software

False Colour Conversion in Infrared Photography

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False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1
False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1

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.

Correct white balance
Correct white balance

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.

How Lightroom sees the custom white balance
How Lightroom sees the 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.

Channel Mixer in Photoshop
Channel Mixer in Photoshop

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.

Final infrared conversion
Final infrared conversion

In Memory of Velvia

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Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.
Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Do you remember Velvia slide film? I used to shoot this stuff all the time. It was horribly contrasty and a pig to scan. It was however the best colour slide film for Landscapes (possibly) and pre digital, all the pro’s in the UK would rave about it.

So why am I telling you all this given digital’s “better”? I just happened to be playing around with this old image shot an a Sony R1, trying different settings in Alien Skin Exposure 6. I was actually looking at the Infrared film simulations but then thought I would check some of the colour slide settings. As soon as I hit the Velvia preset I was transported back in time.

I have to be honest though. The version you see here was toned down a little as I don’t think all you digital users are ready for full on exposure (pun intended) to Velvia. If you haven’t looked at Alien Skin Exposure it’s worth trying the free download.

http://www.alienskin.com/exposure/

It’s a great piece of software and no I’m not making any money out of sharing this.

Using Camera Colour Profiles with Lightroom and Camera RAW

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Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile - the colours are more realistic and vivid
Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile – the colours are more realistic and vivid

Readers of this blog and my website will know that I am a fan of the Xrite Color Checker tool. This can be used to create colour profiles for your digital camera and they can make a big improvement to the colours in your images. My own experience has been that without exception they are an improvement on those Adobe ships with its software.

Whilst the camera profiles are great, installing and using them can seem a bit daunting at first. Here then is my guide to downloading and using Camera Colour Profiles with Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

What are Camera Colour Profiles

These are information files that allow Lightroom and Camera RAW to translate a camera’s RAW file data into colours correctly. Without these profile you might find that lovely shade of Red coming out as Purple in your images.

Where Can I Find Colour Profiles

The easiest way (although some people might argue) is to buy the Xrite Colour Passport Checker. Unfortunately that cost money and not everyone wants to take the risk that it will improve the conversion of their RAW files. If you belong to a camera club or photographic society, it might make a sensible group purchase.

An alternative approach is to search on the Internet to see if you can find someone who is selling or giving away (who would be that daft) a profile for your camera. To be honest, this is a bit of a long shot and very few people seem to publish these profiles.

The final alternative is to download the free profiles I created (did I say who would be that daft) from my Lenscraft website . Currently available profiles are Panasonic LX5, Sony RX100, Sony RX10, Panasonic GX1, Olympus EM5 and Panasonic GM1. As and when I change my cameras I will be adding to the available profiles.

How do I install the profiles

Each software application that can use colour profiles is likely to have its own locations from which to access these and probably also use different approaches to installing the profiles. Whilst you can install the files by simply copying them to the correct folder, finding the folder can sometimes be a little tricky. You will need to find the “Adobe\Camera RAW” folder which is where these profiles should be saved, to make them available in Lightroom and Camera RAW.

On my Windows 8 PC the folder location is

C:\Users\rnwhalley\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles

Something similar will no doubt exist on the Mac.

Xrite also produce a rather neat solution which is the “DNG Profile Manager”. The tool is available for download at Xrite website

http://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?ID=1257&Action=Support&SoftwareID=1345

Once the tool is installed, run it and select “File | Open DNG Profile Folder”. This will open the location where the colour profiles are to be copied to. When you have copied the colour profiles to this folder they are installed and will be available in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

How can I use these profiles

In Lightroom you need to open the Develop Module so that you can change the development settings for your images. In the Develop module you will find the different development options down the right side of the screen. At the bottom of these is the “Camera Calibration” tab.

ScreenHunter_1206 Aug. 03 20.36

Notice near to the top of this section is a drop down list called “Profile”. By default this is set to “Adobe Standard” but click on it and you will reveal other profiles for your camera. The profiles are sensitive to the RAW file format so only those compatible with the RAW file will be displayed.

In the following shot you can see the “Olympus E-M5″ bespoke profile I created being selected.

