Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mission San Cayetano de Tumacácori

The mission San Cayetano de Tumacácori is located on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River approximately 30 minutes south of the city of Tubac AZ. Sandy and I went there in hopes of photographing this historical site in infrared.
Here's as good as any place to place a technical warning. I hope to discuss the capture of and later post processing of the images as well as share samples.

The images were all captured with a Canon 1DsII that had been converted to fulltime infrared (IR) capture using a 665nm filter. The conversion was performed by Precision Camera and has given me remarkable results. The lens is a Canon 24-105mm that had been used to properly focus the camera for IR photography.

I normally use Phase One Capture One 4 Pro software to work on my medium format images before sending them to Adobe's Photoshop (CS4). I quickly learned that the very nature of fulltime IR and the white balance needed required me to use Canon's Digital Pro Professional (DPP). Shooting IR has added a step (or two) to my normal workflow however the results are well worthwhile. The filter I'm using allows me the flexibility of either false color or black and white depending on the image processed.

We'll be adding more images from the mission within the next couple days so please stay tuned.

Thank you for allowing us to share our images and as always we welcome your comments.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catalina Village Business Guide

A couple months ago Loree Dinsmore (Thunderbolt Publishing) contacted us regarding the usage of a couple of our lightning images. Loree was busy at the time getting a new website off the ground that would be a benefit to the Catalina area. For those that might not know, Catalina is a small town/village approximately 14-miles north of Tucson and very close to where we live. Catalina is also the location of Claire's Cafe and Art Gallery where we have our work showing in the back room.

Loree and Don came to a usage agreement and shortly afterwards was born.

We want to thank Loree for her great work and support to the community and wish her new website well. We've added a permanent link so please feel free to visit often. We'll also be adding a permanent link to Claire's just was soon as all the kinks are worked out.

Sandy & Don

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mission San Xavier del Bac

The White Dove of the Desert. The Mission sits on the land of the Tohono O'odham Indians who have protected the mission for hundreds of years. Located 10 miles southwest of Tucson, it's a short drive on Route 19 if you're headed south to Tubac or Nogales. Sandy and I stopped here yesterday and wanted to share.

Comments are always welcome!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Infrared Photography II

I promise this post will be less technical!

Sandy & I went to see friends of ours who we hadn't seen for months. We had dinner caught up with things laughed and decided to see what effect IR photography would have on their horses.

Thanks to Mike for posing

Once again thank you for allowing us to share and we welcome your comments.
Sandy & Don

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Infrared Photography

Warning - somewhat technical information ahead...

I've been interested in infrared (IR) photography for over 40 years starting first with film then progressing to digital. Film while a major PIA was slightly easier to use after it was loaded into the camera in complete darkness than digital and a IR filter attached to the lens. I've been using an IR filter for many years and there were many drawbacks to this method; namely very slow shutter speeds and the inability to set the shot up with out removing the lens first. I've also found that a normal IR filter is a dust magnet no matter how careful I was in handling the filter I nevertheless still missed spots when replacing the filter after I had the shot setup.

A normal IR filter that goes on the front of the lens is opaque red; holding it up to the eye in even bright light won't help you see through it. With the inability to see through the lens as you normally would to set the shot you lose auto focus as well as all other functions thru the lens; and shutter speeds are considered fast if you shoot 30 seconds. You can also forget about any handheld shot.

The world looks different in black and white IR and there are a few things to consider. A blue sky will appear black or very dark and foliage will get a distinct white color. Using a filter you'll experience long exposure times and the absolute need of a tripod.

IR photography is unlike thermal imagery. When I first started getting interested in IR I had heard the old story that I could go to a parking lot after a hot day and capture the thermal images of the cars that had been parked there. Not so. If you take an image in the dark you'll get a black image. In IR the object must be illuminated by an IR source like the sun. This is why IR is so great for landscape work.

