The 3 Faces of Infrared Conversions…


Or, which way should you jump?

Different Spectrum Choices...

Recently, I have been asked several times in emails and via reader comments on which Infrared camera conversion is the best for someone who is planning on jumping into IR!  So, it is time to address that small question…

There are three ways to go when considering Infrared Photography:

  1. Normal color camera with external IR filter.  This is the cheapest way to try your hand at IR photography.  You simply adda 720nm filter to your lens.
  2. Internal conversion to Infrared. This is the cheapest easy way to get into IR.  The internal IR blocking filter (hot mirror) is replaced with a IR pass filter.
  3. Full Spectrum conversion.  This is the best way to get into IR, but the most expensive.  The hot mirror is replaced with clear glass and you put IR filters on the lens.

Let’s discuss each option..

  • The first, normal color camera with a 720nm external filter will work great, but it does have some major issues to overcome.  The exposure times are greatly increased due to the fact that you have limited the amount of light reaching the sensor with the addition of the external filter plus it must overcome the internal hot mirror built into the camera.  The results in exposure time around a minute long and no ability to compose (unless you have live view) because your eyes cannot see through the 720nm external filter.  Focus is off and must be adjusted for IR as well.  Still, it is a good way to see if you even like IR work!
  • The second, internal conversion is a really good way to go.  It requires no special camera functionality (you do not need live view) and will give the ability to shoot normal hand held exposures. It works well in all camera types.  They only issue is the decision on which filter to choose!  I usually tell people to go with a 590nm conversion (Goldie or Super Color) because it gives the best combination of Faux Color and B&W work.  There is another consideration to the internal conversion, it is that you can change the flavor of the conversion by adding an additional filter on the end of your camera lens!  You can only go down in frequency  (up in nm) from whatever your internal filter is but it can be done allowing a different flavor for your camera!  Remember when you hit 720nm or lower you loose the ability to use your optical viewing path so you MUST have a camera with some sort of live view system for this to work! I have a Panasonic GH2 at 590nm, a Canon 20D at 590nm and they both work great.
  • The third option, Full spectrum gives you the most versatility but with added costs.  The hot mirror is replaced with a clear piece of glass and you then program the camera with an external filter!  This opens up an entire world for you to explore.  The camera will see everything from UV to FULL COLOR to INFRARED!  You simply tell it what you wish by your choice of external filter.  If you only are interested in 590 nm, 620 nm and 665 nm then any digital camera will be fine for you.  But if you wish to explore some of the alternatives, like the Super Blue (in camera Faux) or  UV+IR (UG1) or the deep IR filters like 720nm (standard), 850nm (deep IR) and lower then you MUST have a camera with live view or full time LCD display!  The reason for this is the fact that normal DSLR camera systems use an OPTICAL image path that goes from the viewfinder thru a prism, bounces off a mirror and out thru the lens and filter!  If your filter is dark then you cannot see to compose although the camera will still focus!  Live view will allow you to overcome this problem.  There are some REALLY interesting filters out there like the UG1 (UV+IR) and the 047B (Super Blue in camera Faux) that will only work with an internal or Full Spectrum conversion but need a live view with the Full Spectrum Conversion!  Now, the additional costs are the prices of the external filters to fit your lenses.  The darker the filter the more they cost!  Oh, did I mention that with a Full Spectrum Conversion you can convert the camera back to normal color by adding a UV/IR blocking filter (expensive)!!

Spectrum choices

UG1 – UV+IR  This is an interesting filter that mixes UV and Infrared to give ultra white colored leaves and a dark blue or purple sky!  You will see a lot of this posted around the net but very little in the galleries!  It is not for everyone but still can be very pretty and interesting.  The filter is very expensive!  It is around $120 for 58mm.

Hoya 047B Super Blue

Super Blue – In Camera Faux Color.  This filter is becoming more popular as you can shoot normal Faux Color IR images right in the camera with no post processing. It is highly dependent upon good white balance but gives very good Faux Color images.  For B&W it is not so good… The cost of the Tiffen 047B is around $70 in 58mm. Lifepixel now offers a Super Blue internal conversion service.

B+W 090 Super Color 590nm

Super Color (Goldie) – 590nm.  This is (and should be) usually the filter of choice for most IR shooters.  It gives great gold toned Faux Color images and stunning B&W images as well.  For Faux Color special post processing is required in Photoshop and the Red and Blue channels must be swapped which is VERY difficult in Elements but simple in Photoshop CS5!  The cost for a B+W 090 590nm filter is about $25 for 58mm.

