Fuji X-E2 – Amazing Quality!


My Fuji  X-E2 – Just Perfect!

Shrimper Carolyn Ann, Fuji X-E2

Shrimper Carolyn Ann, Fuji X-E2

I have to tell you that I am REALLY a Fuji fan.  I have the following Fuji bodies:

  1. X-Pro 1 – Color
  2. X-Pro 1 – 720nm Infrared Conversion
  3. X-E1 – Color
  4. X100s – My walk around companion!
  5. X-E2 – Color

I also have ALL of the lenses but 2!

I moved to Fuji after a long search for a small light weight camera system after loosing 80% use of both hands and arms.  I went through ALL of the micro 4/3 systems (and even kept 2!).  I sold $40,000 in Canon bodies and L glass and have NEVER looked back!  

In the Fuji, not only have I found perfections but being a range finder styled system it is like going home to mom!

X-E2

X-E2

I have a X100s that I use for most of my walk around work, it is just so tiny and generates amazing images.  So when Fuji announced the X-E2 with the same sensor and with even more upgrades I ordered one from Amazon.  Much to my amazement it shipped a week later!  I have had it in hand now for about 2 weeks and just yesterday took it out to a local fishing port for a bit of creative work.  I love the upgrades and how fast this camera is.  It even passes the X100s in ability.  I originally purchased the X-E1 in order to take advantage of its electronic remote shutter release.  It enables me to hook it up to devices like a lightning trigger and my water drop collision system.  The X-E1 did a great job with these devices and I expect no less with the X-E2 but that is for another day.

X-E2 Top Panel

X-E2 Top Panel

Yesterday I took it out to shoot shrimp boats in North Carolina and have to tell you that the camera just blew me away.  It is such a major upgrade over the X-E1 that I cannot believe that they came from the same company!  The controls are CRISP, the knobs just snap from position to position with no play and they stay where you put them.  The larger LCD is nice but the faster EVF is a sight to behold. I dressed the camera in a RRS L bracket with grip and put on a nice soft release.  Physically except for new buttons and placement the camera is identical to the X-E1.  One MAJOR improvement is the addition of 3 stops of EV adjustment instead of the normal 2 that Fuji has provided in the past.

All in all I am really happy with this upgrade.  I will keep the X-E1 and convert it to 800nm IR in the near future.  There is no sense in letting that viable and great camera go to waste!

Little Scrapper, X-E2, RAW converted in ACR

Little Scrapper, X-E2, RAW converted in ACR

Next I put the camera into the JPG mode and shot color & B&W images in camera.  The results speak for them selves!

Shrimper Donkey X-E2

Shrimper Donkey X-E2

 

Shrimper Donkey, CAMERA B&W  X-E2

Shrimper Donkey, CAMERA B&W X-E2

Carolyn Ann, Color, X-E2

Carolyn Ann, Color, X-E2

Carolyn Ann, In Camera B&W X-E2

Carolyn Ann, In Camera B&W X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck In Camera B&W, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck In Camera B&W, X-E2

This posting was never meant to be a review, rather a statement of its impact upon me with sample images!

Please let me know what you think…

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Video Workshop Customer Comments & Feedback!


Customer Comments on the Color & Infrared Post Processing From Beginning To End Video Workshop

IR Post Processing in Color and B&W

IR Post Processing in Color and B&W

I have started getting feedback and comments on the new IR/Color Video Tutorial.  As they arrive I will share them here in this post with you.  I am very excited over these.  So far there are about 100 shipped videos out there!

TO ORDER THE DVD SET:

US  Orders CLICK    HERE

The cost is $29.95 plus shipping which will automatically be added when you order.

___________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS:

Pay via Paypal using the payee address:

ellen@thelensworkgallery.com

International Charges

  • England: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • France: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Hong Kong: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Canada: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $22.00

All prices are in USD

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I attempted IR several years ago and was totally frustrated when it came to post processing.  Despite enrolling in an online course and spending hundreds of dollars on IR books, it was a hit and miss proposition in getting any decent images. Everyone said the same  thing – “swap your red & blue channels in Photoshop”.  Sorry, that doesn’t work all of the time.
Everything changed after taking Mark’s IR workshop.  Now it’s even easier to learn IR though this wonderful DVD set.  Get your White Balance right in the beginning, watch your red channel in your histogram, then follow Mark’s IR post processing methods.  He makes it that simple.
 Mark is truly a master!

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Mark, I demand my money back on the IR & Color Post Processing Video tutorial ! How dare you sell DVD of that quality for $30 when it is easily worth 3 times that amount!  Mark – this was the best training DVD I ever saw.  You covered everything perfectly.  I watched it twice yesterday and intend to watch it again today.  You covered everything perfectly. You are truly a master!  Thanks

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The DVD arrived today, thank you. The cover, case, packaging all looks great: very professional.  Will delve into it while traveling next week.

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I really like your suggested folder structure, of leaving the original RAW files untouched, then having a separate Develop folder, for work in progress images, and another Archival folder for final, processed images. I’ve spent the past 5 years processing my original RAW files. Goodness know what damage I’ve done. Your system is much smarter. Thank you!

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I have Ingestamatic working reasonably reliably now and am coming to appreciate its utility in naming files and organizing sub-folders. It’s certainly smarter than any other uploading programs I’ve used.

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I love my videos!

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I would like to thank those who have taken the time to send feedback and comments!  It means a lot to me and will help improve on the next Video Tutorial that I put together!  

Please keep them coming!

UPDATED: IR & COLOR POST PROCESSING VIDEO TUTORIAL!! INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING


UPDATED: Color & Infrared Post Processing From Beginning To End INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING!

2 – 1/2 hour video series on two DVDs by

Master Photographer Mark Hilliard

DVD OUTSIDE LABEL

DVD OUTSIDE LABEL

  1. This covers image ingestion using Ingestimatic for both Mac & Windows
  2. Raw conversion using Adobe ACR – Capture 1 Pro and Capture 1 Express
  3. RAW Library Setup
  4. Backup Strategies 
  5. Intelligent IR channel swap using the Khromagraphy PS Plugin Action
  6. Post Processing Color, Infrared and B&W using the Nik filter set in Photoshop. 
  7. Ideas on creating intense high impact images.

The majority of the video is screen capture taking you through the post processing workflow button by button, click by click.  All of the major RAW converters have their own separate video and you will learn about all 3 which will enable you to make intelligent decisions on which one is for you then be able to run it!

This is an in-depth tutorial and will give you the knowledge and recipe to take your own images from one end of the process to the other without pulling your hair out in frustration!

TO ORDER THE DVD SET:

US  Orders CLICK    HERE

The cost of the video for US customers is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping which will be automatically added when you order.

___________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS:

Pay via Paypal using the payee address:

ellen@thelensworkgallery.com

International Charges

  • England: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • France: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Hong Kong: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Canada: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $22.00

All Prices are USD

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If you would like to read a little feedback from my students please click   HERE  and   HERE.

Video Course Inside

Video Course Inside

Nik Filter Fix for Photoshop CC on Mac & Windows!


To those in the West Virginia Workshop… Here is the FIX for the install issues with the Nik Filters and Photoshop CC!

Thank you for contacting Nik by Google. Since it is a brand new host, the Nik Collection may not have detected Photoshop CC on the computer.  However, you can put it into Photoshop CC with a manual installation. Please follow the steps below to install the Nik Collection to Adobe Photoshop CC:


On a Windows:

If you own a previous version of Photoshop

If you do not have a previous version of Photoshop installed please skip to “only version of photoshop” below.

  1. Make sure all versions of Photoshop are closed.
  2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop xx\Plug-ins\
  3. Copy the Google folder to your Desktop.
  4. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC\Plug-ins\
  5. Move the Google folder from the Desktop into the Plug-ins folder.
  6. Restart Photoshop to confirm the plug-ins are there.

 

If the Creative Cloud is your only version of Photoshop

  1. Make sure all versions of Photoshop are closed.
  2. Run the Nik Collection installer from the file you received via email and downloaded. If you no longer have this file, please email customer support to have the file sent to you again.
  3. During the installation process when you get to the Compatible Host Application window, you will notice a plus sign (+) to add an install location. Click that button and navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop CC\Plug-Ins\. (*See attached screenshot).
  4. Complete the installation, then open Photoshop CC to ensure that the plug-ins have successfully been installed.

These steps will install to Photoshop CC 64-bit. You can check the version of Photoshop by opening Help > System info. The first line will either say x32 or x64 respectively. You can open Photoshop 64-bit directly from C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC (64-bit)\Photoshop.exe. 


On a Macintosh:

If you own a previous version of Photoshop

If you do not have a previous version of Photoshop installed please skip to “only version of photoshop” below.

  1. Make sure all versions of Photoshop are closed.
  2. Navigate to Applications/Adobe Photoshop xx/Plug-ins/
  3. Copy the Google folder to your Desktop.
  4. Navigate to Applications/Adobe Photoshop CC/Plug-ins/
  5. Move the Google folder from the Desktop into the Plug-ins folder.
  6. Restart Photoshop to confirm the plug-ins are there.

If the Creative Cloud is your only version of Photoshop

  1. Make sure all versions of Photoshop are closed.
  2. Run the Nik Collection installer from the file you received via email and downloaded. If you no longer have this file, please email customer support to have the file sent to you again.
  3. During the installation process when you get to the Compatible Host Application window, you will notice a plus sign (+) to add an install location. Click that button and navigate to Mac HD|Applications|Adobe Photoshop CC|Plug-Ins.  (*See attached screenshot).
  4. Complete the installation, then open Photoshop CC to ensure that the plug-ins have successfully been installed.

If you have any further questions, please reply to this email or visit support.google.com/nikcollection to call our Customer Service Department Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm PST.

