1st Official Fuji X Pro 1 720nm Converted IR Post!


Here it is…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

frontnolensWell, it arrived!  After months of consideration after I got my X-E1 I finally decided to send off the X Pro 1 for  Infrared conversion.  It went to Dan at LDP (maxmax.com) and the cost was $500.00.  YIKES!  yes I said $500.00!  Dan explains that the X Pro 1 is the most difficult conversion that he does!  It required him 1.5 days to do the conversion and lots unsoldering/soldering to get to the sensor.  Still, better than sitting on the shelf or an attempted sale on Ebay, plus  I really like the camera and the hybrid viewfinder is just perfect for IR.

I had to decide between 720nm and 850nm so decided to go for the 720 in order to have a little color ( I really like the bronze tones right out of the camera at 720nm).  The total time for shipping – conversion – shipping was 8 days, door to door.  Very fast!

Importantly, the Fuji X Pro 1 camera White Balances perfectly. For these tests I white balanced on a green shrub in front of my gallery.  The process to do so on the camera is simple and fast!

The scope of THIS post is to talk about the conversion itself and to give you some sample images testing each of my normal Fuji and Voigtlander lens set that I use.

  • Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens
  • Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6
  • Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens

My first image out of the camera was with the Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens.  It is stunningly sharp with great contrasts and tones without any processing at all! This is simply a perfect IR image right out of the camera.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

OK, the original hot mirror can tell us a lot about the capability of the Fuji body to take IR with no conversion.  The strength of the internal filter from the X Pro 1 is quite strong!  It is actually 2 filters sandwiched together.  They are very much like the B+W 486 IR blocking filter and the LDP CC1 IR blocking filter back to back.  The 486 is a pink/gold  filter that extends a little further into the visible light spectrum before falling off and allows a little less IR to pass through.  The CC1 filter is wider at the UV end.  The two filters together will pass light to the sensor from about  300nm to 700nm.  You can see this in the image below. This is the same filter arrangement (hot mirror) that we normally see in the Canon DSLR line and on the Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera line.

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

If you were to look at the 486 and CC1 filters they are the same general colors and pass band to what we actually see here!  So , what does this all mean to you?  If you decide (and convince Dan) to have a full spectrum conversion done on your X Pro 1, you can convert it back to a normal color camera by stacking both of these filters (B+W486 and the LDP CC1) on the end of your lens.  The full spectrum Infrared conversion is one where the hot mirror (IR blocking filter) is removed from in front of the sensor and replaced with a piece of clear glass.  Then, the camera is programmed to the specific UV or IR band with the addition of the appropriate filter on the end of the lens.

Normally, the hot mirror can bee seen as the colored layer of glass under the lens as shown here where you can now see the 720nm filter installed.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Lenses that Work/Don’t Work with the X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion…

Lens Hot Spots

As you may know (or guessed), not all lenses work well in the Infrared spectrum.  This is due to many things, but most commonly, the coatings on the lens elements and the coatings on the internal lens barrel and how they reflect IR light energy.  The common failure then is in the form of HOT SPOTS in the center of the image captured by the camera.  These are always dead center in the middle of the image and present as large round white areas.  Sometimes, they can be overcome by using a wider aperture, but not always…

Lets talk about the lenses that I tested that work (or in 1 case mostly work)…

Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Len:

Fuji X 35mm Lens

Fuji X 35mm Lens

WOW, what can I say?  This lens works perfectly in the 720nm spectrum at all apertures!  The camera auto focuses perfectly and fast, the images are sharp and there are no hot spots at any aperture!  Lets take a look.  This first image is raw out of the camera.  I have done not post processing for B&W or Faux Color but there is enough color in the 720nm spectrum to have some interesting Faux Color results.  These types of images will be covered in another post next week and we will spend a lot of time and effort teaching and going through each step in the recipe used to create them in Photoshop CS6 and the Nik filter set.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Next, is the same image post processed using CS6 and Nik’s Silver EFX Pro for B&W…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens:

vt7518bThis lens from Voigtlander is one of the sharpest, easy to use lenses that I own.  The fit and finish on this lens is something to behold.  The lens has an included clamp on lens hood that works very well.  The focusing is so smooth that it is scary… It is a PERFECT match for the Fuji X system (X Pro 1 and the X-E1) and works just as well here in Infrared!  I was very happy to discover this in my tests at 720nm!  There are no hot spots at any aperture.  It takes Take a look:

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11.  Raw

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11. Raw (notice the nice bronze coloring)

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens:

Fuji X 18mm lens.

