Repost: Fuji X Pro 1 For Infrared, Part 1, Technical Details


Creating Emotional IR Images From Your Heart

This post was originally posted in my Fine Art Gallery BLOG at: http://markhilliardatelier.wordpress.com/

Using the Fuji X Pro 1 for Infrared

Infrared photography means so many things to me… It is more than a type of photography, rather a passion or better yet an addiction! I have a LOT of experience in Infrared, I have a book in work on it, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have practiced the art of creating emotionally charged Infrared images for longer than I can remember, even as long as 45 years ago with film.  Here, today, I will disscuss with you the technical details of using your Fuji X Pro 1 camera system to create these emotionally powerful images as well.

X Pro 1 Faux Color IR Image with only the channel swap

Understand this, you can create Infrared images several different ways:

  1. Film:  Rolli makes a great 720nm IR film in many different formats that with the addition of a 720nm filter on your lens will create great IR images at 100 ISO, and with no filter great B&W images at 400 ISO!
  2. Hoya R72

    Standard Digital COLOR Camera:  With the addition of a 720nm or 850nm IR filter on your camera lens your camera can capture Infrared images.  There is a tradeoff to this way though because each camera manufacturer places some sort of UV/IR blocking filter over the image sensor that allows only visible light to pass through.  Some of these filters are weaker than others and these cameras make for a system that will do well in Color and OK in Infrared with reasonable IR exposure times around a second or two.  Others have a strong filter allowing only a small amount of IR energy to pass.  These require VERY LONG exposure time in order to overcome this filter.  The Fuji X Pro 1 is one of the cameras with a weaker filter! This is exciting because it enables you to easily create IR images with an unmodified camera system!

  3. Converted Infrared Camera:  This type of system is the most popular by far.  There are 2 types:
    • Full Spectrum conversion: The internal UV/IR blocking filter is removed and replaced with a clear glass filter. You can then program the camera with an external IR filter in any range from UV to Color to Infrared!  This is the most adaptable IR system but costly because IR filters for your different lens sizes are expensive!
    • Dedicated Infrared Conversion:  This type has the internal UV/IR blocking filter removed and replaced with a specific IR pass filter and will create IR images in that band only.

What your camera sees!

So with regard for the Fuji X Pro 1 system we are going to discuss option #2, the standard color camera with an external IR filter attached to its lens.  But you ask: “What filter can I use?”. Well since we are not modifying the internal UV/IR blocking filter you must understand that the camera will pass normal visible colors as well as IR if the external filter allows it.  This is both good and bad!  If you were to install a 590nm IR filter on your lens the camera, it would see everything from 590nm up to 1000nm.  But because the internal UV/IR blocking filter allows much more visible light than IR through, it will poison the exposure metering system.  It is going to see the vast majority of the light as color (red) and expose for that rather than the IR portion.  So attempting to do this will cause very unreliable exposure and great frustration on the part of the photographer.

What we need is to attach an IR filter that blocks ALL of the visible light and only passes IR to the sensor!  So it is best to choose a 720nm IR pass filter to your lens like the Hoya R72 or a 800nm B&W IR only filter like the B+W 093.  The higher you go in nm the longer the exposure time will be…

Now, knowing that we are going to use the 720nm filter which will only pass IR energy from 720nm and up while blocking ALL of the visible light our metering system will now function as it should!

Considerations of problems that must be overcome within the X Pro 1 to get good IR images

  • Even though the Fuji X Pro 1 has a weak UV/IR blocking filter there is still one there.  Exposure time at a normal low noise ISO of 800 and below will still require an exposure time too long to hand hold and still get sharp images.  Most of mine were at 1/30s and longer.
  • Yes, the X Pro 1 works well at high ISO settings, but in IR the camera will still create noise in the dark areas of the image.
  • Fuji X Pro 1 with a custom WB right out of the camera. This is as close as you can get but will still generate a great image.

    White Balance is IMPORTANT when shooting in IR!  The X Pro 1 will NOT reliably do a custom white balance with the 720nm IR filter installed.  But it does have a manual Kelvin White Balance option, so when shooting IR you need to go to this sub menu in the WB settings and set it to 2500K.  I have talked to others doing this and have heard that they also take away green as well in the menu.  I personally think that this is unnecessary and by leaving the green neutral you will get more pleasing Faux Color images.  A properly white balanced image taken on your camera has s slight reddish cast, the sky should be bronze and the green leaves should have a monochromatic feel with a bluish cast. (more on this later) An improperly white balanced camera image will be pure dark red.  While you can still use this image in post processing the lack of a good white balance will throw off your exposure system. Read your camera manual on white balance and understand it!

