Creative Possibilities

Having converted a Sony mirrorless camera (a6300) to “Infared and SuperColor,” I’m now learning how to process these odd images. When you capture an image with infared light and visible light only 590 nanometers and up, you get some unique color effects, so you need to adjust white balance, swap blue and red, set white and black points, adjust the tonality of each color and adjust hue and saturation. While that sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, the process becomes interesting because you learn about what each individual color (red, green and blue) is doing and how each individual color looks as it interacts with the others.

While you may or may not find that color study interesting, you will probably like the creative possibilities in the different results one can achieve. Here are some examples:

greyscale infared photograph
This image is essentially black and white with a blue filter applied. Processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. Infared is known for giving you the raw material for a high contrast greyscale image.
Infared photograph
I like the effect of showing the foliage as white while rendering the sky in a deep blue hue. I find it ethereal.
Infared photograph
Since I like images that are somewhat realistic, and I love Fall color, I also like to render the foliage as yellow or golden, while maintaining the sky an attractive shade of blue. I could render the foliage as light pink or magenta, but that’s not my style.

The Swimmer or the Water?

You know the age-old question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? You can’t have one without the other, right? In the same vein, I ask you, “What is this photograph about, the swimmer or the water? Without the water, we wouldn’t have a swimmer, and yet the swimmer adds action and purpose to the image. I could argue that the water has the strongest visual interest. But the water without the swimmer might not be eye-catching or meaningful.

This infrared photograph processed as a cyanotype stops action of a girl swimming in a pool. The monochrome nature of this infrared photograph allows us to really focus on the water’s texture.

So do you think this image is more about the swimmer or the water?

I hope you are enjoying the rest of your summer.

How to Improve Your Photography

Looking through my archives for color photographs that would make a satisfying black and white image made me realize that “seeing in black and white” will make me a better photographer. Any consistently successful photographer will pre-visualize the image before image capture. For starters, one evaluates dynamic range, depth of field, light quality, composition, timing of the action and whether the subject is meaningful.

To choose a good subject for black and white photography there are more factors to evaluate: tonal range and contrast, simplicity, shape, texture, interest. I like my black and white images to be strong. The image has to be eye catching and hold the viewer’s interest without the help of color. I admit, I’m a photographer who loves color, so this challenge is fun for me!

This photograph of a mother Bison and her calf grazing on top of the hillside made the cut for a color to black and white candidate. In my judgement, it has simplicity, large repeating shapes, texture in the fur, wide tonal range and plenty of interest — from the unusual wildlife sighting to the eye contact and tongue in mid-air.

#bison, #motherandcalf, #buffalo, #gtnp, #grandteton, #wyoming, #jacksonhole, #givethemdistance, #safedistance, #wildlifephotography, #wildlife, #photography, #nature, #blackandwhite, #sonyalpha, #nik, #silverefexpro
Mother and calf bison grazing in Grand Teton National Park (shot from a safe distance inside a car with a 600mm lens).

The Wild West near Joshua Tree National Park

Black and White photographs feel timeless, don’t they? Looking at a black and white image of a scene from the olden days seems right to me. When we visited Pioneertown near Joshua Tree National Park, I found some old style buildings like this Feed Store. As I stood on the dirt road, I admired the low evening sun shining from the right on this big Joshua Tree and the wood barn.

As I processed this image, I emulated the look of an infared light photograph by darkening the sky. The foliage was naturally bright from the sunlight. A really good black and white image includes a simple and balanced composition, bold shapes and interesting textures. This image checked all the boxes for me.

#wildwest, #pioneertown, #joshuatree, #joshuatreenationalpark, #socal, #thingstodo, #barn, #blackandwhite, #infared, #photography, #travelphotography, #sonyalpha
Scene from Pioneertown near Joshua Tree National Park. Enjoy the shapes and textures in this black and white rendering.

If you arrive in Pioneertown in the late afternoon as we did, you can enjoy dinner and the unique ambiance of the iconic restaurant Pappy and Harriet’s, but you will need a reservation.

Thinking in Black and White

I’m challenging myself with learning a new discipline in photography. The first step is having a digital mirrorless camera converted to capture infared light, and I’m learning about the techniques for capturing and processing these new types of images. But the camera won’t be back in my hands for a few weeks.

In the meantime, I was daydreaming about the places I would love to photograph with the infared camera — like the Florida Everglades and Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. With the limitations on travel during the pandemic, those excursions will come to pass down the road.

The scenery of Joshua Tree is fresh in my mind, since I visited the park in 2018. I decided to process one of my color photographs in black and white, as a first step in my journey to see in black and white. What do you think?

#joshuatree, #jtnp, #joshuatreenationalpark, #blackandwhite, #silverefexpro, #nik, #nikon, #shapes, #texture, #contrast, #california, #landscape, #photography, #nature, #desert, #adobe
I love the bold silhouettes as well as the textures in the Joshua Trees found in the high desert of California. A monochrome image makes the image more about shapes, textures and contrast, as it subtracts color. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.

Back to Blogging

Apologies to my loyal followers and friends for the 6 week gap in blog posts. I have needed a healthy dose of personal time away since my mother’s death on July 17. There was not only grieving, but also the time consuming job of sorting Mom’s belongings as we had to vacate her apartment in record time.

Today, I’m back to processing photos and back to blogging too. I finished processing 26 family portraits I made as a volunteer at a local non-profit.

These brave parents love raising children, as they have seven!

There must be a few helpers among the older children in this family to help the parents manage.

Next week, I’ll be back to landscape photography, as we will fly off to Calgary and explore the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff. Stay tuned!

All You Need Is Love

This child is blessed with a loving family. Grandpa showed us how he feels.

On Sunday I shot 26 family portraits as a volunteer for a Pittsburgh school for children with disabilities. To protect their privacy, we will keep the names of the school and the family private. This portrait was my favorite, thanks to the loving gesture of the grandfather. As you reflect on the smiles on the parents’ faces, you can tell they are counting their blessings too. These families give me a gift every year, by showing me where true happiness comes from.

Innocence of age two

Recently, I photographed this little boy at Children’s Hospital. Whenever I volunteer, I remember how much I love shooting portraits.

A two-year-old thinks he can disappear when he covers his eyes. But he can’t help peaking at you!
“I see you!” How fun is that game? The grown ups can’t help but smile from ear to ear.
Oh my, how I wish you didn’t have to grow up. Toddlers are so irresistible.

A Girl With Attitude

I met a girl who wears her emotions on her face. Don’t you wonder what she will be like when she grows up? It will be interesting!

What will this girl do with her life? Perhaps an authoritarian role: a cop, a judge or a mother?
portrait, blackandwhitephotography, girl, attitude
A future teacher or politician?
portrait, girl, attitude
She is thinking! No doubt, she will make her own decisions.

A Mother’s Love

When I photograph the children at Children’s Hospital, I am always impressed with the strong spirit of the children and their parents. Most of the children I meet are fighting a life threatening illness, and it’s a stressful time.

I was particularly impressed with this mother and son. I could easily read the love in the mother’s heart through her eyes and hands.

mother, motherandson, portrait, family, protect, strength, flashesofhope,
A simple gesture can say so much. Look at the way this mother holds her son in the portrait.