Here we have two photos taken with the same lens (Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L) and from the same spot.
WA State Capitol – Processed with Color Efex Pro 4
This photo was taken with my Canon EOS 6D, processed in Lightroom and finished in NIK Color Efex Pro 4. I use NIK plugins when I get as good as my current skills allow in Lightroom, but still want something more.
WA State Capitol – Processed in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2
This photo was taken with my infrared converted Canon EOS 10D. I started out in Lightroom for basic adjustments and sharpening, then finished things in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.
It’s amazing what happens to foliage and skies with infrared. I get my best infrared photos when the sun is high and I am shooting away from it. During the fall season in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the sun begins to cross the southern sky at a lower angle. In this shot it was blasting the scene head on from behind me as I faced north.
On of the reasons infrared photography is great, is that the best light and the best time to shoot IR is noon. Normal photographs look flat and two dimensional in the harsh light of midday. But infrared really shines during this time because there is more contrast, due to blazing foliage and dark skies and water.
Bridge Lamp Post – infrared
However, I think what I’m seeing tells me that infrared light leaks into shadows much more than visible light. Normally, when you shoot into dark shadows, things get darker. But when I shoot infrared into shadows or in shade, it gets very over-exposed. This tells me the camera’s meter is reading visible light, which is considerably dimmer than the IR light in the scene. So somehow, infrared light moves into shade and shadows more than visible light.
Giant Trunks – Infrared
The problem with infrared is that the camera sensor captures a relatively low contrast image to begin with. So shooting in the shade just makes that issue worse. This means I have to add extra contrast while post processing, while watching the shadows to make sure I don’t loose too much detail. Some of the highlights will blow out. I just have to make sure it doesn’t start looking odd.
Fall Bridge – Infrared
When you do black and white photography, you switch from thinking about how colors affect the photo, and start looking at tones and textures. You need contrast to make the elements of the photo stand out and look sharper. But too much contrast causes detail to be lost in the shadows and highlights, so there’s a balance, and you don’t want to overdo it.
Fall Bridge #2 – Infrared
Because so much infrared light gets into shadows and the shade, where visible light fades more quickly, I have to constantly rely on the histogram to tell me if I got a good exposure, and then tweak exposure compensation by one or two stops. Usually I have to underexpose in the shade, which is counter intuitive. I’ve settled into a pattern now:
- Shoot test shot
- Check histogram
- Dial in exposure compensation
- Check histogram again