Infrared City

I suppose I could have thought of a more catchy title for my first infrared post in anger, but please let me off for once – I’ve spend the day attacking the garden with the assistance of my son and washing the car (due to the local car wash being out of order)… 😉

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On Friday I was finally able to take my IR converted GX1 out in anger. If I had more time I would have gone to a park, but a lack of time meant I headed to St Paul’s.

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It’s been difficult learning how to use an IR camera. Some of the shots look great, others look awful – there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to why!

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Processing the files has been really hard. I ended up using a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop, but I’m convinced I don’t quite have it right yet. Photoshop is essential for the channel swap that gives you a blue sky.

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One really hard aspect to learn was that lenses need stopping down a lot more than one might expect based on general experience of using micro four-thirds cameras. normally I would go for an aperture of F7.1 for landscape work. However, that results in a soft foreground in IR.

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An aperture of at least F10-11 is essential to get sharpness across the frame. That means that you will be battling slow shutter speeds and noise. Diffraction also results in soft soft output.

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Another big problem is hot spots on lenses, which are invisible in normal photography but manifeat as a slightly brighter area in the middle of frames. Often then can be effectively removed in PP but they are a pain. In particular the 9-18 UWA zoom used for most of these has a “sneaky” hotspot that only appears when you adjust highlights and shadows (Grrr!).

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You didn’t think this was easy did you? 😀 On the upside, the dynamic range seems greater. You very much understand the pictures aren’t what you actually see (i.e. these are not the same as would result from a photoshopped visible light shot by any shake of a stick), very quickly indeed.

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In any event, I’m just about getting an idea of what might work well as an end result.

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I have a few here that come from a previous trip to the park with my IR GX1, when I failed to stop it down enough in most shots. That said, I think most of the time, for the most spectacular shots you are going to want to visit the park rather than the centre of town.

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Taken with my Panasonic GX1 and Olympus 9-18mm lens.

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4 thoughts

  1. great blog Simon, I was wondering if you have pursued the infrared at all. The only M43 lens I have had any success with (hotspot free) is the cheap kit zoom 14-42.

    • Well, I have to confess that I recently sold my IR converted GX1. I did enjoy IR photography but I had gone in a number of photographic directions in the last 12 months and had a bit of a cash crunch. It basically came down to a toss up between shooting film or IR and I decided I didn’t shoot enough IR compared to film.

      That said, I generally used the 14-42 panasonic collapsible zoom and the panasonic 20 with some decent results. The 9-18 oly had a hotspot but was usable. Newer lenses like the 12-35 and 35-100 were basically unusable for IR.

      Good luck with shooting IR!

      Cheers,

      Simon

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