Portfolio 6 – Lunenburg reflections

20 09 2013

This past summer, we attended a wonderful wedding in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  Lunenburg is an UNESCO World Heritage site due to its architecture and long marine history, not to mention its beauty, so it made for an amazing location for our friends to get married in!

As a change of perspective, I’ve gone back to colour for this series after experimenting with infrared images for several months. This photograph was taken the day before the wedding. It was mid-morning when the water was choppy. It is of the small rubber tender belonging to the historic Bluenose.  The trippy patterns of the reflections are reminiscent of a certain Italian designer fabric pattern. I liked the contrast between the choppy patterned reflections and the clean lines of the tender, ready to return to the ship.


(Due to travel and inconsistent access to good wifi, I have been behind on the Portfolio 26 project. Wish me luck as I try to catch up!)


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?

Portfolio 1 gallery: Trees beyond sight

21 01 2013

Portfolio 1: Trees beyond sight.  This “gallery” function in wordpress is new to me so I’ll be working on refining this approach as I go along with this project.

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Links to the posts:

First post explaining the project and introducing the first Portfolio 1 photograph: Pine sentries.

Shadows and conifers.

An artist’s shed in the woods.

A snowperson and its little tree.

Two conifers by a lake.

Portfolio 1: Conifers around a lake

20 01 2013

The fifth and last image in “Portfolio 1: Trees beyond sight” below is from a sunset walk to our neighbouring lake, the same one where I took the “Shadows and Conifers” image.  I like how the near-infrared spectrum increases the contrast of the clouds in the sky, adding considerable drama to the image.  What initially caught my attention were the two pines towering over almost nearly every tree in the area. I was shooting almost perpendicular to the dominant light source, with the sunset on the left, so those two trees did not become dramatically white, but instead appear to glow mysteriously due to diffused light through their needles.  However, the smaller conifers in the foreground had more direct reflection from the sunlight so those appear almost white as a result.  The bare branches of the saplings provide nice composition endpoints as well as a dramatic contrast to the evergreen conifers.  On the lake itself, there is some ice forming, providing a nice contrast in textures and reflections between the ice and water reflecting back the fast-moving clouds.

Two conifersee and clouds over Chain Lake

Portfolio 1 – Shadows and conifers

10 01 2013

A few days ago, I started my “Portfolio 26” project with my first image in my portfolio ““Trees beyond sight: conifer tree studies in near-infrared”. A bit longwinded, but I’ve never had the knack of coming up with catchy and fun titles – the talent lies entirely with Cosmoboy!

Halifax has many beautiful conifers and conifer forests, which provides me with an opportunity to experiment with infrared during the winter when most trees have lost their leaves, hence this portfolio theme.  This picture was taken at sunset during an evening walk to one of our favourite neighbourhood lakes. The image shows a towering conifer perched on a rock with many leafless trees around it. Further down, there are two shadows showing Cosmoboy and myself being quite focused on the infrared camera as we experiment with the best settings for that image.  It is not one of my best infrareds, but I like it due to the range of tones and textures from the bright whites of the shrubbery and young conifers near our shadows to the darker tones of the trees higher up — not to mention the dark tones of the strangely dark sky and our shadows.  Plus looking at our shadows is a nice reminder of a lovely winter walk when we explored the scenery during a cold January evening.

Infrared photograph of Cosmoboy and Ecogirl's shadows at sunset.

Picking up where I left things…

6 01 2013

Since I moved to Halifax during the summer of 2011, the year has gone by in a blur with a new job, renovating a house, working with people in my laboratory at my last institution and so on. While I kept up my photography during this period (such as those work-related shares like this volcanic plume from Argentina and a cormorant being sampled at Hamilton Ontario), I’ve not been able to post as regularly as I’d like.

As a result, I have found myself lacking motivation. Really, having a weekly goal for one’s artistic endeavours does work wonders for one’s development! And I found myself missing the fun of sharing a few images and thinking about what I should be taking photographs each week… Therefore, the timing and motivation seems to be good for resurrecting my photography posts on Ecogirl & Cosmoboy again.

I am not sure what to call this project. My goal this year is to continue the theme that evolved toward the end of my last “Project 52”, and to refine my approach to photography, e.g. develop consistent themes over a series of photographs, and perhaps even tell stories.  So another “Project 52” where I challenge myself to take and share an interesting photograph each week isn’t quite right. At the same time, “Portfolio 52”, e.g. post 3 to 5 curated photographs together each week might be rather challenging to keep up. So perhaps “Portfolio 26”, e.g. a short series of curated photographs shared over the space of 2 weeks, would be a good fit?

For “Portfolio 1”, I thought I’d start off with a theme of “Trees beyond sight: conifer tree studies in near-infrared”. I recently had my old camera converted (e.g. original internal filter removed, a basic infrared filter added to the sensor) and am working on learning how the world looks in infrared.  The  below is one of the first IR photographs I took when walking on a chilly winter day with Cosmoboy, and is of some absolutely gorgeous ancient conifers in a neighbouring Halifax cemetery.

Very tall and old pine in a Halifax cemetry

Pine sentries

Project 52 No 4 – Summer is coming!

26 05 2011

It has been a very wet and dreary spring – rain nearly every day.  Yesterday, I went sampling on Lake Ontario and we were fortunate to be on the lake during a rare sunny day.  I saw this little scene at the marina where we had launched the boat which seemed to serve as a useful reminder that summer will come eventually and not to worry.

Broken-down bench in front of colourful sunflower paintings

Technicially, this is not “street art” since it was found at a lake-front marina, but it is still an inspiring image for those passing by.