Friday, September 3, 2010

A Infrared Walk Through

Much like I did with the church, I thought it might be nice to go through an infrared project and my work flow with it.  Note, the fun thing about this is that you can really make your own changes, and come up with something nice, but at least this will be how I go about it (and experiment to see what I will get).  You can follow these steps and get reasonable results (or deviate and use your own settings as I will point out to get results that really appeal to you).  I am picking a subject that has not been on the blog before, and one that I think I would stop early on (and not take to completion as the next to last step actually looks the best). 

The picture was taken during the more recent trip (with the family) to Mohonk Mt House.  With the girls at the spa, I was able to take the little guy up the mountain to the tower.  Though I got some nice pictures from up there, the best infrared picture was actually of the tower itself. 

Before we begin, a note about setup.  I used the Canon SX210 for this picture (it is the only one I have setup to do Infrared).  I use a HOYA Infrared (R72) filter attached to an Adorama camera/filter adapter (allows us of standard filters that are 52mm thread type).  The adapter holds the camera and the filter in front of it, and can be mounted onto tripod (and I use the larger DSLR sized gorilla flexible tripod as it is easy to carry and stable with all this weight).  For processing I am using Photoshop CS4.  With that out of the way, lets get started.  Remember clicking on a picture will bring up a larger version of the picture.

Here is the picture as captured by the camera.  Notice the red shift.  Seems most of the cameras I have tested with the filter seem to shift to the red (though all a bit differently).  With the Hoya R72, there is a little normal light that gets through (but very little, looks black to me when I look through it).  This little light seems to mess with the white balance and shift the color to red.  Note, I say this because of some research I have done, it appears that changing the white balance can change the image (and other cameras do shift differently).  However, I have not experimented with it, because in the end, this image is not what I want to show (yeah even though I posted it here).

So here is the image converted to black and white.  For this I do not do anything too fancy (I just de-saturate).  I do bump up the contrast and the sharpening (as it helps with the look).  This image is much better than the above, and did not require any real effort.  So normally I save off a copy of the black and white version (to have it for comparison etc) then undo this step (go back to the first image above as I want access to that little bit of color information).

Now I play with the coloring a bit (for this example I used the auto settings in Photoshop CS4 - to show how that works, you can change the results quite a bit by using the sliders and coming up with your own settings).  Step one is auto color.  That cleans it up quite a bit. Step 2 is auto tone.  That leaves the image above.  I like this image, I think the sky is really nice.  If I were going for an image to publish, I would probably stop here.  Instead of using the auto functions above, I would use the sliders and pull out a bit of the darker red (not in the sky, but tinting in the building). I might even select just the building and perform the next step.

So some people really like the sky to shift back to the blue.  Doing this is easy.  Just go into Adjustments - Channel mixer.  Once in that pop up, select the red output channel.  Set red to 0, and blue to 100%.  Then select the blue output channel.  Set the blue to 0 and the red to 100% (basically flopping the blue and red collors).  Doing that yields the picture above.  Note, using someting other than 100% can change the hue a bit (and it is good to experiment, I was using the normal full swap for illustration). 

So it is possible for relatively little money to get some very artsy options in your picture taking (really changes people as well as landscapes, I will continue to play with this).  So go ahead, point the TV remote at your camera (hit any button) and see if it lights up in the screen (if it is good an bright, your camera lets alot of infrared through and you are almost there).  Then purchase a simple filter and a way to attach it and you are good to go.  Note, this can be done with better results on a DSLR, but it is not as simple, nor as cheap, so I am holding off on it (your DSLR will be permanently converted, and not do regular pictures anymore).

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