I’ve been reading a lot lately about Monochrome converted DSLR’s and since I love photographing in B/W, the thought of purchasing a used camera for conversion has been teasing my mind. Since I already have a higher end DSLR that produces excellent monochrome when processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, not to mention a full spectrum converted Mirror-less for monochrome infrared photography, I am struggling with the thought of paying out a few thousand dollors for another camera.
Though I know I would love to shoot in Black and White again, just like the film days, I decided to try the next best thing – software that emulates film. Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro.
Other than the vocabulary, I find working in Silver Efex Pro to be very intuitive much like working in the darkroom. I don’t really care for the preset effects but find the selection of film styles to be very similar to what I had worked with pre-digital. Everything from various Agfa to Kodak films. When I shot film I usually preferred the Ilford Delta series but found I do like the TMAX and Tri-X emulation this software provides. One can set the film style of choice, adjust grain and then proceed with normal darkroom techniques.
The selective point allows adjusting brightness, contrast and detail to a given area. This is where I wish it actually used the vocabulary of dodge and burn but the results are similar. One can also do these adjustments to the image as a whole as well as fine tune highlight and shadow while bringing in detail (structure in the vocabulary.)
What I enjoyed most was the loupe view which has the zone system overlaid so one can see how much of the photo falls into each zone from no detail white to pure black.
And to top it off there is a finalization series to bring the image to full print characteristics. Everything from tones, edge burns, and even custom negative carrier edges.
Here is a before and after, the original was shot on a converted camera with an 850IR filter. The second is the same photo run through Silver Efex Pro. Click to enlarge for viewing differences.
I was originally only interested in the Silver Efex but it comes as part of a complete download in the Nik Collection. I couldn’t help put experiment with the Analog Efex while I was at it. Great fun for creating that 60’s snapshot effect. Another before and after, bland photo turned into vintage.
Best part is Google is offering this software for free now and it plugs right into PS as a filter. It just might curb my desire for that monochrome DSLR.
I’ve really been enjoying working in digital IR this last year and have been doing a few Infrared Filter Comparisons to see which effect I prefer the most. I have attached a test subject of a tree stump in the desert shot with R72, #87 & IR850(87c) at the end for comparison. Continue reading →
As I’ve mentioned on my macros page, I’m not a macro photography purist.
I don’t focus on achieving a 1:1 life-size ratio when photographing a subject.
I do prefer using dedicated macro lenses (at least close focus) or macro techniques while doing close focus work as I find there is less distortion than with wide angle lenses.
I also enjoy trying anything that will spur my creativity.
This last winter, I was reading a website on extreme macro photography lens stacking and came across an article about using the Pentax M200/4 as a barrel lens for micro-photograpy work. Extreme-Macro is a fantastic site for studying anything to do with close focus work. There is a wealth of information ranging from techniques to lenses, lighting or magnification calculations.
The page I stumbled upon mentioned the Pentax M200/4 as a wonderful lens to couple with a microscope objective for extreme work.
As I have an old M200 that doesn’t get used in this digital age, I decided to pull it out and see what I might be able to do with what I already had on hand or at least low cost investment.
A 52mm-52mm coupling ring, a 52mm-40.5mm step-down ring (which I did have to buy) and my old Rodagon 105/5.6 enlarging lens reverse mounted.
I must admit here that I am often lazy about using a tripod unless doing night shots and still prefer using an optical viewfinder over the rear lcd so achieving and maintaining focus with any depth of field would be a challenge.
I was surprised at how easy this combination was to hand hold and still achieve nice photos with a magnification of approx. 1.9:1.
Also, it was a fantastic pleasure to view something larger than life and try to see it in an artistic style.
Next I tried a reverse mount combination of the M200 with a Sigma 24/2.8 for a magnification ratio of approx. 8.3:1.
The added weight of the Sigma made it much harder to handhold but still produced nice results, though even at f16 the depth of field is very shallow.
This will take a lot more practice to get the my creative sight going.
I have been enjoying this new artistic view of the world so much that I just purchased an old EL-Nikkor 50/2.8 enlarging lens to use in the field (don’t want to take my Rodenstock out into the elements)
and am now on the hunt for an infinity focus objective plus adapter.
Recently I picked up a NIB Tiffen #87 Infrared filter to see if I would enjoy working more with the shorter IR wavelengths (to produce a truer Black and White image) or if I wanted to stay with the 720 and under filters to achieve some color from visible light.
I have always preferred viewing B&W photos and movies to color and when I hold an image in my mind it is almost always in B&W.
The 87 comes in around 795 or just at the baseline of the IR spectrum. Not quite as black as the 093 (830) or 87c (850) but still dark to the human eye.
