Infrared with a Nikon D810

I’ve done some infrared photography using a filter (not a dedicated camera), with my old Nikon D70.  Its an excellent camera for this kind of infrared, but its old and unreliable.  Its giving me all sorts of error messages.  It also doesn’t produce the biggest bestest files, like my Nikon D810.  So, while I’ve read that the 810 isn’t recommended using the infrared filter, I tried it yesterday anyways in preparation for a shoot this next week where I’d like to do some infrared. I found it can produce interesting results.  While not as distinctive as the D70, because you don’t get the super white leaves and black skies, it still does do something that enhances a normal black and white of the same scene.  This image of my backyard is a good case in point.  The original unprocessed IR image is shown, as is the final processed version.  Click to enlarge images.

Processed File

The processing was done as follows.  Better results would probably have happened with a raw file, but since this was just an experiment I used a jpg file.

All processing was done in Photoshop and Camera Raw, and followed what I normally would do with my D70 images.

  1. in Photoshop, used Image/autotone
  2. In Camara raw I set auto white balance, then using the HSL sliders, desaturated the purples and magentas, and increased saturation in the reds
  3. Back in Photoshop I swapped the blue and red channels in the channel mixer.  That didn’t do what I wanted or normally get with the D70 images so I used the B&W IR preset, which seemed to do the trick.
  4. I then when to Nik Color Effects and added a slight tonal contrast filter, and then glamour glow.  IR images frequently have a nice glow to them, so I thought this did approximate that.
  5. Finally back in photoshop I did some selective dodging and burning.

 

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Turning on the Lights

Heres and interesting way to “turn on the lights” in the city when its still too early for them to come on.  Take two photos.  The first image you capture earlier as the sun sets to get the pretty color in the sky.  When you do this it is very likely that the city lights haven’t all come on yet, so you get a nice sky and visible foreground, but no lights.  Leave your camera alone on the tripod for 20-30 minutes and allow the scene to get darker and the lights in the city to come on, then take another picture of those lights.  Now you have a great shot of the lights, but you’ve lost the color in the sky.  Now bring both pictures into Photoshop as layers.  It doesn’t really matter which picture is the top layer, either the darker of lighter one.  Change the “Blend mode” of the top picture to “Lighten”…Bang!  The lights come on in the city.  Now you have a nice sky AND city lights, and everything is right with the world again. 

(click the images to enlarge)

Picture #1:Sunset with no city lights
Picture #2: After dark with city lights, but no sky color
The two images blended so the lights come on in the city

 

 

 

 

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Multiple Exposures

I tried something new (for me) on this shot.  I set my Nikon D810 to  a two second delay (tripod), to then to multiple exposure mode…10 exposures.  The idea was to simulate what I’d get by using an ND filter to blur the water.  I thought the effect was interesting.  I didn’t get the same sort of blur I’d get with an ND filter, but rather more texture in the water…almost “bumpy”.  The image was processed with NIK software to improve contrast (Pro Contrast filter), and add a Sunlight filter effect.  Buy the way, the river really was yellow against the white snow due to minerals in the water.  Click to enlarge.

Story Telling

What is that special quality in an image that makes the viewer look more than once? Why is it that some images demand more attention, while others don’t.  Both may be beautiful, visually.  Both may have an interesting subject, but the image that stands out goes beyond all that; it makes you feel something.  It tells you a story about the subject.  That story may or may not be exactly as intended by the photographer, but it’s there.  

Whether we know it or not, if we work at our craft long enough, and take it seriously, we usually end up developing a certain “style” and set of favorite subjects. Certain subjects capture our  imagination.  We frame them in a certain way, and we process them in certain ways.  What drives us is that inner need to tell the subject’s story, and tell our own story though that capture. We want to convey that feeling that drew us to take the image.  When we get back home and begin processing the image we recrop, lighten and darken, and do our best to bring out that story. 

Excellence in photography comes from being self-aware enough to understand this process of story telling.  Think about your best images.  What do they say? When you stop to capture an image, what is it about that subject that made you look? How can you capture that aspect of the image? When you process the image, what can you do to help the viewer see and feel what you saw and felt? To  do less than that is to take “snapshots”; brainless, thoughtless, images with no feeling…no story.