B+W 091 Pinkie, 630nm

Pinkie – 630nm.  This is my personal favorite filter for Infrared work.  Instead of golds it gives pinks and reds in Faux Color and stunning B&W work.  No on offers this filter as an internal conversion so the only way to use it is with a Full Spectrum conversion.  The same post processing rules that apply to 590nm apply to 630nm.  The cost is about $25 for 58mm for the B+W 091 590nm filter.

Enhanced Color – 665nm.  This is very close to the 630nm filter but with more reds than pinks.  B&W is stunning and this filter can be had on both the internal conversion and the Full Spectrum Conversion.  The cost is slightly higher at about $50 for 58mm. You will find a lot of P&S cameras on EBay with this conversion.

Hoya R72 720nm Standard IR Filter

Standard – 720nm.  This is called standard for good reason, most IR conversions out there are at 720nm which really does not make any sense to me! It gives very LIMITED Faux color but great B&W!  The filter is black to normal vision and while it works great as an internal conversion it is not so good with Full Spectrum unless you are using it on a camera with live view or full time live view like a Micro 4/3, P&S or any of the other mirror less systems out there.  With a DSLR with live view it works great in Full Spectrum.  The cost is expensive at around $100 for a 58mm version of the Hoya R72.

Deep IR – 850nm.  This filter is totally black.  It gives ZERO Faux Color but beautiful rich and deep B&W images.  This is for the person who only wants to work in B&W.  Even with an internal conversion there will be about a 3 stop hit in exposure do the the limiting factors of the filter.  With a DSLR with live view it works great in Full Spectrum.  The cost is expensive at around $150 for a 58mm version.

LDP CC1 UV/IR Blocking Filter

IR Blocking – Normal Color.  This filter has a aqua appearance that blocks the UV/IR spectrum which will convert your camera back to normal color AS LONG AS YOUR CAMERA IS A FULL SPECTRUM conversion!  This is VERY expensive around $200 for 58mm for the LDP CC1 Filter. I have found that if you couple this filter with the B+W 486 UV/IR blocking filter that you get a better return to normal color.  The reason is that it blocks slightly more on the UV end of things.  I usually dissemble the 486 and install it in the CC1 filter ring along with the CC1 filter.  Again, this is expensive at about $125 for a 58mm.

As you can see, there are a lot of choices out there for you.  The Full Spectrum Conversion has much more options but requires a live view capable camera system.  I have both internal conversions and Full Spectrum conversions and like them both.  I really like playing with the Super Blue you must remember that it does not do well with B&W work!

There are endless examples of images created with each of these filters spread out in this blog.  Go take a look around to see the examples of each to help you decide on which way you might jump!

Please let me know what you decide upon!

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NEX-5 Full Spectrum IR Camera System For Sale


NEX-5 Full Spectrum Infrared Camera System For Sale!

I am selling a complete NEX-5 Infrared camera system on EBay.  

It includes the following:

  • NEX-5 with 18-55mm lens
  • Flash
  • Strap
  • Sony external Video Microphone
  • 3 Batteries
  • Charger
  • Lens and Camera Caps
  • Back LCD cover
  • Camera Remote Control
  • B+W 090 590nm Goldie IR Filter
  • B+W 091 630nm Enhanced IR Filter
  • Hoya R72 720nm Standard IR Filter
  • Composite IR Blocking filter made of the LDP CC-1 and the B+W 486 IR Blocking filters to enable the NEX to shoot standard COLOR images!

You can find the system on EBay at the following link:

Ebay Link

There are plenty of pictures of the system on EBay!

You Do NOT have to spend a fortune to do IR!


How To Do It On The Cheap!

 

I know, this was supposed to be a post on the GH2 tests but I have been getting a lot of email and comments about the assumed high cost of getting into Infrared Photography!  This insane notion needed to be stopped before it got any further!

If you have an extra camera system laying around you can reasonably expect to send it off for conversion for $200-$300.  Yes that is a lot of money but the expansion of your artistic mind set that Infrared will give you will be worth it.  But there is a cheaper way!

EBay is a great place to find used digital camera systems already converted to Infrared!  I have purchased several of these used IR camera systems in the past year for next to nothing and have NEVER had a problem with a single one that came from EBay!

