Italy, 2012, Post 3


Images, Images and More Images!

Assisi, Road Thru Houses 590nm Infrared

Todays post are just a few more of my favorite Infrared Images taken around Italy.  All are 590nm with an equal mix of Faux Color and B&W.  The post processing on them are basically the same as in the last post.  All were taken with the Panasonic GH2 with the 14-140mm Panasonic lens.

Rome, the high fashion district at the Spanish Steps. Notice the vast crowds! 590nm

I will likely add some Color images here as well in the coming days to highlight the differences between locations done in both Infrared and Color!  But for now, on last gallery of Infrared images:

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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!