ScreenHunter_1207 Aug. 03 20.39

In Adobe Camera RAW the Camera Calibration tab is also on the right side of the screen. It can be selected by clicking on the icon of the camera as shown below. There is then a drop down list of the installed “Camera Profiles”.

ScreenHunter_1208 Aug. 03 20.40

But I can’t see a Colour Profile

If everything has gone well you should be able to use the newly installed profiles but there may be occasions when you can’t see your profile. Here are a few of the possible problems:

  • The RAW file you are processing came from a different camera to the profile. For example if you are processing a RAW file from a Canon 5D MKII, you wouldn’t see a profile for the Olympus EM5 in the drop down list. You only see those profiles that are compatible with the type of RAW file you are processing.
  • You installed your camera profiles correctly but it may be that you did this when Camera RAW or Lightroom were open. Until you restart the software the new profiles won’t be visible/available.
  • You may not be processing a RAW file but a TIFF or JPG image file. Under these circumstances you won’t see the camera profile in the Calibration tab. Instead you will probably see the word “Embedded” as shown below.

ScreenHunter_1209 Aug. 03 20.48

I hope this helps all the Lightroom and Camera RAW users out there.

 

Friday image No.028

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Lloyds Building, London, Captured on an Olympus OMD EM5 with Olympus 9-18mm lens. Conversion to black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 6.
Lloyds Building, London, Captured on an Olympus OMD EM5 with Olympus 9-18mm lens. Conversion to black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Some of you might recall that a month or so back I asked people to recommend their favourite image enhancement filters. I love playing around to explore new software and was interested in film emulators. One thing led to another and I ended up trying then buying Alien Skin Exposure 6. I don’t know why I haven’t bothered with this software before but I love it. I will go into the reason why some other time, but I also discovered some great tools (not Alien Skin) for pulling more detail out of my Infrared images which, I will share this in another post.

For now, here is the latest Friday image. I shot this on my trip to London back in April. This is landmark Lloyds Building which I used to pass almost daily when I worked in London. Back then I never paid any attention to it but now I think it’s iconic. In case you’re wondering the conversion to black and white was done in Alien Skin Exposure 6, using one of the Infrared Presets which was then tweaked a little.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday image No.027

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Olympus OMD. All processing in Lightroom
Olympus OMD + 25mm prime lens. All processing in Lightroom

This week has just run away with me again. I think the problem (besides too much work and my mum still being ill) is that I love to experiment. I have just spent the last hour developing some Lightroom film-like presets. So I decided to save some time and share a recent image processed with one of the presets – no other adjustments, just a Lightroom preset.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Free Lightroom Profile – Faded Summer Colour

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Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.
Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.

I promised I would do it if anyone asked, and you have. You can now download my Faded Summer Colour Lightroom preset for free. The preset was used to create the image above and the one in my previous post.

You can download it from a new Presets and Textures page on my Lenscraft website. You will need to log in as a member to download the file (but membership is free). When you download the zip file it contains the preset, installation instructions and a thumbnail sample image.

I hope you enjoy.

Yet More Emotional Impact

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Faded Summer Colour - Not the title of this image but of the Preset I created to produce it.
Faded Summer Colour – Not the title of this image but of the Preset I created to produce it.

Yes, I know that I keep going on about using emotional triggers in photography but it’s a fascinating subject. It’s also a great way to make ordinary images more interesting. And if you want to consider yourself as more of a visual artist than a photographer, I would say it’s pretty much essential.

Today’s example shows the creative impact colour and tone shifts can have. For your reference, the original image is shown below.

And the starting image captured with an Olympus EM5 and 60mm Macro lens.
And the starting image captured with an Olympus EM5 and 60mm Macro lens.

The global changes I have made are to the colour, exposure and the contrast. I have also increased the clarity in some areas of the flower using the Lightroom Brush tool. If you look carefully on the lower stem above the bud, you will find a greenfly hanging upside down. I thought twice about removing it but decided to leave it in.

If I were to produce this as a finished arty image I would probably blend the image with a textured background to add even more appeal. But as this example is about colour and tone, I have restricted the adjustments to exposure, contrast and colour. If you are wondering which tools I used to make all these changes, everything was done in Lightroom.

