Play Day With The E-PL1 & 695nm Filter

Refilling The Creative Juices (But Still A Lesson!)

Shrimp Boat Side Detail, Faux Color IR 695nm 1/250s exposure

Today was a play day for me. I have been working hard at teaching the past 2 weekends and  had ignored my own creative impulses, I really needed to get out with my camera and explore. I chose to photograph Shrimp Boats and decided to go with a lower frequency (695nm B+W 092) filter.  It has been quite a while since I went low! I had a lot of fun and came back with quite a few good images, but ONE SPECTACULAR image. What more could you ask for?

Setup for today with the new filter was White Balance and Exposure Considerations  due to a dark filter. After White Balancing the camera by pointing it at some GREEN grass and pushing the WB button then taking a picture (easy on the E-PL1!) I was ready to go. I am going to make my next couple of posts here on the importance and steps in making a good white balance in your Infrared camera.

Shrimp Boat Side Detail, B&W 695nm, 1/250s exposure

Today I was looking specifically at generating B&W Infrared images but as in ALL THINGS INFRARED, you always Faux Process at the same time.  You just never know what you are going to get!  Remember that…. ALWAYS process your Infrared images in both FAUX (first) and B&W (second). Sometimes it will not work out one way or another, but you will always be surprised when it does! Looking at the two images shown on the left and right you can see the difference between the Faux and B&W processing.  For me, the Faux is a better image, I like the green of the nets and the blue sky with everything else in B&W. BUT, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and there are those who will likely enjoy the B&W image better.  This was one image that worked both ways!

School Bus Boat, Sandy Island, 695nm 1/80s, 15mm lens

School Bus Boat, Sandy Island, 695nm 1/80s, 15mm lens

OK, back to today. I knew that when using a lower frequency filter (you cannot see through them) that I would take a sensitivity hit.  You remember the FF number beside the filter data in the IR Filters tab above?  Well FF stands for Filter Factor.  The higher the number means less light going through the filter to reach your film or sensor.

What this really means is that you will require a longer shutter speed or small aperture number (remember, with a smaller aperture, you have less depth of field or DOF.  So if I need a large DOF (area of sharp focus in front of and behind your focus point) then I need a larger aperture number which equates to a smaller hole through the lens. This in turn will force you to use a longer shutter speed to allow more light to overcome the loss from the filter. This sounds complicated, but it really is not!  So, it is time to get out the tripod!  You do have a tripod, right? By using a tripod to hold the camera steady I can now take images with a longer shutter speed and unless the subject is moving I can expect a sharp image.  How long is long enough to require a tripod?  Well the general rule is to take the length of your lens in MM and put a 1 over it for your shutter speed until you get to 1/60s (then you really cannot hand hold the camera and expect sharp images!) So for a 150mm lens you should not go below 1/150s without a tripod.  Today my average shutter speed was about 1/80s with a 14mm lens (camera generated).  Yes I could have held the camera and expected reasonably sharp images but I was after VERY SHARP images so I used a tripod.

As long as you can remember the basic rules of Exposure Physics then you will get good, sharp images that are perfectly exposed! The key here is to look at your subject before hand and think to yourself “how do I want this image to look?“.  You then make it happen by taking control of your camera away from the Japanese engineer  who programed its computer and artistically set the camera up for the proper exposure with the necessary DOF desired! (I have just given you the BIGGEST secret to successful photography!)  Easy, well it will be after you learn the rules of exposure, but that is another lesson!

Shrimp Boat Closeup, 695nm B&W Processing, 1/250s Exposure

Above is the final shot that I am going to share in this short post that turned long! I moved further up the hull of the boat towards the bow and recomposed looking for a different vantage and feel of the subject.  The sky had turned dark off in the distance and I found the shot that I was looking for all day long. I was trying to capture the feel of the working boat out in the ocean with the crew.  The boots, rust and dirt generated an emotional attachment for me of the scene.  I was hooked, drawn in.  I worked this angle for a long time. Getting the exposure and DOF perfect. I wanted to see detail from the very back of the boat in the frame all the way to the stormy clouds off in the distance.  I selected a small aperture (Large Number) to maximize the DOF, increased the ISO from 100 to 400 to assist in lengthening the shutter speed to where I could hand hold the camera (floating dock, floating boat, LOTS OF MOVEMENT).  Post Processing proved that a FAUX image was NOT going to work here (remember my initial aim was for a stunning B&W). The image is just a detail shot of a small part of the overall boat. The sun was high and behind the starboard (right) side of the boat and if I moved back to get the entire boat it would blow the dynamic range beyond the capability of the camera plus generate lots of lens flair. I feel that the detail shot is actually better than one of the entire boat. It moves you (the viewer) closer to the subject and allows you to become one with it!

What do you think?


4 comments on “Play Day With The E-PL1 & 695nm Filter

  1. Hello Mark,

    I just found your work on infrared. You have a very interesting view on the subject, specially on the creative use of unusual filters.
    I have dabbled in infrared for a long time, I use a Canon 350D full spectrum, a Canon 500D 720nm, a Fuji IS, and I allways have a Rollei 400 infrared or an Efke Aura loaded in one of the old cameras.
    You can have a look at my gallery on pbase and we could have a chat about our views on the subject.
    Sorry for the english, I’m french.


    • Bernard, thanks for taking to time to comment! You sound a lot like me. I have about 20 rolls of Rolli 400 here in the studio that I use in an XPan! I love Infrared and spend most of my time with it! I WILL take the time to check our your work.

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