Try this exercise.  When you post and share your images, give them a name; not a name describing the subject, a name describing the story.  Instead of naming a scene “Yosemite Valley”, name it something like “Where the earth meets the sky”.  I know for myself, I love landscapes and have great awe and respect for nature’s majesty and power.  I strive to have my images convey this quality.  Give it a try…name your images. 

I Wish I’d Remember to Take More Street Scenes

I like Black and White images, especially street scenes with people.  Too often when I travel I, like a lot of tourists, get so caught up in the beauty and novelty of what I am seeing that I forget to just take some regular street scenes that capture the essence of the place. These types of images make great black and white conversions for some reason (in my opinion, at least).  These came from by recent trip to Europe.

The way I like to process most of my B&W images is to 1) Make them as good as I can in Lightroom, 2) bring them into Photoshop and run them through the Nik Color Effects Filter, applying either Detail Extractor, or Tonal Contrast…at this point the image doesn’t look real good in color, but I think the next step brings it back…3) Then I will Use Image/Adjustments/B&W in Photoshop.  This gives me great control of the image because of the color sliders.  Sometimes I’ll use Nik’s Silver Effect.  4) finally I will (sometimes) slightly reduce the opacity of the B&W layer to bring just a hint of the original color back into play. The heavy processing will frequently produce a noisy image  in B&W that doesn’t hurt as badly as in color, but for noise reduction I like Nik Define

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iPad/iPhone Photo Editing

I’ve spent days editing pictures on my desktop after a recent trip. I love doing that. Tonight I’m just fooling around on my IPad with a couple of new apps I picked up when I read a FB post by Dewitt Jones…I blame him for the multitude of editing apps I’ve collected. Here is the final image out of Photoshop, then two versions of that same image run through, first Brushstroke, then Distressed FX.  These apps can be a lot of fun.

Another image taken in Rothenburg and edited with Brushstroke.

Why we Post Process

From lousy weather, scaffolding, and dissappointment to something worthwhile.  I travel a lot and enjoy taking pictures on the road.  I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the perfect time of day, or weather, and it seems a standard joke that every time I get to some landmark location, there is almost certainly going to be scaffolding around my target.  I take pictures anyways, and try to turn those dogs into something at home.  This is a good example.

I was in Munich, Germany recently, and decided to get up early to beat the crowds.  I made my way out to the Marienplatz on a dull looking morning, hoping for the best….didn’t get it.  Scaffolding in front of the building, and some patches of blue peaking out around the clouds.  The plaza was a little smaller than I remembered, and my wide angle lense (10-24, on a cropped sensor Nikon D7000), couldn’t capture the entire building without tilting the camera up considerably. As I said…take the picture anyways.  I bracketed a number of shots to combate, what was now a bright sky behind the dark towers. The “before” image is one of those brackets, and illustrates well the leaning back building, due tot he camera tilt.

Considerable post processing, corrected the leaning building, worked the dynamic range issue, and got rid of the scaffolding.  In order to fix the front main entry, partially hidden by scaffolding, I had to take a separate picture of it, and blend it into the final image,  the hidden arches were copied from those on the right side, flipped horizontally, and paste/blended.

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I’m including a few more heavily edited before-and-afters. I make no excuses for the heavy edits. I’m not a professional, don’t have someone paying me to stay and wait for the perfect moment. I get what I get, while I’m there. I do make an effort to get out early before crowds, or if I can, stay through the golden hour. Even with that, on occasion, such as the picture I took at 6am in a Munich square…the day way drizzly, and it must have been garbage day, since there were garbage containers everywhere!

Garbage day on the platz.. I straightened, removed the cans, and made the street look wet, as it was when I was there. Ok, I also turned on the street light, and made the window lights brighter. Getting rid of the cans here was actually tough. 

People will always stand around…don’t blame them really, so this was all I could do. At times there were entire tour groups standing in front of me. I waited, and waited…and waited, then removed the stragglers in post. I did add a little sun beam coming from the top right…subtle, I didn’t want it to look ridiculous.