Monday, May 30, 2011

Shooting with the infrared D5000

A macro shot with the P6000 point and shoot:

The Nikon P6000 is the only color camera I have right now because I sold the Lumix LX5 last week. The Panasonic LX5 is a great camera, but I don’t need two point and shoot cameras; it sold first at Amazon Marketplace and is arriving in western New York early this week. The P6000 has good image quality. I find myself shooting in M mode more than any camera yet. It is also listed at Amazon marketplace; I would be happy to sell it directly, too. If it sells (a mere $300), I will be on the hunt for another dslr body to put my 35mm prime lens on.

Sunday night sunset. I scampered out to a rocky spire where I had not been. The prominent feature is in many photographs looking north towards Humbug Mountain. Here, from February 2010, the spire is beyond the three main Sisters on the right.
Sisters Rocks from Ophir beach, Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron©2/14/10

Orange flagging tied to bushes marked the trail that was last visited by horses with people on them. After a very short stroll, I lost the way; the vegetation was too wet and tall to go further. There was a small rise on a hill, so I set up and took some photographs. Here, looking south towards Sisters Rocks with the Nikon P6000.

Shooting with an infrared dslr is an unusual experience. It is difficult to pre-visualize a shot because human eyes are blind to the infrared spectrum. The style of shooting infrared (so far) seems to require an interesting scene and a bit of fiddling with the exposure while looking at the histogram and the preview. I most often shoot in aperture priority mode with manual ISO selection. Prior to conversion, I preferred shooting jpg with the d5000 because the photos were sharper and smaller. I have been shooting raw with the infrared for the last few months. Unlike other photographers out there, I do not have Lightroom. My ability to process raw images is limited to Photoshop CS4’s importer. It does okay. With digital photography 2011, it is quite easy to get swept away with things that ordinary people neither see nor care much about, like noise or barrel distortion. I don’t mind distortion, but I do like sharpness. The D5000 shooting raw in infrared above 715nm produces some noise at all ISO settings. When converted to black and white, the noise has a pleasant grain, similar (but different) to film, and certainly different than standard noise in color digital photography. Here is an infrared shot looking west over the rocky spire:

Rotating the tripod north towards Humbug Mountain:

Variations on a theme. There was really no where to go on this night. I stayed put and shot with other cameras. Here, the Hipstamatic has a go; the John S lens over Alfred Infrared:

I have been trying all manual controls available with the P6000; it is the first time it has been my primary camera. The idea to flash the lupines came after messing with the exposure to get the flare and sunset colors I was seeing. [ISO64, f/4.1, 28mm equivalent]


The P6000 does pretty good for landscapes for such a small camera. It is a little deceiving here at web resolutions where they look their best. I don’t think I would be happy with larger prints; they are probably limited to 5x7 and smaller. Then again, if I carried around the big raw files (nrw), and figured out how to deal with them on my computer, it might be a different story.

Infrared shooting; tonight’s thoughts.
The uniqueness of the photographs are their strength. It is more about composition than Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment. The shortcomings of my 18-55 kit lens are a hindrance to this type of photography. At the long end (82mm eq.), it is slow, at f/5.6; the same as the P6000 when it is extended to it’s maximum zoom. The wide end, 18mm, (27mm eq.) is slightly faster at f/3.5. Over time, I hope that I can get a variety of lenses to use. On the bright side, the D5000 is a good body for digital infrared photography. It does what you need and takes all kinds of Nikon lenses from the past. The performance of the lens is a primary limitation in photography, but especially for ir.

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