Thursday, January 17, 2013

Infra Me, Infra You, Infraday...

Things are getting busier and busier! Not sure how long it will last but seems that January is a season for many events locally. The photography group seems to be chasing lot of butterflies in all directions, which makes me fear a bit for its well-being. However, I'm not forced to go to all of these events, but I do have my own share of load of things to do for the group already.
Kuwait University (Kuniv) presented a personal offer to me to represent myself with some of my photos in a special expo dedicated to the youth with the beginning of the second semester at January 27th. However, I've informed the organizers that I'm a member in a group, and it is better to have a group of photography presenting itself rather than a single photographer; that will provide a high potential and provides a greater number of photos. On Tuesday we paid a visit, the group's leader, the chief organizer and myself, to the place and the leader seemed to like it and we are in already. What's left now is a burning engine work to filter and provide photos (and print) - and who knows, maybe add some digital media since there were some usable flat TV sets hanging.
The location is awesome in architecture and I'm really considering doing a panorama inside when possible.

It had been almost 2 weeks since I got my infrared filter and I'm still doing experiments on this venture. The experiments done so far were mostly... silly, if I should say.

Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4, 5sec, ISO 100.
One of the simplest trials was just to light a candle and try to snap it. My aim was generally to see the type of patterns, if any, that a flame might produce under infrared. The image was later converted to black and white and some adjustments followed. Probably a significant attitude for such images when converted to black and white is the abundant of the gray tone - and sometimes a fuzzy feeling to it related to the focusing shift when doing infrared photography (did you not notice a red dot on the focusing ring on your lens?).

Canon EF 100mm macro, f/5.6, 30sec, ISO 100.

Long story short. When talking about infrared filters (with unconverted cameras), then we talk about tripods as well. One night after coming back home I've encountered the family gathering around a typical coal tray and grilling (or frying) chestnuts and hamburgers and sausages. Since it's hot, I've directly brought my camera and fixed the infrared filter and tried to capture something with it. The view is abstract of course and my aim was to try, and not to create art by any means.
You might be wondering why 100mm macro lens, well, simply put, this is to stay away from the coal and its heat and also to frame the coal only. I've tried the 50mm but I couldn't achieve the same framing, while it kept me close to the coal and its heat. After uploading the image, first thing was to settle the white balance to the completely red image. After doing some reading online (specially at, I've started to formulate some workflow aspects for such type of photography. After the white balance is set (which sometimes doesn't change much) I've reduced the red saturation which left some areas as white while some as magenta or orange. Contrast and Vibrance were added slightly too.
In Photoshop I've tried to swap the channels (red and blue) to create a look that is similar to those colored infrared landscape shots, but here, with no sky or anything, the red was simply replaced with blue, and I didn't quite like the new look, so I kept the original as is.

Meanwhile on The Moon

The journey with my infrared filter continues when I tried to combine it with the polarizer and also do HDR on the beach one morning. Sometimes I would face hard time focusing so it is time to raise the ISO to max, focus and measure the exposure and push it back to ISO 100 and do the calculations, but in early morning hours when the sun did shine already it won't be much a hassle after all - yet it is considered a long exposure of some sort.
When processing Meanwhile on The Moon, I've tried different approaches to the RAW files taken in brackets to produce the HDR:
  • Merge the originals into HDR and tone-map them then.
  • Convert each RAW file in a similar way as it was done to InfraCoal, and save the files into TIFF, and merge into HDR from there.
Seems, however, that the second approach is more feasible and more pleasant. I have to do more research on this aspect. That session from the beach still has some (normal) images that I didn't process yet - I've just remembered that while typing these words!

Blind Me!
In some effort to create some new images, specifically as a homework for the Philosophy of Light workshop, I've tried to create something; anything.
Many ideas raced through my mind and eventually settled down with an idea of a light bulb and a water drop. I had my plan for the water drop specifically to make it hanging in the air but I ran out of possible capabilities to make it so, and hence I had to drop it for the time being.

Canon EF 50mm, f/11, 0.5sec, ISO 100.

Since I'm at it, I've decided to take a picture of the light bulb with infrared filter. It was not much of a design or anything, and when I tried my 580EX II speedlite, it didn't quite effect the lighting drastically. I had to work a bit with dodge and burn in Photoshop to emphasize the edges of the light bulb. Significantly though, the infrared filter reduced the halo around the filament of the tungsten bulb without the need to use a high-shutter speed, as it was done later in Lighting Through.

Lighting Through
Canon EF 50mm, f/3.5, 8000-1sec, ISO 100.

After playing around with the infrared filter, it was time to get serious a bit and start my speedlites: 580EX II and 430EX II. In the beginning I've tried to use the manual mode, but I've realized it is hard to control it in such conditions, specially with such high speed. So, directly, I've moved to E-TTL. mode. The 580EX II being master and 430EX II being wireless slave, I've tried to change the power of the speedlite by controlling the aperture, after finding that a slight change in the shutter speed had some catastrophic effects from both, the speedlites and the bulb itself. The location of the 580EX II was fixed on the right side of the bulb while 430EX II was carried by hand and always changed while taking many shots and trying the polarizers to reduce the flare on the glass. In the final result, Lighting Through, I've cloned out some flare as well. Using the polarizer filter with flashes is hard specially that it does not have an indicator of the direction of polarizing, while using the polarizing sheet on the flash head while not on-camera, it is even harder to judge to what angle the polarizer on the lens should be. Anyway, the final image was emphasized in contrast in Photoshop by setting the Black Point in Curves layer to eliminate some light noise around the bulb (and had to use layer masks to confine its effects). Dodge and Burn were used again to emphasize the edges of the bulb. In this final image, the 430EX II was on top (and close) to the bulb and tilted little bit toward the camera's direction (to avoid casting light on the black board as much as possible).

Lingua Aevarica:
In the meantime, I'm trying so hard to organize my time but to no use. I think I should probably finished reading some of those books before I get my time re-ordered in order to work more with Geltani and Ayvarith. As for Geltani, it is a not-yet-finished business with its syllables and some basic grammatical structure of the language and its script, while for Ayvarith, there is always the matter of establishing a website capable of holding my media files (images and sounds) and also working further on creating something new out of it. My love for fantasy and conlangs is almost a match for my love for my camera and photography - it is the first thing why I've created this blog in the first place after all! It is just sad that I can't do much about it for the time being. I have to make some plan, but how, I'm not quite sure. I think photography did suck me in greatly that I've paralyzed other areas of my life, like the conlangs and the poetry. Now imagine how my life would be if I was married already. Simply, dead.

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