Fuji X 18mm lens.

This lens works well as long as you do not go beyond f/8.  Past that it generates very discinct hot spot in the center of the image.  While this can be overcome in post processing  with Nik’s Viveza, it is still slightly disappointing…  Still, when used at f/8 or wider the lens generates pleasing sharp images that make it worthwhile to carry in your camera bag!  Here are the RAW test samples for you to consider.

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6

Voitlander 12mm

Voitlander 12mm

Another great lens from Voigtlander.  This one has a built in lens hood and while it will take screw in filters they need to be wide angle versions.  It also has that super smooth focusing feel but since it is so ultra wide at 12mm you can focus it pretty much at infinity and it will always be in focus.  I love this lens on the X Pro 1 and X-E1.  For 720nm Infrared, it works great until you hit f/22 then it gives a faint hot spot.  This is just fine with me as I rarely go beyond f/11 or f/16.

Take a look at the samples:

Voitlander

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/8 RAW

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens:

Fuji 18-55

Fuji 18-55

This lens is such a disappointment to me…  It is without a doubt my favorite walk around Fuji lens on the X-E1 camera. I hardly ever take it off.   Sharp and clear with great contrast.  That being said it is all but USELESS for Infrared!  There is a major hot spot problem at ALL focal lengths at ANY aperture past f/4.  At f/4 it did take nice images but as you understand, useless for landscapes.   Bummer…..  I am beyond disappointed over this one.

Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens:

Fuji 60mm

Fuji 60mm

I am going to initially tell you to simply forget this lens for Infrared.  It has a seriously bad hot spot at all apertures.  I will also share with you that I might actually have a bad copy of it.  It gives a terrible hot spot on my X-E1 when shooting in color as well, especially when using a flash.  I think that I am going to send it back to Fuji for repair and see what they think.  Depending upon that I might re-evaluate it for Infrared later on!

Ok this is all for the initial post.  

The next post will focus on post procseeing and what can be acheived artistically with this new Infrared Fuji X Pro 1!

Please let me know what you think!

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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!

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!

Grist Mills Of Rhode Island


Post Processing the Infrared Grist Mills of Rhode Island

Hammond Mill, Selective Focus

I have just now getting around to post processing the Rhode Island section of The Great 2 Week Grist Mill Trip!  I cannot believe that I am so behind… Oh well, better late than never!  Since completion of the trip I have had 2 other Grist Mill Trips with a ton of photos in the que! All of these images were taken on my Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum converted IR system using the Oly 14-150mm lens with a B+W 091 630nm filter.

As you can see I processed for both Faux Color and B&W IR images because you just never know how they will look unless you try!

Does everyone understand exactly what a Faux Color Infrared image is?  It is likened to the old Kodak HIE IR films of the 80’s (I actually designed the silver salt growing system for that film while I worked at Kodak!).  In modern converted IR digital camera systems the images are true IR images, but since the sensor is RGB we have a lot of color data there!  To get to what the film was capable of producing we simply swap the data on the Red and Blue channel of the image in Photoshop, fine tune the colors in NIK Viveza and work from there!  Just because it is described as a Faux or False Color IR image doesn’t mean that it is so!

The B+W 091 is a little more on the red  end of the spectrum so the images tend to (when Faux Color…) lean more towards the pinks and reds.