Like I've said I've been tinkering with IR capture using various lens filters for many years. I am a landscape photographer who in the past couple years moved my capture system completely to medium format and now use a Cambo WRS1000 and Phase One P45+ digital back. The camera I had been using was a Canon 1DsII that I kept for capturing lightning and shooting the occasional wildlife. That is till a friend of mine, Jack Flesher ( posted a comment that he was looking for a camera body to convert to fulltime IR and that got me thinking. I've got a perfectly good camera body that is sitting around collecting dust as I'm just not shooting wildlife so why not have it converted?

I've toyed around with the idea of a converted camera for the past couple years however never did it. I did a search and while there are many companies offering conversions I liked what I found with Precision Camera. One of the things I like most was that they strongly suggested sending the lens I'd be using along with the camera body so they could calibrate the focus; this was something no one else recommended. They offer 2 types of IR filters, the 715nm and 665nm. The 715nm filter is the typical IR filter and is a true IR filter used primarily for B&W photos. The 665nm is a specialized IR filter as it blocks Wavelengths shorter than 665nm and is well suited for color IR while still allowing for B&W in post processing. I opted for the 665nm conversion using my 1DsII and 24-105 lens.

The conversion to fulltime IR allows the shooter to use the camera as if it hadn't been converted. In other words I can now capture IR with fast shutter speeds using the cameras auto focus ability and other functions and while I routinely use a tripod in my landscape work it isn't necessary with a converted camera.

As many of you know Sandy and I just returned from northern Arizona after visiting the Monument Valley area and later Marble Canyon. I sent the camera and lens to Precision Camera on a Monday and I got it back the following Wednesday. I'm still in a learning stage with the most difficult problem (now behind me) being creating a custom white balance. Who would of thought I'd need to find grass to shoot a white balance; and try finding grass living in a desert environment.

There's more to this story which I plan on sharing later on however here's more samples of the images I've been able to capture so far.

I want to take the time here and thank my good friend Chris Lawery at Capture Integration for getting a smoking hot deal on the 24-105 lens and Mike Soares of Precision Camera for putting up with my endless supply of questions and sending me the Photoshop action. Thanks guys!

Thanks for allowing me to share and I look forward to any comments.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

North Rim and Wall of Sand

We decided to take the drive to the North Rim and enter the Park on our last full day at Marble Canyon after all it's only an hours drive. We never actually entered the Park.

We took a side road a couple miles from the park entrance and drove out to an area near Saddle Mountain and hiked out to a view of the Grand Canyon we hadn't seen before. The hike out took a little over an hour before we realized we missed the turn so we doubled back eventually finding the correct turn; from there it was less than 10-minutes going uphill. Once we got to the plateau we were greeted with a beautiful sight of the canyon facing east with a great sky full of clouds. We both sat down on the edge and just took it all in for several minutes before either of us took the first image. All told we spent the better part of an hour just sitting and soaking in the beauty.

Our hike back to the jeep took less time with us making it back within 30 minutes. It sure helps when you know where you're going!

Once back in the jeep we decided there was no great need to visit the actual park and have to deal with the hoards of visitors; so back to Marble Canyon we went.

We found this sign earlier and wanted to share. Remember Don is 6-9 so his arm span is equal to his height - looks like he's in-between a Golden Eagle and California Condor (he was born in California after all).

We were watching the sky as we were driving east and the closer we got to Marble Canyon the more the sky was taking on a pinkish tint. There's a scenic overview on the 89A just before it drops back into the lower elevation. We stopped there and were greeted with a sight we had only seen in movies. Have you ever seen a movie where they show a dust storm? How about a wall of dust moving towards the actors? That's exactly what we saw. In a span of just a few short minutes we watched as this wall of dust traveled and obscured the cliffs. We had several thoughts all at once. WOW! And lets get out of here. We spent a couple minutes attempting to capture the dust storm then we got back into the jeep and drove down the hill into the storm itself. Surprising enough we found the dust storm to be rather tame as we first met it and later drove through it to Marble Canyon. By the time we got back to the hotel the wind had died down. We later found out from a local that this was a minor dust storm.

This ends our time in what we have become to think of as Navajo Land. We left Marble Canyon the next day driving south on the 89 to Flagstaff and later back home to Tucson.

Once again we thank you for allowing us to share our experiences as we photograph the Southwest and other locations, and as always we welcome your comments.

Sandy & Don