So far I have purchased from Ebay:

  • Canon G10 at 720nm for $350 (G10’s are in high demand)
  • Canon G9 at 665nm for $300
  • Canon 10D at 850nm for $250
  • Olympus E-P1 at 720nm for $300
  • Canon 20D at 590nm that I picked up for $300.00!

Why you ask did I purchase all of these system?  Well I TEACH Infrared Workshops and as part of that I have loaner cameras so that my students can try different camera systems before they decide on what type of camera and what conversion they like the best!  But the real point that I am trying to make here is that YOU DO NOT have to spend a lot of money and that EBay is your friend!

Point and Shoot cameras are very inexpensive and are light and easy to carry.  This means that you will always have a IR system on hand.  Mirror-less SLR IR systems like the GH2 and OLY Pen systems give your the advantage of interchangeable lenses and are small and light.  DSLR IR systems have the advantage of being able to share lenses and accessories!  If you shoot Nikon, do not be afraid to buy a used Canon camera and a cheap lens and vice-versa!

Go back through this blog and read the posts on the 14 IR camera systems that I have tested!  You will notice that I tend towards smaller lighter and cheaper cameras!  There is a whole world out there full of people with IR systems that are upgrading to something newer and cooler (in their eyes!) who would jump at the chance to sell the old ones for funds to add to their new ones.

Beware of buying from friends in camera clubs as they are looking to recover ALL of the money they spent both for the camera as well as the conversion!  As I said EBay is your friend!

 

Images from the Low Country Infrared Adventure!


Seven Gifted Attending Photographers Share Their Work!

WOW!  How else to describe the 3 day Low Country Infrared Adventure!  It was an amazing time both in the workshop and out in the field shooting. Both Jamie and I were very impressed with everyone there.  We had seven gifted photographers in attendance, 8 hours in the classroom split between 2 days and 17 hours out shooting in all of the BEST Infrared locations in the Low Country.  Talk about tired, I am still dragging around.

We had a total of 7 photographers in attendance.  There were several Nikon IR conversions, Canon, Panasonic and Olympus systems. Every spectrum was covered from UV to Deep IR.  I am going to show case images from each of the attendees here in the days to come as they send their images to me so stay tuned and re-visit to see the new additions!

______________________________________

Donald E Brown

Mark,
Been at it all morning processing images from this last weekend.  I am hungry and my eyes are hurting and it is all your fault!!!  I have tried many variations of this shot  from “Roadside View”  and it and some other variations are fast becoming my favorites. 

Anyway, enjoy the scenery from my roadtrip home.

Old Barn Version 1

Old Barn Version 2

Old Barn Version 3

Old Barn Version 4

Donald was shooting a 665nm converted Nikon DX2 and was an established Infrared photographer.  He added a lot to the workshop/excursion and was a lot of fun to shoot with!  Donald, these images are just breathtaking!

More please….

______________________________________

Vicki Wilson

Hi Mark and Jamie,

I had a great time in the workshop! Thanks for sharing the IR cameras and letting me try out different filter types.  This has opened up a whole new fun area of photography, I love it! Here are a couple of my photos from the workshop.  Thanks again!

The Path...

Of Boats Long Gone....

Capt Andrew

Vicki was shooting with a loaner IR camera!  My Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum mainly with the 630nm filter and the UG1 UV/IR filter!  Her excitement was infectious and she is going to convert a Nikon D90 to the same!  I expect to see a lot of fabulous IR work from her!

______________________________________

Dave Lindey

Jamie/Mark

I processed each in FAUX color and Monochrome. Couldn’t decide which to send. I processed a total of 120 images from the weekend. The attached represents a variety of what I shot over the weekend. I spent the past week experimenting with the post processing and will likely go bacl over a few because I learned a few things along the way. All images were shot with a Nikon D200 665nm conversion processed with Capture One, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Nik Dfine 2.0, Viveza 2.0 and Silver Efex Pro 2. Select what you like to post. I did not sharpen the images at all.

It was a great weekend.

Walkway, Georgetown, SC

The Path Less Taken....

The Tug Susan RIchards

Brookgreen Gardens Pond

Dave, I am stunned by these images!  To say that they take my breath away is simply an understatement!  For you to be creating this caliber of ART after only shooting Infrared for a year is amazing. Please continue to share your work with us!  I can see now that I am going to have to create a guest gallery now……..