 

Fuji 55-200 mm on a 720nm IR converted X Pro 1


Finally, a LONG X Lens for the Fuji Family!

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Fuji X 55-200mm

Fuji X 55-200mm

Yes, the new Fuji 55-200mm lens arrived for my fuji camera systems!  I am currently shooting with a color X-E1, a color X Pro 1 and a IR converted (720nm) X Pro 1.   I know how well the 55-200 works on the color bodies but what I really needed to know how did it work with the IR system!  Would it give hot spots as so many of the Fuji lenses do?  This post is the report of my findings.  The final verdict is that it works very well and as long as you do not go higher than f/16 there are no hot spots to worry about at any zoom range! To me this is a really big deal.  

So far only the 14mm and 35mm Fuji lenses are usable in infrared. So the addition of another lens really helps.  

I am going to give you some examples of how this lens actually does at both the wide and long ends of the zoom range wide open and closed down so that you can get a feel of the usable Infrared range that you can use.  Next week I will do a posting using the lens for color work only.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

Pawleys Marsh, Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion w/ the new 55-200mm lens.

OK, let’s take a look at the good and bad of the 55-200 in IR, the Wide end:

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/23.5 No hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/23.5 No hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/11  Small hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/11 Small hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/22 Bad hot spot

55-200mm @ 55mm, f/22 Bad hot spot

As you can see as you get to f/11 we start to develop a small hot spot, but nothing that cannot be fixed.  Above f/11 the lens becomes unusable at the wide end.

 

Now, let’s take a look at the long end of the zoom range:

 

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/11 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/11 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/4.8 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/4.8 Bad hot spot, NO HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/22 Bad hot spot, SMALL HOT SPOT

55-200mm @ 200mm, f/22 Bad hot spot, SMALL HOT SPOT

The difference at the long end of the zoom is amazing and is usable over the entire range of the aperture!  This is great news for us IR shooters.

Pawleys Island Marsh, 200mm B&W Post Processing

Pawleys Island Marsh, 200mm B&W Post Processing

 

There is starting to be a large number of IR photographers out there who are using converted Fuji X Pro 1 camera systems.  There are currently 2 conversion companies out there who can do the conversion.  I HIGHLY recommend the X Pro 1 as an Infrared platform and with the addition of the 55-200mm lens to our shooting arsenal we are way ahead of the game!

 

 

Moody Images in Infrared & Color! Fuji X Pro 1 and X-E1


Grabbing your viewers by the throat and not letting go…

A dark and stormy night

A dark and stormy night, Fuji X Pro 1 w/ 14mm fuji lens at 720nm Infrared.

Images that are dark and moody tend to grab our attention.  It is as though there is something hidden and dark that demands our attention.  We stare at them and analyze the image for a deeper hidden meaning.  This creates emotional impact that allows our viewers to share what we felt as we created the images!

Look for dark, stormy skies, moody clouds, dark trees or water.  Work in Infrared and you will find that you have a much better chance to capture these kinds of images more often than when working in color.  It is still possible to do so in color but you have to work harder at it!

Paradise Island Light, Nassau

Paradise Island Light, Nassau

 

As you can see in the image above, it is moody and draws the viewer into the scene, but it does not have that “dark and stormy” look and feel!  As I stated before, it is much easier to capture these types of image when working in Infrared!

A dark and stormy night

A dark and stormy night

Work in both Faux Color and B&W.  You never really know what you are going to get unless you take the time to post process both ways.  You should even look seriously at the properly white balanced raw image right out of the camera!  Sometime you can get a really stunning image there.

Lady Katheran

Lady Katheran, 720nm Infrared, Fuji X Pro 1 with Fuji 14mm lens.

Here is the same image processed in B&W.

Lady Katheran

Lady Katheran

 

The workflow to getting great images in post processing is to ALWAYS process in the 3 main ways:

  • RAW:  Check how the images looks right out of the camera.  In 720nm and 590nm you can get some stunning images with beautiful bronze skies!
  • Faux Color:  If your camera captures any color data at all (720nm and lower) then you should ALWAYS take the time to process in this mode.
  • B&W: You just done know what you are going to get unless you try!

 

Try adding a lens vignette to your images to darken the corners.  This will give more mood!

Here are some examples of RAW and B&W post processing!

McClellanville Shrimper

McClellanville Shrimper, RAW right out of the camera!

 

McClellanville Shrimper

McClellanville Shrimper, B&W

 

As you can see both versions give stunning results.  The most important thing for you to remember is that to get the best results from all of your images it is necessary to take the time to post process in all three modes.  Do not short change yourself by cutting corners.  Take the time to give each image your best try!  

 

You will be rewarded for you work!

 

Fuji X Pro 1 – 720nm Infrared Faux Color and B&W Post Processing


A Simple Tutorial on Infrared Post Processing…

Murrells Inlet Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR Faux Color

Murrells Inlet Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR Faux Color

The Fuji X Pro 1 has turned out to be one of the best Infrared camera systems that I have ever used… period!  The only good Fuji lenses for Infrared have proved to be the 35mm f/1.4, the 18mm f/2 and the new 14mm.  The Viogtlander 75mm f/1.8 has also proved to be a STUNNING lens also!  So, the camera has proven its infrared capability, now it is time to discuss in detail the recipe for post processing!  It is all quite simple but there are a few requirements that you must understand in order to follow my workflow with understanding.

Needed:

  • Photoshop CS5 or CS6
  • Nik Filters, Viveza, Define Silver EFX Pro plugins for Photoshop, NOT LIGHTROOM.  (You can now purchase the entire library of Nik filters for $149)
  • Kromography False Color Action which can be downloaded here from the right menu bar under the box menu.  You can simply  click on it to download to your computer then drag it to photoshop to install.
  • A converted Infrared camera system capable of generating enough color data to make Faux Color images.  This means 720nm, 665nm, 630nm and 590nm conversions.
  • The ability and desire to experiment!

As you move your RAW (shoot only RAW for IR because of the ability to shift the white balance easily) onto your computer you should automatically tell yourself that you are going to process each selected image in Faux color and B&W.  Sometimes you will notice that the un processed image looks great also (wonderful bronze tones) and decide to do a version like this as well!

Lets talk about the RAW conversion process a little bit.  Photoshops ACR built in RAW converter will NOT apply the white balance correctly and your images will appear deep red.  For this reason I use Capture One version 7 from Phase One.  It is simply the BEST RAW converter that I have ever used.  You can download a trial version and decide for yourself if what I am telling you is true!

My Initial Editing Steps:

  1. Move images from my camera to my computer with an intelligent download tool that renames them with a meaningful name and create an intelligent directory tree for my RAW Library.  For this I have tested dozens of tools and found that Ingestimatic is the best and lowest cost one out there! You can find them here.
  2. Visually edit the RAW files by deleting the images that are simply no good.  Do not clutter up your computer with these useless files.
  3. Batch process my RAW conversion choices and adjust the exposure, contrast and angles.  Capture One will allow this and place the converted image files into a storage directory for later editing.
  4. Within Photoshop, open  each converted image one at a time for post processing
  5. Run Nik Define 2.0 in its default mode on the image for noise reduction, Save.
  6. Run Nik Viveza and without using any selection points increase the structure around 10% and the contrast about 5%, Save.
  7. Having installed the channel swap action that you downloaded here, run it on your image.  The last thing it will do is to open a Hue/Saturation window with the Master channel selected.  Simply select the CYAN channel  and vary the HUE a little bit to bring the sky to a normal blue rather than a blue/green.  Then select the RED channel and adjust the saturation up to a value you like, and repeat with the YELLOW and MAGENTA channels.  When you are happy with the results click on DONE to move on.  REMEMBER:  This is to only get the colors of the FAUX COLOR IR image into the ball park!  The real adjustment will happen next.
  8. Run Nik Viveza again.  Here is where you will use your control points to slightly adjust the colors and contrasts of various image elements to bring out a stunning, etherial work of art!  LOOK closely at your image, decide what you wish to adjust (Hue, saturation, contrasts and de-saturation). MORE ON THIS LATER!
  9. Run Nik Define one more time.
  10. Flatten the image, crop to taste, correct any imperfections (healing tool and content aware fill).
  11. Save the image with a meaningful name in a planned and thought out master image library.
  12. With the finished Faux Color image still open in Photoshop, now run Nik Silver EFX Pro to do your B&W conversion.  There are several built in recipes in this filter that can be used as a starting point.  My favorites are:
  • High Structure Harsh
  • High Structure Smooth
  • Full Dynamic Range Harsh
  • Full Dynamic Range Smooth
  • Fine Art Process
  • Wet Rocks (once in a while)

Save your image again with a NEW file name that reflects the difference in your master image library tree!

Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Remember:  Process ALL IMAGES as both Faux Color and B&W.  You really do not know what you are going to get till you do so.

All of this really is VERY SIMPLE and once you have done it a few times it will become second nature to you.  Soon you will be a post processing Infrared God or Goddess!  Congratulations

No, let’s take a look at the image below.  Notice the areas that I have circled as places where I desire to change the colors, contrasts and saturations (both plus and minus). Also consider that this is a 720nm converted camera and as such has a very limited color range (light pinks and warm tones and blues).

Annotated Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Annotated Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

It is in this area and others like them (similar color values that are the same) that we are going to place control points on and change these values!  If you notice that the areas around them also change a little you can place what we call anchor points which are simply control points with no adjustments to bring those areas back to where you wanted them!

You will find this ENTIRE process from the initial loading into photoshop to finish will just take 4 or 5 minutes or less as you become more practiced!

Here are a few more images for you to consider that were taken on the 720nm Fuji X Pro 1 camera system:

Stormy Seas Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas Faux Color, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas B&W, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Stormy Seas B&W, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Sometimes Faux Color images simply do not work, then you still have the great B&W ones to work with!

