I used to hear photographers say they didn’t like the look of HDR (high dynamic range) photos. Software progressed and it got to where an HDR photo was perfectly natural. We got a photo that looked like what we saw with our eyes versus a cartoonish image.
Things continue to progress in the photo processing world. Today, the Shadow and Highlight sliders in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom are doing what HDR used to do.
Below you see two images taken in the historic district of Sibiu, Romania. One is HDR — a blend of seven images using Nik by DxO. The other is straight out of the camera with the highlights properly exposed. Can you see any difference?
Sibiu, Romania, historic center.
Sibiu, Romania, historic center.
HDR made from seven images processing as above
HDR made from seven exposures
Straight processing as above
HDR made from seven images processing as above
Give this concept a try next time you find yourself photographing a contrasty scene. Get the highlights perfectly exposed. Then bring out the shadows later with the Shadow slider in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.
I had the pleasure of using the Singh-Ray Filter 830 Infrared Filter during my recent photo tour to Ireland. It was great to get to play with the filter and use it in a variety of settings.
(Please see my previous posts on Singh-Ray Infrared Filters. Canon users need to use the 830. Nikon users can use either but Canon cameras need the 830.)
All the images below are 240 second exposures, ISO 400-800, and f/stop of f/9 to f/22. In my experimentation, I’ve learned that you start with one exposure as above. Take the photo and then check the histogram. More exposure is needed if the histogram doesn’t hit the right side. Less exposure is needed if the histogram spikes up the right side. Be prepared for some trial and error.
Please read my previous posts on using this filter. It is a great tool and could be just what you need to add a bit of creativity to your photography.
At sunset in July we were cruising down the Rio Piquiri in the Pantanal of Brazil. Junior, the boat driver, killed the motor and pointed to a pair of jaguars sitting on the riverbank.
There were 10 people in the boat and all were squirming to get their cameras and find the jaguars. The boat was bobbing in the water. There was a lot of movement to try to photograph something after sunset.
I pushed the ISO button on my camera and rolled the dial all the way to 51,200. I could only get a 50th of a second shutter speed. No way the photos were going to work with a shutter speed like that!
Raul, our guide, had been bragging about this high-powered flashlight that he’d received as a gift from a previous guest. His little flashlight was nearly a spotlight.
“Raul, point that flashlight at the jaguars!” I yelled. It was magic! The light was enough light to give us shutter speeds in the 1/160th or 1/200th of a second range.
A modern high-power flashlight and modern cameras with high ISO gave us the ability to photograph a jaguar in the dark. I love it!
I love infrared photos but somehow I never seemed to get around to having an old camera converted to infrared. So earlier this year I got an email ad from Singh-Ray Filters advertising their infrared filter. My hand grabbed my computer mouse without my will and order the filter. Before I knew it, Singh-Ray’s IR 690 filter was heading to my doorstep.
The filter arrived, I read some articles online, and then went out to give it a try. The photos came out RED. Yep, they were red but they were supposed to be red.
The articles I read said that the photos out of the camera would be red. I was then supposed to process with method #1, method #2, or method #3 to get an infrared image.
I tried all the methods and simply had a black-and-white image. No snowy-white grass or grass that look so great in infrared photos. I could never get anything that even remotely looked like infrared.
Out of frustration, I sent an email to the folks at Singh-Ray Filters. I got an immediate response and they put me in touch with one of their experts. That man and I exchanged photos and emails for the next two weeks. I shot photos with the filter, processed them per his instructions, but nothing worked. He paid for me to ship my filter to him so he could use it on his camera.
In the end, we found that my Canon 5D Mark IV and my Canon Rebel need a Singh-Ray 830 Infrared filter. The IR 690 filter only yields a black-and-white image after processing.
Mystery solved. Singh-Ray Filters immediately shipped me an 830 Infrared Filter and issued a credit for my 690 IR filter once they received it.
Thanks to the great customer service at Singh-Ray Filters I’m now shooting infrared photos and loving my 830 Infrared filter.
By the way, the IR 690 filter works fine on Nikon camera. We found this situation only applies to Canon cameras.
Here’s how to take a photo with the 830 Infrared Filter:
Set the camera to the Bulb exposure mode and decide which f/stop you’ll use.
Frame the shot and focus the lens.
Turn off auto-focus on the lens.
Screw the filter on the lens without moving the focus ring.
You can’t see through the IR filters.
With the camera in Bulb
Take the photo with the shutter open for about 4-minute.
Adjust based on the histogram. A bit less time if the photo is too bright or a bit more time if the photo is too dark.
Here’s my method for processing photos taken with the 830 Infrared Filter:
Open in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom
Open Hue Saturation Luminance
Move the red Luminance slider all the way to the right
Move the red Saturation slider all the way to the left
This gets rid of the red cast to the photo
Go back to the Basic Tab
Move the Exposure slider so the histogram hits the right corner
Move the Black slider so the histogram hits the left corner
Add some Contrast
Continue processing to taste
I’ve just begun shooting in infrared and processing those photos. Stay tuned. More discoveries in store.
I attended three, I believe, of your photography classes in 2015 or 2016. However, even now, sometimes I feel like I’m still in the pre-beginner phase.
I’m ready to think about buying and using an external flash. I have on my to-do list taking one of the Basic Intro Flash classes that you have listed for February 2018.
The purpose of this email is to ask if you can recommend a flash that is beginner-friendly, not terribly expensive, and easy-to-use for the technology challenged.
I read an article that was written in 2013. That article recommended these five flashes:
Neewer TT560 – (but it’s not an E-TTL)
Canon 270 EX II – (probably the more expensive of the five)
Yongnuo YN-560 II
Precision Design DSLR 300
Neewer NW680/TT680 (this one is the E-TTL version).
Do you have any thoughts on any of these, or is there another that you might recommend?
Get a Canon flash for your Canon camera. Same with Nikon users should buy Nikon flashes, Pentax should buy Pentax flashes, etc.
I worked with the Yongnuo and the Precision recently in class. The Yongnuo is like working with a “knock-off”. It looks like a Canon flash or a Nikon flash (both were in class) but it doesn’t feel like a Canon or Nikon. The head is hard to turn. The buttons on the back are clunky and clumsy. The flash exposure was erratic and not precise as it would have been with a Canon or Nikon flash.
The Precision flash was not even wroth considering. It way over-exposed during most of our classroom exercises.
I recommend the Canon 430 EX or Canon 430 EXII. The 430EX III-RT is loaded with features and a bit complicated. It’s about $250. Look around and see if you can find a 430EX II. You might be able to find one used for $150. It’s my favorite and so simple to use.
You’ll love it for years.
Take a look at some of my butterfly images on this page. All of the butterflies were photographed with a flash but none look like they were flashed. The flash should be subtle and natural. In my opinion, you only get that with a good flash.