OK, as I said earlier, stay tuned for more images from the workshop!


You are invited to the Low Country Infrared Adventure!


Jamie Konarski Davidson & Mark Hilliard
present an exciting, new Photographic Workshop &
Excursion Series on Fine Art Infrared Nature & Landscape Photography!

By Jamie Konarski Davidson

Come along with two of the most accomplished Infrared photographers on the Southeast coast for this energizing study of Fine Art Infrared (IR) photography! Learn about equipment needed for Infrared photography, what subjects  generate stunning IR images, and how to capture & process breathtaking IR images using this new digital technology.

By J.M. Hilliard

We will teach both Faux Color & traditional B&W post-processing techniques using Photoshop CS5, Elements 9 and Nik software. We will have several loaner IR camera systems for you to share if you do not yet own one!

Explore with us the rustic southern beauty of the Low Country. Along with two intense classroom sessions on Infrared Photography and post-processing, we will be shooting breathtaking land and seascapes in Pawleys Island and Brookgreen Gardens. In historic Georgtown we will capture local nautical themes, including the shrimp boat fleet and an ancient working boat yard where you will never know what you will find!

Infrared photography has become wildly popular in the past two years. It allows us to create new, different and emotionally intense images of things we see every day. Combine this capability with the stunning locations that we will be visiting, and you will understand why we are so excited to share this adventure with you.

Even if you do not currently have a Infrared camera  plan on attending! We will have loaner cameras for you to use as well as Infrared Filters to convert your current camera to Infrared!  This promises to be a great photographic experience for all!

By J.M. Hilliard

Infrared Workshops & Excursions!


Basic and Advanced Infrared Workshops and Excursions are coming!

Seacoast Artist Guild in Pawleys Island, SC is sponsoring a 1 day Infrared Introduction workshop at The Lens Work Gallery  at the end of April.  You must be a member to attend. Please click on their link above to get more information.

Jamie Davidson and I are putting on a 3 day Low Country Infrared Adventure &  Workshop on July 8-10.  This will be centered in Pawleys Island but will include GREAT OUTINGS in and around the Low Country of South Carolina. It also will include two 1/2 day Advanced workshops that cover everything from equipment to printing but REALLY hit Post Processing FAUX COLOR and B&W Infrared Images!  More Info will be coming soon on this workshop.

Jamie and I  are also planing another similar Infrared Adventure in from Oct 30 thru Nov 2nd called The Inner Banks Infrared Adventure & Workshops that will take us down the Sound from Grenville, NC to the Outer Banks shooting shrimp boats and other nautical scenes! It also will include two 1/2 day Advanced workshops that cover everything from equipment to printing but REALLY hit Post Processing FAUX COLOR and B&W Infrared Images!  More Info will be coming soon on this workshop.

Lastly Vic & Lori Grbich and I are  in the beginning stages of planning a weekend Great 2011 Grist Mill Excursion this Fall to Pitkins, SC!  If you have read any of my posts here about grist mills and Infrared then you KNOW how excited I am about this trip!

Stay tuned for Info!

Spencers Camera IR Conversion Discounts


Coupon Code For $25.00 Off Your Future Orders!

Spencers Camera is giving any of my customers/readers a $25.00 discount on any Infrared Conversion if you order on their WEB page and enter the following coupon code:  hilliard25

Their WEB address is:
http://www.spencerscamera.com

I have had VERY GOOD service from these folks on the conversions on my Olympus PEN camera systems and have had 4 done so far with a 5th in process now!  They offer 830nm, 720nm, 665nm, 590nm and Full Spectrum Infrared conversions.  They offer conversions on so many different camera systems that it is impossible to list them here in a short post.

630nm B+W 091 Filter For Stunning Faux Color Images!


B + W 58mm #091 Glass Filter – Dark Red #29

 

Brookgreen Gardens Reflections, 630nm Infrared

630nm, B+W 091 Filter

As we have talked about in several of my past posts, the 590nm Infrared (B+W090) is my favorite part of the spectrum to shoot in.  But right up there in capabilities is the 630nm edge using the B + W 58mm #091 Glass Filter – Dark Red #29 filter.  The 590nm tends to give you more of the yellow and gold tones (hence the Goldie name!) but at times I like more of the yellow and pink leaves in my images! Take a look at the top image, the main change are the pinks mixed in with the yellows of the leaves but you still get great blue skies and water!