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

SC School Bus Boat, X Pro 1 720nm IR

Was this information helpful?  Please let me know one way or the other!

Fuji X Pro 1 720nm IR Conversion


Here it is…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

frontnolensWell, it arrived!  After months of consideration after I got my X-E1 I finally decided to send off the X Pro 1 for  Infrared conversion.  It went to Dan at LDP (maxmax.com) and the cost was $500.00.  YIKES!  yes I said $500.00!  Dan explains that the X Pro 1 is the most difficult conversion that he does!  It required him 1.5 days to do the conversion and lots unsoldering/soldering to get to the sensor.  Still, better than sitting on the shelf or an attempted sale on Ebay, plus  I really like the camera and the hybrid viewfinder is just perfect for IR.

I had to decide between 720nm and 850nm so decided to go for the 720 in order to have a little color ( I really like the bronze tones right out of the camera at 720nm).  The total time for shipping – conversion – shipping was 8 days, door to door.  Very fast!

Importantly, the Fuji X Pro 1 camera White Balances perfectly. For these tests I white balanced on a green shrub in front of my gallery.  The process to do so on the camera is simple and fast!

The scope of THIS post is to talk about the conversion itself and to give you some sample images testing each of my normal Fuji and Voigtlander lens set that I use.

  • Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens
  • Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6
  • Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens
  • Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens

My first image out of the camera was with the Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Lens.  It is stunningly sharp with great contrasts and tones without any processing at all! This is simply a perfect IR image right out of the camera.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens.

OK, the original hot mirror can tell us a lot about the capability of the Fuji body to take IR with no conversion.  The strength of the internal filter from the X Pro 1 is quite strong!  It is actually 2 filters sandwiched together.  They are very much like the B+W 486 IR blocking filter and the LDP CC1 IR blocking filter back to back.  The 486 is a pink/gold  filter that extends a little further into the visible light spectrum before falling off and allows a little less IR to pass through.  The CC1 filter is wider at the UV end.  The two filters together will pass light to the sensor from about  300nm to 700nm.  You can see this in the image below. This is the same filter arrangement (hot mirror) that we normally see in the Canon DSLR line and on the Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera line.

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing both Wide bandpass side (gold tint) and the Lower UV side (Aqua)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Wider bandpass side (gold tint)

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

X Pro 1 Hot Mirror showing the Lower UV side (Aqua) similar to the CC1 filter from LDP

If you were to look at the 486 and CC1 filters they are the same general colors and pass band to what we actually see here!  So , what does this all mean to you?  If you decide (and convince Dan) to have a full spectrum conversion done on your X Pro 1, you can convert it back to a normal color camera by stacking both of these filters (B+W486 and the LDP CC1) on the end of your lens.  The full spectrum Infrared conversion is one where the hot mirror (IR blocking filter) is removed from in front of the sensor and replaced with a piece of clear glass.  Then, the camera is programmed to the specific UV or IR band with the addition of the appropriate filter on the end of the lens.

Normally, the hot mirror can bee seen as the colored layer of glass under the lens as shown here where you can now see the 720nm filter installed.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Inside the X Pro 1 showing the 720nm filter.

Lenses that Work/Don’t Work with the X Pro 1 720nm IR conversion…

Lens Hot Spots

As you may know (or guessed), not all lenses work well in the Infrared spectrum.  This is due to many things, but most commonly, the coatings on the lens elements and the coatings on the internal lens barrel and how they reflect IR light energy.  The common failure then is in the form of HOT SPOTS in the center of the image captured by the camera.  These are always dead center in the middle of the image and present as large round white areas.  Sometimes, they can be overcome by using a wider aperture, but not always…

Lets talk about the lenses that I tested that work (or in 1 case mostly work)…

Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 Len:

Fuji X 35mm Lens

Fuji X 35mm Lens

WOW, what can I say?  This lens works perfectly in the 720nm spectrum at all apertures!  The camera auto focuses perfectly and fast, the images are sharp and there are no hot spots at any aperture!  Lets take a look.  This first image is raw out of the camera.  I have done not post processing for B&W or Faux Color but there is enough color in the 720nm spectrum to have some interesting Faux Color results.  These types of images will be covered in another post next week and we will spend a lot of time and effort teaching and going through each step in the recipe used to create them in Photoshop CS6 and the Nik filter set.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm RAW un-processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Next, is the same image post processed using CS6 and Nik’s Silver EFX Pro for B&W…

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed.  Fuji X 35mm lens.

Fuji X Pro 1, Brookgreen Gardens, 720nm B&W processed. Fuji X 35mm lens f/8

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens:

vt7518bThis lens from Voigtlander is one of the sharpest, easy to use lenses that I own.  The fit and finish on this lens is something to behold.  The lens has an included clamp on lens hood that works very well.  The focusing is so smooth that it is scary… It is a PERFECT match for the Fuji X system (X Pro 1 and the X-E1) and works just as well here in Infrared!  I was very happy to discover this in my tests at 720nm!  There are no hot spots at any aperture.  It takes Take a look:

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11.  Raw

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens at f/11. Raw (notice the nice bronze coloring)

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 Faux Color Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens, f/8 B&W Post Processing

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens:

Fuji X 18mm lens.

Fuji X 18mm lens.

This lens works well as long as you do not go beyond f/8.  Past that it generates very discinct hot spot in the center of the image.  While this can be overcome in post processing  with Nik’s Viveza, it is still slightly disappointing…  Still, when used at f/8 or wider the lens generates pleasing sharp images that make it worthwhile to carry in your camera bag!  Here are the RAW test samples for you to consider.

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/2

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/4

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/5.6

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/8

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Fujifilm XF 18mm F2.0 Lens at f/11

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6

Voitlander 12mm

Voitlander 12mm

Another great lens from Voigtlander.  This one has a built in lens hood and while it will take screw in filters they need to be wide angle versions.  It also has that super smooth focusing feel but since it is so ultra wide at 12mm you can focus it pretty much at infinity and it will always be in focus.  I love this lens on the X Pro 1 and X-E1.  For 720nm Infrared, it works great until you hit f/22 then it gives a faint hot spot.  This is just fine with me as I rarely go beyond f/11 or f/16.

Take a look at the samples:

Voitlander

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/8 RAW

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 at f/22 RAW with hot spot

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens:

Fuji 18-55

Fuji 18-55

This lens is such a disappointment to me…  It is without a doubt my favorite walk around Fuji lens on the X-E1 camera. I hardly ever take it off.   Sharp and clear with great contrast.  That being said it is all but USELESS for Infrared!  There is a major hot spot problem at ALL focal lengths at ANY aperture past f/4.  At f/4 it did take nice images but as you understand, useless for landscapes.   Bummer…..  I am beyond disappointed over this one.

Fujifilm XF 60mm F2.4 Macro Lens:

Fuji 60mm

Fuji 60mm

I am going to initially tell you to simply forget this lens for Infrared.  It has a seriously bad hot spot at all apertures.  I will also share with you that I might actually have a bad copy of it.  It gives a terrible hot spot on my X-E1 when shooting in color as well, especially when using a flash.  I think that I am going to send it back to Fuji for repair and see what they think.  Depending upon that I might re-evaluate it for Infrared later on!

Ok this is all for the initial post.  

The next post will focus on post procseeing and what can be acheived artistically with this new Infrared Fuji X Pro 1!

Please let me know what you think!

Death by neglect….


Lila Lee, in the boat grave yard…

There is something about Shrimpers… I cannot get enough of them and find myself visiting them again and again.  I love the dilapidated nature of them and even though they are in such rough condition they seem to venture out into the deep time after time.  Perhaps they are a reflection of the men who sail them, rough hewn, salty men, eking out a living from the sea.  Regardless, they are things of photographic beauty and deserve to be documented for history. You see, they are vanishing from sight.  Shrimp seems to mainly come for fresh water farm ponds in the lower americas and soon these beautiful boats will be a thing of the past.

The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi:  “connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

Thus begins my exploration of Sabi

You had better get out and enjoy them while you are able too..

Here captured in Black and White, is a detail shot of the shrimper Lila Lee.  She is resting in the boat grave yard in Georgetown, SC. The older shrimpers seem to be abandoned along the shore here in Georteown till they sink.  We have some sitting on the bottom growing trees and weeds from their decks.

This image was captured on the Fuji X-E1  with a MC Soligor 70-300mm C/D manual focus macro lens, another relic of the past…

Lila Lee

Lila Lee

Further X-E1 Long Exposure Work


Fuji X-E1 280 second exposure at f/8

Fuji X-E1 280 second exposure at f/8

 

Or, if your are thrown off the horse, climb back on!

 

I went out tonight at sunset to the Pawleys Island Pier to try some more very long exposures with the Fuji X-E1.  I used the new 18-55mm lens with a B+W 6 stop ND filter until it got really dark then I shifted to just the lens.

It was just perfect out tonight.  A few clouds in the sky, medium wind and very little blowing sand in the air.  I setup with an angle on the pier with the moon behind my back.  I got there early enough to setup and pre-focus.

I used my Sekonic L758DR light meter with 6 stops of exposure compensation dialed in for the ND filter and started shooting.  In failing light, the hand held spot meter makes exposures easy, fast and perfect!  I simply aimed the 1 degree spot at the gray/purple band of clouds right next to the horizon and took my meter reading from that. Then I moved it from Zone 5 to Zone 6 or 1 stop brighter.  The meter gave me 15 seconds of shutter speed and f/22 so I simply added 1 more stop by changing the shutter speed to 30 seconds!  Very easy and by using the Zone system when thinking about exposure it can fast become second nature.

