldn’t find any place to park. Then I discovered that Mayor Carl T. Langford Park isn’t far away so I left my car there and walked over.
To make a long (and photographically humbling) story short, I photographed both places, but didn’t like any of the images enough to post. And we didn’t see the Ani either.
I did chase the light – I just didn’t catch it.
Since I’m a little stuck for material this week, I went back into my archives and found a four photo panorama that I’d never processed from a trip to Tampa in 2013. After stitching it together, I like the light in this image well enough.
Looking north toward Piney Point from Fred Howard Park in Tampa, August 2013
Like any creative activity, photography is difficult at times. I struggled last week, but I try not to get discouraged – this happens to everyone. I keep trying and enjoy the effort. As Florida Nature Photographer John Moran says in his book Journal of Light:
“Nature photography isn’t always about the picture, it’s about the experience of just being there, chasing the light, alive and awake and aware.”
Happy New Year! I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have had a joyful and happy holiday season!
The beginning of the year is a good time to review results and contemplate how to improve any endeavor and photography is no exception. I’ve put together these “Favorite photos of the year” posts since 2009. This is a hard process for any photographer. For me, it’s difficult to separate my opinion about a photograph from the emotional connections that I have with the subject, scene, or situation. But making the effort is important and part of the learning process. I don’t claim to be objective – these are simply the photos that I like best. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.
This year, all of my favorites were made in Florida. I’ve listed the date and place for each and included a link to the blog post where you can find out more about the image. You can click on the photos to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version. Or you can click on this link to view the complete set on Flickr.