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Old Nov 7, 2010, 9:15 PM   #1
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Default Mountains in IR

In September my shoulder was feeling really good, so I took the big bag, tripod, a lot of other stuff and went to the top of Mt. Pinos to take some IR photos. It's not a long hike - 4 miles round trip. The hike isn't difficult, I spent quite a bit of time on the top taking pictures using the K100, a couple of lenses and the Hoya R72 filter. The next day my arm and shoulder completely locked up - I think that's the last time I'll use the Kata 3N1-30 for anything more than carrying equipment to and from the car. I'm not sure the pictures I came up with were worth the price I paid to get them.

What do you think?

Bench (DA 35 macro):



Forest (DA 35 macro):



San Joaquin Valley in the distance (DA 35 macro):



Looking west (SMC 24 f2.8):



I wasn't going to post these at all, but now that it's been more than a month and my shoulder has settled down some, I thought one wasn't as bad as I first thought. So I'd really like some reaction, positive or negative, about them.
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Old Nov 7, 2010, 10:13 PM   #2
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# 2 and # 3 are my favourites...# 2 getting the nod for the best. I think it verges on outstanding, IMHO. I like the quality of light, the rather clear demarcation of different topography...and the old dead tree that seems to 'anchor' the picture.

Lovely composition....that IR approach set things off quite dramatically.

Hope your shoulder heals fast. BTW....frozen shoulders, soreness and aches....just get worse as you age. I'm in my early 60's now....and boy do I experience daily soreness.....one place or the other.

But carry on...it's always makes everything worth it, when you get results like your # 2 picture.

Les
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Old Nov 8, 2010, 1:49 AM   #3
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I really like #1. For some reason it really does it for me. The others aren't bad at all but don't have the same effect on me.

Is there anything more to doing IR than putting the Hoya filter on? I've always been curious about it.

John
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Old Nov 8, 2010, 8:02 AM   #4
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Hey there.

I'm very sorry to hear about your shoulder, and hope you're feeling better.

The 3N1 is not really a perfect bag for hiking. It's more for daily and urban use, in which the Quick Access feature of the bag is really needed.

If you need a bag for hiking, the best options are those with a harness system that will support the weight better (like our Bumblebee and Beetle bags).

Hope you'll get back to the mountains in no-time.


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BTW
Those are nice shots. I'm with John - #1's my favorite.
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Old Nov 8, 2010, 9:09 AM   #5
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afew steps backwards with shot 4 (assuming no cliff face issues) and i think the shot would have looked better with the tree better framed then would get the bright foliage contrasted with the dark sky - but regardless i like it and number 3 best - number 3 with the fields in the distance looks slightly surreal somehow

but all good shots - if you ever get a k5 try it out with ir too wanna see if its hot filter is as harsh as the k7's - almost certainly is but i can hope - well maybe i should hope would probably finally tip the balance and make me get one and i really really wanna hang on till the k3
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Old Nov 8, 2010, 4:08 PM   #6
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Hi, Zohar!

I agree about the bag, but only sort-of. I was being stupid to try to drag all my stuff in a backpack with a problem shoulder. Blame it on the doctor who gave me a cortizone shot that got me thinking I was cured.

Other than that, I've hiked before with that bag (including this particular hike) carrying more weight than I was carrying this time without any problems at all. I really like the 3N1 design because of the strap variations. I've found that wearing both shoulder straps cross-shoulder (feel like one of those cartoon bandits sometimes) and the hip strap, I can carry a fair amount of weight (maybe more than I really should, considering my small stature). I really like the sling-bag design - if I hike with a backpack style bag whatever is in it will stay that way, whereas with the sling style, I can grab what I want on the fly. By wearing both shoulder straps cross-shoulder, I can undo one and the hip strap, swing it around to get what I want, then tug on the loose strap to get the bag back onto my back - works very well.

I'm now looking at other bags and systems. I may go with a harness system if I can find one that is small enough to fit but isn't such that half my equipment is at my back. The only problem I have with a smaller bag is one lens I have that won't fit in anything smaller than the -30. Like everything else in photography, one has to compromise somewhere...

John - The answer to your question is yes and no.

As far as actually shooting the picture, it can be as easy as screwing on the filter and shooting when using an unconverted camera.

But there's more to it than that. First, you have to have a camera that has a weak hot filter in front of it. As John Pattullo mentioned, the K7 is hopeless (I tried, just to see). I really am no expert and don't know all the physics of the thing - just in general terms. It seems to me that the cameras that are poorer shooting reds are generally better with IR - the filter in front of the sensor doesn't block as much infrared/red so the camera tends to blow out the reds. That ends up being good for infrared. The samples I've seen from the K5 with red in them look excellent, I suspect that K5 will be as bad as the K7 is for IR.