Fuji X-E1 30 second exposure at f/22

Fuji X-E1 30 second exposure at f/22

The first 10 min or so I was only able to get 30 second exposures but only at f/22.  I did have a 10 stop ND filter in the bag but I decided to just stay with the 6 stop. Even at 30 seconds, they were still quite pleasing!  I really like the Time mode on the X-E1 as it makes setup easy, but the Bulb mode is very well thought out. It gives a nice count up timer on the LCD screen and makes for perfect exposure!

Even checking the focus after it gets too dark to see is easy with the X-E1. Place the camera into manual focus mode place one of the pier lights into the middle of the focus square and push the jog dial straight in. This will cause the camera to magnify what is inside of the cameras focus box. You then go back and forth with the lens focus ring till you get the smallest sharpest light!  All done.

As it got darker I was forced to re meter the scene again and again. For this next shot the light had faded another entire stop and forced me to again double the shutter speed to compensate for the changing conditions and still allow me to capture the clouds on the horizon at Zone 6!

60 second shutter speed at f/8

60 second shutter speed at f/8

 

Things start to get very complicated and fast as the sun falls below the horizon.  The next image was metered at 140 seconds but during that exposure, the light dropped another 2 stops!  so I split the difference and increased the exposure by keeping the shutter open another stop or 280 seconds.  this worked quite well and gave a very pleasing exposure!  Please keep in mind that this image was taken after the sun was totally gone and it was quite dark out but with enough light left to give a good exposure of the clouds and pier. You can tell that this image was taken in very low light because the pier lamp reflections are prominent in the picture.  Here is that image:

280 second exposure, f/8

280 second exposure, f/8

Remember, for every minute of exposure the camera requires a minute of noise reduction. So for the above exposure the total time of forced waiting was 560 seconds!  So for this last image a lot of time passed while I waited and it was TOTALLY dark out now.  The moon gave very little light but the lights on the pier worked very well and put some interesting colors on the waters surface!

Ok for this last image there is ZERO light left in the sky.  The stars are very bright and fill the sky with a wonderful pattern.  But, the pier lights are so bright that they pollute the image and wash out the sky blocking the stars in the image.  Another complication is that it is just too dark out now to need the ND filter.  So I removed it and adjusted the meter so that the compensation is now set to zero.  The reading suggested was 425 seconds at f/8.  Why f/8?  Well I desired the sharpest image possible so I locked the meter to that.  I still needed to move the lower sky 1 stop brighter, you know from Zone 5 to Zone 6.  This made it necessary to move the shutter speed from 425 seconds to 850 seconds (14 minutes) and now I am ready to shoot.  So lets look at this last shot, 850 seconds of exposure then 850 seconds of in camera noise reduction.  So I have to wait for 28 minutes from the start of the exposure until the image popped up on the LCD panel!

Here is the final image of the evening, a 14 minute exposure at f/8.  Yes the pier light reflections close to the pier/water intersection is a little harsh but still, this demonstrates exactly what you can achieve by thing long exposure, but more importantly, it shows what the Fuji X-E1 is capable of capturing with a little bit of creative thinking!

850 second (14 min) exposure at f/8

850 second (14 min) exposure at f/8

Did you find any of this post helpful?  Please let me know!

Ultra Long Fuji X-E1 Exposure Tutorial


Slower can be better…

Pawleys Per, Fuji X-E1, 480 seconds, f/22, 6 stop ND

Pawleys Pier at night, Fuji X-E1, 480 seconds, f/22, 6 stop ND

Ultra long exposure photography can be a very fulfilling pursuit and generate etherial images that draw your viewer into them leaving them week in the knees! As a photography master generalist I can tell you that there are a few speciality areas that can really excite me and force my juices to flow!  Specifically they are:

  • Ultra High Speed photography: Water Drop Collision Photography, Daytime Lightning Photography & Hummingbird Photography
  • Infrared Photography
  • Grist Mill Photography
  • Ultra Long Exposure Photography.

This post is a tutorial on Ultra Long Exposure photography using the Fuji X-E1 camera with its 18-55mm lens, a 6 stop B+W ND filter and a Sekonic L758DR spot meter.

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

The Fuji X-E1 is my 3rd in the Fuji line. I started with the X100 and moved to the X Pro 1 in order to have interchangeable lenses, then to the X-E1 to take advantage of its Electronic Shutter Release. I have always been a Canon shooter with closets full of L lenses.  But due to a spinal operation that went dreadfully wrong I lost 80% use of both hands and arms.  No longer able to hold heavy camera equipment I started on a long journey searching for high quality camera system that was small and light weight and produce world class images.  A long story shortened, I settled on the Fuji X lineup and their fine quality lenses along with a few CV and Leica M mount lenses.

Now, the Fuji X-E1 with its electronic shutter allows me to hook it up to my water drop machine, Lightning Trigger and Hummingbird control system!  The only lacking item is its short lens lineup.  With the introduction of the new 55-210mm lens this spring even that will no longer be a problem for me!

Long exposure has several issues that you must overcome to successfully create the etherial, emotionally charged image.

  • Long Shutter Speed: Even in low light you will find it difficult to get a shutter speed at f/8 (sharpest).
  • Difficulty Focusing:  Darkness you know…
  • Unreliable Metering: Especially with an installed ND filter.
  • Camera Shake:  Requires a STURDY tripod and REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE.

The Long shutter speeds generally can range from 15 seconds to 20 minutes. These are difficult to reach unless you shoot at night with light from the moon.  What I find that I do is shoot at dusk on or just before sunrise to overcome this issue.  Usually I will add a Neutral Density Filter (ND) to reduce the total amount of light reaching the image sensor. This will allow you to shoot with more ambient light and generally make this style of photography easier!

Heliopan Variable ND Filter

Heliopan Variable ND Filter

Shutter Speeds in Full Stops

Shutter Speeds in Full Stops

I like the B+W line of ND filters and keep 3 on hand for each of my lenses I use:  3 Stop, 6 Stop and 10 Stop.  There are also some really good variable ND filters as well.  But be warned: You get what you pay for with these!  If you get one of the Fader filters on Ebay for $30 then you are sure  to be disappointed.  But on the other hand if you get the Singh Ray Vari ND (~$450) or the Heliopan Digital Vari ND (~$350). The trouble with the variable ND filters is that they are generally limited to 6 stops before they start to generate artifacts into your images.

If you take a look at your standard 1 stop shutter speeds you can see what adding 6 stops of ND filter will do… If you have a metered exposure say, f/8 at 1 second, adding a 6 stop ND filter will give you a 1 minute exposure!

Aperture in Full Stops

Aperture in Full Stops

If you desire a longer shutter speed you can also increase your aperture value up to a higher number forcing the shutter speed down to allow more light to strike the sensor.

We started at f/8, but by moving it 3 full stops to f/22 (see chart on the right) we can then move our shutter speed 3 more stops slower to 8 minutes!

You can move the aperture and shutter speeds up and down to get the balance you need for your artistic interpretation you desire for your image.  Remember though, the sharpest that most lenses are capable of is at f/8!

Ok, lets talk about the issues in focusing!

It is dark out, you can see very little detail in your viewfinder!  How can we accurately focus?  Here are some ideas for you to consider!

Use a Light as a focus point

Use a Light as a focus point

  • If shooting a subject like a pier or a lighthouse, set your camera on manual focus and adjust the focus to create a sharp round ball of one of the pier lights. These lights are a great focus point. You can also look between pilings for areas of dark/light.

 

Surefire E2D

Surefire E2D

  • If there are no lights to focus on then you can use a high power flashlight to high light the part of the scene you wish to focus on. There are several high power LED tactical lights that you can get and are a good idea to have in your case.  Look at the Surefire E2D LED light.
  • Get someone to go stand at your selected focus point if possible with a light, then focus on the light!
  • You can manually set your focus distance to the hyper focal value if you have previously determined it for your camera/lens combination.
  • Remember, manual focus is the best and easiest way to get the focus that you desire.

Unreliable Metering…

Ok, this is a biggie.  You will find that when using a 10 stop ND and on some cameras, the 6 stop ND that the in camera metering system does not work reliably.  Plus to make this even more interesting consider a very long exposure, say 10 min where the light is changing and getting a stop or 2 darker during the exposure!  These are not small matters to overcome. There are several work arounds for this from a simple pain in the but to advanced hand held meters!

Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider..

  • Try shooting in Aperture mode:  Allow the camera to attempt to set the shutter speed.  If shooting at dusk or in the dark with a ND filter installed you have about a 50/50 chance on getting the correct exposure.  But… this is DIGITAL, and you will have a histogram with your exposure which will give you a baseline on which to adjust the exposure up or down! This is a good low cost way to get it spot on for the 2nd shot.  There is a down side to this though, if the shutter speed is long, then you have to wait the same amount of time after the exposure for the in camera noise reduction software to run.  This means that a 8 min shot becomes a 16 min wait!  Workable but time consuming.
  • Leave your ND filter OFF the camera, in manual exposure mode: Compose, focus and meter, then screw in the ND filter and adjust the exposure manually to account for the addition of the ND filter.  You must be careful to  NOT change the focus by screwing on the filter. The exposure adjustment must of course be correct.  Leave the aperture sat at a standard value like f/8 and do your adjustment via the shutter speed.  So for a exposure of f/8 at 15 seconds with no ND, the addition of  a 6 stop ND will change the exposure to f/8 at 15 minutes!  you need to be able to do this in your head.
  • Use a hand held meter like the Sekonic L758DR spot meter.  This meter allows you to set in a filter based exposure compensation of +/- 10 stops.  You decide upon the ND filter you wish to use, dial in the exposure compensation into the 758 and meter on a spot in the scene that you desire to be 18% gray and the meter will give you the proper exposure settings!

Using the Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter with the Fuji X-E1 Camera system for Long Exposures…

Now, it is time to go through exactly how I created these images using the spot meter and the Fuji!

The scene as seen...

