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!

Advertisements

Panasonic GH2 590nm Review Part 2, White Balance Revisited


Proper White Balance Makes Such A Difference!

The Gray WB Card

OK, I realize that in terms of actual helpful posts that it has been a long time.  With advertising for workshops and camera sales, things have been a little stale around here.  But all is not lost!  I have been out and about for 2 days shooting the GH2 (590nm) and playing with different white balances.  Todays post is about setting your WB on the GREEN grass and how it affects the image.  In the first review, I detailed the differences in setting WB on the grass vs. a Gray card, so I will not repeat that prices here.  With this camera (GH2) the choice of how you WB makes a MAJOR difference.  This weekend i simply forgot to bring along the Gray card so all of the work was done on the grass!  In my defense, it just seems to go against all of my advice on WB that I have given you in the past.  Green grass has always been the main source of WB and generally would produce really nice monochromatic tones in the LCD of your camera when properly done in the leaves and a nice bronze in the blue areas of the sky.  I would even Post Proces RAW files to take advantage of this from time to time.  But with a Gray card, the sky takes on a sickly greenish cast that just looks terrible on the LCD, but when you get the RAW file on the computer you get such vibrent gold tones!  What a difference it made…

The image below is an example of forced processing in Viveza caused by a Green grass WB.  It still looks good but it had to be forced in Post Processing….

I simply must remember to bring along the Gray card in the future!

Bellimatrix, 590nm, WB on Green Grass

I have to honestly admit that the Gray card works much better with the GOLDIE (590nm) conversion on the GH2 that it has any right to!  NONE of my other IR camera systems seems to be affected like the GH2 in this regard! I just HATE the way the RAW images look straight out of the camera with the Gray card, but in terms of Faux Color IR the difference is stunning!  The RAW images take on a greenish cast when done on the Gray card vs. the nice bronze & monochrome elements when balanced on the grass.  If you are looking for some interesting bronze tones straight out of the camera then you need to WB on the grass, but if you are shooting primarily for Faux Color then choose the Gray card. By doing so the yellows and golds seem to come naturally during the channel swap rather than being forced in Nik’s Viveza.

For B&W Post Processing, WB had an effect on the overall output, but much less so than when working in Faux Color.  You will notice tonality changes between the WB versions in the mid tones!

Bellimatrix, 590nm, B&W Processing

Still, you can achieve both if you desire in photoshop.  The choice is yours but to me it just makes sense to get the best results straight out of the camera!

The Hammond & Gilbert Mills In Rhode Island


The Gilbert Stuart Museum & Mills

In Color, Infrared and B&W

The Hammond & Gilbert Mills

The Hammond & Gilbert Mills

The Hammond Mill, Selective Focus

I would like to draw your attention to a specific Grist Mill in Rhode Island!  This is the Hammond and Gilbert Mills at the Gilbert Stuart Museum.  What is so unusual about them is the fact that they are 50 feet apart on the same creek feed!  The Gilbert Mill was a Snuff Mill with living quarters for the family above the mill.  The Hammond Mill is and was a standard Grist Mill.  Both Mills are in AMAZING condition and the location just screams “Photograph Me“!    Location is a little in the back country but well worth the drive.  If you would like directions then download the Mills GPX file in the download window to the right!

The Gilbert Mill

The Mills are full of promise!  Look for detail shots as well as wide angle shots.  If you arrive mid day then you will likely be only able to shoot in Infrared (hey, not exactly a bad thing, you think?)  I think that early morning would be the best.  There is a nice standing pond behind the mills for reflection shots and the water path below the mills is actually a fish ladder to aid in migration! As I said, VERY PRETTY!

I shot these images using a Panasonic GH2 Micro 4/3 camera body (Color) and the Pansaonic 14-140mm lens.  For the Infrared shots I used my Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum Infrared camera body with the Olympus 14-150mm lens and an external (on the lens) B+W 091 630nm IR filter.  Since the previous post has a lengthy description and recipe for post processing these IR images I am going to leave the same out of this post!

Again, I am going to place all of the images of these amazing mills in a photo album below and all you have to do is to click on any image to bring up the slide show!

_____________________

_____________________

I hope that you enjoy this collection of a VERY unusual Mill!  

Please let me know what you think!

Panasonic GH2 590nm Review – Part 1


OK, It Starts Again – IR Camera #14 (I think…)

Panasonic GH2

Well… I think this makes camera #14, but I have had so many that I am no longer sure!  This is really a sad state of affairs.  As you all know, I have touted the Olympus E-PL1 as the “King Of Infrared” for a year or so now.  But sadly, the King has died, long live the King!  I am not very sad over sending the color GH2 off to be twisted into 590nm, after all, I am addicted to IR.  Rather I am sad over loosing such a fine COLOR system!

