Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's INFRARED season

Now that New England has finally thawed out, the trees are beginning to show signs of life and the warmer weather is bringing new growth.  For some, this is time to start gardening and preparing the lawn.  But for photographers, the photosynthesis and all that heat energy make us want to shoot infrared photographs.  Shooting in infrared is another way to create stunning black and white images.

Once Kodak stopped making the infamous HIE-36 Infrared Film, many photographers were left with few choices to create infrared photographs.  Many people have tried to recreate the IR look in Photoshop, but these are not authentic infrared images. With the advent of digital cameras, many photographers are discovering that they can convert an older model digital camera to capture in true infrared. The IR blocking filter is removed from the camera's digital sensor. It means that once the camera is converted, it becomes a dedicated IR camera. But, the advantage is that you don't need any special filters on  the lens (like we did with film) and you can shoot at any ISO, handheld, and be able to see what you shot on your camera preview!  If you have a newer model DSLR with liveview, you can actually see the image before you shoot.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of infrared photography.  The interest in this medium continues to grow and more photographers are looking to find reliable and affordable ways to convert their cameras to capture in infrared.  Digital Silver Imaging has been chosen by Precision Camera as their key partner in Infrared conversions.  Precision is able to provide top notch conversions with spectacular service and turn around times.  As their largest customer of infrared conversions, Digital Silver Imaging's IR Conversion Service is competitively priced.  Compact cameras are only $149 and DSLR's range from $299 -$349. We can convert in three different wavelengths, depending on the photographer's interest.
The chart shows 2 different wavelengths, 665nm and 715nm.  The 715nm is your typical Infrared Conversion. It blocks wavelengths shorter than 715nm and allows those longer than 715nm to go through. It is a true Infrared filter that should primarily be used for B&W photos, although very limited color Infrared pictures are possible. Conversions performed with the 715nm filter are capable of rendering beautiful and rich Black and White images with a dramatic Infrared look to them.

The 665nm is a specialized Infrared Conversion. It blocks Wavelengths shorter than 665nm and allows those longer than 665nm to go through. This conversion is especially well suited for color Infrared Photography because of its broader transmittance properties. With this conversion a more saturated color infrared image is possible. B&W Infrared is also possible with the 665nm although the results will not be as dramatic as the 715nm.

The 830nm is also now available.  Deep Infrared Filter which allows for a very dramatic B&W IR look. Not suitable for color work. Filter has a cutoff point of 830nm, which means that only wavelengths over 830nm will expose the sensor. Since visible light cuts off at 720nm, the 830nm will give you a deep infrared look which is reminiscent of the old IR Black and White films.

Once a camera is converted, the file is still captured in RGB, so some post production is always necessary.  We have been working with Nik Software Silver Efex Pro   for all of our black and white work at Digital Silver Imaging.  DSI's exceptional silver gelatin prints are enhanced by the power of Nik Software's Photoshop plugins.  Silver Efex Pro has become our standard for all of our black and white printing at DSI.  It does an excellent conversion from color RGB to black and white RGB by preserving all the values in each of the 3 channels.

We have found that the Infrared files out of any of the 3 choices work very well with Silver Efex Pro.  One of the presets provided in their software is called "High Structure" and this does a very good job of enhancing the file.  The software works with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture and most versions of Photoshop Elements.  It is easy to learn and use.  We recommend downloading their 15 Day Free Trial and trying the software.  But remember to save some money, buy the software from Digital Silver Imaging!

As an authorized reseller for both Nik Software and IR Conversions from Precision Camera, Digital Silver Imaging has been leading the way in providing exceptional black and white workflow solutions for today's digital photographers.   Combine these two creative black and white digital solutions with our true black and white silver gelatin printing and you can recreate the beauty of classic black and white photographs without having a darkroom.

As part of our ongoing campaign to help educate our clients about the benefits of Nik Software, we are sponsoring a free 1 hour webinar on Silver Efex Pro on Wednesday April 21st.  Vistor Ha will be leading the online seminar and the best part is, you can join in right from your own computer! Registration is required for the online training.

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