The scene as seen from my eyes at the time I was setting up…

Above is how the scene looked like at 7:30 pm (dark) when the image was taken.  As you can see it was so dark that the only way to focus was to use the bright spots of light on the pier  to manually focus, then pot meter on the sky with the L758DR meter.  This gave an initial meter reading of f/22 @ 2 seconds thus making the sky 18% gray (too dark for me) with ZERO exposure compensation dialed into the meter (not yet adjusting for the 6 stop ND)!  Now, adjusting the meter for the 6 stop ND filter by entering 6 stops of exposure compensation, the reading became f/22 @ 2 minutes but with the sky still at 18% gray.  My imagined, finished image was one with the sky 2 stops brighter, or moving the spot metered point from Zone 5 to Zone 7 which is 2 stops!  So I simply added 2 more stops and moved the shutter speed to 8 minutes (2 stops brighter) and shot the image.

Normally, I would have the 6 stops of compensation dialed into the meter ahead of time and make this a 1 step process.

So here is the resulting image…

f/22 @ 8 minutes with a 6 stop ND and moved to Zone 7

f/22 @ 8 minutes with a 6 stop ND and moved to Zone 7

I am showing you the images in B&W so that you can better visualize the shades of gray to see the 18% moved from Zone 5 to Zone 7!  The Sekonic is very easy to use and is a true 1degree spot meter.  To dial in the 6 stops of exposure compensation I held down the  ISO1 and ISO2 buttons and turned the control dial.  The meter reading adjusted for the ND filter and gave a perfect exposure the first time!

71M770oi3RL._AA1500_

Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter

The exposure compensation shows up on  the LCD screen so that you know what you are actually measuring.  You could have easily set it to 4 instead of 6 and that would have taken the move from zone 5 to zone 7 for you but I prefer to do that adjustment in my head!

Zones…

Simply stated the Zone System (Ansel Adams), assigned a series of stepped gray changes, 1 stop apart and across a valued scale of 10 stops with Zone 5 being 18% gray which is where ALL camera and handheld meters place the exposure.  By looking at the chart below you can see the change between Zone 5 & 7 (2 stops) and what difference it will make on the brightness of the sky!  I use the Zone System in ALL of my exposure calculations and it is how I see contrast changes across my image!

The Zones...

The Zones…

There are plenty of great books out there that will teach you the Zone System of exposure control and adjustments! Here are 2 on Amazon:

Here is how you would apply actual Zone values to an image.  Then you can shift the exposure to move the metered Zone up or down to adjust the overall brightness of the image!

Using Zones to understand what your meter sees...

Using Zones to understand what your meter sees…

Now given the meter reading for Zone 5 you can change the exposure up or down to brighten/darken the overall image!  Combine Zone Exposure techniques with Long Exposure photography then  you can see how easy it is to control your final image.  Plus if you use a handheld spot meter that allows for +/- 10 stops of compensation  then you can see how easy it becomes to get a good exposure that is measured in seconds  or minutes!

Here is a simple explanation of what each Zone looks like:

The Zone System explained.

The Zone System explained.

Here are a few more images taken this night on the beach!  I hope you enjoyed both the article as well as the images!  Please let me know!

250 second exposure, Fuji X-E1

250 second exposure, Fuji X-E1

30 second exposure just before sunset

30 second exposure just before sunset, Fuji X-E1 shifted to zone 7

Fuji X Pro 1 for High Speed Water drops Anyone?


Or how to succeed without really trying with a world class camera system!

Ohh, a pretty lead in tease image!

Today was gallery day for me.  I really wanted to go out and shoot but decided that I needed to sit and be open.  So… I dug out my high speed water drop kit and setup on my work table and decided that today I would test out my Fuji X Pro 1 and my Olympus OMD for water drops.  This then is the X Pro 1 post!

First, I can hear you asking, “How can you possibly use the X Pro 1 for water drops?”, well the answer is both frightening and simple at the same time!  I do several types of photography where the camera in use must have an electronic shutter release so that I can hook the camera up to a remote controller, like a Lightning Trigger or a Time Machine for water drops.  But water drops really do not need to be triggered by the Time Machine since the exposure is about a second long to enable the machine to trigger the timed water drops generated for the collision, the size of the drops, the distance between them, the shutter release and lastly the strobes!  This is all done in the following order:

  1. User pushes fire button.
  2. Camera opens the shutter for around 1 second.
  3. Time machine drops the first drop at XXX size.
  4. Time machine Drops the second drop at XXX size.
  5. Time Machine waits a programmed delay.
  6. Time Machine fires two external Canon 580 EX2 strobes set at 1/64 power.

Thats it!  So, while sitting there taking about 600 OMD images of water drops and cursing the fact that the only macro lens I currently have is the 12mm to 50mm macro, I asked myself: “Hey Mark! Why dont you get out the X Pro 1 and put on the 60mm macro and set it up for water drops and simply push your mechanical shutter release at the same time you push the Time Machines fire button?”.  WOW, I was amazed by the simplicity of this thought and immediately got out the X and setup!  The rest is history!

Fuji X Pro 1 with the 35mm w/Canon 500D. Egg cup with green water and the time machine dripper with red water. Black backdrop.

Boat Drinks! Fuji X Pro 1 with the 35mm w/Canon 500D. Egg cup with green water and the time machine dripper with red water. Black backdrop.

Fuji X Pro 1 with the with 35mm w/Canon 500D. Egg cup with green water and the time machine dripper with red water. Black backdrop.

“Lizardo” Fuji X Pro 1 with the Fuji 60mm macro lens attached.

Now, I do have to tell you that I encountered a MAJOR issue with the Fuji 60mm Macro.  Since this technique uses multiple flashes to light and freeze the water drops, I discovered that the lens is VERY PRONE to LENS FLAIR!  ANY light that makes it into the objective from ANY angle reguardless of the placement of the flashes, even room lights will cause a flair in the direct center of the image EACH AND EVERY TIME!  This was VERY FRUSTRATING and took about an hour to overcome with CAREFUL flash placement, darkening of the room and shading the back of the camera to keep stray light from even coming into the gallery windows in the front!  I have to tell you that this was a major pain in the butt!  I can see another lens in my future to shoot macro with.  I even tried my CV 75mm f/1.8 but couldnt get close enough to the water drop to get a full frame image with a Canon 500d attached. So as you can see, the first 3 images were taken with the Fuji 35mm with a Canon 500D +2 diopter filter attached.  Even so this is as close as I could get.  The last image is with the 60mm macro.

Any suggestions for other macro lenses out there??

PLEASE??

Please let me know what you think!  The lens aside, you can see that the camera worked great for the images and I will be using it for this again provided that I find a more macro/flash friendly lens!

OK, so many emails!  Here is info on the time machine!

http://www.bmumford.com/photo/waterdrops/index.html

UPDATE: Fuji X Pro 1 and Advanced HDR Photography with NIK, Photomatix & Merge


WOW, the world sure changes fast if you close your eyes!

OK after one of my readers left a comment suggesting that the new version of Nik’s HDR EFX Pro 2 was likely supported in Lightroom I decided that I should perhaps do a little research!

Here is what I found:

Detailed compatibility specs for NIK HDR EFX PRO 2

So, as you see, as long as you are running a 64 bit OS plus very specific hardware in the graphics department it seems as if you can now run this fine HDR tool in Lightroom and Aperture!

Nice upgrade Nik!

Fuji X Pro 1 and Advanced HDR Photography with NIK, Photomatix & Merge


Or, Look Mom at  what I made!

A brief overview of the  4 major HDR tools…

The Glade Creek Mill, Fuji X Pro 1 w/ 60mm lens, 10 stop ND and Nik HDR EFX Pro 2 with 3 source files

I just got back from a major workshop that Jamie Davidison and I led to the New River Gorge in West Virginia where to took our students on a hectic 4 day workshop/excursion.  We explored waterfalls, grist mills, trains and vistas while studying Infrared and Color post processing back in the classroom each night till about midnight.  This was EXHAUSTING to say the least but never the less, a great workshop full of great photographers who gave as much as they took!  My days started every morning at 5am and ended about 1am.  I am still recovering!

The Glade Creek Mill, Fuji X Pro 1 with the VC 12mm lens

While the main focus was shooting in Infrared and its associated post processing, I needed to provide loaner IR camera systems to those who did not yet own one, so even though I own three IR systems I was forced to shoot color!  The sky each day was free of clouds and very bright, so if I wished to photograph in color I was forced most of the time to shoot HDR images in order to overcome the dynamic range of the day!  A lot of the time I was able to successfully capture an image with The X Pro 1 in a single shot like the one shown here on the right of the Glade Creek Mill.  But the norm was indeed HDR. The X Pro 1 camera has an unfair advantage over most other camera systems, it has a wider dynamic range and can capture more image data!

Notice that the mill did have some running water which forced me to use very long exposures in the range of 10 to 5 seconds in order to slow the water down.  While there was not a lot of water flow there was enough to make the images very nice.  I used the 60mm lens on the camera along with a 10 stop ND filter in order to slow it down!

OK so let’s get to it!  From this point on, we are going to be working with the same three source files.  I will take you through the post processing for the following HDR tools:

  • Nik HDR EFX Pro
  • Nik HDR EFX Pro 2 (new)
  • Merge To HDR Pro (Photoshop CS6)
  • Fotomatix Pro 4.2.3

I also will be using Nik’s Color EFX Pro 4 and Viveza 2 for post processing (fine tuning) after the HDR conversions are finished!

Overview:

OK, what is HDR?  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Think of it this way… You are out taking pictures during the brightest part of the day.  You can get a good image of the foreground subject, but the sky is totally blown out, you know pure white.  The total range of the light from black to white in your image exceeds what your camera is capable of recording, but our eyes can still see and understand the complete range.  So, in the world of photography, we have developed the ability to take several photographs, say three to six, each one with a different exposure from way too dark to really blown out.  With these pictures in hand you can now run one of several software programs available that will combine the best of each of these differently exposed image into one that can display the entire range of of the image from black to white!

