Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anniversary gifts for photographers {New Braunfels photographer}

Infrared converted Canon Rebel XTi 400D digital SLR with Canon EF 50mm 1.8 mark I lens. New Braunfels photography
Lisa and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary today. It's amazing to think that so much time has gone by, but we've got three children--one just a few months away from becoming a teenager--to prove it. I remember when we first met, working at the same newspaper. She was already a working photojournalist by then, although she spent more time writing in the newsroom than working in the darkroom. Hindsight's always 20/20, but it seems funny now that we had no inkling she'd one day make a full-time career out of her photography. Since she's gone pro, however, the majority of the gifts I get her for Christmas and birthdays tend to skew towards photographic equipment. Because that's where her desires lie these days. For our anniversary, I got her a Manfrotto 3011-3211 camera tripod with a Manfrotto 3265 grip action ball head, plus a 1TB internal hard drive for her computer, because she's shooting so much these days she needed the extra storage. Not sexy, I know, but she'd been taking about getting both for months, so I just beat her to the punch. I'll readily admit that she completely stole the show with her gift to me. That's it above. My own camera. I bought that Canon XTi back in 2008, and have taken many, many photos with it. I learned how to be a photographer with that camera. I learned how to take infrared images by using an R72 Hoya filter on the end of the lens, because I'm a sucker for oddball things like that. Lisa is just feeding the fire now, because she sent it to Life Pixel for conversion. My camera is now dedicated to shooting infrared full time, and I cannot express how cool that is!

Digital image sensors are very sensitive to near-spectrum infrared, that which lies just beyond what the human eye can see. This isn't the type of heat-signature infrared the military uses, but rather "cool" infrared like you'll see on television shows like Ghosthunters. Using a visible-light blocking IR filter on an unconverted camera allows you to take infrared images, but exposure times can range from 10-30 seconds or even longer. Converting a camera removes the internal filters over the sensor and replaces them with a dedicated infrared-friendly filter, allowing normal shutter speeds. It's a tremendous amount of fun, and produces new perspectives of familiar landmarks, like the false-color infrared image of the old LCRA power plant in New Braunfels above.

One of the nifty characteristics of infrared is the fact that the chlorophyll in leaves reflect it very strongly. The result is that trees and grass appear bright white in IR images, creating a snowy, surreal, fairyland look. The effect is dramatic in my shot of the pedestrian foot bridge over the San Marcos River, above. This lends itself nicely to striking bridal portraits and dramatic wedding shots.

Infrared also has an interesting effect on portraits. The upper layers of skin are fairly transparent to IR, and wrinkles and blemishes magically vanish in IR portraits. The self-portrait above is straight out of the camera with no extra processing, but once converted to black and white (I'm particularly partial to duotones) the result can be quite flattering.

So, yeah, I'm very happy with my anniversary gift this year. Now excuse me while I go play with my new toy!

Lisa On Location Photography

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