  • Longer shutter speeds need a tripod to get sharp images!
  • Remote shutter cable to cut down on camera shake!
  • The Hoya R72 720nm IR filter will generate good Faux Color infrared images some of the time, but good B&W images all of the time.  Keep this in mind while shooting and plan to always explore both options in post processing!
  • Faux Color IR images require a channel swap in post processing.  ONLY the Photoshop family (CS through CS6) has this function built in!  Photoshop Elements has an optional plugin called Elements Plus that you can purchase to do this.  Lightroom and Aperture DO NOT have this function!

Ok, enough of this for now. Lets talk images…

 The Hoya R72 IR filter is almost black.  You can see very little through it but don’t worry, the camera can see through it just fine!  You can find these filters on Amazon for about $58.00 in 52mm.  There are a lot of other filter companies out there that make these, some good some not so good… I trust the Hoya!

Mount the filter on your lens, set the ISO to around 1000 and put the camera on a tripod.  Make sure that you have properly set the WB either as a custom on or as a Kelvin entry.  If you choose custom, the camera will require a lot of light to due this properly.  Use green grass to generate the custom white balance.

I like to use the optical viewfinder rather then the LCD or EVF for shooting in IR.  Choose and frame your subject carefully.  Hmm, a word about composition…

There are three items that can make IR images really powerful and full of emotional impact:

  • Sky with clouds!
  • Water reflections!
  • Green Leaves!

The more of these items you can get in your images the better they will be!  Here is an example…

Clouds, Water and Leaves! What more could you ask for? While not done on a X Pro 1, this image could just have well been so!

 As you can see, the sky, reflections and leaves create an emotionally packed, etherial image that draws your viewer into it!  Keep these three compositional elements in mind as you go forth and create your images!

Exposure Issues…

OK, last part of this post!  There are a few small exposure issues that you need to be aware of while doing IR work.  They are:

  • Red Channel over exposure: The RED channel will aways expose a stop or more higher than the blue and green.  After you have taken the image and see the preview on the LCD panel look at the histogram.  It only displays the combination monochrome histogram and if it is close to being overexposed you will get better results by dialing in -1ev exposure compensation and re-take the image.  This is due to the red channel being more sensitive to infrared and causing the overexposure.  You can really see this during the RAW conversion or in photoshop during post processing by looking at the RGB histogram there.
  • Hot Spots:  Some people have reported hot spots in the center of their images when using the 18mm lens.  I have NOT personally  seen any evidence of this with my system as of yet.  Hot spots are areas in the center of each picture that is usually a stop brighter.  They are caused by light bouncing back and forth between the sensor and the lens elements.  These are lens specific and very little can be done while taking the picture to stop or reduce them.  BUT, the aperture can have a drastic effect on them!  If you see these then try adjusting the aperture and review the results, you just might be surprised!  You MUST ALWAYS use a lens hood when shooting in IR.  This will also help stop hot spots by stopping light from striking the objective lens at extreme angles then bouncing around inside the lens between elements.  If you do notice the hot spot you can remove it in post processing very easily by using Nik Filters Viveza.  You use the selection point by placing it in the center of the spot and then reduce the brightness!

OK, this is enough for today.  The next post will be a detailed Post Processing tutorial that will take you through both Faux Color and B&W processing.  I even have a photoshop action that you can download to semi automate the channel swap and cut down your post processing time!

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Grist Mill GPX Download Updated!


Updated Version (April 2012) Ready In The Downloads Window!

There is a new updated version of the Grist Mill GPX file available in the Downloads area on the right side menu!  I have added all of the Ohio and Indiana mills plus made repairs to older entries that proved to be incorrect!  Please download them and install on your GPS!

As ALWAYS please share the lat/long, name, location, address and description of any mills that you find that are NOT on this download!!

Glade Creek Grist Mill, WV

Thanks for your continued help.

Italy, 2012, Post #2


Speciality 590nm Post Processing to OVERCOME Difficult Images!

Michelangelo's "Pieta" in Saint Peters Basilica, Rome, 590nm Faux Color Infrared.

Oh my, where to start… Hmm well I think that there is no need to proceed in any order so I will tackle the most important images in order rather than by location!

Looking at the image of the Pieta above the first thing that comes to mind is the full beautiful saturated colors.  One would look at this and never realize that this is a Faux Color Infrared image!  It is indeed a 590nm IR images taken on the Panasonic GH2 with the 14-140mm lens, INDOORS, THROUGH PROTECTIVE GLASS at a super high ISO of 1250, 1/60 s, f/5.6 HANDHELD. It is in fact not a scene that one would normally consider for Infrared.  This is EXACTLY why I did choose it.  Color was nice, but everyone shoots it in color.  I desired something different and new.  I cannot imagine that it has EVER been photographed in Infrared!