Now this requires a image with more data than you can store in a 8 bit JPG image, and even more than your 16 bit RAW, TIFF or PSD image!  Now we move into the world of 32 bit images that can hold and display  a far greater range of black to white data.  Now, 32 bit images are all but useless to us in the real world so the HDR software will compress it down to 16 bits by removing select bits of brightness data without really negatively affecting the view of the image and making it possible to view and print the image!   Pretty neat technology don’t you think?

What I normally do when shooting HDR is to take a test image and evaluate the histogram.  I will look to see what areas are out range, or totally black or totally white.  Usually, the blacks will be fine but the whites will be blown out.  I will then retake the same image with a negative EV dialed in and re evaluate the image again looking to see if the blown out white areas of the image are now in the proper range.  This gives me an idea of just how wide the range of the image needs to be.  If the blown out areas take two or three stops of adjustment to bring them back into range then I will then  decide upon how many HDR images are needed to be taken to get the total range covered in 1/2 stop increments.  You will need to set your camera on a tripod and have it locked down to assure that you get the same exact composition in each shot.  You can either use the auto bracket mode on your camera to generate your shots or do it manually.   Weather or not you change the ISO or shutter speed is dependent upon the scene or your artistic intent.  Some cameras will bracket at most three shots, some 5 and some even 7 or more!  You can usually choose to bracket with Aperture, Shutter Speed or ISO.  It is important to keep the Aperture constant as to not change the depth of field.

For these shots, as long as I kept the shutter speed longer than 3 seconds I would not have any issues with keeping sharply defined slow moving water to generate the HDR.  So I chose a 3 stop bracket using the Shutter Speed, leaving the Aperture and ISO steady.

Here are the 3 component images that make up the final HDR image:

  • In the first, 3495, the trees and mill look good, the water is overexposed about a stop and has lost detail and the rocks are a little under exposed.
  • The second, 3496, the rocks are perfect but the water is very over exposed. There is some detail in the black area under the top of the falls.
  • The last, 3497, the water is perfect but everything else is just to dark.
  • The water was always the key to this shot, getting it so that it was not blown out is the reason to use HDR.  These three images generated by the camera without any processing other than raw conversion and bracketed .7 ev apart with -1.3 ev being one of them, -.6 ev and lastly –2 ev.  If you decide to try this, keep in mind that the closer together the exposures are, say 1/2ev the more data you will have to generate your final image.  You can also add more data with more images. Every HDR you setup and shoot will be different and you must evaluate how many shots to take at what exposure.
  • The very dark black under hang below the top of the waterfall was another consideration when deciding the exposure values of the component images.  I needed a brighter image to bring out some detail here as well.

3495, -1.3 ev, f/8 8 seconds, I chose this value to get the correct exposure on the trees

3495 Histogram, -1.3 EV

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3496, -.6 ev, f/8, 13 seconds. I chose this value to get the rocks and mill exposure correct knowing that the water would be blown out

3496, -.6 ev

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3497, -2 ev, f/8, 5 seconds,  I chose this exposure for the correct falling water exposure

3497, -2 EV

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These three images are the only ones that I will use to explore the various HDR processing software.

Final considerations on component images that make up the HDR image:

  • You MUST shoot on a tripod to control camera movement (prevent ghosting) and to lock the composition.
  • Use a remote shutter release.
  • Wind will cause plant and tree movement which will cause a ghosting effect (bad).
  • Keep the aperture constant to force the depth of field the same between shots.
  • ISO bracketing is ok as long as you keep the jumps in ISO below the level where noise is introduced by your camera.
  • Exposures closer together will allow you to generate better HDR’s as long as the subject matter doesn’t move.
  • More component images mean more data to  build a better HDR image.
  • Take notes in the field as you shoot so that you can remember what your intentions were at that point in time!  This will help you when you build the HDR.

Some notes on the software:

  • HDR conversions require image editing software that can process in 32 bits.  This means that unless you purchase HDR stand alone software like Photomatrix Pro you MUST use Photoshop CS5 or CS6. Elements and Lightroom simply will not work.
  • I do not like over cooked HDR images.  I process them to a natural look and feel, close to what I can see with my eyes!
  • CS5 & CS6 both include an internal HDR conversion filter called Merge to HDR Pro for free.
  • The NIK HDR software, HDR EFX Pro and HDR EFX Pro 2 require a 64 bit operating system and the appropriate 64 bit CS5 or 6
  • Photomatix Pro is a stand alone filter that does NOT run inside of Photoshop and will allow you to save a 16 bit HDR converted image that can be opened in Elements.
  • All of the conversion software will cost between $100 and $200.
  • I am not going to take you step by step through each of the HDR conversion packages.  This is HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE and no two photographers will get to the end results via the same path!  There a quite a few good books out there on this!

Photoshop CS6 Merge To HDR Pro

This HDR program comes built into Photoshop CS6.  It is quite powerful and gives you a lot of options.  I found it very easy to use and it gives very nice results.  You will find it under the FILE > Automate menu and it  will ask you to locate and open your component images or add images already open!

Once your images have been chosen, it will open them and drop you into a full screen dialog where you can make any image adjustments.  Once done the software will drop the finished image into Photoshop where you can then do your final tuning with Nik’s Color EFX Pro 4.  I like to use the Tonal Contrast filter due to the ability to adjust color contrast in the Highlights, Midtones and Shadows separately from each other.  This one tool will really bring out the full potential of your images.

Here is my version of the three component images processed in Photoshop’s Merge To HDR Pro:

X-Pro1-3495 3496 3497 -Glade Creek Mill -2012 -M to HDR Pro

Here is my version of the three component images processed in Nik’s HDR EFX Pro:

OK, onto Nik Softwares HDR EFX Pro.  This is the first version that Nik offered earlier this spring (2012)  It has a great interface and does a pretty good job, but requires a little more fine tuning after the HDR conversion is finished.  The tuning process was again done using Color EFX Pro 4 and Viveza 2.  This is a plugin filter for the Photoshop family and requires that you run a 64 bit operating system in Windows or OSX.  It will NOT run on Elements and Lightroom.

I found that the images to be a little flat and lifeless until I applied the Color EFX Pro 4 in the after process tuning steps, then the images started looking pretty good.

X-Pro1-3495 3496 3497 -Glade Creek Mill -2012_NIK HDR EFX Pro

Here is my version of the three component images processed in Nik’s HDR EFX Pro 2:

OK, now, this is a MAJOR upgrade to Nik’s HDR software.  This one revision corrected all of my complaints about flat and lifeless images!  There is VERY LITTLE fine tuning needed at all.  I think that Nik’s HDR EFX Pro 2 is my favorite conversion tool out there.  But I will let the images speak for themselves!

X-Pro1-3495 3496 3497 -Glade Creek Mill-2012 NIK HDR Pro 2

Here is my version of the three component images processed in Photomatix Pro ver : 4.2.3

Photomatix is likely the most popular HDR conversion package on the market.  It cost around $150 and does NOT require CS5 or CS6 to run.  It is a standalone system and when it finishes it will directly save a 16 bit version of your HDR image on your computer that you can then open for further editing.  It has many recipes and adjustments and you can do great work with it. I highly recommend it even if you are already running a 64 bit operating system and CS6. You will not be sorry!

X-Pro1-3495 3496 3497 -Glade Creek Mill -2012 -Photomatix Pro HDR

As you can see, the 4 converted HDR images are not at all the same.  That would be difficult if not impossible to achieve.  Each software package has its own adjustments and none of them are exact.  I like Nik’s HDR EFX Pro 2 and Photomatix 4.2.3 the best.  They are all easy to use and as long as you properly evaluate the scene that you are trying to photograph and properly choose the exposure values of the component images you will get really nice HDR shots!

What do you think?  Please let me know!

True Macro With The X Pro 1


Being Small in a Large World..

Zebra Longwing Butterfly Caterpillar, 1/4 inch long, Fuji X Pro 1 and the 60mm f/2.4

In another creative fervor with the Fuji X Pro 1, I decided to attend a formal CNPA (Carolinas Nature Photography Assn.) outing yesterday at Cyprus Gardens in Moncks Corner, SC.  The park is full of flowers, swamp and a nice butterfly house.  I had decided to leave all of my other camera equipment at home (it seems that this is becoming the rule now with the X Pro 1!) and concentrate on macro/closeup work with the Fuji system.  In truth, I spent all day with the 60mm f/2.4 macro lens.  The lens can shoot in the macro mode at .5x which is 1:2.  The closest focus range on this lens is a little over 10 inches.  With these limitations in mind I setup on a sturdy tripod and got about the business of creating images!

This post is NOT intended as a macro or flash tutorial. I will post images that I consider are the best at macro and closeup that this camera system is capable of creating.  Anyone can create this type of macro images with just a little forethought and a full understanding of the physics of exposure and how to use your camera as a tool! I intend to show you what this camera system is capable of creating with thought out setups, exposure and lighting!  I am going to share with you my experiences in using the camera system with the following accessories, modes and shooting supports:

  • Fuji X Pro 1, aperture priority, spot metering
  • Fuji 60mm f/2.4 lens
  • Fuji EF-20 flash
  • EF-X20 flash
  • Fuji EF-42 flash
  • Surefire 6PX Pro LED flashlight
  • Tripod and hand held
  • 40″ remote shutter release

Fuji EF-20 Flash

The Zebra Longwing caterpillar  above was about 1/4 inch in length and was taken with the Fuji X Pro 1 with the 60mm f/2.4 lens on a tripod.  Lighting was the Fuji EF-20 flash unit on camera but tilted down and set at -1ev.  As you can see, the overall setup gave a very nice image with reasonable lighting given only 1 flash!  The overall image ratio is about 1:3 which puts this squarely in the macro range.  I kept the aperture set to f/9 in order to get the entire insect in sharp focus and have a little bit of detail in the background.  Now, the real surprise:  the focus was auto with the selected focus point being the middle of the curve on the insect!  Normally, we expect to manually focus when working in macro, but I intended to test the focus capabilities of the system as well.