This is a low cost filter (around $30 in 58mm at Amazon) and is a lot of fun to use.

 

B+W 091, 630nm Frequency Chart

Looking at the B+W 091 chart to the right you will notice that it has a very sharp turn on point from 600nm to 100% at 630nm and stands between 590nm and 665nm.  In my opinion it generates better Faux Color images than the 665nm filters and will do equally as well in B&W! It is a little darker than the 590nm (2 extra stops) but is still well within the hand held operational zone!

As as I stated earlier, I LOVE the pink tones that this filter will generate!  The pinks/yellows are dependent upon the angle of the sun as well as the amount of green in the leaves.  If you look on your cameras LCD display and notice greens in the leaves (or on the computer during post processing after you do the channel swap) this is where you will generate your pinks, all other leaves will make yellow!  Look at the RAW version below of the title image. The darker areas of the leaves will become green during the channel swap and by lowering the green and blue levels in Viveza during post processing you get the nicest shades of pinks!  BUT, I also want you to notice that as in all things Infrared, sometimes you get such a perfect RAW image right out of the camera that it needs NO EDITING or Post Processing to stand on its own!  The image below is one of these rare images and deserves to be looked at for this reason!

630nm RAW Image.

 

Post Processing with the 630nm filter is EXACTLY the same as with 590nm except for the fact that you will see some areas in the leaves that are green after the channel swap.  When you open and run Viveza, you simply select these areas and lower the green and blue (blue is just a little) which will give you the really nice pinks.  All other processing is just the same as with the 590nm!

OK, let us take a look at some example images made at 630nm!  Please, let me know what you think of these when compared to the 590nm images that you have seen here in the past!

Brookgreen Gardens, Oak Reflection, B&W Infrared, 630nm

As you can see from the image above, you can expect stunning B&W images from 630nm!

Brookgreen Gardens, Oak Reflections, 630nm Faux Color Infrared

Brookgreen Gardens, Garden Gate, Faux Color, 630nm

 

Brookgreen Gardens, Garden Gate, B&W, 630nm

As stated earlier, 630nm will generate stunning B&W images!  They are easy to do with NIK Software’s Silver EFX Pro Photoshop plugin.

I think that the next post will be a tutorial on how I create my own B&W images from the RAW Infrared images.

Stay tuned….!

 

 

 

 

 

Infrared Fine Art Printing


A Short (and useless!) Treatise  On Creating Emotionally Charged Prints

A Finely crafted Infrared photograph that creates an emotional link with its viewer is a rare thing. They are easily shown off in the electronic marketplace on line in places, well like here for instance!  BUT a real work of art is something that you can touch, both with your eyes as well as with your hands.

So why is this a useless attempt to convey printing knowledge? Some knowledge requires that you earn it… This was never more true than in the case of the fine art print. I can remember as if it was yesterday how frustrated I was when I was learning these skills. So, for me to assume that I could possibly pass these skills on to you in something as short as this post would be arrogant on my part! What I do hope to accomplish here is to give you a series of shortcuts to help speed you on your way!

The photographic greats throughout history all state that the art of the photograph is only half done in the camera, the rest is in the darkroom and through extension our computers and printers.  The art of the print is a very difficult skill to acquire.  It took me years to master the processes and artistic skills in order to create the emotionally charged print.

There is a distinct difference between printing color and B&W.  Now we throw in Infrared which can be a combination of the two and we double the complexity of the creative process.  The process can be so complicated that one can spend hours or even days on printing and reprinting the image and never being satisfied with the results.  So it only makes sense to try to simplify as much as possible in order to cut down on the hundreds of variables that affect print quality.

