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Author Topic: Looking for B&W suggestions  (Read 6125 times)
Lisa Nikodym
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« on: April 13, 2006, 11:09:11 PM »
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I took my new converted-to-IR D70 to Japan, and took a number of images.  They come out very reddish/magenta, however, and one must convert to B&W somehow or other.  I'm still experimenting with the process, and would appreciate if anyone else with digital IR experience could share some of their methods for doing so.

Also, IR aside, I'm looking for suggestions from B&W digital photographers on whether I'm ending up with something that looks good, or whether they would tweak the tonalities differently.  Following are two in which I was trying for somewhat different effects.  I welcome comments on the B&W conversion (or, for that matter, on anything else constructive you feel like saying  ).

Thanks
Lisa

P.S.  Yes, they each have a slight color cast.  After making an image perfectly neutral, I like to add a slight color cast that enhances the feeling of that particular image.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2006, 11:10:32 PM by nniko » Logged

oldcsar
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2006, 11:03:08 AM »
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Although I don't have an IR camera myself (yet), I've looked at several IR images. I think your subject material is excellent and picture worthy, but they don't scream "IR" to me. Was your D70 converted into visible light + IR, so that you can take normal pictures with manual WB and filter, or the full IR? If I didn't know they were IR, I might simply think that you did a b&w conversion from an unmodified camera. The foliage is noticeably IR, but it is VERY subtle in the temple & water shot compared to other examples I've seen.

If you haven't seen it already, I would suggest checking out the photo galleries at maxmax.com:

http://www.maxmax.com/carl_schofield.htm

This particular photographer makes good use of foliage, and blue sky with their sensitivity and insensitivity to IR devices, respectively. From what I understand, IR devices don't pick up the blue channel very well, and so clear blue skies at certain times of the day (midday?) will be dark. As you can see from this photographer's portfolio, he has no problem experimenting with color casts, so maybe that's something you should have lots of fun with in IR photography.

It may be the case that it was overcast when you took these photos, which could account for the very bright sky, but I'm not really sure.

also: if you are looking for suggestions on tonality, you should post the originals so that anyone, especially those with experience, can give you suggestions.
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larkvi
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2006, 07:23:39 PM »
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Have any of your skies gone to black? That and the foliage going ghostly white are the things that really strike me about IR photography.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2006, 09:56:58 PM »
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Lisa, I've done a lot of IR film, but no digital so I can't speak for the conversions.  I agree with oldcsar (sorry, I don't know your name): the images don't look hugely different to what you can do to a regular image in photoshop.  My 'advice' fwiw therfore comes not from direct experience, but from research as one who's looking for a way to do IR digitally!

As I understand it, many of the DSLR IR conversions allow the camera to record visible as well as IR light, so should you be filtering the visible light out with an IR filter? I know some converters claim you don't need to use an IR filter post-conversion, but I'd bet your results would be enhanced if you did so. I know one photographer who modified his 10D, and he gets better results when he uses an appropriate filter.

As I understand it, it is quite normal to experience a colour cast in your RGB images from a converted DSLR.  I googled and came up with this site which may help you, and there were some digital how-tos here too.

Hope you master it - I've looked around your website a few times and really like your work!
Peter
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2006, 09:34:09 AM »
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Interesting and unexpected responses.  Good to know.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much in the way of blue skies during the week I was there, so I wasn't able to get the dark IR skies with pale clouds I would have liked.  My camera is IR-only, not a visible-light-too version, so the comments about additional filters don't really apply; I think I just took pictures that presented themselves to me and weren't differently dramatic in IR, instead of searching for situations that *were* dramatically different in IR.  (The vast majority of the images I took were regular color ones; the IR was an occasional diversion.)

I took color images of the same (or very similar scenes), and I've attached them for comparison.  For the first, the IR makes the foliage pale and the reflection much stronger.  For the second, the orange portions of the gateway were much paler in IR, setting them off from the black cross-pieces, which I liked (and, again, the pale foliage is a bit interesting).

I'm aware of techiques for fabricating weird-looking science-fictiony false-color images, but am not particularly interested.  I prefer the more natural (in some sense of the word) and subtle look of B&W.  (Though from your comments, maybe it's TOO subtle...)  I'm not trying to produce images that scream "gimmick! gimmick!", but pretty images to complement what I do in color.  I'll take a look at the false-color links, though, and maybe play with it a bit  ; thank you for them.

Most of the time, I just desaturate the image in ACR.  I've made a couple of attempts at bringing the image into PS with the individual color channels still intact, and using the channel mixer to create a gray-scale image, but am still experimenting to get it to do something reasonable.