It is true though, that I have returned to my Canon systems for color work, and I am very happy with the results there.  So on with the show!

The body functionality of the GH2 is simply amazing.  It rivals that of the advanced Canon and Nikon bodies but in such a form factor that it makes using it a joy!  I love the fact that it is such a small body.  Add in the fact that it is a 16 megapixel system with both a built in electronic viewfinder and an articulating LCD panel guarantees a true winner.

I sent the camera off to Spencers Camera in Utah and had it back in 3 days!  I decided upon 590nm for this camera rather than Full Spectrum because I find that 99% of the time I shoot in either 590nm or 630nm.  I can change between the two with the addition of a B+W 091 630nm filter on the lens which costs about $25!  This means less to carry when I travel which is very important to me.

The GOLDIE or SUPER COLOR IR Conversion, GH2 Camera

When the camera was returned from Spencers the first thing that I noticed was that I had NO idea how to set the custom white balance.  Spencers had programmed this into the body but I needed to do it again as I am going to use the Panasonic 14-140mm lens on it.  I did some research on the web and discovered how to do a proper WB and no matter how hard I tried I could not get my WB to match Spencers.  So I called them and was informed that they only use a gray card in direct sunlight to WB with!  OK, I will file this data away for later consideration!  For now I have both Spencers WB and mine (green grass) programed into the camera (yes it can hold 4 custom WB settings).

Today I took the camera out and did some test shots using both WB values in a good location that gave the triangle of IR compositional elements:

  1. Sky with clouds…
  2. Reflective Water…
  3. Various types of Green Leaves…

One major difference that I discovered between the 590nm GH2 and the E-PL1 set at 590nm is that the GH2 did NOT over expose the red channel!  The internal exposure metering system handled Infrared poisoned with Red Visible light perfectly!  This really is a big step forward in that I can again trust the exposure meter and concentrate on the subject.

Refresher on 590nm Infrared:

Various IR Filter Curves, Look At the 090 For 590nm

There are some minor issues when using a 590nm filter that you must understand in order to overcome.

  • 590nm is firmly in the realm of the visible spectrum creating visible overexposure from 590nm to 700mm.
  • White Balance is ALL important to getting good color and proper exposure.

The first listed issue really is the most important one to understand.  Our camera’s electronics and algorithms are designed with color images in mind.  When we remove the hot mirror (UV/IR Cut Filter)  and attach a dedicated 590nm or 665nm filter OR a clear glass filter (Full Spectrum) and use a 590nm external filter, we are allowing a small amount of visible light from 590nm to 700nm strike the sensor along with the infrared spectrum from 700nm to 1000nm.  Since 590nm is in the deep red area of the visible spectrum the RED channel is overwhelmed with bright red light and the blue & green channels see more of the 700nm and up light.   This tends to confuse the camera computer and while it will display a normal looking histogram (monochrome), if you look at the separate RGB histograms the red is off the edge and way overexposed!  Usually you can overcome this during the RAW conversion process by changing the exposure down 1 or 2 stops in conversion.  Sometimes the overexposure is so bad that you are out of the range of repair during the conversion process.  So I following the following steps to overcome this in camera:

  1. Proper White Balance to equalize the color Channels
  2. Set the camera histogram to separate RGB channels so that I can directly monitor the RED channel
  3. Check the exposure on EVERY shot and dial in the appropriate exposure compensation.  Normally this is around -1 or -2 but some subject matter like lots of leaves will require you to switch to manual exposure  to go – 3 or more!  A cloudy sky will actually force you to add + exposure compensation.  Just take a test shot and check the red channel histogram then make the proper adjustment.
  4. ALWAYS use your lens hood to prevent lens flare as well as to keep contrast up by stopping light from hitting the objective lens at extreme angles.

590nm will generate very pleasing warm Faux Color images that dip in to Gold tones hence the name “Goldie Filter”!  This can work for very pleasing images that will stun you with their emotional impact.  Yet they will also generate VERY nice B&W images as well in Post Processing!  If you find that you do not care for the Gold tones you can simply reprogram the camera with an external filter to get different results!

  • B+W 091 630nm medium red filters will move you into the Pink/Red toned Faux Color Images and cost around $30.
  • B+W 092 695nm dark red filters will move you into the Red/Copper toned Faux Color Images and cost around $100.
  • Hoya R72 720nm deep red filters will put you into the Coppery toned Faux Color Images and cost around $120.

