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Working with textures

November 17, 2021

 

Let’s start with an image.  How about this?

I’ve got the image open in Photoshop, now let’s get a texture file.  I choose 2LO Spirt29

Now let’s put them together.  To do that. I just have to drop the texture file onto the orchid image.

Then move the texture file to fill the image area of the orchid.

You’ll now see two layers displayed on your Layers Tab, one for the orchid image and one for the Texture file.

 

Now we are going to blend them.

First, make sure you have the top Layer, the Texture Layer highlighted.  

Now we are going to adjust the blending of the two Layers.  To do that, select the drop-down box marked Normal and all the possible Blending Options appear.

This next part is where you make the artistic decision on which Layer Blending option to use.

In this case, I choose Screen.  Then I adjusted the opacity on the Texture Layer until it looked the way I wanted.

 And here’s what I got.

The Texture and Orchid blended together well.

BUT,   

I want to add one more step. I want to remove some of the Texture from the Orchid petals.  So, I’m going to use the eraser tool.  The hardness is set to zero. 

Then I just erase away the parts of the Texture I don’t want.   

And here’s what I ended up with.

One other option would be to use the Texture Layer as a Layer mask and paint the Texture in where ever you want it.

 

 

 


Can I clean the sensor on my Infrared converted camera?

September 16, 2021

 

 

One of the common questions I’m asked during a training session is, “Now that my camera has been converted, can I clean my sensor?” What concerns most people they know that something was done to their camera’s sensor, but they are not entirely sure what. 

Yes, the self-cleaning function has been disabled, but the short answer is Yes, you can still clean your sensor. 

Will you need to clean your Infrared converted camera more often?  That really depends on your shooting conditions.  In extreme conditions, like on an African Safari where there is a large number of airborne particulates (dust), yes it will get affected sooner.  In other conditions, I can go for much longer periods before I need to clean.

Now if you’re not familiar with how to tell if you need to clean your sensor, let’s take a look at this image. 

This is a Super Color image at 590nm.  The image itself is nice, but man is this sensor in need of cleaning.  Just look at all the … stuff on it.  There are dust spots and hair.  Remember what I said earlier about Africa?  Here’s what I was talking about.

Even after the image is channel swapped they still show.

With a little work in Photoshop, we could hide those dust spots and hair, but this sensor needs to be cleaned. 

The thing about sensor cleaning on an Infrared camera is it is just the same as before it was converted.  So, if you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, go right ahead.

However, if you are not comfortable cleaning your sensor, I am not suggesting you should undertake this job yourself.   There are plenty of places you can take your camera to have the sensor cleaned.

If you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, this next part is for you. 

There are several different ways to clean your sensor, and I am not going to go into each method or endorse using a particular product, but I do want to make a couple of suggestions.

 

1. Only clean your sensor when you have enough time to take your time.  This is not something you want to rush through.

 

2.Invest in a decent sensor scope.  This will give you the ability to actually see the spots and other debris on the surface of your sensor.

 

3.Be gentle.  I cannot stress this enough.  Brute force is NOT the way to clean a sensor.

 

Now I want to address this last part head-on.  There’s a suggestion floating around that the solution to cleaning your sensor is to just put one lens on your camera and never remove it.  From an artistic standpoint that is just dumb.  You want to have the ability to use all your lenses with your Infrared converted camera.  

 

 


Water Lilies in Infrared

August 29, 2019

 

Summer is still upon us but is starting to wind down.   While it is still warm I like to make the most of shooting opportunities, and one thing I love to shoot is Water Lilies.  In most areas where you find Water Lilies they have a fairly long season.  The thing to remember about Water Lilies is they bloom and tend to stay in bloom as long as the water temperature stays above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only are they beautiful to see and photograph, but they tend to draw dragonflies, which makes for a great addition to your image. 

In Infrared, Water Lilies are quite stunning and you can capture some textures and details you wouldn’t see in natural color.  Whether you are shooting Deep B&W IR or our new Hyper Color you can get some eye-catching images. 

I’ve got a few suggestions if you want to try and shoot Water Lilies for the first time.  

White Balance

In a shooting situation like this, I usually set my in-camera White Balance by capturing an image of the grass nearby and using that image as a WB reference image.  

Timing and Light

As you know with Infrared, you can shoot at any time of day. However, you want to mindful of your shadows and you may want to shoot from a different angle depending on the situation.  In the image below you’ll notice my shadows are almost straight down because I was shooting shortly after noon.  

If you don’t like the shadowing you are getting, find yourself a comfortable place to sit and wait a bit, or come back later.    Also, watch for sun flares reflecting off the water.

Come Prepared with Lenses

I always like to have two options when I go out to shoot Water Lilies.  First,  is a good telephoto lens.  That 70-200mm you like to use for Portraits will work great here.  Got a 300mm or higher?  Bring it.  That Water Lilly that is towards the middle of the pond and not easy to get to is now a breeze for you.  

Second, I always bring along my Lensbaby Velvet 85.  If there is a Water Lily close to the edge, the Lensbaby Velvet 85 is perfect and I can make use of that great sharp and softness you can only get with the Velvet lens.