  • TIP: I added a slight lens vingyette in post processing   to darken the top and sides of the image to further accent the main subject.

Given that the flash uses two AA batteries, the re-charge time should be considered quite slow, but it was actually quite fast.  I enjoyed using this flash because the tilting head enabled me to shoot past the end of the the longer 60mm lens and keep the subject in nice light with no lens shading even with the lens hood installed at the 10 inch focus distance!  I did find that using the button on the back of the flash to set the EV value to be a bit tedious but since I usually set it to some negative value and leave it there it was not a very large negative!

Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar, Fuji X Pro 1, 60mm f/2.4, 10 inch focus, 1:2 ratio, Fuji EF-42 at -.5ev

Fuji EF-42 Flash

This next image of the Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar was taken using the Fuji EF-42 flash set at -.5ev and an aperture of f/8 on the tripod.  Here I intended to have more of a blurred background (remember in the macro range the DOF is very narrow and even a a mid aperture you will get a very blurry background) yet again keep the insect in sharp focus across its entire focus plain.

The EF-42 flash is a much higher power unit compared to the EF-20 and it uses four AA batteries for a faster recharge time.  The controls are easier to use BUT the flash head will NOT angle down beyond the level plain.  This can be overcome by pulling out the wide angle lens on the top and using it as s bounce surface to angle some light down.  As you can see in the image I created the exact image I envisioned.  The main subject (insect) is in perfect focus and the exposure is dead on with no blow out of the whites.  The background is nicely indistinct and blurry with only slight detail thus taking nothing away from the subject!  Focus was again in auto with the spot set on the top hump of the insect as it was getting ready to move forward up the branch.   Again, I added a slight lens vingyette in post processing to darken the top and sides of the image to further accent the main subject.  As stated, this was all pre-planned before I ever looked at the camera!

The Red Flower, Fuji X Pro 1, 60mm f/2.4 lens, 1:4 ratio, Ef-42 at -1ev.

OK this image of the small red flower (sorry, I have not yet identified it yet…) was again done with the X Pro 1 with the 60mm lens and the EF-42 flash at -1 ev.  The big difference here was that this was hand held.  I just could not get the camera into a position on the tripod in order to capture it.  Plus I was setting up to switch over to shooting butterflies on the move which you just cannot do on the tripod.  The flower was about1 inch in length so the image ratio here is about 1:4 which puts this image in the closeup range.  Depth of field is much better in this range so in order to have a un-defined background I set the aperture down to f/4 which gave me a sharp focus on the entire flower in its plain of focus yet blurred the background nicely.

  • TIP: The flash was setup using the wide angle adapter pulled partly out in order to reflect some of the light down towards the flower.

All in all  I think that this is a nicely done image considering it was hand held!

Zebra Longwing Butterfly. Fuji X Pro 1, 60mm f/2.4 lens, EF-20 flash at -1ev 1:8 range

Ok, moving up further into the closeup range, I created this image of a Zebra Longwing butterfly.  This was again handheld but using the EF-20 flash set level at -1ev.  Focus was auto with the focus point set silghtly off center to the top in the portrait mode.

  • TIP: When shooting macro/closeup, I always set the focus point for each and every shot.  This gives me far greater control during the setup and composition phase of my process.

Purple Orchid, X Pro 1, 60mm f/2.4, EF-20 at -1ev, 6PX Pro LED Tactical light.

Fuji EF-X20

OK, almost done!  This last image of a purple orchid was shot on the tripod  in shadow was one of the more difficult images of the day.  I had to use a 40 inch remote shutter release and hunch below the flower and tripod with a 5000 degree kelvin LED flashlight angled up into the flower.  I also used the EF-X20 flash set at -1ev to give the purple of the flower even lighting and a sparkle.  The EF-X20 is the easiest of all the Fuji flash units to control due to its top mounted mode dial.

Surefire 6PX Pro

The LED flashlight is a 6PX Pro Tactical light with variable output and is perfect for macro work.  Its light is bright white and since you can control the power level it makes for very easy control!  This light and many others can be found at  www.Surefire.com but be advised, they are expensive!  I keep several versions of these tactical lights on hand.  They are all useful and a positive addition to a macro kit!

OK, that is it for today.  But consider this last point, Macro work can be done with any lens, you do not need to have a dedicated macro lens.  With the simple addition of a closeup adapter (I recommend the Canon 500D series of adapters) you can convert ANY lens to macro/closeup!

What did you think of this post?  Please feel free to leave feedback and comments!  I value your input.

Ultra Long Exposures with Fuji X Pro 1 using the Zone System and a Heliopan Variable ND Filter


Interesting Things Come To Those Who Wait….

Pawleys Island Surf, X Pro 1, 2 1/2 min exposure

Heliopan Variable ND w/ Stops

This variable ND filter from Heliopan comes in a 52mm size which works on both the Fuji 35mm and 18mm lenses.  It is touted as being totally color transparent with no color shifts!  Online reviews have stated that it is by far the best variable  ND on the market.  My own testing has shown that it adds ZERO color cast to my images and that the physical stops on the filter work very well while the settings are quite repeatable.  The only negatives found are:

  • The fit of the ring components are very sloppy.  They are loose and easily moved.  I like a little tension between the moving rings on any adjustable filter and this one fails in that regard!
  • The base of the filter is wider than the top.  You cannot attach any lens hood because of this.  Since there are no filter threads on the front if the filter you cannot attach a screw on hood.  This bothers me quite a bit, but the fact that the filter adds no color shift allows me to overlook this.

Its stops on the filter that keeps you in the 2 to 6.2 stop range and generates no banding at all.  So far I have been very impressed with the images created with this filter in all way.  Yes you can do the same job with a fixed ND filter but even the high quality B+W ND filters add a slight color cast to your images!

Suggested Equipment:

  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Remote Shutter release cable ( I found a 40″ model online ) You can typically find many choices here for the X Pro 1 at Adorama, BH Photo and Amazon.  I have 2 in my kit, a 12 inch and a 40 inch model which allows me to back away from the tripod a little..
  • Bubble level. ( for some reason the internal built in level is not accurate ) You can always fix a tilted horizon in post processing, but you will loose part of your image in doing so.  As with all things photographic, the better the image created in the camera the better the final image will be!  The level really helps in this and you can find them for next to nothing on Amazon!
  • Charged camera battery ( long exposures chew up batteries), there is nothing worse than having to walk back to the truck for another battery!  Keep an extra in your pocket.
  • Lens cleaning kit ( beach shots in the wind cover everything in salt spray )
  •  ND filter (variable or fixed, Heliopan or B+W 6 or 10 stop)
  • External Spot meter like the Seikonic 508 (not necessary but make exposure a little easier!), more on this on later in the post!

Subject Considerations

  1. Foreground, Mid Ground & Background:  As with any photography, it is very important to have easily recognized areas within the images.  The best images contain three.  Foreground, mid ground and backgrounds that are clearly defined will draw you viewer into your image and make a longer lasting impression!  This is the same in long exposures.  I like to find objects in or that project into the ocean to achieve  this effect.  In the images here I have the rock groin, the ocean and the sky/horizon that cover these three areas.  You should consider these important compositional areas as you pick your image.
  2. Size and timing of the waves: When photographing the surf, and attempting to soften or smooth  the waters surface you need to consider the distance and timing of the waves.  A long period between the waves will require a longer exposure to even them out.  This is just as true with larger waves as well!  A good starting point for the normal surf is a 30 second shutter speed.  This should give you 3 or 4 waves coming ashore with which to average the waters movement.  The B&W image shown here in the post was a 2  min 30 sec exposure.  The reason for the difference is because to flatten the waters surface I needed a much longer exposure due the the size of the waves (12 feet).
  3. The Sky: The sky is a funny thing in long exposures.  Normally we hope for some structure in the sky, especially with color.  But the ultra white sky can also add a striking compositional element to our images as long as there are other darker areas within the composition to balance against.  The addition of clouds, especially clouds that are moving will add another etherial component to your long exposure image.  The clouds will be tearing across the image, trying to flatten themselves with movement.  Usually, this effect is very subdued due to the slower movement of the clouds as compared to the waves!  Some photographers make the moving clouds their main compositional components, something to think about…
  4. B&W or Color: For me this is an easy choice… I prefer B&W to almost any other type of image!  There is just something striking about a well done B&W image.  Don’t get me wrong, I do shoot in color and like it very much, but the B&W image is universal in the way it tends to draw viewers into the image.  The complexity of the colors having been removed seem to show the soul of the image in all of its splendor!  This is an area in which the Fuji X Pro 1 really shines!  The various built in art filters with their various options (red, green and so on) gives splendid B&W internal conversions within the camera.  I am always amazed by the clarity and quality of the Fuji B&W images that I get out of the camera! The B&W image shown here is one such example of an in camera conversion.  I used the B&W with Red filter choice in the Fuji X Pro 1’s film type selections!

