Monday, June 1, 2009

And Now, Something Completely Different

Occasionally, ya just gotta play. Sometimes that playing takes a bit of forethought. Such is the case of the image that goes along with this post. You won't typically see a lot of trees with white foliage, but here we have a few. This image is a combination of a straight color shot and an infrared shot of the same scene.

If you read any of the articles on infrared digital photography they'll say you'll have to have your camera modified with the filter covering the sensor removed. With this type of modification you can take infrared shots fairly quickly and you have a dedicated "infrared camera". But, if you'll willing to take long exposes you can coax an infrared image out of a "typical" digital SLR. One of the big things you need is an almost opaque red filter. It's just about something you could use to watch welding going on. If you hold the filter up to your eye, you can't see through it. You have to take it as a matter of faith that light (some portion of the spectrum) will get through. Exposure for the setup used in the infrared piece of this image ( going for max Depth of Field, aperature setting - F22), with the light available on the day it was shot, run about 20 seconds. Having a bright sunny day is a definite help when trying this. The filter was put on with about one thread caught. A set of alternating shots were taken. One for the infrared, then, with the filter off, one for the "normal" color image. The color shots were taken at the meter read shutter speed.

Once the images are captured the post production starts. The infrared shots are tinted red (this can probably be avoided by setting the camera to monochrome setting). Converting the red image to straight B&W can be done in any of several different ways. If you've ever made a B&W out of a color shot you can do the same here. Once you have a good infrared B&W image you'd pair it up with the same image shot in color. Then it's a matter of using the blending modes in Adobe(r) Photoshop (tm) to make the combined image shown here.

With shutter speeds of 20 seconds for the infrared and 3 seconds for the color image, this isn't a casual, spur of the moment type of photography. You need to have an idea what you're looking for in the final image before you click the shutter. It's a style of photography, it's not for everyone, but there are photographers around who do it as a "signature" style. To the rest of us it's something to explore, to get a taste of and move on. It is fun and worth playing with.