Try Low Angles

Most people walk up to a pond with Water Lilies and then shoot down on them.  The image can look good that way, but also try going low and shooting slightly above water level to give you a different perspective. 

Be Patient and Enjoy

Take your time while you are there and enjoy the beauty you are shooting.  If possible, stay relatively still and you may get the opportunity to catch a Dragonfly visiting the Lily you are shooting.

Shoot Brackets and in Continous Shooting Mode  

In the image above the Dragonfly was only there for a split second before moving on.  By having my camera set to auto exposure bracketing, I press and hold the shutter and my camera catches multiple images.  In Continous Shooting Mode, my camera will capture exposures as fast as it can.  Later I can pick the one or two that are good and delete the others.  

In Post Production

Just like always, you will want to use the RAW editor made for your camera to convert your RAW files.  With IR types like Super Color, Enhanced, Standard, or Deep B&W use the petal of the Lily for your White Balance, and you will see your image pop.  With Hyper Color, simply select any area in the image that has a green tint and use that for the WB and you will get the results you expect from a Hyper Color image. 

With all types of IR, except Hyper Color consider removing any blue tones you see as they tend to distract from the image.  With all types of IR, consider using Selective Color in Photoshop to darken and define the color tones.  

That’s about it.  

Now here are a few images to encourage you to go out and make some IR Water Lilies of your own.

Now it’s your turn, but don’t wait, it’s 3 1/2 weeks until Fall and then the Water Lilies will be gone until next year.  

 

 


Sun-mer Flowers

July 03, 2018

 

Nothing says summer quite sunflowers.  The image of a sunflower reminds me of long warm days, the smell of cocoa butter suntan lotion, and ice cold lemonade.  As a photographer, sunflowers are great to shoot. 

In infrared they are even better

I do love the way they look.  Here’s a Super Color sunflower.

Here’s one making the most of the Lensbaby Velvet 85.   The narrow depth of field and softness really work well.  

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll remember I did a piece a couple of years ago on sunflowers. 

This year I have a new reason to be excited about sunflowers . . . Hyper Color is here. 

Hyper Color is so different from the other types of Infrared that I had to see what I could make.   

I wasn’t disappointed.

This is probably one of my favorites from shooting that day.

This was made with a Canon 6D, converted to Hyper Color, and the Lensbaby Velvet85 at f8.0 1/2000 sec.  The camera was set to shoot 7 bracketed images, each a 1/4 stop apart.  The next time someone asks me why I always shoot bracketed, I’ll show them this image.

The intense color pallet of Hyper color just makes everything pop.

And once again pairing it with the Lensbaby Velvet85 is the perfect combination.  

Now, if you are thinking about shooting sunflowers for the first time, let me share a couple of things with you.

  • Go in the morning.  The light is pure and the flowers are very alive, and there are lots of insects to add to the images.

  • Bees like sunflowers, ….. but they aren’t crazy about you getting in their way.  Keep that in mind.
  • Pack light on the gear.  I shot 99.9% of the time with the Velvet85, and then used a fisheye just a couple of other times.  
  • Consider bug spray.  Remember the bees?  
  • Bring water, wear sunscreen, and keep track of time.  You will be amazed at how fast an hour can go once you get started.  

And Finally, 

  • Try different things.  Most people only shoot the big open sunflowers.  I love the look sunflowers before they open.  They can even look a little sinister.

If you want to learn more about the lensbaby lenses, check out my reviews on our blog here and here   

Then if you want one, click here.

 

 


The 2018 Orchid Show … with Lensbaby

February 08, 2018

 

Every year at this time, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, in St. Louis puts together an Orchid display unlike you will see anywhere else in the United States.  I’ve been lucky enough each year to have the opportunity to shoot the exhibit before it opens to share the images as a way of encouraging people to visit the show.  Each year the exhibit fills a large room with nearly every type of Orchid you could think of.  The end product is an immersive experience that will delight your senses.

The title of this years show is “Orchid Mania” and the name fits.  Everywhere you look is a new, different type of orchid.    Each year the wonderful people at the Missouri Botanical Gardens give me early access to shoot the exhibit by myself. It’s the photographic equivalent of being a kid in a candy store.

After shooting it for a few years, I realized this year I only needed two lenses, both by Lensbaby.  I completed the entire shoot using the Lensbaby Velvet56 and Velver85.

They were all I needed.

If you are not familiar with Lensbaby lenses, you get acquainted with them.  They are quite simply the best manual focus art lens on the market.  Their optics are crisp and pure and the bokeh is wonderfully smooth.   I have shot Infrared for years with Lensbaby lenses, and now we even carry them on our website

For this shoot, I used a Canon 7DMKII converted to Super Color and a Canon 5DMKIV.  Everything was shot with natural light as the ceiling is one big skylight.  I White Balanced the IR camera with foliage in the room and shot a gray card for the color camera.

In total I had about two hours to shoot the exhibit and could have easily spent another two hours and not been bored.

So, if you are in the St. Louis area, the Missouri Botanical Gardens Orchid show is on now thru March 25th.

To see more images from this shoot, you can visit the Riverfront Times here or check out the entire series on my website here

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