And thanks for the kind words, Peter.

Forgetting about any IR issues, are there any B&W photogs out there who can comment on how they might adjust the tonalities of these images differently? (Oldcsar: when you say "originals", do you mean the RAW files?  Not enough bandwidth.  Or do you mean downloadable versions of my final images?  You can click on the thumbnails and then right click and do "save as" to save a copy.)

Thanks, all
Lisa
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pobrien3
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2006, 12:48:57 PM »
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You're welcome, Lisa! I checked with my friend who has the IR mod, and he confirmed - his mod, like yours, is designated as IR-only, but he said he gets better results when he uses an IR filter.  I can't vouch for this personally, but that's what the man says fwiw!

Incidentally for my own curiosity, I took the 'real' colour image of the temple and from it falsified an IR effect in PS. Doesn't manage to recreate the true IR effect in foliage!
[attachment=437:attachment]
« Last Edit: April 15, 2006, 12:49:51 PM by pobrien3 » Logged
oldcsar
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2006, 04:58:08 PM »
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well, I don't think anyone's asking you to be gimmicky.  but if you're going to go for IR, wouldn't it make sense to push for conditions which bring out the unique way that IR devices capture the environment? I personally don't think it's worth shelling out several hundred dollars for a modification you won't utilize.

"I'm aware of techiques for fabricating weird-looking science-fictiony false-color images"
Correct me if I'm wrong, but our eyes don't see IR light. Therefore, what the imaging sensor shows us is more or less a fabrication, or conversion of what we normally wouldn't be able to see. IR photos depict false color by bringing light outside of the human visible spectrum, into the human spectrum of sight. Since it has that nature, I don't see any harm in experimenting with the colors. If you're not going to experiment, I can't imagine a clear advantage in converting a camera to IR.

Of course, post-processing gives the photographer the opportunity to push the elements far, or subdue them. I do think that the effects are just a bit too subtle in these images. If you don't want to experiment much with IR images, then that's entirely up to you... but if you cling too closely to your methods, you might prevent yourself from growing in IR photography.

When I said "originals", I was looking for the images before b&w conversion. JPEG is practical, converted from RAW with normal settings and no modifications to the camera's saturation, channels, or white balance adjustment. From what I understand, they are very red, as that's the channel that the IR is most sensitive to.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2006, 05:02:52 PM by oldcsar » Logged

Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2006, 12:54:38 AM »
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I personally don't think it's worth shelling out several hundred dollars for a modification you won't utilize.

You exaggerate a bit.  You really can't say that I "won't utilize" the technology just because I choose to make the differences from normal color images more subtle than your own preferences dictate.  You misunderstand why I'm doing IR photography at all.  My purpose is not just to make obviously IR photographs of something or other that looks extreme in IR.  My purpose is to produce images of particular places, which I sometimes do in both color and IR, and if think the IR image was more effective in some way, I'll use it instead of the color one and call it a success.  I've experimented a little with false-color images and the like (and will probably do so some more), and it can be amusing, but they aren't really something I want to hang on my wall. YMMV.

I was at one of the major photography galleries in Carmel and year or two ago, and the gallery owner showed me some images she was obviously excited about.  They were B&W landscapes by one of the Muench family (I forget which one) which looked somewhat odd to me, but I couldn't quite figure out why.  She then explained that they were taken with IR film.  To me, the differences between those images and equivalent B&W ones were subtle, but different enough to make them interesting.  That's the sort of IR photography that most interests me.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but our eyes don't see IR light. Therefore, what the imaging sensor shows us is more or less a fabrication, or conversion of what we normally wouldn't be able to see. IR photos depict false color by bringing light outside of the human visible spectrum, into the human spectrum of sight. Since it has that nature, I don't see any harm in experimenting with the colors. If you're not going to experiment, I can't imagine a clear advantage in converting a camera to IR.

Certainly there are conversions between the IR sensor frequency range and the visible range going on.  And I never said that there's any harm in experimenting; I've done some of it myself, and am still trying some different things and finding my way.  But, so far, I find more pleasing (to me - YMMV) images come from using the straightforward conversion of "amount of IR in this frequency range is proportional to the brightness of the image" rather than things like "let's swap the red channel and the blue channel and see what weird stuff comes out".  Again, YMMV.

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also: if you are looking for suggestions on tonality, you should post the originals so that anyone, especially those with experience, can give you suggestions.

OK, I'd be interested in seeing what others can do with the original images.  I've converted the RAW images in ACR with the initial settings I use for normal color images, except with the "exposure" and "shadows" sliders moved to minimize clipping (though the second one had some clipping in bits of the sky, but I decided that was not a problem); they are attached.

