A couple of weeks back I had a clear out in my study. I have shelves full of books and decided to throw out many of the older ones. I also have stacks of old note books full of random jottings so I pulled out and ripped up all the used pages. It wasn’t until I came to develop some Infrared film from my trip to Malham that I realised I had ripped up all my developing notes – gulp.
This was not a good feeling but as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. In this case I found mine on the Massive Dev Chart website (http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php).
If you have never used this site it’s a great resource to find out development times for different film and developer combinations. But the real bonus for me was that they now have an App. Whilst I had to buy the paid version in order to record my development notes it’s a really great little app.
If you haven’t seen this before and you still use film, it’s well worth checking out.
I have been experimenting with the image from my new Infrared camera and identified a rather interesting look that can be achieved in Nik Color Efex Pro.
You can see the finished image above and shown below is the starting image following RAW conversion and white balance correction in Lightroom.
The next image shows the conversion to infrared black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 7. This is one of my favourite tools for Infrared processing as it includes sliders that allow you to control the halation effect (bright glowing areas).
The conversion from this image to the finished image was achieved using a few contrast adjustments in Nik Color Efex but the toning was achieved using the Glamour Glow filter. You can see the filter settings below.
I really quite like this effect as the halation glow is further enhanced and the toning can be controlled quite precisely moving from warm to cool.
In case you’re wondering how I got rid of the sun flare, I moved the Cyan slider to 0 in the black and white conversion process.
As planned (and mentioned in my Friday post) I visited Malham in Yorkshire at the weekend. The weather conditions were forecast to be sunny with broken cloud so the intention was to shoot Infrared. I actually intended to shoot mainly infrared film on the XPan using my new 30mm lens. In the end I found myself shooting more with the newly converted infrared EM5. By the end of the day I was convinced the EM5 conversion was a great idea but I still had some reservations about processing the RAW images.
When I returned from my previous trip and first outing of the EM5, I found problems in trying to process the RAW files. For some reason I couldn’t achieve a good white balance with the RAW files in Lightroom. As usual they all came out blood red. You can normally overcome this by creating a bespoke profile using the Adobe DNG editor but for some reason I still can’t explain, I couldn’t get this to work for me. I even started to wonder if I had made a mistake choosing a 665nm conversion.
This time on my return I tried again to create a new profile and it worked first time. I then tried processing the images. Channel swapping to produce false colours seems much easier with the 665nm converted camera, but that wasn’t my objective. Instead I was trying to create a nice Infrared look that was more akin to the traditional Kodak HIE films but retained better definition. I wanted to create something of a cross between Kodak HIE and Ilford SFX (at least in my vivid imagination).
In the end I came up with a custom preset in Alien Skin Exposure 7 which works pretty well with most of the RAW files once they have been white balanced. I hope you like the results.
The sun is out at last which means it’s no good for Landscape Photography. But it is good for Infrared Landscape Photography. Yesterday I went up to the Yorkshire Dales in order to try out my new Olympus EM5 which I had converted to Infrared.
The conversion was completed by ProTech in the UK and used a 665nm filter. My other camera is a Panasonic GX1 with a 720nm filter and was converted by ACS. If you are wondering why I didn’t use ACS again, it’s not because they did a bad job it just it took them a couple of months. A friend had used ProTech and was very pleased with the service. So too am I.
The results from the EM5 are just as good as I hoped. Whilst I am still finding my way with the 665nm filter in terms of post processing, it does look quite promising. Here is a first image from the top of Malham Cove. I hope you like it.
I’m excited. I have bought a second EM5 body given the recent drop in prices. It’s second hand but has a low shutter count. In fact I didn’t want a new EM5 as I am going to get this one converted to Infrared.
When I had the GX1 converted I used a company called ACS. They did a good job but took an age to do the conversion. This time I have spoken to a company called ProTech who a friend has used for a few conversions.
I hope to take delivery of the camera this weekend and then it’s off for the conversion. I hope to be able to report back in a few weeks time and make some comparisons regarding image quality.
In my last post I shared an example of the false infrared colour technique and explained how it was achieved. I also confessed that in general I don’t like the effect, although in some cases it does work well. I thought it would be good to share another example that I think works reasonably well (although not as well as the previous post) although I will admit that I still prefer the traditional black and white conversion.
This example is a little more stylised than the previous image and was created by first converting the image to colour before applying a Fuji Provia Slide Film simulation in Exposure 6. This was then further edited with a boost to the Vibrancy slider and a negative Clarity to give the soft effect. My reasoning for these adjustments was to prepare the image for conversion to black and white but I found I quite liked the colour image.
When converting the images with the Channel Mixer it can seem a bit hit and miss. It appears to help if you have both sky and foliage in the image. With a Red/Blue channel swap such as shown here the sky will turn blue and the foliage will go red. Most other areas (in landscapes) tend not to be affected.
You can improve the results by picking a white balance point during RAW conversion which causes the foliage to take on a blue tint. Typically this will leave the sky with some red tint and when the channel swap is made with the channel mixer the red tint in the sky turns blue and the blue tint of the foliage turns red.
Also try to avoid images which have been shot in the shade (such as tree lined country lanes) as you won’t get such a good effect. You really need direct and strong sun to make this work well.
Hope this helps anyone who is also struggling with Infrared false colour.
Before I get into the details of this post I need to point out that I’m not a fan of the false colour effect in infrared. That said I do quite like the look of the image above. I realise this is a personal choice and you may or may not like the effect. Despite not liking this effect (other than the odd image) I continue to use the technique as I find it often helps in the conversions to black and white. The increased colour seems to make it easier to separate objects in black and white .
The starting point for the conversion is an infrared image that has been correctly white balanced. You can see the starting point below.
As I have mentioned previously in this blog, getting the white balance correct in Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW can be problematic. Here is an example of the image as seen in Lightroom despite using the correct custom white balance.
I have now found out how to correct this and will post something separately on the subject.
Once you have your image white balanced, take it into Photoshop. Here we will do something called a channel swap between the red and blue channels using the Channel Mixer. You can see a screenshot of the channel mixer below.
In case you are wondering there isn’t a cannel mixer in Lightroom or Elements.
First select the Red channel in the channel mixer. You will notice the red slider is at 100% and the other two sliders are at 0%. Change these sliders so that the blue channel is at 100% and the others are at 0%.
Now repeat this process selecting the blue channel. This time set the blue slider to 0% and the red slider to 100%. The channel swap is now complete and you will see an effect similar to that above.
You can also swap any two channels and are not restricted to the red and blue. The red and blue channels tend to produce the best results though.
Now as I mentioned at the start of this post, I use this technique to support conversion to black and white. With that in mind, here is the final image back and white image. Let me know which image you prefer.
With it being a Bank Holiday in the UK today and for once the weather not being terrible, I went for a walk. I like quite near to the Peak District National Park but for some reason I seldom visit. Today I decided I wanted a good walk in the hills so drove over to Ladybower reservoir which is about 50 minutes from my house.
When I first became interested in photography I remember seeing some old images of the dam at Ladybower and I thought these images were wonderful. The Victorians certainly knew how to engineer wonderful structures but the age of the images also made these more appealing.
I recall visiting the area about 10 years ago in the hope of being able to recreate these wonderful images but it wasn’t to be. Today I was able to create something that I quite liked using my Infrared camera. But it wasn’t until I took the image into Nik Analog Efex and applied a little emotion that the image came to life. Trying to create an image such as the one above was almost impossible for me 10 years ago but today it took minutes.
I wonder what photography will be like in another 10 years.
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.
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
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.