Basic Post processing is as follows:

  1. After conversion of my RAW files in Capture One Pro v6 I then do my critical deletion edit using Bridge.  This is perhaps the most difficult step. You have to look beyond low contrast off color images and see what they can be. Look for coloration (this will get better with time), emotional impact (yes you CAN do this! I have several BLOG postings here that talk specifically about this one…) and sharpness and exposure.  Think about each and every image in terms of Faux Color and B&W! When finished, I then open the images one at a time in Adobe Photoshop CS5 with ALL of the NIK filters installed.
  2. I did my normal cropping to my master storage size of 12.5×8.5 making sure that the image was at 300dpi and in the Adobe RGB 1998 color space
  3. I ran NIK Software’s Define 2.0 for noise reduction. For this I simply accept the default settings!
  4. I then ran NIK Viveza 2.0 and specifically added 20% structure and 10% extra contrast without any control points so that the changes affected the entire image!  This was to create a brighter deeper image before I ran the channel swap Photoshop Action!  WOW!  WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS MADE!
  5. I then ran the channel swap action and proceeded as normal with the rest of my Post Processing Recipe! This is the Khomography Photoshop Action that you can download here towards the bottom of the right hand menu! The action swaps data between the Red and Blue image channel and allows you to adjust the Hue/Saturation in the Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue & Magenta color channels separately!
  6. In the action select the Red, Yellow, Cyan and Blue channels and adjust each of them using saturation and hue to get the image elements to start to fall into place. Pay careful attention to the Cyan channel adjustment as most of the time the sky takes on a green/aqua tint which looks terrible!  Simply adjust the Hue of the Cyan channel to fix this!
  7. Now, Calling up Nik’s Viveza again I will select specific elements of the image with control points.  I will add contrast and structure then adjust the primary colors R,G and B to adjust the specific color of the compositional element to achieve the overall color I want for it.  You can also use the Warmth Slider to add or remove warmth.  This entire process takes only a few moments to do if you understand your basic color wheel and how to mix to change!  This process will give you your final ball park image!
  8. THEN I called up another of NIK Software’s world class filters and ran the TONAL CONTRAST filter in the COLOR EFX PRO plugin.  The result was this incredible image full of contrasts tonalities as well as contrasting colors!

Rather than simply place the images here in the post separately I am going to try Word Press’s new Photo Gallery.  Simply click on any of the images that you see to bring up a nice slide show!

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!


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!

The Grist Mill Trip – Day 1


So Much Fun That It Hurts!

Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway, VA. 630nm Faux IR

Well, I should warn you here…. This is going to be a series of LONG posts (about 6) that will be comprised of both Infrared and Color photography!  I feel that to show only one or the other will just not do credit to the locations that I visited!

I am tired, we got back last Wednesday night after 2800 miles of driving from Pawleys Island to Boston.  Boston was the location of a wedding that I had to attend with my wife and the motivation for 10 days of travel to visit Grist Mills, Covered Bridges & Lighthouses!

Yes, I have a VERY UNDERSTANDING & SUPPORTIVE WIFE!

It was a very relaxing trip and we visited about a dozen of each of the subjects.  I had a great and successful time. I tried to make sure that we visited each location in the best light but as you know sometimes that is just impossible.  This is where Infrared can save the day (or vacation)!  Some locations screamed color but I shot in both formats regardless.  I hope that you enjoy the images as much as I did making them!

Our first planned stop was on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia at the Mabry Mill.  This is likely the most photographed mill in the country and you can see why from the images. It is a stunningly beautiful location with a perfect mill.  The elements of a perfect IR image are all there:  Water Reflections,  Green Leaves & Sky.  Usually there are so many people visiting the mill that it is hard to get a shot without them in it.  Today was the exception.  We got there about 2 pm and it was overcast with very subdued light.  I couldn’t have asked for better conditions for both color and infrared.

Mabry Mill, B&W 630nm Long View

The long view when approaching the mill gives a stunning framed image using the fence, hill and trees.  The entire property is in pristine condition and just screams “Take My Picture”!  Below is a Faux Color version of the same image.

