Portfolio 5: Vertical blue

9 07 2013

My converted infrared camera has a customized white balance specific for infrared in order to remove the red colour cast on images from the 720nm IR filter. It also allows for a bit of false colour to appear without the need for post-production, so I have been having fun with this in-camera method of capturing false colour in IR images.

Most IR photographs are heavily processed in order to create dramatic landscapes and surreal images which I admire. However, I’ve chosen to use a very minimal post-production approach, keeping most of the work “in-camera” using the custom white balance. This results in serendipity whenever I try the camera in different seasons.  Colour unexpectedly pops up in an otherwise monochromatic outlook.

I have found this to be a wonderful way to look at the world in a new light – literally. Learning how to see in IR and how to predict the occurrence of false colour also means I must also understand real colour and reflectance better in order to better predict false colour showing up in any IR image. This learning process is also improving my own colour photography as I am getting better at quickly “reading” how objects reflect and absorb light.  So far, the most common false colour in my photographs has been blue, in particular, a blue-violet shade. This blue is most associated with the real colours, black, blue, purple and green — but not all black, blue, purple and green objects have this false colour! Most frequently, flowers and paint are the source of this blue in IR.  Often, with some planning, this “false blue” results in lovely colour IR images which require very minimal post-production.

The images in this fifth portfolio series are a series of images taken as vertical images, with the false IR colour blue being a dominant theme.  I’ve chosen to start with the track at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. It is a bright blue track, and the false colour is not a bad match to the actual colour. This image was taken at the top of the Loyola Tower during a spring sunset while a women’s soccer team was training.  I do enjoy the long shadows cast by the university buildings around the playing field, and the athletes’ shadows dotting the field — all framed by the blue track which dominates the image.

Saint Mary's University athletics track

There is a lens hot-spot in the centre of the image as I used my Pentax Lumix zoom lens nearly fully extended. Not all lens are compatible with IR quality – my old macro lens has an even worse hotspot issue. (I’m lucky that my kit lens and my macro clip-on both work really well with IR.) With this particular zoom lens, I had the aperture at f/11 which helped to spread out the hot spot a bit (small apertures exacerbate the hot spot issue.) Even so, I still like the image, despite this flaw, for the serendipity of the track colour and the pattern of shadows cast across the landscape.  This hot spot issue could likely be fixed post-production, but in keeping with my minimalist in-camera approach / challenge, I have decided not to do this. Do you think I should?

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