Fake Color Infrared

I used t0 shoot color positive and negative film, and black & white negative film, but I never used infrared film. I can only imagine how tricky that must have been! Now days, with live view on digital cameras, it’s much easier.

But what I’m doing here is letting my inner filter freak go nuts. I’ve taken some different photos and applied a color infrared filter to them in NIK Color Efex Pro 4.

Fire Bush

Fire Bush

It seems that the more time you spend tweaking the sliders, the more rewarding is the outcome.  But for sure, any notion of a realistic image is out the door!

Pagoda

Pagoda

This is a photo of a small Pagoda that my father-in-law placed in our backyard. The original image just wasn’t that eye-catching. This one is either atrocious or striking, you be the judge.

Murky Pond

Murky Pond

This last image almost looks realistic, but if you saw the original photo… It’s very flat contrast-wise and has very low saturation. It also was shot about 10 years ago with my EOS 10D in JPEG. It really is easier to edit a RAW file, because a JPEG is much more limited in how far you can push it before it starts blocking up or getting dirty. But I didn’t know back then, and even if I did, we didn’t have the user friendly and powerful RAW converter and editing software we have now.

Anyway, just a few examples of what’s possible with Color Efex Pro 4’s Infrared filter.

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Infrared with a 12-year-old unconverted camera

Boston Harbor IR

Boston Harbor IR

This afternoon I took a drive near the southern tip of the Puget Sound, looking for good scenes for infrared photos. I took my 12-year-old Canon Powershot G3, which has a relatively weak hot mirror compared to newer cameras, so it’s more sensitive to infrared light. Each exposure takes 1 to 2 seconds with the IR-only filter on. My EOS 10D, which was released 2 years later, takes a good 30 seconds to gather enough infrared light through the filter to make a decent exposure.

Priest Point Park IR

Priest Point Park IR

One of these days, I’ll get an EOS T3 or a Powershot G1X and convert it for infrared. That would be a major boost in image quality. It would also be much easier to get handheld shots. The G3 needs to be on a tripod for every shot.

Driveway IR

Driveway IR

Port of Olympia

This last week one day after work I drove to the State Capitol and the Port of Olympia to experiment with taking side-by-side image series for stitching together as a panoramic in the computer.  But since I was at the marina just as the sun set, and I had the tripod all set up, I did a couple 2 second exposures at f/16.

Olympia Marina

Olympia Marina

 

I edited these shots in Lightroom and used NIK Color Efex Pro 4 to get a little extra punch. I had issues with these kinds of photos in Aperture, because my camera is an EOS 7D, and while it’s capable of capturing stunning images, it has an APS-C cropped sensor.  The sensor is only about 1/3 the size of an EOS 5D or other full-frame sensor camera. This has advantages and disadvantages, but one of the disadvantages is that it’s easier to get noisy images. 1/3 the sensor size collects 1/3 the light from the lens. And the individual little photo receptors that collect the light must be smaller too and not as sensitive.

So when you start pushing shadows up and doing more than minor image adjustments, you can make the digital noise really pop out. Fortunately, Lightroom has much better tools for sharpening and noise reduction in the “Detail” panel. But I’m also learning not to cross the line with extreme adjustments that can enhance or generate noise.

Olympia Dock

Olympia Dock

 

 

 

 

Panoramic Images from Multiple Shots

If you’ve purchased a Canon camera in the last ten years (and maybe even earlier), you might have noticed the PhotoStitch software included on the CD of companion software which comes with the camera. I decided, after owning Canon compact and SLR cameras for more than 20 years, maybe I should give it a try.

Now, normally, the free software Canon provides works fine, although I much prefer Aperture or Lightroom to Canon’s Digital Photo Professional RAW converter software.  Doing a little research online, it looks like there are some pretty fancy and expensive panoramic photography software apps out there. I’m sure many of them do a better job and have more options, but I decided for a first attempt to just try what Canon put on my EOS 7D CD-ROM.

Washington State Capital

Washington State Capital

Anybody who is into architectural photography will notice some problems right away.  The building on the left is sinking into the ground at the far end. The capital building is leaning back like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is what happens when you turn a 17mm lens on it’s side, tilt it up to take in the tops of the buildings, and shoot 7 exposures across the scene.  I just checked, and I actually set the lens at 24mm. Still, merged shots that each suffer from barrel distortion can create this kind of result.

It was pretty effortless to import the images into PhotoStitch and combine them.  But there don’t seem to be options for correcting the distortion problems I had.  I’m sure other software solutions out there do a much better job.

When I go out for a second attempt at panoramic series, there are some things I’ll keep in mind. First, keeping a wide-angle lens pointed straight (not tilted up or down) will help control the distortion. Second, try getting farther away and using a more telephoto focal length.  Third, I think I overlapped my shots far more than I needed to.

Port of Olympia

Port of Olympia

This photo was a series of 5 images shot vertically at 27mm. Above the boat masts you can see the Capital building, which is in the first photo of this post.  I think this photo exhibits less distortion issues, probably because the lens was pointed straight out and not tilted up or down much.

Because the PhotoStitch software will not work with RAW images, I did some slight adjustments (the same for every image in the series to avoid seams showing up when photos are merged) before exporting them as JPEG files. The JPEGs could then be pulled into PhotoStitch and merged. Then I imported the merged, panoramic image into Lightroom for a bit more touch-up.

All in all, not bad for running downtown after getting off work on a weekday evening for a first attempt. And I think I learned some things.  At the very least, now I know what that PhotoStitch software does!