Here is a short list of things to consider in this simplification…

  1. ALWAYS color calibrate your computer monitor.
  2. Setup the Photoshop color system  selecting Adobe RGB 1998 profile and setting the appropriate color variables.
  3. ALWAYS disable the print driver color controls.
  4. ALWAYS enable Photoshop color controls for printing.
  5. ALWAYS set the Adobe RGB 1998 profile IN YOUR CAMERA.
  6. Unless you have actual paper ICC profiles for your printer use the manufacturers papers.
  7. When working in Photoshop, enable SOFT PROOFING so that you can see what you are going to print as you are editing your image and making changes!
  8. If you want SPECTACULAR prints purchase a RIP (Raster Image Processor) like Image Print from Color Byte. This is especially true for B&W but also applies to Color.  A RIP will allow you to totally bypass the print driver on your computer.  It changes how the print heads lay down ink, the dither patterns and much more. It gives you THOUSANDS of ICC profiles for hundreds of different paper manufacturers!  The list goes on and on but the biggest thing is it gives PERFECT monochromatic prints.  Your B&W’s have to be seen to be believed!
  9. Purchase a quality printer (it will pay for itself its first year!) I recommend EPSON.
  10. ALWAYS use manufacturer inks.  NEVER refill your tanks.
  11. ALWAYS clean your printer each and every day with a print head cleaning.

OK, this is just a short list of considerations for successful results, but there is one more…. ATTACH YOURSELF to an accomplished and established fine art printer who had done and understands all of the above!

 

Epson 7800 Print System

As stated, I use EPSON equipment.  I ALWAYS match my printers with a Colorbyte RIP in order to get the best quality prints on thousands of papers in both color and B&W. Currently, I have the Epson 7800 printer with the K3 ink set running Image Print V7 RIP. I have about 15 types of print media on hand that I am good with printing on, including…

  • Mat Canvas, Roll
  • Heavy textured fine art water color paper, Sheets
  • Heavy Glossy Paper, Roll
  • Heavy Mat Paper, Roll & Sheet
  • Heavy Metallic Glossy Paper, Roll & Sheet
  • Aluminum Metal Sheets
  • Silk  fabric
  • 2 sided mat paper for book binding, Sheets
  • Vinyl, Roll

I have several others, but these are the mainstay of my work to date.

I take great satisfaction and enjoyment in my printing and work very hard at it.  I would love to show you my print work but that is an impossibility in an electronic format!  I tend to produce three types of prints, Canvas Gallery Wraps onto which I paint with acrylics to give them a depth (Infrared, B&W and Color) in various sizes, three sizes of framed  prints and three sizes of matted prints.  The matted are the main works that walk out the door, but the gallery wraps are very popular.  The framed works are mostly B&W with a small number of color images thrown in but recently I have been doing Faux Color and B&W Infrared’s.  These are the true works of art.  I spend more time on these than all the others combined.  A finely crafted B&W and B&W Infrared image is something to behold!  For these images I ALWAYS choose my most emotionally charged images (2 posts ago) that have real depth.  I will usually use a heavy gloss paper or the new metallic gloss paper which just has to be seen to be believed!  I do print Infrared Faux and B&W on canvas but they do NOT have the same impact as they do on Gloss or Metallic!

The key to a successful print is the same as for a successful photograph.  you need contrasting elements both in light/shadows as well as in image elements (subjects and colors).  If you can master this art of contrasts (please read my previous post on emotional images) then you will have become a master at your art!

With the emotionally charged Infrared images that I have been able to generate it is no wonder as to why they have become much more popular than my color work!  And the key to that is the printing process…..

 

590nm Faux Color Infrared, Capt Dennis, Canon 20D Goldie IR

Remember, Camera time is only have of the photographic work flow!

 

 

Creating Emotional Image Depth


Using Infrared Photography To Create Emotional Impact

or

Help Me I Am LOST (In These Images)

WHY?

An emotional impact generated from viewing a finely crafted image is what all photographers strive for in their creative hearts.  But this deep. personal  effect from viewing is a very rare thing to achieve.  I have been a fine art photographer for 45 years now  and I doubt that I have a thousand images in my extensive library that actually can do this.  Not that it is the fault (at least all) of the images themselves, but the impact upon us is flavored in a large way by our life experiences, values and many other things that affect the viewer!

All that we can do as the artistic creator of the image is to plan and pre-visualize the image we wish to create.  Think of it with the viewers emotional reaction in mind.  Then MAKE it happen to the best of our ability.  If you are just starting out in photography then you will grow and acquire the technical photographic skills and then the artistic abilities.  These will not come to you just because you have the latest and greatest camera that a loved one gave you as a gift, then told you to go out and create…

#1 Using Light & Shadows To Create Contrasts

This is the real test of our art, not camera control, exposure and all of the other technical things that make up our craft.  While these things are indeed an important part of the skill set that makes us a good photographer, they are just tools…  The real magic comes in other areas, composition, use of light through contrasts  and placement.  Using simple things like color and contrasts to tell a story while drawing your viewer into your image!  The other technical things just make us technicians. I want more than that, I want to be the perfect artist.  I want to be consumed by my own images first then others will follow.