Processing with my standard Faux Color recipe:

For CS5:

  1. Taking the picture I adjusted the exposure compensation to -.7ev to keep the red channel under control and not blow out the sky.  I also set the White balance using a BRNO neutral WB lens cap.
  2. After moving the image to the computer via Downloader PRO (see recent post) and RAW processing with  Capture One V5 where I added a little contrast and clarity, I opened the image in CS5.
  3. I cropped for my master library size (8.5×12.5)
  4. Run NIK Software’s Viveza 2.0 and apply about 15% STRUCTURE to the overall image only by not using control points.
  5. Run the Khromagery Faux Color Action (down load on the right).  In the Master Color Channel I simply increased the Saturation as necessary which brought out the blue sky & water and the yellow plants.  I then choose the Cyan, Red & Yellow channel adjustments and made sure to adjust the HUE to where I liked it.
  6. The ABOVE Cyan adjustment is important, I hate sky’s and water looking blue-green, so I always adjust the Cyan HUE to go to normal blue!
  7. I then flattened the Adjustment Layers.
  8. Next I ran NIK Software’s Viveza (a Photoshop plug in) and simply made point selections of the color I wished to modify, ran up the structure to bring out detail and adjusted the brightness.  I did this to all of the color areas I needed to like the water surface, the yellow plants and the blue sky. I also selected the warm colored wood of the Trunk and the rocks in the foreground and removed color saturation forcing them to be B&W!
  9. Again flatten the image.
  10. Save as a PSD file

For Elements:

You MUST install the Elements Plus Plugin (see post on this BLOG for link)

Link Here to Detailed Post On Elements Processing

  1. Convert your RAW image to Tiff.
  2. Open in Elements
  3. Crop
  4. Run NIK Software’s Define 2.0 noise reduction filter.
  5. Run NIK Software’s Viveza 2.0 and apply STRUCTURE only.
  6. Open the Channel Mixer, changing red and blue
  7. Run the Hue/Saturation adjustment and adjust DOWN the saturation HUE on the Cyan channel.
  8. Run NIK Software’s Viveza 2.0 and make your color, saturation, structure & contrast adjustments across the entire image.
  9. Flatten the Layers
  10. Save as a TIFF or PSD in your output library with a meaningful name!

The most important aspect of this is to look at the trees. Do you see how the leaves look slightly different in coloration?  This means that you should adjust each tree to a slightly different hue to get the most impact!  These small adjustments are so easy to accomplish with Nik Software’s Viveza plugin.

Mabry Mill, Long View. Faux Color 630nm

This image was also one of those rare ones that looked good in the RAW format.  By this I mean straight out of the camera, converted from RAW to TIFF and processed for contrast and structure only using NIK Viveza.  As you can see, it generated a rather pleasing image that is soft on the eyes!

Mabry Mill, Long View, RAW 630nm

As I said, the lighting was very subdued so I could shoot in color also.  Here is a version of that at the same location for you to compare.  Which do you like the best?

Mabry Mill, Long View, Color, Panasonic GH2 w/ 14-42mm Lens

But what ever you decide, make sure that you totally explore your subject.  Walk around it, take both long and short view images, landscape and portrait, DETAIL closeup shots and look for the unexpected!

Mabry Mill, Sluice

Process EVERY image you take in both color and B&W (color) and RAW, Faux and B&W (Infrared).  You will be surprised at the variety of emotions each will generate! Below is the same color image but converted to a medium contrast B&W image using NIK Silver EFX Pro V2.  I actually think that in the case of this image that the B&W image has more impact!

Mabry Mill Sluice, Color Converted To B&W

OK, moving on, I moved in closer to the mill but still giving space for a water reflection in the foreground. This image is a little more pleasing due to the greater detail that our eyes can detect.  Again, process in all possible ways to discover what we actually have!