Post processing for this one took considerably longer than the standard 30 seconds with CS5 and the Nik filters.  There were also several problems with the scene that I had to overcome!  First and foremost was the Plexiglas shield between the public and the statue.  It was not exactly clear and there were literally thousands of people standing there shooting wildly all of them using their flashes which were just bouncing off the plastic making it more difficult to see through.  Also there was a large window just over the head of Mary which had the sun directly behind it.  Ok how I did this image:

  • I took my time moving up through the crowd until I got to the rope divider and placed myself directly in the center of the plastic so that I would not cause issues from photographing from an angle.
  • I made sure to have the flash turned off (its normal condition).
  • I set the ISO to 1250 so as to have a f/5.6 aperture at at least 1/60s shutter.
  • I chose a zoom range of 24mm so as to overcome lens bending issues.
  • I then choose the composition in the Portrait mode and set my exposure ON THE WHITE STATUE set to Zone 7 and 8.
  • I took a LOT of pictures as I needed to overcome camera shake, other folks flash reflections bouncing back at me and reflections in the plastic.  By a lot I mean 20 or so images…

Things to consider when shooting through plexiglass:

  1. Your overall contrast will be greatly reduced so PERFECT EXPOSURE is a must!
  2. Flash bounce back from others cameras will KILL your image.
  3. Low shutter speed will require a solid support.

Still, knowing all of the issues I knew that I could overcome them in Post Processing, so I simply set everything up and shot away with the thousand other tourists!

I trusted my ability to set the exposure perfectly on the white statue in the spot meter mode of the camera and then wisely selected ZONE 7 & 8 by dialing in the appropriate positive exposure compensation.  I also knew that I could hold the camera quite still and trusted in its built in image stabilizer to help.  I used the LENS HOOD to cut down on flash reflections striking my lens objective and causing further loss of contrast (you do this also… right?)

After getting back home I went through my 20 images and selected the absolute best version to move into the post processing phase.

My Post Processing Recipe:

  1.  Using Capture One RAW converter I made sure that the image was straight.  I adjusted the contrast up about 10% and adjusted the exposure so that the RED channel was from edge to edge in the histogram. I also insured that there were no hotspots on the statue.
  2. After converted to a 16 bit TIFF image I opened it up in CS5
  3. I cropped the image to my master image size of 8.5″ x 12.5″ at 300 dpi.
  4. I ran Nik Define 2.0 and manually chose measurement points on the statue and the marble wall behind it.
  5. I ran Nik Viveza and increased contrast up again by 10%, structure up 10% and brightened the overall image a few percent.
  6. I used the lasso selection tool and selected the window behind the statue and then via edit > fill with content aware allowed CS5 to remove the window and replace it with more marble from around it. I had to reselect the edges a few times  and go through the process again to make sure that the marble blended perfectly!
  7. I now ran the Channel Swap Action that you can download from here.  At the end of the action it pops up a window with the color channels.  From that window I selected RED and made saturation and hue adjustments, Yellow with saturation and hue adjustments, Cyan  for saturation and hue adjustments (cyan is the most important adjustment, this is where you overcome the blue/green sky during the channel swap by adjusting the hue control towards the blue end!) then selected OK to end the action.
  8. I ran Nik Define 2.0 again to clean up some noise generated by the channel swap action.
  9. I now ran Nik Viveza AGAIN and using selection points I started at the top of the image and worked my way down to the bottom adjusting BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST, STRUCTURE, RED, GREEN & BLUE levels and finally SHADOW adjustments.  All in all I placed about 100 selection points in the image to get it just right.  As you can see, this recipe is much more detailed than that which I usually use for normal Infrared post processing!
  10. I ran Nik Viveza AGAIN and darkened the four corners to force the viewers eyes into the image center.
  11. I ran Nik Color EFX Pro and chose the Vignette: BLUR filter and adjusted the outside edges of the image to be slightly blurry.
  12. Flatten and save image as a PSD file with a name that is meaningful!

That is it.  The entire process took about 20 min from start to end and I feel that the process was very much worth the time investment.

Here is a B&W version generated by Nik Silver EFX Pro 2 for you to compare.  It looks good, but the color image just grabs me by the throat and screams, LOOK AT ME!

Michelangelo's "Pieta" in the Saint Peters Basilica, Rome, 590nm B&W IR

What do you think?  Please give me some feed back on how you feel the images look and feel to you!

