MAY 2011 IMAGE OF THE MONTH - FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY
MAY 2011 IMAGE OF THE MONTH - "FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY"
The Three Sisters and Broken Top stand out below the skies of an approaching storm over these Central Oregon sentinels along the Cascade Mountain range. Originally named by Oregon Trail Pioneers as Faith, Hope and Charity they later became known as simply....The Three Sisters and are often referred to, individually, as North, Middle and South Sisters.
MAY 2011 - IMAGE OF THE MONTH OVERVIEW
FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY is one of my newest images in my growing portfolio of B&W INFRARED images. I have been shooting B&W Infrared for about 4 years now, initially starting out with a Nikon D-70 that I purchased specifically to have it converted to Infrared. After a lot of trial and error I began to learn when and where it would really pay off.
One of the real benefits, for a traditional Landscape shooter like me, is I can pour myself into an early morning shoot, working with that golden hour of beautiful light and then do the same thing again in the evening, again working with the fading light of day. But what about that horrid 10am to 3pm time of day? That's the time of day that a lot of photographers take a little siesta, go metal detecting, read a good book, visit or scout new locations or what ever makes your socks go up and down. But it's a pretty good bet their not shooting much at high noon.
Well, for me, making the jump to IR has really changed all that, and in a big way! It turns out that the dreaded 10 to 3 time slot is, in most cases, the absolute best time of day to shoot IR. So now I can spend an entire day shooting and never, or so it seems, run out of great light, subjects and some really good surprises along the way.
HERE ARE SOME FACTOIDS ABOUT B&W IR PHOTOGRAPHY: Did you know that every digital camera manufactured has the capability of recording the IR spectrum of light in addition to the visible spectrum that we see every day? During the manufacture of every digital camera an Infrared (IR) Blocking Filter (High Pass Filter) is installed over the cameras sensor to block out the IR spectrum light waves so the camera will record what we are used to seeing.
In infrared photography, the image sensor is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the light spectrum used is referred to as the "Near-Infrared" spectrum, to distinguish it from the "Far-Infrared" spectrum which is the domain of thermal imaging....ie: heat. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700nm to about 900nm. When an "Infrared Filter" is installed over your cameras sensor; this lets infrared light pass through to the sensor, but blocks all or most of the visible light spectrum. Different IR filters are available with varying effects depending which style of IR photography you most enjoy shooting.
There are several companies in the US that do custom conversions on a wide variety of cameras. To date I have had three DSLR's converted by Life Pixel in the Seattle area. The cost usually runs between $300 and $500 and takes a couple of weeks to get your camera back. They open up your camera, replace the sensor filter with your IR filter of choice *(see the Life Pixel web site to view the options available), calibrate the focus for your lens of choice and send it back all ready to go. They also have a DVD that is inexpensively priced that walks you through the set up and custom color balance needed to make the whole system work the way you expect.
In Black and White IR......What can you expect to see???
Well, B&W IR sees blues as black. That's why the blue skies are always so darn dark. It sees Whites and Grays as White and Grey. No real changes there but wait until you include some foliage or plant life in your image. IR sees photosynthetic Plant Life as White ! That's why trees go white in those outstanding scenes with the old gnarly tree with brilliant white leaves against a really dark sky. The brighter the sun is on the subject matter the more dramatic the effect. If you have cloud shadows or an over cast day stuff that would normally be white will be shades of gray to muddy gray.
That's why shooting with IR works so darn well between those normally non productive hours of 10 to 3 with a bald mid day sun. It can be heaven with IR in that kind of light. Now throw in a bunch of really cool clouds and it all starts coming together. IR can be perfect for those Grand Landscapes with BIG skies....kinda like Faith, Hope & Charity.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE ACTUAL SHOOT OF "F,H & C"
"F,H & C" was shot this Spring while driving along watching the sky begin to develop into an IR DREAM COME TRUE kinda scene. I found a pull off and set up to capture a great view of the 4 mountains with that great sky. It was a simple 4 shot pano. My camera was in the vertical perspective and I simply took my polarizer filter off, went to manual exposure and focus. Checked the four scenes for overlap and composition and shot away. The first four shot rotation provided me with the Histogram info I needed to fine tune my exposure and I was off and running. I shot 5 four shot pano's over about a half hour to simply provide me with some variety to the sky.
The final output was simply basic pano stitching with a fair amount of attention to some noise in the sky which I managed with a noise reduction software called "Define". With a little work on dodging and burning and a very subtle vignette around the Center of Interest and I was done.
I have made several 30x40 semi gloss prints of this image and the quality, detail and overall results have been absolutely outstanding.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the IR curtain. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to friends and family and I look forward to our next trip together in June.............Thanks Vern