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Posts from the ‘Technical Problems’ Category

Working with Color Infrared

This is a technical post, which I never do, so apologies in advance.  I’m actually fairly enthusiastic about some recent developments that I wanted to share.  I have never enjoyed my only rather mundane efforts with color infrared images.  They never looked right to me, only somewhat “cooked” in digital photo parlance.  As such, I typically convert them to black and white and sometimes am pleased with the results.  I”ve been working with a new process for the past several months, and actually published a few results on my previous Earth Day blog.  I have continued to experiment and been relatively happy with the results so I thought it might be useful to share a few details.

The story begins with an e-mail from Kolarivision (my new Infrared camera conversion company with which I am quite pleased) regarding a course they were recommending.  Perhaps bored at the time, I thought I’d give it a try.   The name of the course is Creative Light and Infrared.  You can find out the details about the course here.    I’ll stress up front that I am not a paid endorser for this group, F64 Academy, have never met them, nor talked with them, ever.

The course offers an in-depth exploration of the digital infrared post production process, along with several  accompanying and quite useful tools.  If you’ve done any infrared photography, you know that there are a few significant challenges you face in post production, particularly with color.  The biggest one is that the white balance setting you use in the camera likely won’t hold once you bring an image into your average photo editing program.  It goes all red or at least mostly so.  Worse yet, most photo editing programs don’t have enough range in their white balance settings to be able to fix the problem.  Second, if you’re interested in color infrared images it can be most helpful to effect a “channel swap”, coverting the red channel to blue and the blue channel to red.  I’ve known that for years, but like many photographers was never, ever satisfied with the results.  Adding insult to injury, if you get an image to actually work for you, it is hard to replicate it.

The course walks you through the process of creating a Lightroom/Camera Raw profile that you can apply to your images and effect a nice looking white balance.  In addition, the course provides a set of LUTS that layer on top of the correctly balanced image that will offer you various different channel swapped looks, including looks that are fairly photorealistic. Finally, the course ships with an extensive panel of actions for use inside photoshop, as well as detailed instructions for their use.

So enough with the jargon.  These are from my work with mills in the Blackstone River Valley of Central Massachusetts.  The first two are of the Bernat Mill in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.  The mill burned in 2007.  The last is from the Wilkinsonville Mill in Sutton, Massachusetts.  Wilkinson was an associate of Samual Slater, the first builder of mills in the Blackstone Valley.Hunt_190509__DSC0572-Edit-2Hunt_190509__DSC0576-Edit_DSC0802-Edit-2

This is still a work in process as you can see, but my interest hasn’t flagged so far.  One of the most interesting aspects of photographic work is the almost never ending opportunities for learning that you can stumble across.  Courses like this aren’t cheap, and some are duds.  This one was helpful.  Of course, YMMV.


Misty Manteo and a Lightroom 4 Warning

Hanging around Manteo, North Carolina, on the Outerbanks, courtesy of  Al, Donna, Chester and Maya.  Very relaxing and wonderful (thanks!) but the light has been a struggle.  The vegetation is popping here, too early as it is in many other parts of the U.S.  However, you wouldn’t have known in this morning.  The ocean of course brings with it humidity, stark contrasts between hot and cold, and fog.  It looked like it was clearing around 9, so I thought I’d try some infrared shoots, going for a different look in an area that has been photographed, a lot!  Infrared though, at its best requires sun, shadows and chlorophyll.  In the absence of those elements, things can get tough.  Nevertheless, the marsh and the sea tried to be helpful, as did a passing boat.

Design elements, shapes and leading lines are still visible.  The Causeway Bridge and the NC State boat ramp near by also helped out.

And some more relaxed ducks.

We will continue to be vigilant, for other opportunities as they arise.

Incidently, in the image above, “One of these things is not like the other” (with apologies to Sesame Street).  Can you spot it?

Tech note and tech word of warning:  Images captured with an infrared converted Nikon D200, converted to black and white in Lightroom 4, and tweaked with George De Wolfe’s PercepTool, which is a very powerful set of Photoshop actions that I highly recommend.

Now for the tech word of warning!  I am a huge fan of Lightroom, and Lightroom 4 looks great to me, so far, with one rather substantial exception.  This is technical, but I’ll try to make it brief.  Those of you who use Lightroom know that you can easily send an image into Photoshop for pixel level work, etc.  Up to this time, that image was then rendered in Photoshop quite nicely using whatever tonal changes you made in Lightroom.  In other words, where you started in Photoshop reflected exactly where you left off in Lightroom.  That is not the case using Lightroom 4 at this time. If you send your image into Photoshop CS5, you will find that the images does not look like it did in Lightroom 4.  This is a major problem and my perusal of the various Adobe internet fora suggests to me that Adobe is on the case.   However, the problem has not yet been fixed.  What to do?  When you hit control or command E to send your Lightroom 4 image into Photoshop, you will get a warning dialogue box saying that because ACR 7 is not installed, you must choose between several options before you go into Photoshop.  One of those, thankfully is, “Render using Lightroom Adjustments” or words to that effect.  That’s the right answer.  If you are like me, and blythely turned that warning dialogue box off, you can go to Lightroom preferences and look for an icon that allows you to “reset all warning dialogue boxes” or words to that effect.  It’s always something when it comes to software isn’t!  And don’t even get me started on Nikon Capture NX2 and Nikon software support.  I would not recommend that one two punch to my worst enemy.  Nikon makes great cameras, but their software is problematic and their technical support for software is poor, at best.