The “IR Queen,” Deborah Sandidge, taught me some cool techniques in Virginia. Here she is, captured in all her IR glory!
I had the chance to play around with an infrared DSLR while teaching a workshop in Virginia. I’ve never used IR before, and I’m glad that the “IR Queen,” Deborah Sandidge was there to show me the ropes.
In the past, IR photography was something most people really didn’t do. Options for IR before digital came along were to either use IR-sensitive film or an IR cut filter on the lens. Neither of these options were particularly ideal. IR sensitive film was a real pain because it had to be kept cold and had to be loaded in complete darkness to avoid clouding it. IR cut filters, which only allow infrared wavelengths to pass, make shooting tough because they block all visible light… meaning you can’t see through the camera with one attached to your lens. Moreover, exposures with IR filters needed to be on the order of minutes to capture anything.
With digital, the game has changed. You can send your old DSLR or even a point and shoot camera in to a company and have the optical low-pass filter removed and replaced with one that blocks most visible light. Depending on your ambitions, there are several “flavors” of conversions, including some that allow certain visible wavelengths to pass through in addition to the IR ones. Once you’ve converted your camera, you’ll need to explore the art of processing IR images. Continue reading
If you can adjust your image to deliver the quality you want, does it matter what software you use?
If you’ve followed my or my photography over the years, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Nikon cameras and also Capture NX2 editing software. You’ve probably also noticed that I’ve been experimenting with Lightroom 4 recently, and I started teaching classes on it.
I made the move to digital photography from film in 2005. At that time, there were raging battles between Nikon and Adobe over things like “encrypted White Balance” and such. At that time, converting NEFs (Nikon RAW format) images with software other than Nikon Capture 4 (or later, Capture NX) was potentially risky. Early versions of Adobe Camera RAW and other programs sometimes created artifacts and rendered colors differently than what Nikon’s converter did.
The beauty of processing RAW files is that every setting is plastic and reversible. However, the initial conversion parameters set the baseline for exposure, contrast, and color rendition and differ with each RAW converter application. One thing that Nikon photographers point out is that they like their default (starting point) conversion to match the “as-shot” look (as viewed on the back of their camera) as closely as possible. This makes sense. If you like the look of Nikon’s Picture Control “Standard,” then it’s very convenient to see the initial image rendered this way when you open the RAW file. After that initial conversion, you can do whatever you want to process your image. Continue reading
D800e test image (full frame view) shot with Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS G Nikkor. 1/200s @f/11, ISO 200.
The Nikon D800 has a 36x24mm (FX format) sensor with 36-megapixel resolution. How do you get the best quality from this amazing sensor? By using good technique and properly sharpening your images, of course. If you shoot JPEG with the D800/e, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you want to make large prints (or crop). In my initial testing, I’m seeing that the sharpening halos produced by the in-camera sharpening algorithms (Nikon Picture Controls) are a little too large to bring out the finest details. So, how should you attack your D800 images? I’ve taken a look at sharpening routines in three different programs: ACR 7.1/ Lightroom 4, Capture NX2, and Aperture. When you sharpen properly, you’ll be amazed at what pops out of the RAW files from the D800!
Before you begin, do keep in mind that no amount of sharpening is going to produce great results unless you’ve got a properly focused image and a well-supported camera. If you had camera shake or subject motion from a slow shutter speed, there isn’t much you can do.