Lisa
« Last Edit: April 16, 2006, 12:55:34 AM by nniko » Logged

pobrien3
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2006, 04:50:38 AM »
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I had a fiddle with the image of the temple using Convert B&W Pro and several other methods, and can't improve on what you've already done without resorting to post-B&W trickery.  There's just too little tonal data in the image other than red and black.

Have you seen the IR work of Simon Marsden? Gorgeous stuff, very haunting!
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2006, 09:51:04 AM »
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Have you seen the IR work of Simon Marsden? Gorgeous stuff, very haunting!

Yes, I found his work on the web about a year or two ago, and was VERY impressed.  The atmosphere is absolutely extraordinary, and I envy his skill at capturing it.  I haven't looked at it in a long time, though.  It's time to do so again for inspiration and to see what's possible.  Thanks very much for the reminder...  

Lisa

P.S.  While I'm here, I found an amusing effect of IR that caught me off guard.  I had another photo from the trip of a Japanese garden with foliage reflected in a pond, and, while the foliage is pale, its reflection is dark.  Interesting (subtle, though).  Image attached.
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oldcsar
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2006, 08:41:23 PM »
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After reading your later response, I understand what you're looking for a little better. I suppose I got an incorrect impression of you after referring to the sample images of the link I supplied as "weird-looking science-fictiony false-color images." I thought they were good examples of what can be achieved through conversion, and found the way you worded your response to be very dismissive.

If you ever checked out that link, you'll find that the eighth one down from the top is similar in approach to the latest photo you posted... it's a black and white conversion, not color. IMHO, I find your latest attachment to be a much nicer conversion, and reminds me of that eighth photo in regards to tonality and the emphasis on foliage. It has that nice ir *pop*, and it's pretty clear to me you wouldn't have resorted to any sort of "trickery" to get that look.

Regarding what I said about shelling out hundreds of dollars for something that isn't noticeably utilized... I understand that you think that's exaggerated, but that's simply my own opinion on the matter of IR photography in conflict with yours. The fact that IR photography sees the world differently than visible spectrum only makes me want to persue a different direction than I would normally shoot from... different type of image, different conversion.

I experimented with both of the "very red" attachments, and the first shot came out similar to yours... I was surprised by how close it was at the end, when I compared it to your own b&w conversion. The only difference I see is that I didn't push the shadow tones as far, and brought the sky down a few notches in brightness. I still went for some dark tones, but if you look at the water, you'll see that I tried to show a little more detail in the water's reflection.

My choice in tonality on the second photo differs greatly from yours. I agreed with how black you made the roof of the gate, but found that the midtones you selected hid a lot of the texture of the stone guardians. It's far less "contrasty" than your interpretation, but unlike that wonderful photo of the japanese garden foliage, I don't think the tonalities match the subject matter (in reference to the midtones on the stone guardians and the visibility of the japanese calligraphy at their bases)

It was interesting working with the very red samples. Seems to me that there's FAR fewer effective ways of manipulating the tonality of IR in convert to b&w pro than with full color images...
« Last Edit: April 16, 2006, 08:44:21 PM by oldcsar » Logged

Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2006, 09:02:41 PM »
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Oldcsar, I recall a discussion somewhere in the LL forums about how easy it is to misinterpret someone's post, especially their attitude and intent, because one doesn't have the usual hints of facial expression and intonation that one has in regular conversation.  It appears that we both misinterpreted one others' posts to some extent.  I did check out your link, and saw the one B&W image; however, all the rest were the weird-color variety that isn't to my taste, and those rest were the ones I was referring to.

I also see that your conversions weren't too different from mine.  (Yes, you achieved a different atmosphere from mine for the 2nd picture by making it generally brighter, but otherwise it appears that the basic approach you took was probably pretty similar.  I agree that the brightness of yours probably works better; I was trying for a more mysterious, ominous atmosphere, but maybe that was a mistake.)  It is indeed difficult to determine the best way to convert them when most of the information is in the red channel; that's what I'm struggling with, and why I posted looking for suggestions.  So I gather that you used "Convert to B&W Pro" to do it?  I don't have it - I've been trying desaturating in ACR, or using only the red channel.

The first time I exercised the new IR-only camera, I blew out the red channel on all the images because the D70 only has a combined histogram.  Since then, I've taken three exposures of everything and then use ACR later to figure out which one isn't clipped.  Oh, for a three-color histogram like on my D200!  

Lisa
« Last Edit: April 17, 2006, 09:04:43 PM by nniko » Logged

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