Mabry Mill Closeup, RAW

Mabry Mill Closeup, Color

Mabry Mill Closeup, 630nm B&W

Now, had it been a bright sunny day color photography would have been out of the question due to the late arrival time at the mill.  Keep this in mind as you plan your excursions.  Regardless of this, you can always depend on great Infrared images any time of the day.  That is a pretty good motivation to embrace IR don’t you think?

This was a really good first day for the trip.  Mabry Mill is indeed worth the time necessary to travel to it.

There is another mill around the corner from it about 3 miles away, but it is in a commercial center and the wheel is gone.

Knowing that I was going to take 10 days to travel up the east coast to Boston, I RESEARCHED all of the mills and covered bridges from South Carolina north, and Missouri  east all the way up. I think that I have all of the worthwhile mills in 19 states entered into my GPS now!  There are about 300 mills that I narrowed down to about 75 based on their beauty first and foremost.  I then took the time to enter them ALL into my GPS so that I could easily find them.  This also has the added benefit that as you travel, the GPS will show you how far away you are from any of the mills in the list and continually update moving the closest to the top of the list!  What more could you ask for when you are ALWAYS in search of mills?

Even now that the trip is over I continue to research mills.  Just this weekend I added another 30 to my GPS list.  This list can be managed on your computer and downloaded directly to your GPS! 

I plan on adding this way point list to my download section here on this blog shortly so that you all can have access to these perfect subjects!  I only hope that you do the same and share new mills with me!

I hope that you enjoyed this LONG OVERDUE first post on the 2011 Great Grist Mill trip!  I will add every few days the next day of travel as I process the days images.  Keep in mind that I came back with over 2500 images which I reduced to about 1200 by the first editing step:  DELETION of the bad, marginal or duplicate images.

Tomorrow, Day 2:  Lancaster County, PA for Covered Bridges and Amish Farmland!

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!

A Day Of Perfect Photography…


I Tried For Color Work But Switched To Infrared!

Oh, MY!  I do so love the B+W 091 630nm deep red Infrared Filter!  The reds, pinks and yellows that it creates for a scene with various types of trees and lighting are just breath taking!  Case in point, consider the following image.  This was taken on a long overdue photographic trip to Magnolia Gardens in Charleston, SC at the end of March.  I actually went to take color images due to the explosion of flowers, but kept finding myself with the Infrared camera in my hand time and time again without even realizing it!

Now I can see why!

Bridge At Magnolia Gardens, 630nm IR, Faux Processing

I am stunned by the emotional pounding that this image creates in my mind.  It is though I am sitting in the grass looking at the bridge, smelling the flowers and hearing the birds sing!  I cannot ask any more of one of my images than to do just this!

I did something a little different with these images in Post Processing!  Let me share it with you and perhaps you will decide to try it yourself!

  1. I did my normal cropping to my master storage size of 12.5×8.5 making sure that the image was at 300dpi and in the Adobe RGB 1998 color space
  2. I ran NIK Software’s Define 2.0 for noise reduction.
  3. I then ran NIK Viveza 2.0 and specifically added 20% structure and 10% extra contrast without any control points so that the changes affected the entire image!  This was to create a brighter deeper image before I ran the channel swap Photoshop Action!  WOW!  WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS MADE!
  4. I then ran the channel swap action and proceeded as normal with the rest of my Post Processing Recipe!

For the B&W conversion I took the finished Faux Color image and ran it through NIK Silver EFX Pro and added contrast, structure and reduced brightness!  Remember to change the image MODE in photoshop to Grayscale once you are done with Silver EFX!

Here is the finished B&W version of the same image.  Please let me know what you think of these and which you like the best!

Bridge At Magnolia Gardens, 630nm B&W

Here are a few more from the outing but they are NOT in the same league as the first two! All of these images were processed by using Viveza 2.0 prior to the Channel Swap Action!

Audubon Swamp at Magnolia Gardens, 630nm B&W

Audubon Swamp at Magnolia Gardens, 630nm Faux Color

"The Path Least Taken" at Magnolia Gardens, 630nm B&W