I do like the contrasty effect the monochrome images have over the false color, though it is difficult to achieve focus.
The majority of my favorite lenses are still manual focus, so I will just have to practice more.
If you can find this filter it is made of glass with a metal ring and well constructed, plus it comes in at about 1/2 the price of other name brands.
I find the images comparable to the Lee 87 film filters for those who already have a holder system.
I did notice under the right light and white balance there were a few shots that did have a hint of blue sky after an attempt at color swapping.
I remember trying Infrared Photography a few times in my film days and found it difficult and challenging.
It always seemed I was guessing the exposure time and the focus, trying to approximate the red line on the lens distance scale.
Winter Farm IR
Recently, I acquired a Pentax K-01 and had it converted to a full spectrum camera. Unlike film, digital sensors are sensitive to all light waves (UV, visible bands and IR) so most cameras use a hot-mirror to block the infrared bands and pass only visible light.
Winter Mules IR 1
Most conversions replace this hot-mirror and replace it with an IR based filter for a full time conversion, usually in the 720nm range. With the full spectrum conversion the mirror is removed and the IR filter is placed over the lens, much like the film days; however, unlike the film days I can see the image in live view just as if I was looking through a viewfinder.
Winter Mules IR 2
Apparently the new mirror-less systems make fantastic digital infrared cameras. They automatically set accurate exposure and the focus can be determined manually via live view or calibrated for auto focus. Another wonderful aspect of the K-01 is that it will take all my older Pentax K mount lenses.
Winter Tree IR
I now need to experiment with several to determine which will be good performers or or which will be susceptible to flares and hotspots. Infrared is often most noted for its use with contrast or faux colors with vegetation.
Faux Color IR Canal
Here are a few shots from the winter local scenery, a bit different but fun. I look forward to working with the camera as the spring green comes around.
Been busy with work and dealing with the cold weather so haven’t been able to do much in photography this month.
I did get enough time to take the older Lensbaby optics out and play with them a bit on the Pentax k-1.
Very different using the double glass and single glass instead of the newer Edge or Sweet models but found them very enjoyable to work with. Fun to have to think about the aperture one wants first and then install the disk as opposed to setting the aperture in the lens.
I did get lucky one day and had an Egret land in the artisian well I was working around using the double glass.
This place is amazing. It contains vintage automobiles in pristine and restored condition from the Harrah’s collection.
Era’s start with the early horseless carriages and vehicles built for commercial and race uses to the mid 1960’s. The history behind many of these vehicle is fascinating in itself but the architecture and art in their designs is beautiful.
Highly recommend this place for a visit. Entrance is in and out for the day and seldom more than a half dozen visitors at a time. Allows plenty of time to read, view and photograph this impressive collection.
Spending time this month reading about lenses and the Pentax K-1.
I find Pentax Forums a very nice resource for all sorts of material, lenses, cameras, flash, techniques – and not necessarily related to solely Pentax.
Easy to research articles and always someone willing to give a helpful reply.
Shots taken this month with the Pentax K-1 and various lenses or optics.
Lately I’ve been examining the color cast created by the ND filters I own.
I have a beautiful Singh-Ray soft grad 0.9 that was given to me as a gift years ago and a set of Formatt Hitech 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 which I use primarily for strobe work.
Granted the Formatt’s are resin CR-39 instead of glass but they permit me to open my aperture for shallow DOF with the slow flash sync speed of the Pentax.
I have notice a small amount of magenta color cast while using them as such but never found it to be too overwhelming to clean out in post.
Formatt ND0.9 with Yongnuo IV Speedlight
On a shoot a couple of months back I tried to stack the Formatts to achieve a 7 stop ND effect.
Wow, was the color cast dense. So heavy I couldn’t pinpoint a spot with either LR or PS Raw to achieve a natural WB.
Looking on the web for ND color cast I came across a review for the Ice ND1000 by a fellow Pentaxian which showed minimal casting between the image shot and corrected.
When B&H listed the P series of $49.95, I decided to give it a try. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be out that much.
While I haven’t used it much, I’ve been pleased with the results so far. It is made of optical glass and feels much like my Singh-Ray in build quality, one to take care of for long life
Ice ND1000 + 1.3 stop circular polarizer
Spectator during the shoot 1.3 stop circular polarizer
Decided to try an experiment to see how my filters compared to each other for cast by brand.
I kept as many constants as possible: tripod, f8.0, ISO 100, 50mm focal length and WB set in camera to 5500k.
In LR the as shot WB showed as 5300 temp and -16 tint (slightly to the green) on all photos.
I chose the exact same point (mid grey rock) in each photo to achieve the WB correction and will list the difference with each photo. Continue reading →