Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Suddenly It's November 2007...

...and I haven't shot anything in IR for months.
But that's about to change.

As I have already discussed in previous posts, making IR easier to shoot on-location is equally as important to me as finding appropriate subjects and refining my post-processing to a style that interests me.

For a while now I've been carrying my IR-related filters already stacked in a single pouch, ready to unzip and screw onto my F717's lens threads as a unit.
This has made shooting much easier by far compared to leaving them in the individual cases and having to assemble/disassemble 3 or four filters every time an IR-worthy subject is found.
(For the record, to get the available light to fall nicely within my F717's 'NightShot' range I use a 760nm ebay IR filter sent to me by Bruce Burton plus two ND4 and one CP filter, leaving one of the ND4s on the front end of the stack so I can remove it quickly when the light is below "Full-Texas-Sun").

My only other equipment-related problem is stability.
Anyone who uses an un-modified Sony F717 for IR in 'NightShot' mode knows that the shutter speed range is limited to 1/8 on the long end and 1/60 at the fastest, and since you're locked into Auto or Program mode there's not really any getting around this.
That locked-wide-open aperture is the culprit and it's not adjustable when shooting IR, so adding and subtracting filters is the only way to keep the shutter in a range you can use without hitting either end of the scale and over/under-exposing by accident.
Sadly there are no on-screen flashing icons to warn you when over/under-exposure is happening in NightShot. Sony didn't foresee anyone trying to make art with their night-vision gimmick.

Once my filter situation was figured out, I had to address the shutter speeds because they often reside in the 'too long for handheld' region. Sure, 1/60 down to 1/30 can be done if you aren't using much zoom, but everything longer than that is blurry trouble waiting to happen.
I have a lot of experience in this shutter speed range shooting rock bands in poorly-lit nightclubs so various tips and tricks like using convenient solid objects to brace my camera against are second nature, but nothing replaces a tripod in low light situations.

I also shoot long exposures at night with a nice tripod.
This is the understatement of the year. Night photography is my passion, my art, my main focus.
But this is also a huge logistical problem for me in regards to IR: I'm always dragging a tripod around at night so I really don't want to have to use one during the daytime, too!
Can't I "travel light" during part of my life???

This orthodontist's office building was already a great night subject a few years ago, so after buying a monopod I returned for a quick IR shot to see if the new addition to the team would help me.
It did.
I'm sure I used more filters than necessary on this very overcast day, yet with the resulting longer shutter speed I still got a sharper image than I could have achieved hand-held by far.

I wasn't thrilled with the bland sky and flatly-lit foreground.
No drama or contrast at all, even after the extensive post-processing work.
But the sharpness was acceptable in this worse-case scenario, so progress was being made and that's all that matters.

Carrying a monopod around during the day is a joy compared to a tripod, and the deterrent factor in this big and dangerous city has already proven itself.

No comments: