Dear friends, Hearing your recommendations to abandon (postpone or consider options) fisheye or telephoto and think instead of IR photography got me thinking and experimenting a bit. NIK software offers a customizable IR filter. I experimented with it on several of my photos and I posted a photo where I blended BW with faw IR on flickr.
Now here is my question: As far as I could tell, the filter added some grain (you can add more or remove the grain effect) and increased sensitivity wherever image showed red, yellow and green and reduced sensitivity wherever there was blue or purple or magenta. I recognize that IR operates at a different wavelength than red, yellow and green, but i wonder whether the actual effect of using IR creates an image very similar to that I observed with NIK. In the end, IR radiation has to be mapped into visible spectrum for us to see it. If the sensor maps it into red yellow and green, than using software could emulate the effect fairly well I think. I wonder whether those of you that are experienced with IR ever tried to reproduce the effect with regular camera & filter. Also if you happen to have an identical image taken both as IR and color, I would be grateful if you could make a low res small version available to me for comparison. I will play with it in NIK a bit and I will be curious if we could see a difference.
I will be grateful for any comments. Basically, I am thinking that the easiest way to do IR is in software, if you can reproduce that aspect of IR, which makes it so special. Forgive me if this is a rant. I am not against IR, I just do not know enough about it and i wish to learn.
You're correct that in order for us to see IR photos, that part of the spectrum must be mapped to visible light.. but that doesn't mean there is a correlation between visible colours and IR colours any more than there is between two different colours in the visible spectrum (ie Green and Blue). So any software IR emulation is really just based on guesswork to provide a similar look to IR. A real IR photo might look completely different.
The reason you see green tree foliage appear as white in IR photos is not because the colour green reflects more IR light, it is because tree foliage reflects IR light. You could park a green car beside a green tree and they may appear identical in a faux emulated IR photo, but completely different colours in a true IR photo.
I remember taking some test IR photos around the house and was very surprised to see that a black jumper I was wearing appeared completely white in the IR photo, while most other black things in the room appeared black. It seems the jumper absorbed visible light yet reflected all IR light.
The emulation software generally uses an algorythym based on how the most common materials seen in IR photography would appear (ie blue skies and water, and green plants, etc). Because as humans we don't really know what colour many other materials are supposed to be mapped to, we just accept them to be correct.
But, does it actually matter if an IR photograph is "true" or not? The reason most people shoot IR photos is not out of scientific interest in IR light, but simply because it allows for some beautiful photographs. If you are happy with the photographs from the software, then that's all that matters in the end.
Personally I prefer the flexibility of using a channel mixer in weird and creative ways instead of a dedicated IR plugin when I'm after a particular aesthetic look. When I shoot IR (which is rare) it's generally because I am actually curious about how the world looks in the IR spectrum, so the emulation is no good.
Thank you Adrian. I noticed that the color mapping of the IR filter in NIK is more sophisticated than I described. I was surprised for example, that the green of the pine trees remained dark, while the green leaves of the tree right next to it went white. On big stems of grass, there is a fairly sharp transition from almost white (zone IX my guess) derived from sunlit green (about Zone VII to VIII i am guessing) to dark (perhaps zone II) from less well lit grass (my guess zone V).
Adrian, I tried to check out your site, but it does not seem to be populated with photos or at least i could not figure out how to access the photos.
Thank you for writing this very informative response to my question. I think I understand a lot better. I think that for now, I will experiment with the software filter and leave the hardware purchase for some later date. I am swayed by the low cost (no cost actually - I do have the software) and the convenience of capturing the images (no need to carry extra camera body, no need for a tripod most of the time, no need to put on and take of the filter each time i wish to refocus/recompose, multiple use of the same image - color, straight BW, faw IR.). I will be interested to hear why my decision does/does not make sense.
OK, Pavel, we have had some very interesting technical discussions regarding IR photography. I have seen your "faux"?*! IR image on your Flickr site and believe that it is dramatic to a suitable degree with very nice tones and effective composition. Perhaps you should display it here on Shuttertalk for all to see easily what your creation is all about.
With all the possibilities of the Nik IR conversions, together with the many other useful and fun filters within Nik, you should have thousands of hours of fun and experimention without resorting to any hardware conversions or filters. I agree that is the way to go, but I know that you're never satisfied.
BTW, thanks for introducing me to the world of Nik. My mind is exploding with the possibilities.
I've played with software filters, and while they can give some nice looking images, they don't have the qualities I like in IR images.
Metals tend to show dark in IR, plants very light, usually white, a light blue sky will be jet black a lot of the time.
Thank you all for your help. For me it is not all that important that the IR software filter reproduces real IR hardware setup. I would like to experiment with the "IR effect" I see IR photos as very contrasty and grainy. The grainy part i do not like but i can simply dial out when I use NIK faux filter and the contrast is something I can generally control up or down, within reason. I find that blending with BW seems to give me desired tonality. I have no doubt that experts will immediately recognize my IR as fake, but I am not making any claims and for me IR is just another intriquing tool which is hard to predict but which can produce interesting, high impact results. I would like to understand it better, and to use the software version more often, but I am not planing to buy the hardware for the real thing, as much as i admire some truly exceptional IR photos. I do love toys and i go through periods of temporary irrational acquisitiveness, but fundamentaly I would just like to learn to be a decent photographer and the truth is, I do not need more equipment, just more knowledge and experience (I think).
Dennis, you are right of course and you helped me come to my senses - thanks.
Rob, thanks for making me think of IR. It may not have the consequences you envisioned, but I will pay a great deal more attention to the opportunity to use faux IR in post-processing, perhaps in combination with straight BW. I also appreciate a very lucid intro to IR photography.
Craig, I am no longer under illusion that I can emulate reliably IR in software. If it was so easy, everybody would be doing it, I suppose.
Irma, I read with interest the links you sent me. Unfortunately, they do not compare IR filter with a faux filter, but that is probably too much to hope for. I very much appreciate your help.
Matthew, it is generous of you to offer to provide a comparison photos. I would like to see the degree to which NIK can emulate real IR and how much trouble it is to get something that "feels" similar. If you provide me with low res photos, I will e-mail the resulting images back to you. I would like to retain a copy of the IR and faux IR images as a learning tool, but if it is not OK with you, I will look at the result, send you the results and delete copies my computer. If you let me retain copies, I will not publicly display or distribute them but I may show them on my monitor at home to visiting photographers, acknowledging the source.
Considering the interest in this thread, I think it would be great to be able to share the results more widely. It would be great if you'd be okay with posting the results of your processing here, or in a similar thread, and we can get our heads together for some collective wisdom. Perhaps a watermark of "photos by / processing by" wouldn't be a bad idea, just in case they escape into the wild and someone wants to offer us fabulous jobs as guest lecturers somewhere, but I'm not otherwise worried about attribution or public/private display. I do appreciate the compliment and consideration, though.
(To paraphrase one of my favourite What The Duck cartoons, the best way I've found to stop people from stealing my photos is to keep taking the kind of photos that I do.)
Good luck to everyone...I sincerely want to see the results of these experiments...I will add my efforts when I get my conversion done..I hope this will be a fruitful thread..
This thread has me thinking of getting my XTi converted to full time IR..... Hmmmm.
OK, I will process some photos I get from you guys in NIK and pass them back to you. You can than decide whether or not to post the results and how. I feel more comfortable that way with other people's photos. A real discussion - I like that.
Seems like yous guys have covered all bases here, and I remember Matthew's successes when he got his camera "IR"'d.
My tuppenceworth: faux-IR are close but never as successful as IR achieved by a conversion of a DSLR, and even DSLR-converted IR does not quite have the nuances that IR film has/had. From memory, I used to use both Kodak and Konica IR 35mm and the results varied considerably between the pair of them: they were skewed to a different wavelength from each other and had differing ways of coping/not coping with reciprocity; varying the amount of pushing and pulling the ISO.
I'd reckon one could get darn close, though, with a converted DSLR and pp.
Of the plugs I've seen for "IR-type", Nik's and AutoFX seem the most successful, though the tweaks amount to what anyone can achieve with a bit of playing about..but I'd reckon it's well worth getting a Panasonic/G2/Canon 350D for a song then getting it to the vets for a snip!