Infrared on the Brigg

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Filey Brigg in Infrared following convesion in Nik Silver Efex Pro
Filey Brigg in Infrared following convesion in Nik Silver Efex Pro

First off, sorry there was no Friday image this week. With everything else I had on, I just couldn’t fit it in. One of the things I was doing was visiting Filey on the East Coast of England with a friend. We didn’t have great weather but we did manage to capture some interesting shots.

One of the things I was trying out was some Infrared photography but not with my converted camera (although I did use that later). Instead I was experimenting with a 720nm Infrared filter on my Olympus EM5. This was to collect new material for a presentation and forthcoming book about Infrared photography.

Whilst some people will tell you that you can’t shoot infrared with a filter on a modern camera, it’s not true, it’s just that the exposures are quite long. The example you see above was a 36 second exposure at f/7.1 and ISO200. This may seem very long, but look at the positives. If you are wanting to do ultra long exposure black and white photography, a £10 Infrared filter from eBay is much cheaper than a 10 stop ND filter. The IR filter will also give you a much longer exposure in the middle of the day.

For those of you wondering what it looked like prior to conversion in Silver Efex Pro, here it is again. I will also point out that I have set a white balance in the RAW conversion as the image is blood read otherwise.

Image prior to conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro
Image prior to conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro

 

Having posted this yesterday I just checked on Amazon to see how much a recognised brand IR filter was and it was £26 for a 52mm Hoya. Here is the link for any one who is interested http://amzn.to/1eBy6Fg

I have no will power

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Whitby, captured on the Sony RX100 with 0.6 ND graduated filter. Post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza and a tweak in Photoshop.
Whitby, captured on the Sony RX100 with 0.6 ND graduated filter. Post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza and a tweak in Photoshop.

A couple of weeks back I was out with my friend Steve (who is also an Olympus EM5 owner) and we were discussing just how good this camera is. At the time we agreed that we didn’t want for anything so would stop all this chasing around after new kit and just work with what we have. Just two weeks on and I have ordered a Panasonic GM1. I just had a gut feeling that I needed one – I don’t know where the feeling came from but I tend to listen to my hunches.

But hear me out (I need to justify this for my own piece of mind).

I currently have two compact cameras, an LX7 and a Sony RX100. I like and am impressed by both but neither is perfect. Of the two, I would say I am least happy with the Sony and want to replace it. It’s not that I don’t like the Sony it’s that I just don’t love it. My intention with the GM1 is to use it as a replacement compact camera and potentially as my travel camera.

I am hoping that by pairing up the GM1 with some of the great (small) lenses that I already own I can have a great compact kit. I will need to see how well this works before deciding to sell the LX7 (as I do love that camera) but the RX100 is going on eBay.

Watch this space for my future experiences once I get the GM1 – it has just been reported to me as being out of stock.

Nik Color Efex Book Launch

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Nik Color Efex Pro: How to transform your photography
Nik Color Efex Pro: How to transform your photography

I am really pleased to announce that my latest book “Nik Color Efex Pro: How to transform your photography” is now available on Amazon (Link to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk). It has an introductory price for the month of April of just $2.99 (£1.85 in the UK and other countries are similarly priced in their relevant Amazon stores).

The reason I’m so pleased to announce this is that it’s a huge book. It’s 230 pages in A4 format and contains almost 300 illustrations. Months and effort and research have gone into creating this one and I’m really pleased with the results.

If you’re not familiar with Nik Color Efex Pro it is an amazing product. It contains 55 filters that can be applied to enhance your image in an almost unimaginable variety of ways. A lot of Nik software owners seem to shy away from using it because it offers so much choice and flexibility. There is also very little documented on its filters and functionality so this book provides an invaluable reference tool for users.

View book on Amazon.co.uk

View book on Amazon.com

Friday Image No.015

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Olympus EM5. Ambleside, The Lake District.
Olympus EM5. Ambleside, The Lake District.

I have been so busy this past week that I hadn’t realised Friday had come round again. Then I realised that I didn’t have an image to share so I started to look back over my shots from last year. A lot of the folders I have done nothing with. Despite this there are a few images that show some promise but which I overlooked at the time.