The K100, which always struggled with bright reds, does pretty well with the Hoya R72 filter. The first thing you have to do is figure out the metering - the filter blocks most visible light, letting in only some visible red. That means your shutter speeds will be very slow - a tripod is necessary, no matter what ISO you use. The next thing is that you have to set a custom white balance, most people suggest using a green lawn for the target (foliage reflects lots of IR). It helps to have the camera set to over-expose the shot to get a proper white balance - I shoot using M mode, my K100 needs about a 2 stop over-exposure compared to the camera's meter reading.

Another thing - IR focus is at a different point than with visible light - if you are using a manual focus lens (like the SMC 24 f2.8 I used above) you won't have the focus right if you focus without the filter, then shoot with it on. I tend to use smaller apertures and wider lenses so dof will compensate for the focus issue. I haven't gotten a good read on the AF mechanism. From my reading it sounds like it will be accurate if you focus through the filter (it will work by the way) but in my experience it can backfocus.

And not all lenses will work right with IR - some leave a hot spot in the middle. Many of my fast, expensive lenses don't work, so I saved money and got a smaller filter. I've used successfully the kit lens, the DA 35 macro, 77 Ltd, my old 24mm f2.8, Viv S1 105 macro - about all the lenses that I have that I can use my size filter on (I have step-up rings for some of them).

Then when you look at your LCD you'll see what appears to be an image with tones of red. I prefer to convert to b&w, but others use a method to switch the red and blue channels which gives you false color. I've done some like that but haven't liked how mine come out (others seem to have a better feel for it and have produced very nice pictures).

So when you get home you have to process the pictures, a program with a good b&w conversion is necessary (I think I used LR for these, but often go with CS4's b&w filter, which is fun to play with).

As you can see, it's not something to be tried without a lot of thought, preparation and computer skills. It's a pretty obscure branch of photography for a reason, and sometimes the results are disappointing.

On the other hand, I've taken visible light pictures of #2 many times and haven't liked any of them as well as this one - haze doesn't reflect IR so you can "see" further. On the day I was up there I couldn't see as far into the San Joaquin Valley as #3 shows, and the distant bare hills you can see in #2 weren't very visible. There was quite a bit of haze in #1 and #4 (which are more or less looking at the same spot, but from different locations) that made it hard to see the hills beyond the valley. You could see them but not any detail. Also, the trees are normally very dark, so with the K7's limited dynamic range, the mountainsides often appear more like a black mass. I wanted to see if I could get a better feel of the trees and texture by capturing the reflected IR light of the trees - I thought that was a big reason #2 works so well, better than the ones I've taken before.

This spot isn't all that far from where I live, I've photographed up here in snow and sunlight. The views are breathtaking even when it's hazy but they never quite translate well to a photo. These are as close as I've managed to capturing a bit of that feeling.

And yes, I was disappointed in #4's framing. I also wondered, last night when I posted it, whether I went over-board with the contrast and that it looks a bit harsh. I wonder if lightening the sky a bit would help or hinder - would the distant hills blend in too much with a lighter sky.
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Old Nov 9, 2010, 2:20 PM   #7
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Harriet,
I really like them all but, #1 is my favorite.
Is it just me or does #4 need about 1or 2 degree twist CCW?
Keep me in mind if you deside to get rid of the 3N1.
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Old Nov 9, 2010, 3:46 PM   #8
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GW - it's the terrain and the prevailing winds, the camera was reasonably level. The trees at the tree-line are far more upright. That one big tree is more or less by itself and subject to a great deal of wind - the spot is very exposed and close to the highest spot for 50-100 miles. Not long after I got the DS I was changing lenses at about that spot and a gust almost blew me over (and I dropped one of the lenses in the snow).

Which brings up a question - would the picture look better if I were to rotate it slightly, even though it wouldn't match the real scene?

I'm not going to get rid of the 3N1-30. I'm going to get rid of the Lowepro Slingshot 200 since it's limited to just the right shoulder.
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Old Nov 9, 2010, 6:02 PM   #9
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you could try rotating it slightly - i think though if you actually made the tree vertical then the ground would look wrong - but on the plus side a small tilt to straighten things up slightly wont affect teh composition at all really - lucky as if has needed to go the otherway would have hurt the overall image by taking "useful" pixels out of the frame
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Old Nov 9, 2010, 6:47 PM   #10
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Hi Harriet,

I'm not a student of IR, so I don't know if this is common knowledge and often used in it, but I think that you've really hit on something with the distant backgrounds. The shots have a look that is just unearthly. Add the familiar shapes, but unreal perspective of IR reflection, and these shots are standouts, IMO.

I've played with IR, but have never really understood how to get something other than the strange colors and effects. Unfortunately, IL doesn't offer too many opportunities to get real distance in landscape shots, but we do have lots of skyscrapers in the city, and this might be something to look into. . .I still have my FZ1, and a K100, and a Hoya R72, so I'll have to keep this in mind.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would have to be #2, but I like the patchwork fields in #3 and the contrast in #4.

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