Friday, 26 September 2014

Infrared experiments 01

Just a few more infra-red experiments.

First up a quick handheld shot out-of-house to see how visible stars are through infrared. 
It's not really a fair experiment as the moon blows it up but a couple of stars are visible even through that. It's a promising glimpse at what I might be able to snag in the future.

Next up is a couple of vegetation shots from around the bay near my work-place.

The above berries are blackberries, not raspberries.

And finally some woodland "grove" type shots taken from my drive home from work.

That's it, just a quick post today.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Infrared at Kingston lacey

A family day out at the fancy National Trust estate called Kingston Lacey.

I decided to challenge myself with infrared by bringing only the infrared camera with me.

I didn't have any real plan as such, just wanted to see what I could do. I did have hopes there would be some vast green lawns that I could frame the house with.

The very first shot achieves something along the lines of what I was after and the very last similarly so.

I'm pretty happy with the results. I certainly learnt a lot more about what to aim for and what conditions are best. Cloud coverage can drastically impact a shot, not to mention I learnt a bunch of settings I shouldn't really use.

This is a shot facing away from the house showing the road that leads up to the it. The infrared gives the sky a dramatic presence and the tarmac of the road an appearance not unlike a river through snow.

The interiors of the house have less of a noticeably dramatic impact in IR except in the few occasions where you can see some house plants are clearly quite pale white where in a normal shot they'd likely be a darker grey.

You'll notice with this shot and some future ones that there is a bit of a circular glare mid frame. Apparently some lenses are good for IR and some suffer from this. Apparently my lenses suffer from it. It is avoidable in most cases by adjusting the f/stop however but it is reducing some options.

A cat sleeping in the laundry house.

These are nearing  the sorts of shots I've been looking to get. Nice white, foliage in the foreground standing infront of a dramatic sky behind.

I could shoot trees like this all day

The house itself as shot from it;s main law.


Last shot! Two bored cherubs staring into an empty urn...
That's about it, the family had a nice day out and I came away with some shots I coudl be happy with, looking forward to playing with this camera some more.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Infra-red with a Nikon D90

So I took the plunge and invested in a modded Infra-red camera.
Shortly after selling my old Nikon D90 I've gone and bought another one of the familiar old friends with the aforementioned Infra-red modification made to it.

In case you are unaware of what the infra-red modification is that can be made to a DLSR camera I am now going to summarise my understanding of it... which may or may-certainly be wrong.

Essentially the modification allows your camera to capture a different spectrum of light that is normally filtered out. DSLR sensors themselves actually capture far more information than the human eye can see, as a result, these sensors have to be filtered somewhat so that what you capture with your camera is what you'd expect to see.

If you remove/replace that filter with something that allows or restricts the sensor to only the spectrums of light we don't normally see you can get some interesting results where the brightness of an object in a photograph can be impacted by the materials it's made of as opposed to the illumination and colour of it.
 For example, with the infra-red spectrum greens end up appearing quite bright next to a sky where, to the human eye, the greens would be darker or quite similar to the shade of the blue that is in the sky.

For example...
This shot was taken from around the bay near my workplace.

Notice how the sky looks quite dark. This was otherwise a bright blue sky shot on a mid-summers day. Similarly the water is darker.
Compare that to the tree/bush foliage that surrounds the bay, almost as bright a white as the clouds.

I'm pretty sure that doesn't explain it terribly well so here's a link to a wikipedia article but I think the images demonstrate the point.

This flower is a bright yellow dandelion flower.

These berries are a very bright red!
As an example of colour being less relevant than material this example shot of a cyclist shows a man wearing black trousers and a black backpack.

A lot of infrared photography tends to make much more sense in pure black and white but when trying to retain some of the colour, it all comes down to the choice of white balance  during post-processing
I'm still experimenting with my creative choices in this area so you might notice a slight variation between images as seen below.