Here’s one example shot at dawn at the Marina in Ambleside. The weather didn’t play out quite as we had hoped for and the bank of heavy cloud failed to clear. It’s still quite a pleasant image though.

Have a great weekend.

Infrared Filters

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Canal near to my house. Shot on an IR converted GX1 but with an IR850nm filter on the lens. Halation effect added in Photoshop.
Canal near to my house. Shot on an IR converted GX1 but with an IR850nm filter on the lens. Halation effect added in Photoshop.

Over the weekend I published my spring newsletter. Those of you who subscribe and who have had an opportunity to read the latest issue will know that the main article explores the options for infrared photography (including some that cost very little). As I was writing this it got me thinking that I wanted to shoot some Infrared film using my Hasselblad XPan which I haven’t used for about a year.

Choices for film are very limited these days so it was either Ilford SFX (which isn’t really a true infrared film) or Rollei IR400. I purchased a few rolls but realised I didn’t have a 49mm Infrared filter for the XPan lens, so needed to turn to eBay. I also realised I had sold my light meter thinking (incorrectly) that I wouldn’t need it again, so ended up needing to buy another.

Anyway, whilst searching for a 49mm Infrared filter (720nm strength) I also had a quick look for an 850nm Infrared filter and found quite a few. For anyone who is unfamiliar with these filters they will block out light with a wavelength shorter than the filter strength. For example a 720nm filter blocks light with a shorter wavelength, effectively blocking visible light but allowing infrared wavelengths through.

The reason for wanting a 52mm 850nm IR filter (which incidentally only cost £10 including postage) was so I could use it with my Infrared camera. When I had the camera converted to infrared I had a choice of having it fitted with either 720nm filter or an 850nm filter. The 850nm filter gives a more dramatic effect and can only be used to produce black and white images. I opted for the 720nm filter as this allows you to create some false colour effects. By using a screw in 850nm filter on the lens it’s like having my camera converted with the stronger filter.

When the new filters arrived I checked them. The 720nm filter made no difference to the IR camera but blocked the visible light from a standard (unconverted camera) so I knew it was a good filter. The 850nm filter when attached to a lens on my infrared camera caused a loss of about 2 stops of light making it very usable for handheld shooting. It also caused a colour shift to blue in the image but this is probably because I didn’t bother setting a custom white balance. The blue tint was easily corrected during the RAW conversion.

Now here’s the interesting thing, when I used the 850nm filter on the infrared camera, although the shutter speed was slower by 2 stops, the image quality was better. I didn’t take sufficient images to check this out properly but across about 10 scenes, the 850nm images appeared to have sharper and finer detail in all cases. I can’t explain why as in fact I had expected the opposite to happen. I’m going to keep a close eye on this as the light starts to get stronger and better for shooting infrared.

Friday image No.014

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Hail storm in North Wales
Hail storm in North Wales

This week’s Friday Image is taken from last weekend’s trip to Wales. It’s such a shame the weather didn’t come up to expectations but then again there were periods of dramatic light and weather. Here you can see a hail storm crossing the valley.

Have a great weekend.

Busy without focus

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Tryfan, Snowdonia, North Wales. Olympus EM5
Tryfan, Snowdonia, North Wales. Olympus EM5

This past few weeks has been a little odd in terms of my photography. I seem to have built up lots of unfinished activities which I am struggling to complete. I have my quarterly newsletter (in which I like to include a decent article), a shoot in Wales last weekend, a book on Nik Color Efex that is much longer than expected, a book on photographic vision that I am drafting, working with Olympus and ePHOTOzine on new projects, developing a new presentation for some Camera Clubs that have booked me and writing this blog to name but a few. On top of this I need to take some photographs.

What seems to be happening is that I start lots of interesting and valuable work, but it’s hard to bring things to a close. I end up flitting between different activities so that it feels that I am busy without a focus and nothing actually gets finished.

Now here is the interesting point, I have started doing the same in my photography. I came back from the weekend shoot in Wales thinking I had a great time and some great shots in the bag. Reviewing my Lightroom catalogue I found the images didn’t really live up to the expectation of the day. This is quite normal but the difference this time is that I realised I didn’t slow down and consider my inspiration from each scene and didn’t spend time working to develop my vision for the images. The result is a lot of images each showing different variations but none standing out as being great.

I think I need to slow down and find my focus again.