You can go even higher, 800, 850 ad 900nm but these will require the use of a tripod and they are VERY expensive filters!  Not bad for a dedicated 590nm camera!  You can still change the flavor of it with the addition of an external filter.  The only rule is that you cannot go to an external filter lower than 590nm.

Gray Card Set for Setting Camera White Balance

OK, lets look at some sample images.  I am going to show you 2 sets of 3 images.  First set is with the camera WB set to green grass.  Image 1 will be the RAW image straight out of the camera, Image 2 will be the Faux Color version and Image 3 will be the B&W.  Set 2 will be the same 3 images but with the WB set to a Gray Card in bright sunlight.  You will be AMAZED by the difference that WB can give in your photography after viewing them.   The Gray card used is a simple plastic set that I purchased from Amazon for about $10.00.

OK, here is set #1 with the WB set to the Green Grass:

RAW:

RAW image, WB to Green Grass

Faux Color Post Processed, WB to Green Grass

Notice the lack of gold tones and the shift to orange/red trees.  There is a little yellow grass.  To me this is still a very pleasing image overall!

B&W Post Processing, WB to Green Grass

A very nice B&W image that can still have a lot of work done on it for improvements!  

OK, now set 2, the same basic images but with the WB set to the 18% Gray Card!

RAW:

RAW Image with WB set to the Gray Card

Notice that the colors are WAY off from the image WB’ed to the Green grass!  The sky has shifted towards a greenish/copper and the leaves have shifted towards Aqua  while some of the green has taken on a Yellow glow.

Faux Color:

Faux Color image with WB set to the Gray Card

Here is where we really see a major difference!  NOW the trees have the classic GOLD tone that one expects from the 590nm band!  Some of the grasses are still pink but different plants look different in IR!

B&W:

B&W Post Processed with the WB set to the Gray Card

Even here we see differences between the two different WB’ed images.  This is due to the fact that B&W Post Processing is determined by the range of COLORS of the image that we start with!

So, what I am seeing here with these two sets of images is that WP has a MAJOR effect upon the finished product!  The first set of images actually look closer to what you would see with a B+W 091 690nm filter in place rather than a 590nm filter!  We will discuss this in greater detail in the next post (Part 2) in the next few days.  For now this should give you a lot to think about in relationship to White Balance!

On top of that you have to admit that the clarity and sharpness of this camera/conversion and lens is simply remarkable!  I am very excited about the fact that the exposure is dead on so far.  I will also experiment with the exposure and histogram in the coming days in varying sunlight and different subject to insure that indeed the Panasonic GH2 is the NEW KING OF INFRARED!

What do you think…?

Dang, I Went And Did It Again…


Welcome the NEW Panasonic GH2 590nm Camera!

Or, How to spend money without really trying!

Panasonic GH2

Well, Spencers managed to receive, modify and ship back to me my Color GH2 camera system converted to 590nm Infrared in 3 days! This camera had made the best small color interchangeable lens system that I have ever owned.  But… I am returning to Canon and all of my L glass after 3 years of not being able to use it due to an extreme medical condition from spinal sugury that went very bad, so I decided to convert the GH2 to 590nm while I await its replacement to be announced (hopefully) soon.

I am glad to be able to use my Canon equipment again but will miss the lightness of the GH2 and lenses!

I decided on the 590nm conversion for this camera because over time I have learned through experience that I mostly use 590nm, 630nm and 720nm (occasionally).  This means that I can have no filters on my lenses for 590 and an inexpensive one for 630nm!  Plus there are lots of other lenses that I like to shoot with that I cannot attach filters to:

  • Pinhole Lenses (yes I have several variations for Micro 4/3)
  • Lensbaby with ALL of its options.
  • Holga Lomography Plastic Lens
  • 8mm Fisheye

This will give me greater artistic control in my Infrared world!

Plus there are many advantages of the GH2 over the E-PL1, most important is the fact that the GH2 has a built in electronic viewfinder!  Plus the body is 16 megapixel and has such advanced body functionality that it rivals the advanced Canon and Nikon bodies!

So, here it is sitting on my desk.  Other than taking 2 test images with it I have not had the time to take it out and really use it.  It will be several days before I can so an in-depth review of its Infrared capabilities will have to wait for my next post!

Stay Tuned!