If you are a Lightroom user who likes the image and are interested in recreating the look with some of your own work, please let me know. If it’s a popular adjustment I will make it available on my Lenscraft site as a Lightroom Preset that can be downloaded.

Friday image No.025

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Sea, clouds and a few small wind turbines in the Irish Sea. Captured with the Olympus OMD EM5 with post processing in Nik Analog Efex
Sea, clouds and a few small wind turbines in the Irish Sea. Captured with the Olympus OMD EM5 with post processing in Nik Analog Efex

Another image with a sea theme. This was from my trip a few weeks back to the Lake District. On the way I had a stroll up Black Combe from which you can see the largest offshore wind farm in the world (at least that’s what it said on the BBC news). If you look carefully in the light area you can just about make out a few of the wind turbines.

Post processing was in the new Nik Analog Efex which is fast becoming one of my favourite creative filters for artistic and old camera effects.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Emotional Challenge 2

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Processing in Nik Analog Efex 2
Processing in Lightroom,  Photoshop and Nik Analog Efex 2

Recently I posted a blog entitled Emotional Challenge where I spoke about my recent interest in the emotional aspect of photography and how we could create images that had more emotional impact. As an initial example I posted the image of a seagull flying over the sea. Now some of your reading this will be relating the image of the seagull to seaside holidays, perhaps recalling childhood memories. Others though may have an entirely different perspective of the image.

If you are not from a climate where the seagull is a common sight on the coast you may not have any emotional memory to attach to the image. Instead you may see a huge open stretch of water with a bird gliding graceful over it and flying off into the distance. For you the emotional message in the image is one of freedom.

Today I have posted a few variants of the image that are also intended to add further layers of emotion, using various tricks or rather emotional triggers.

The first variant below has cropped the image to a square format. Whilst this possibly doesn’t give as dynamic a composition as the standard rectangular image, it is none the less a trigger. Some people will associate the square format with older cameras. The other change in this example was the vintage effect. Here lighting and colouring have been used to create the impression of older photography. All these changes were achieved quite quickly in Lightroom using the crop tool and a few gradients.

Processing in Lightroom
Processing in Lightroom only

The next example is a little more complex. This takes the Lightroom conversion and applies effects using Nik Analog Efex 2 (which is a recent release). The effects here are light and colour adjustments, blur, vignette, dust and an edge effect similar to the old Polaroid film.

Old film effects in Nik Analog Efex 2 only
Old film effects in Nik Analog Efex 2 only

In the next two examples the results of the Nik Analog Efex filter have been added as a layer in Photoshop to the Original Lightroom image. The blending mode has then been changed on the Nik layer. In the first of the two the blending mode is set to Soft Light.

Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Soft Light mode
Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Soft Light mode

In this second image the blending mode is set to Overlay.

Processing in Nik Analog Efex 2
Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Overlay mode

All these images are likely to mean different things to different people but all are likely to have an effect. If we can isolate the emotional triggers from great images and then learn how to recreate these in our own work, our photography will improve. But this carries two significant dangers. Firstly people are likely to either love or hate your work. Secondly your work can become a cliché and the effects boring.

I never said it was easy.

What are your favourite filters?

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Sea and cloud scape. Shot with an Olympus EM5 and processed using Nik Silver Efex
Sea and cloud scape. Shot with an Olympus EM5 and processed using Nik Silver Efex

I’m really interested in something and need your help. I love photography software and in particular filters and editing tools. I’m always on the lookout for new software that’s good and want to know what recommendations people have. Here are a few of the filters I already use in my workflow:

  • Nik Collection
  • Topaz (B&W Effects, Star Effects, Adjust, Detail)
  • On One Software Perfect Photo Suite
  • Photomatix (HDR)
  • Photo Wiz (B&W Styler, Contrast Master, Focal Blade)
  • Neat Image Noise Reduction
  • Qimage Ultimate (printing)
  • Akvis Magnifier (resizing)
  • Helicon Focus (image stacking)
  • Hugin (panoramic stitching)

Now I don’t want just names of filters and adjustment tools you have heard about, I want recommendations of tools you use and think are great. What do you recommend I look at?