Monday, March 24, 2014

Infra-red (IR) revisited

The last time I tried Infra-red (IR) photography I was using a Nikon D80 and the results were not very good. Exposure times were around 30 seconds and the lenses in my kit at that time didn't play nice with IR and made all sorts of 'hot spots' in the picture. The post processing tools I had available were also not very flexible.

Fast forward a couple of years and I realised that I hadn't tried IR with the D600, current lenses and processing tools. I didn't have high expectations, but was delighted with what I found:

Nikon D600, Nikkor 18-35mm D* lens, Cokin 720nm IR filter, 3sec, f8, ISO800. Processed in Lightroom and Photoshop CC.

Notice the white dot (center top)? That's a daytime moon, mid-day with lots of sun - only with IR. So, all in all and for an unconverted, non-IR camera, the D600 does a pretty good job and the 18-35 D makes a reasonable IR lens (it even has the focus adjustment marks for IR).

Note: I have no idea how the latest 18-35mm *G* lens performs - it is totally different from the *D* being used here and has no IR markings.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gary Fong Lightsphere

When asked to photograph the opening of our latest exhibition, particularly the procession and karakia, I was worried about how to light it. The room was large (though helpfully white) and the lighting in the room would be subdued (only small spots lighting the work). So, how was I going to get a reasonably even light across the room?

I thought about installing multiple speedlights around the room, but wanted to be mobile as the action could be anywhere. In the end I opted for an on-camera flash fitted with a Gary Fong Lightsphere. I used the sphere without its dome and angled slightly forward (about 30 degrees from vertical) with the (SB700) flash unit set to as broad a beam as possible (see below).

The camera was set to manual at about -2ev from ambient and the flash on TTL. A couple of test shots gave me a little more confidence that this arrangement would deliver the goods, and so it proved:

This was one of the first shots and there was sufficient output from the Lightsphere that I even had to burn down the glare on the white plinth in the mid-ground. What nice even lighting it produced and it even managed to overpower the warm spots (still visible in the far room where the lightsphere couldn't reach. All in all, I am very pleased with the Lightsphere for this type of event photography. Recommended.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Strange requests, bad weather and forgotten keys

Requests to take portraits, photograph homes, golf courses or even bees, are pretty ordinary but today’s request was less run-of-the-mill; can you photograph my lichen? Not knowing exactly what to expect, I packed everything I could think I might need and set out. The day was a bit dodgy, hail showers and stormy winds, so I even packed a brolly – to keep my gear dry.

When I arrived it was indeed plain, ordinary, lichen growing on a log of wood and having a party in the last few days of autumnal wetness. Now I could have offered the lady some previous pictures of lichen which were somewhere on my hard drive at home, but this was her lichen, growing outside her window and therefore somewhat special. And so I spent several minutes on my hands and knees getting a bit damp while pointing the Tokina 100mm Macro at various patches of exuberant lichen.

During the process I realised that there was one item I had not brought with me; an Allen key. For today, my quick release plate decided to part company with my ball head. Macro shots with a wobbly camera – not a great idea. Nevertheless, with a little bit of perseverance and some wonderful new tripod contortions we got the shots and headed home.

Personally, lichen is not my favourite macro subject – even when it is partying it is a little boring. But having spent some time with the files this afternoon, I am beginning to see a giant lichen forest with little people running through it; with Photoshop anything is possible. Maybe I’ll get some more suitable lichen shots, when the weather gets better.