Italy, 2012, Post #1


Or, How I Spent My Summer Vacation…

Amalfi, 590nm Faux IR

Ellen (my wife) and I decided that it was time to take a trip somewhere to “get away” for a short while.  We decided that a trip to Italy was just what the doctor ordered!  Last year we went to Greece but booked an inexpensive hotel in the center of Athens then took day trips to various places in Greece.  We learned that this was NOT the way to go.  So for Italy we booked a total package trip through Gate 1 which included 5 star hotels, ground transportation, guides and entry fees for the following cities:

  • Venice, 2 days
  • Pisa, 1 day
  • Florance, 2 days
  • Assisi, 1 day
  • Rome, 3 days
  • Pompeii, 1 day
  • Sorrento, 2 days
  • Amalfi, 1 day

The hotels were amazing and the ground transportation was luxury buses.  All very well planed and executed!  The only real drawbacks were the food costs and the amount of walking required to tour the various locations. This was a group tour which had 35 people plus one full time guide.  Everyone was from the USA except for the guide who was from Rome.  She was very good and kept us all very organized. There was another professional photographer in our group besides me who specialized in Pin Hole Photography using home made wooden cameras shooting film!  I had several hours of very good conversation with him. I would not hesitate to use Gate 1 again in the future.

GPS track of our path through Italy

As you can see from the rough GPS track above we covered a lot of the country.  I took along a small GPS device to generate a bread crumb track so that I could TAG all of my images for location as well as keep a detailed plot of our movements.  It worked very well and had enough memory for several months of movement and a 44 hour battery life! The unit I decided on was from Ostarz and called the X-1000 Travel Recorder XT.  It is TINY and has a bluetooth interface for uploading the date to your computer system.  I am very pleased with it so far and it has worked flawlessly.

Each of the cities that we visited were interesting in their own way and all were different!  Below I will give you a basic overview of each and what I liked about it!

  • Venice.  A very unusual city of boats.  The water scenes were amazing and I loved every moment here.  I only took a few IR shots here and a ton of color images!  We visited ALL of the major attractions here plus took a water taxi to the island of Murano where we watched artisan master glass blowers create their wares!  All in all a most enjoyable destination that I would have enjoyed another day at.
  • Pisa. We were told that we would not enjoy this location because it was boring and full of gypsies.  NOT TRUE!  The basilica which is made up of the Battistero, the Duomo and the Leaning Tower were amazing both inside and out.   Amazing photography!  There was another big plus here in that we found a McDonalds and Ellen was able to have her first cup of normal American coffee!  Color her happy!
  • Florance.  A city of the arts full of splendor.  I really enjoyed walking along the river taking photographs both during the day and night!  Very interesting buildings and statues!
  • Assisi.  Here I would have liked to spend another day!  Amazing is the only word for it.  The basilica of Saint Francis was amazing and full of world class photographic opportunity.  I took a LOT  of Infrared images here…
  • Rome.  BIG, 4 million residents.  The Vatican was amazing.  We visited there both during the day as well as at night.  The Chapels and Museums there left me stunned.  We took a walking tour of all of the famous fountains, ruins and basilicas.  I took a lot of Infrared here.  I would have been happy with 2 days here instead of 3.
  • Pompeii.  HUGE ruins.  Interesting.  No good for color photography due to the time of day so I basically shot Infrared all day.  After the first 2 streets everything started to look the same.  
  • Sorrento.  What can I say about Sorrento… AMAZING! More time please!  Lovely town in the south.  Had a GREAT time here.  Lots of images in both color and Infrared!
  • Amalfi.  OMG!! This was the highlight of the entire country for me!  Amazing, scary, rough, tall cliffs with twisty turnie tiny roads.  Shere cliffs that have been terraced with small towns built on them! Ohhh, could have spend a week here alone!

An Assisi street. 590nm Faux Color

For the trip I decided to travel light.  I took my Panasonic GH2 590nm IR camera with the 14-140mm lens & the 8-18mm lens (which I never used) along with my Fuji X100 color camera system.  I learned after my Costa Rica trip several years ago that heavy DSLR systems just sucks the life out of any vacation trip…  I had ordered the new Fuji XPro 1 camera system with the 35mm and 60mm lenses for this trip but it did not arrive in time for it (in fact I still don’t have it and they are telling me the end of March!).  The little X100 works great though and due to its small size and silent operation it made for some easy street photography as well.
I will add further images of the trip along with technical details on how they were taken and processed in my next post.  I will also include my thoughts on travel photography. I will also be including some color images as well so that you can see and understand the differences in impact for each.  Some images simply work better in IR or Color and until you have processed them you will not know!
It is going to take me weeks to wade through all of the images that I took.  I am working on the Infrared ones today and will include a small gallery below to share some of them with you.  Please click on each image to bring up a larger view!