Zone System Metering & Exposure:

Zone Exposure System
The ZONE system is an old exposure evaluation tool developed by Ansel Adams.  While old, it has a real place in modern digital photography as well.  There are many books and videos on the subject and I STRONGLY suggest that you take the time to learn about the tool.
Simply, by taking a spot meter measurement on a particular part of the subject, you can place it in the 18% gray area or Zone 5.  Then you simply adjust the exposure up or down to place it in its proper zone!
It is a very easy to understand exposure evaluation system that can save you important time and thinking when you are evaluating your exposure setup.
Here is an example on how I use the Zone System to evaluate exposure:
  • Take a SPOT meter reading on the sky.
  • The meter in the camera or hand held meter will place the tone of the spot it measured into 18% Gray or Zone 5.
  • Knowing that I wanted the sky to be in Zone 8, I will lighten it by adjusting my exposure lighter by 3 stops by opening the aperture 3 stops wider!
  • The entire image is shifted by the decision I made above.  I could have chosen ANY OTHER SPOT to measure and adjust according knowing that the camera spot meter would force that tone area under the spot meter to 18% gray!

The Zone System for exposure control in this image

So, looking at the sample image above, you can see that a spot meter reading on the sky which I want to place in Zone 8, is forced into Zone 5 by the camera metering system.  If I left it here then end sky would be a dark gray and the overall image way underexposed.  So, knowing this I simply adjust the exposure lighter by 3 stops, shifting the sky into Zone 8 and brightening the entire image properly!  Look at the image above, notice that I have shown spot meter readings for several areas of the image?  You could also choose ANY of these, knowing that the camera would force the area chosen into Zone 5 and then make adjustment up or down via the aperture to place it in the Zone that YOU wish it to be in.  Perfect control!
One last thought on this for you.  When using a fixed or variable ND filter, you simply take the meter reading through the filter then make your zone adjustments.  The LCD preview of the X Pro 1 works VERY well in low light and allows you to do so easily and accurately!
The Zone system is a very easy way to understand and control your cameras exposure for perfect pictures.

Pawleys Surf, Long Exposure, 25 seconds, Fuji X Pro 1

So, what do you think?  The Heliopan Variable ND Filter is a VERY good tool to have in the camera bag.  But, it is VERY expensive ($300/52mm).   Optically, it is pure with no color poisoning at all.  I have not check out how it works in the IR spectrum yet but I will in the future.  The only real complaint for me is the lose fitting elements!

Detailed Fuji X Pro 1 Infrared Tutorial: Part 1, Equipment & Shooting!


Creating Emotional IR Images From Your Heart

Using the Fuji X Pro 1 for Infrared

Infrared photography means so many things to me… I have a popular Infrared Educational Blog at http://infraredatelier.wordpress.com/ where I have shared all of my secrets surrounding Infrared photography for several years, I have a book in work on Infrared photography, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have practiced the art of creating emotionally charged Infrared images for longer than I can remember, even as long as 45 years ago with film.  Here, today, I will disscuss with you the technical details of using your Fuji X Pro 1 camera system to create these emotionally powerful images as well.

X Pro 1 Faux Color IR Image with only the channel swap

Understand this, you can create Infrared images several different ways:

  1. Film:  Rolli makes a great 720nm IR film in many different formats that with the addition of a 720nm filter on your lens will create great IR images at 100 ISO, and with no filter great B&W images at 400 ISO!
  2. Hoya R72

    Standard Digital COLOR Camera:  With the addition of a 720nm or 850nm IR filter on your camera lens your camera can capture Infrared images.  There is a tradeoff to this way though because each camera manufacturer places some sort of UV/IR blocking filter over the image sensor that allows only visible light to pass through.  Some of these filters are weaker than others and these cameras make for a system that will do well in Color and OK in Infrared with reasonable IR exposure times around a second or two.  Others have a strong filter allowing only a small amount of IR energy to pass.  These require VERY LONG exposure time in order to overcome this filter.  The Fuji X Pro 1 is one of the cameras with a weaker filter! This is exciting because it enables you to easily create IR images with an unmodified camera system!

  3. Converted Infrared Camera:  This type of system is the most popular by far.  There are 2 types:
    • Full Spectrum conversion: The internal UV/IR blocking filter is removed and replaced with a clear glass filter. You can then program the camera with an external IR filter in any range from UV to Color to Infrared!  This is the most adaptable IR system but costly because IR filters for your different lens sizes are expensive!
    • Dedicated Infrared Conversion:  This type has the internal UV/IR blocking filter removed and replaced with a specific IR pass filter and will create IR images in that band only.

What your camera sees!

So with regard for the Fuji X Pro 1 system we are going to discuss option #2, the standard color camera with an external IR filter attached to its lens.  But you ask: “What filter can I use?”. Well since we are not modifying the internal UV/IR blocking filter you must understand that the camera will pass normal visible colors as well as IR if the external filter allows it.  This is both good and bad!  If you were to install a 590nm IR filter on your lens the camera, it would see everything from 590nm up to 1000nm.  But because the internal UV/IR blocking filter allows much more visible light than IR through, it will poison the exposure metering system.  It is going to see the vast majority of the light as color (red) and expose for that rather than the IR portion.  So attempting to do this will cause very unreliable exposure and great frustration on the part of the photographer.

What we need is to attach an IR filter that blocks ALL of the visible light and only passes IR to the sensor!  So it is best to choose a 720nm IR pass filter to your lens like the Hoya R72 or a 800nm B&W IR only filter like the B+W 093.  The higher you go in nm the longer the exposure time will be…

Now, knowing that we are going to use the 720nm filter which will only pass IR energy from 720nm and up while blocking ALL of the visible light our metering system will now function as it should!

Considerations of problems that must be overcome within the X Pro 1 to get good IR images

  • Even though the Fuji X Pro 1 has a weak UV/IR blocking filter there is still one there.  Exposure time at a normal low noise ISO of 800 and below will still require an exposure time too long to hand hold and still get sharp images.  Most of mine were at 1/30s and longer.
  • Yes, the X Pro 1 works well at high ISO settings, but in IR the camera will still create noise in the dark areas of the image.
  • Fuji X Pro 1 with a custom WB right out of the camera. This is as close as you can get but will still generate a great image.

    White Balance is IMPORTANT when shooting in IR!  The X Pro 1 will NOT reliably do a custom white balance with the 720nm IR filter installed.  But it does have a manual Kelvin White Balance option, so when shooting IR you need to go to this sub menu in the WB settings and set it to 2500K.  I have talked to others doing this and have heard that they also take away green as well in the menu.  I personally think that this is unnecessary and by leaving the green neutral you will get more pleasing Faux Color images.  A properly white balanced image taken on your camera has s slight reddish cast, the sky should be bronze and the green leaves should have a monochromatic feel with a bluish cast. (more on this later) An improperly white balanced camera image will be pure dark red.  While you can still use this image in post processing the lack of a good white balance will throw off your exposure system. Read your camera manual on white balance and understand it!

  • Longer shutter speeds need a tripod to get sharp images!
  • Remote shutter cable to cut down on camera shake!
  • The Hoya R72 720nm IR filter will generate good Faux Color infrared images some of the time, but good B&W images all of the time.  Keep this in mind while shooting and plan to always explore both options in post processing!
  • Faux Color IR images require a channel swap in post processing.  ONLY the Photoshop family (CS through CS6) has this function built in!  Photoshop Elements has an optional plugin called Elements Plus that you can purchase to do this.  Lightroom and Aperture DO NOT have this function!

Ok, enough of this for now. Lets talk images…

 The Hoya R72 IR filter is almost black.  You can see very little through it but don’t worry, the camera can see through it just fine!  You can find these filters on Amazon for about $58.00 in 52mm.  There are a lot of other filter companies out there that make these, some good some not so good… I trust the Hoya!

Mount the filter on your lens, set the ISO to around 1000 and put the camera on a tripod.  Make sure that you have properly set the WB either as a custom on or as a Kelvin entry.  If you choose custom, the camera will require a lot of light to due this properly.  Use green grass to generate the custom white balance.

I like to use the optical viewfinder rather then the LCD or EVF for shooting in IR.  Choose and frame your subject carefully.  Hmm, a word about composition…

There are three items that can make IR images really powerful and full of emotional impact:

  • Sky with clouds!
  • Water reflections!
  • Green Leaves!

The more of these items you can get in your images the better they will be!  Here is an example…

Clouds, Water and Leaves! What more could you ask for? While not done on a X Pro 1, this image could just have well been so!

 As you can see, the sky, reflections and leaves create an emotionally packed, etherial image that draws your viewer into it!  Keep these three compositional elements in mind as you go forth and create your images!

Exposure Issues…

OK, last part of this post!  There are a few small exposure issues that you need to be aware of while doing IR work.  They are:

  • Red Channel over exposure: The RED channel will aways expose a stop or more higher than the blue and green.  After you have taken the image and see the preview on the LCD panel look at the histogram.  It only displays the combination monochrome histogram and if it is close to being overexposed you will get better results by dialing in -1ev exposure compensation and re-take the image.  This is due to the red channel being more sensitive to infrared and causing the overexposure.  You can really see this during the RAW conversion or in photoshop during post processing by looking at the RGB histogram there.
  • Hot Spots:  Some people have reported hot spots in the center of their images when using the 18mm lens.  I have NOT personally  seen any evidence of this with my system as of yet.  Hot spots are areas in the center of each picture that is usually a stop brighter.  They are caused by light bouncing back and forth between the sensor and the lens elements.  These are lens specific and very little can be done while taking the picture to stop or reduce them.  BUT, the aperture can have a drastic effect on them!  If you see these then try adjusting the aperture and review the results, you just might be surprised!  You MUST ALWAYS use a lens hood when shooting in IR.  This will also help stop hot spots by stopping light from striking the objective lens at extreme angles then bouncing around inside the lens between elements.  If you do notice the hot spot you can remove it in post processing very easily by using Nik Filters Viveza.  You use the selection point by placing it in the center of the spot and then reduce the brightness!

OK, this is enough for today.  The next post will be a detailed Post Processing tutorial that will take you through both Faux Color and B&W processing.  I even have a photoshop action that you can download to semi automate the channel swap and cut down your post processing time!