Finally, my preferred shot from my first experimental run. 
Could be better, of a more interesting subject even, but it shows all the potential I was hoping for in the camera/technique, expect to see more IR photography from me in the future..

Thursday, 24 July 2014

An evening at Hurst Castle

I never know how to start these posts.
I think I need to start them with some sort of banner that sets your(the reader's) expectations.
Ta-Dah! There we go!

Okay... I think I need a sort of set of notes for every astrophotography type run I do to help me get things rolling.
So, let's try that... now:

The Plan!Date: 23rd of July 2014
Location: Hurst Castle
Weather: Mostly clear skies to the south.
Temperature: Pleasantly warm (Didn't even need a jumper)
Wind: Very slight
Logistics: Estimated 40 minute walk along a shingle spit to get to and return from location.
  • Arrive early to use of dusk-light to on approach to castle
  • Shoot the Milkyway over the Isle of Wight
  • Capture something interesting using the castle itself 
  • Get a star trail shot making use of the lighthouse that is there(If it is accessible)
  • Explore and have fun
Potential Concerns:
  • I've not scouted the location at night before and it's been years since I visited during the day.
  • Not sure how much light pollution the Isle of Wight will kick off. (Vaguely aware there are towns/villages on north-facing(my) side of the island.)
  • Whilst the castle is potentially a great site there is no interior access at night so only steep plain walls are available to shoot. (Will need to look for interesting features, first consideration would be the main entrance/gate.)

Okay so we arrived on time. The sun had just finished setting and we set straight off down the shingle spit towards the castle.
I stopped once about halfway down to shoot the fishermen.

The entire length of the spit was littered with fishermen taking advantage of the warm evening.

At the end of the spit we sat down and re-hydrated, it was still too light for star photography so I just mucked about for a while. This shot is the first one of the castle.
As you can see it's mostly tall walls. I immediately got distracted by coastal features however so expect the next set of shots to not include the castle that much as I proceeded to spend the next hour, whilst it was still getting dark, trying to take shots of the sea-defenses.

You can faintly see a smear in this shot of the Milkyway coming down diagonally from the upper left corner.

A lot of traffic in the sky.

A bit of clambering was involved but I really wanted to play with the wooden structures that led into the water and now the sky was about as dark as it was going to get.

We then started to move round the castle a bit towards the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

So turning round the last bit of castle wall we come up on the light house.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, certainly wasn't expecting a single solid beam of light pointing out over the castle wall and the main lighthouse flashes weren't even so bright as to cause hideous over-exposure in the shots.

I tried various different angles and moved around to get different angles.
Two key compositions would involve
1. The light house with Polaris
2. The Lighthouse with the milkyway.
The exact positioning of each within the shot would be dependant on where I could get to and my creativity.

So... as per the plan, I tried to get a nice circular star trail over the lighthouse. (Ideally with Polaris centred on or behind the lighthouse.)
I tried an experiment of limiting my sequence of shots to 15 minutes to see if that was enough to get a good circular trail. It's not until I got to post-processing that I could see it wasn't really enough for what I wanted and, unfortunately, there was another problem... i'd been having trouble with my tripod in portrait mode all night and was thinking I was shaking the camera but, as the stacked images from the 15 minute sequence shows, my tripod was slipping. The camera was sinking throughout the 15 minutes, creating an unintended spiral effect with the trail. (I composited the lighthouse back in manually so it wasn't blurred.)

Castle Gate and the road home

So, with the lighthouse and sea defences bagged and the night sky truly dark we turned on the castle itself once more.

Again you can see the tall walls with minimal features.
In truth there is lots do with creatively with the walls of the castle I just was easily distracted by other subjects. (And my tripod problem.)
I tried to get a shot of the milkyway over the gate for the castle but couldn't quite find the right composition. This was the best of the bunch.

This is the jetty that is used, within normal hours, to get to and from the castle. It points directly into the light pollution of the main land unfortunately.

One last shot of the Milkyway over the Isle of Wight half-way back along the shingle-spit as we headed home.