Brad Melton Photography: Blog en-us (C) Brad J. Melton - Albuquerque - Santa Fe - Rio Rancho (Brad Melton Photography) Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:45:00 GMT Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:45:00 GMT Brad Melton Photography: Blog 96 120 Digital Infrared Photography at 14,000 ft, Part 2 For a recent hike up Mt. Shavano in Colorado (14,229 ft), I decided to bring along only my infrared-modified old Canon T2i and 10-22mm lens. If you're just jumping in, check out part one of this post.

So here's what things look like with the 780 nm infrared filter (aka Wratten 87) when left in color.  At about 720 nm and deeper (longer wavelenths, e.g. 780 nm, 900 nm, etc.), you need to perform a custom white balance off of green vegetation.  It needs to be vegetation because it's the chlorophyll that reflects in a particular infrared "color" that you're keying off of.  Something green that is not foliage won't work.

This custom white balance will result in the classic white foliage of infrared photography, and when using cutoffs such as 720 nm and 780 nm you'll get a bronze sky.  The effect will be slightly more pronounced at 720 nm than you see here at 780 nm.  You may see some bluish tones on certain objects.  If those are undesirable, simply drop the luminance of that blue hue in Photoshop or Lightroom.  Note that if you're shooting RAW, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW, the engine behind Photoshop and Lightroom for interpreting RAW images) can't handle the bizarro embedded white balance.  You can go through some crazy juju for slapping it around and getting it to work (it involves making a custom camera profile using Adobe's DNG Profile Editor, but that's a whole 'nother post), but it's much simpler to shoot in JPG so that the proper white balance is embedded.  This is the one time I'll shoot in both RAW+JPG so I can see what it should look like and perhaps just use the JPG but have the option of using the greater dynamic range of the RAW.  These shots below are from RAW and you can see some inconsistency in my guesswork with the white balance.  It's not entirely my fault, however, as you will notice the sky looking different depending on the camera angle relative to the sun, much as you would see when using a polarizing filter with visible light.

False-color 780 nm digital infrared photography near Mt. ShavanoFalse-color 780 nm digital infrared photography near Mt. Shavano

Now, as luck would have it, this bronze color in the sky turns into a somewhat believable blue sky when you swap the red and blue channels of the image in Photoshop and get some real fairytale-lookin' stuff.  The shade of the sky can rapidly go askew if you didn't handle your RAW white balance voodoo properly, and I'm still struggling with getting it just right.  In most of these below, I wound up shifting the sky slightly towards magenta to compensate for them being slightly green due to my initial misjudgment in my RAW processing.  You'll also wind up with a slight yellow in the foliage (which comes from the a slight blue prior to the red/blue channel swap), and it's up to you if you want to keep it or desaturate it to white.  I left some yellow and desaturated others in these images below.  In my next post I'll show how you can do some really crazy stuff with the channel swap when shooting with a 665 nm filter which lets in even more visible light.

False-color 780 nm digital infrared photography near Mt. ShavanoFalse-color 780 nm digital infrared photography near Mt. Shavano with a red/blue channel swap performed in Photoshop


]]> (Brad Melton Photography) 720 nm 780 nm Shavano Tabeguache Wratten 87 digital infrared Thu, 10 Jul 2014 03:13:11 GMT
Digital Infrared Photography at 14,000 ft, Part 1 This past weekend I had the joy of joining my friend and assistant Mickey who wanted to hike up Mt. Shavano for his birthday.  Shavano is one of Colorado's "14ers" at a height of 14,229 ft. Though I was a few feet shy of the top by virtue of being too dizzy to safely balance on the topmost boulder, I'm still counting it as a success. ;)  Shavano is near Poncha Springs and thus makes a nice weekend trip from Albuquerque.

For photography, I decided to bring along only my infrared-modified old Canon T2i and 10-22mm lens. I wanted both the practice and challenge of shooting only in infrared. For those of you not familiar with digital infrared photography, here's the gist:  digital sensors are sensitive not only to visible light, but also to near-ultraviolet and near-infrared light just outside the range of human vision. There is an internal filter over the sensor (known as the "hot mirror") that blocks this UV and IR light so that it doesn't throw off the colors in your images.

Now if you crazy enough, you can have this internal filter removed and then shoot with filters that allow only near-infrared light in and capture the world in a way you can't see with your eyes. What's interesting and unique about this is that foliage (anything with chlorophyll in it, such as leaves and grass) become very bright and the sky typically goes very dark or black (depending on your filter and the position of the sun relative to your camera).

So here are a few shots I took and went with the classic black and white infrared look.  Some were shot with a 665nm cutoff filter and some with a 780nm cutoff (aka Wratten 87 filter). The difference between the two is negligible when converted to black and white.

In my next post I'll show you some of the unique things that can be done with the 780nm/Wratten 87 filter when you don't convert the image to black and white.

Digital infrared photography of trees and mountains in ColoradoBlack and white digital infrared photography near Mt. Shavano


]]> (Brad Melton Photography) 780 nm Shavano Tabeguache Wratten 87 digital infrared Fri, 04 Jul 2014 04:38:06 GMT
Yongnuo Flashes By Brad Melton

A question comes up again and again in a Facebook group I participate in: "what are some good but cheap options for flashes?"  I have become a big fan of Yongnuo flashes.  Let me first clarify that I am in no way associated with Yongnuo, nor are they compensating me.  I'm merely a fan of their products for their low cost and good quality.  I own a YN-560 II, two YN-568EX, and one Canon 580EX II (which I bought before I discovered Yongnuo).  My one big beef with Yongnuo is the manner in which features are scattered across their various models.  I decided to sit down and hash out a matrix of features (with little thanks to their horrible website!).  I haven't bothered with the 400 series because I don't recommend buying lower-power flashes (of any brand).  The cost savings isn't worth finding yourself in a situation wishing you had more mojo.


  Price TTL HSS Zoom
Battery Port
YN-500EX $150 yes yes 24-85 smart no no 53 no
YN-560 II $60 no no 24-105 dumb no yes 58 no
YN-560 III $70 no no 24-105 dumb no yes 58 yes
YN-565EX $105 yes no 24-105 smart no yes 58 no
YN-568EX $185 yes yes 24-105 smart no no 58 no
YN-568EX II $185 yes yes 24-105 smart yes no 58 no

All models seem to include a flip-down diffuser panel for a 14mm beam spread, a small popup bounce card, and a PC sync port.  All appear to run off of 4 AA batteries, as well.  This information is to the best of my knowledge, but I'm not responsible for any mistakes.  :)  Please do your own final research before you make a purchase.  Prices are based on the Amazon listings at the time of writing this.

By "dumb optical slave" I mean the flash can trigger off the light from any other flash (including a mode for ignoring TTL preflashes).  "Smart optical slave" refers to the ability to interpret and respond to instructions (concerning TTL and power ratios) encoded in a pulsed preflash from an optical wireless master such as the YN-568EX II, Canon 580EX II, and the built-in popup of the Canon 7D.

The YN-560 III is a new oddity that includes a wireless radio receiver compatible with the Yongnuo RF-602 and 603 radio triggers.

]]> (Brad Melton Photography) YN-560 YN-565 YN-568 Yongnuo flashes Yongnuo models cheap flashes Mon, 22 Jul 2013 16:18:31 GMT