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Outdoor photography at Oak Creek, part three

This is the third post from a daylong shoot on the banks of Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona. Check out my first and second installments.

Oak Creek is a beautiful place. But even beautiful places can look less than stellar at midday. Infrared (IR) photography to the rescue. I break out the infrared converted camera to turn that high contrast into usable photos.

Infrared photography extends the shooting day

When out photographing for the day the camera that is converted to infrared makes shooting under the sun high in the sky quite interesting. Non-visible light can be captured with an IR converted camera. If you have a camera that is gathering dust on the shelf you have a candidate for conversion. Many people put their older camera models back into service this way.

I used my Lumix G6 with a 14-140mm lens for these images. As this is a micro four-thirds camera, it has a similar field of view to a 28-280mm lens on a full-frame camera. It’s a wonderful range and meets most of my needs without changing lenses.

I am an affiliate of LifePixel and used them for my camera’s conversion to a 720 nanometers filter. You can research an array of detailed information on their website to help you decide what kind of IR filter to have installed on your camera. Different waves of light will yield very different results.

Time of day

Green leaves ‘bloom’ a gorgeous white with infrared capture

Usually, midday is not an ideal time for making images due to the high contrast of the light. This is exactly what makes creating images with an IR camera work the best. There’s high contrast, but it renders as dramatic with blue skies trending toward black and clouds picking up this iridescent glow. Green vegetation will provide white tones. This complete change in the way we view a scene creates excitement.

Use your camera’s Live View

Cathedral Rock on Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona makes for a good IR subject with sycamore trees and grasses in the foreground

The benefits to creating infrared photography images in the digital realm is that what you see on the live viewfinder is what you get. To make this happen, I set the camera to monochrome and shoot RAW plus JPEG. The resulting black & white image on the back of the camera makes it easier to judge what the final will be.

The RAW files will come into the camera in a magenta color and need processing. The JPEG files will be just as you see them. They still need post-production work but don’t have as much information in the file because they have been pre-processed by the camera. Photographing with RAW plus JPEG is the best of both worlds. You can see the possibilities and also have the most information at your disposal for deep images.

When first experimenting with making infrared photography captures I recommend bracketing your exposures until you understand how the IR filter effects your highlights and shadows.

Post-processing for infrared photography

I enjoy the way infrared photography makes blue skies go black and white puffy clouds jump from the image.

As mentioned above, RAW images will have a magenta cast. I take my images into Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and remove saturation, adjust highlights, shadows and contrast. Once the image is in Photoshop I will use a plugin such as Luminar, Luminar Flex or NIK filters to add a bit of a glow and possibly add noise to bring back the feel of a classic film infrared image.

Experimentation is king! In addition to the ideas I’ve shared here the LifePixel site has many different tutorials on alternative ways to process your files.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

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