 

#2 B&W or Color, It Just DOESN'T Matter

Like I said, I have been doing this for a LONG time.  I am practiced, I know exposure, camera control, lens effects, how to create a sharp or blurred image, filter use, how to use flash or lots of flashes.  But, what has made me successful are my artistic skills.  These skills have taken me all of my life to learn and sharply hone to personal perfection.  What is perfect for me might not be perfect for you!

There are lots of ways to accomplish this emotional impact and my ways might not all work as good for you!  Still, I think that they could at least help.  So I will humbly try to give you a glimpse into how I look at things from the artistic side rather than from the technical.

Look at image #1 above.  This was take in Greece in January 2011.  As I walked into the ruins (after a totally amazing  week of photography) of this palace, I was amazed by how the scenery impacted me emotionally.  This was my first hint that this would be a good place to create art.  The sky was bright blue with moody clouds that created too much contrast, too much dynamic range for color work so I knew that color was out and that to create truly emotional images I would need to move to Infrared.  For the purposes of this post I do not care about the technical data necessary to make this image.  I want to share the artistic inspiration that I used to create this emotionally stimulating art.

So, I walked into the palace, through the Lions Gate and looked down upon the landscape as the image opened up before me.  I took in the bright light in the foreground and on the background hills. I saw the dark marble blocks with contrasty dark spaces between them.  I saw the green grasses that I knew would turn a soft shade of gold in Infrared.   The contrast of the gold against the blues took by breath  away.  I was mesmerized by the image opening up in my minds eye.  This all happened before I even got my camera out of my pack!  I moved back and forth, forward and backward.  I looked for the perfect angle and composition that would give the most overall contrast between the image elements, both implied as well as physical.  Bright sunlit hills, dark marble blocks, black spaces, light gray blocks and the sky with its contrast between the moody clouds and blue.   The contrast between the palace ruins and the fields beyond, EVERYTHING that I needed was here.  And guess what?  I realized that for this one perfect image that I didn’t need Faux Color or B&W because with the contrasts in light, foreground/background, clouds/sky, ruins/fields it just wouldn’t matter, in fact to me standing there I KNEW that both modes would work perfectly (look also at image #2)!  I looked out on this scene  and knew, planned and then MADE IT HAPPEN using the technical skill of exposure physics and focus control, lens and filter selection and DOF.  But, the camera was only my brush and I used this artistic tool to paint the image that I saw in my emotionally crazed mind onto the camera.

DONE.

Not simple or easy, but the process has become second nature over the years,  like I said the technical details are important or else you could not use your tool, but I created the art in my mind then used the tool to make it happen.

This ability to visualize the artistic and emotional imagery is a product my my own artistic growth over my lifetime.  Will it take you 45 years to get here?  I sure hope not!  I am after all a hard headed emotionally stunted human male and didn’t arrive at this state of artistic nirvana until late in life.  I guarantee you that there is more hope for you!

Here are a few more images that move me in ways that words just cannot describe.  I am drawn into these images and once seen cannot be separated from who I am.

I am a changed person…..  I hope you are also.

 

Contrasts, Sky/Clouds - Green/Gold - High/Low - Big Blocks/Small Blocks - Climbing Up Into The Image

Contrasts, Dark/Light, Clouds/Sky, Foregound/Background... I Can Walk Into This Image

Contrasts, Sky/Water, Dark Storm/Bright Forground, I Am LOST In This Image! Can You Smell The Rain? Hear The Wind?

Contrasts, Color/B&W, Reds/Golds/Blues, OH THE CONTRASTS! Do These Stairs Lead To Heaven?

 

Contrasts, The Walkway Leading In, Sun/Shade, Blue/Gray, Sky/Clouds, Reds/Golds What More Could You Want? Lets Go For A Walk In The Olive Groves!

 

OK and a LARGE version of the example image..

 

Contrast and Depth Is Everything...

What do YOU think of this ARTISTIC vision?  The Planning, the Visualization?  Please, give your thoughts and some feedback on all of this!

NOTE:  I know that you have seen most of these images here in older posts.  I picked them for inclusion here due to the fact that they show specific image qualities rather than locations!