The Grist Mill Trip – Day 2 Covered Bridges & Farms


Amish Country – Lancaster County, PA

630nm Covered Bridge, Lancaster, PA

 

Today we drove about 4 hours east to Lancaster, PA.  The point being to visit Covered Bridges, Farms and the Amish people who reside there.  I grew up in the Amish community of Lexington, Ohio and have a good knowledge of the people and their customs and was very excited to visit an area where they reside!

I didn’t expect to see any grist mills today and didn’t really look.  In truth, there are about 30 of them in Lancaster!  But, they are all ugly boxy white buildings with no external water wheel assembly.  They are common on the larger farms but not really worth seeking out.

Lancaster Covered Bridge

I have always enjoyed seeing covered bridges.  They like grist mills are a reminder of times past.  But I didn’t realize how fast I would grow bored with them!  That may sound terrible, but to me here in Lancaster, they just all look the same.  The only real differences were the surrounding trees, their length and the walls, fences or guard rail leading up the their entrances!  Plus we arrived mid afternoon with a BRIGHT white sky and color photography was very difficult.  I even had some issues with them in Infrared!  This is not to say that I didn’t walk away with some nice images, but I could have done much better in the early morning.

The other difficulty in photographing these bridges is that they are hard to find.  All of the web sites direct you to them via a convoluted series of turns and roads.  Not ONE gives an address OR a GPS Lat/Long string which would make it much easier to find them!

All told, we visited 7 bridges here.  They were interesting but most were impossible to get a side angle on for a good photograph.  I still think that they are a worthwhile subject, but one that will require much more research.  They also are a little more interesting when shot in COLOR. I am not going to talk about the Infrared Post Processing since these images are basically the same as the ones in Day 1!  But, the color images while simple really need a small discussion:

Basic Color PP Recipe

Photoshop CS5 with NIK Viveza and Color EFX Pro

  1. Delete marginal, duplicates and bad images!
  2. Convert from RAW to TIFF using Capture One V6
  3. Open in CS5
  4. Crop to standard storage size: 8.5 x 12.5 (the extra .5 is for underlay with the mat.
  5. Run NIK Define 2.0 on images with skies.
  6. Run NIK C0lor EFX Pro color contrast range preset and adjust as necessary.
  7. Run NIK Viveza to adjust various image component brightness (tress and such).
  8. Save as a PSD file.

Lancaster Covered Bridge, Side View

That is it.  Each image only takes about 1 min from start to finish.  You really will like the ease that the NIK plugins give you in processing.  Plus the NIK tools work equally as well in Photoshop Elements!  What more could you ask for?

Take a look at these images and try to decide if you like the Color or Infrared versions better.  For me I almost always will pick the IR version but in the case of the Covered Bridges I like the Color versions a little better!

Lancaster Covered Bridge, Entrance

Lancaster Covered Bridge, Inside Detail, Color

Lancaster Covered Bridge, 630nm B&W

Lancaster Covered Bridge, Color

Lancaster Covered Bridge, 630nm

Lancaster Covered Bridge, 630nm B&W

Have you noticed a pattern with my Infrared photography?  I seem to be spending much more time shooting with the 630nm (B+W 091) filter all of the time.  I do like the 590nm (B+W090) and a 665nm (more pinks and reds) as well as the R72 720nm Hoya filter.  But for most of my work I am getting stunning Faux and nice contrasty B&W from the 630nm.  I like the post processing from this filter as well because it gives me the ability to generate different hues in the tree leaves depending upon the type of tree!

Lancaster Covered Bridge, Long View

All of the bridges were within a 10 mile square and still difficult to locate.  I do feel them to be worth the effort and hope that if you get the chance to see them that you give them a chance!

OK, on to Amish Farm Country!

Working The Fields

They are a very interesting group of people and I admire their fortitude in sticking to their beliefs.  I saw hundreds of horse and carriages on the roads.  I saw small red wagons being drawn by a small pony.  Lots of field equipment behind teams of horses.

Typical Amish Farm

The farms were beautiful but small (as you would think being worked by horse power).  Kids were out playing and riding a bicycle like device with no seat and peddles.  It did have a front turn able wheel and handle bars with full size tires but they stood on it and pushed with their feet!

Cool Rest

We didn’t stay more than a few hours as I was very tired and wanted to get closer to my next main destination which meant another 4 hours of driving east thru Philly and then finding a hotel for the night so that I could be there early in the morning.  Yes, I actually did plan on this stop for early AM!

So the next post for Day 3 Is Cutalossa Farm East of Phili about 10 miles.  I can tell you that this stop will turn out to be the best stop of the entire trip!

Stay Tuned!