Infrared Photography

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.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Pentax K-01, R72 IR Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Mules, Animal Photography, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Mules, Animal Photography, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Faux Color Photography, Faux Color, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

Pentax A50 f2.8 macro & K-1

Recently pulled out the old Pentax A50 f2.8 macro for a few shots of autumn leaves in the back yard.

This lens performs wonderfully on the new Pentax K-1. Though not a “true macro” with a reproduction of 1:2, I find the scale adequate and the IQ superb; plus it is such a joy to use.

I can see why vintage Pentax glass was noted for it’s quality, the colors are brilliant and the IQ is sharp for the area of focus. Bokeh is pleasantly pleasing also. This doesn’t seem to change on the new digital sensors either.

In fact, I find their performance is equal to or better than the newer digitally enhanced lenses.


ND Filter Color Cast Test

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.

Nevada - Montgomery Pass - Boundry Peak Motel - Boundry Peak - abandoned - abandoned motel - monochrome - historic locations - Formatt Hitech ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castFormatt 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

California - Bishop - Sculpture - White Mountain - historic locations - Ice ND Filter - Ice ND1000 - ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castIce ND1000 + 1.3 stop circular polarizer

California - Bishop - Horned Lizard - Horned Toad - animals on the decline - circular polarizer - ND Filter ReviewSpectator 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

Using ND Filters for Strobes and Speedlights

ND Filters, often used to slow exposure times can also achieve great effects with flash.

Being a loyal Pentaxian, one of the biggest limitations to my setup is the flash sync speed of 1/180.
I often wonder where Pentax came up with this exposure and why they hadn’t developed a higher sync speed of 200 or 250 like many of their competitors.
Then I remember my film days and cameras that only had a sync of 125 and realize that even a shutter of 800 is slow compared to the speed of flash.

Flash or strobe work is really the balance of two exposures simultaneously.
Background or intent – exposed with ambient light, controlled by shutter, ISO and aperture plus Subject – exposed by flash, controlled by ISO and aperture.
Shutter speeds don’t really come into play during the flash part of the exposure, as most flash units fire much faster than the top sync speeds in cameras today.

Often, I find the strength of my studio strobes and non-ttl speedlights powerful enough on their lowest settings, that even with a low ISO 100 and the fastest sync speed of 180
I must still use an aperture of f11 or f16 to keep the highlights from blowing out beyond recovery.
When I have my ideal exposure setting for the flash, these small lens openings often cause an undesired effect,
they create a greater depth of field, taking focus away from the subject. Continue reading

How the Digital Age destroyed Photographic Creativity

Don’t get me wrong, I love working is PS and have been enjoying learning new tricks in LR.
Also, it’s been over three years since I’ve even picked up any of my trusted film cameras.

Ghosttown - California - Eastern Sierra - museums - seiler house - lace curtains - lensbaby - sweet35 - selective focus - monochrome - Bodie - Bodie State Park
Selective & soft focus through the lens.

My passion for photography actually started in the darkroom and not behind the lens, so I’ve always been enamored by the tricks and techniques for post production.
The ease and speed of being able to burn/dodge, fine tune, stack, create multiple exposures or mask for precise detailed exposure; almost every software now provides these tools for the photographic enthusiast.
When I first started with a digital camera I thought instant preview (so long polaroid backs) and eliminating developing chemicals was the only real advantage over film.
Now so much more data is recorded at the same time & in the same place, it’s incredible. Shutter & f-stop, exposure, copyright info, location, even star tracking.
No more pocket notebook and tear sheets that I would misplace and desperately look for a month later.
The digital age has brought more of photography to the masses than anything since Kodak’s “a camera for every household.” Continue reading

Black & White for Digital Cameras at “Shooting the West”

At Shooting the West

I was fortunate enough to attend “Shooting the West Photography Symposium” again this year and take a workshop offered by Mark Citret on creating B&W utilizing Lightroom for global adjustments and then PS for individual or spot work.
In the past I usually thought about my subject in greyscale and then shot as I imagined the final to be in my mind. I would post process in greyscale, then burn or dodge in layers/curves to bring the grey tones into the zones I desired. Finally, I would import into LR for final adjustments of blacks, whites, shadows/highlights and for any toning or sharpening I wished to add.

Mark’s technique is exactly the opposite and one I find to be interesting (as well as useful) evolving from many of the simple practices we used with film. Continue reading


Last month, a fellow photographer hosted a nice discussion on her blog about post processing – do we do it, how much, personal reasons and some discussion of ethics. While I might wish to be a purist, it reminded me of how much fun I used to have in the darkroom, dodging, burning, measuring and masking to superimpose or just for finer exposure adjustment. So for June I gave myself the project of working on images that captured high detail in camera and required extensive post processing. Continue reading