Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back From Summer Vacation!

I got a package in the mail the other day - my IR-modified camera got back from its summer vacation back East!  My friend Ken Spencer, who was a real photographer in a former life and writes "A Picture Each Day" blog expressed an interest in old-timey IR imaging that we all used to do back in the day.  Well I offered to send him the camera for a few months during the summer season when the "Wood Effect" makes IR imaging so dramatic.

I think he had lots of fun with it - it really does
open up a new window to looking at things.  But as Fall arrived, he sent it back (with a new camera battery!) and I took it out the other day to remind myself what it is can do. 

The next day I took it in to work at UA and at lunchtime took a short drive over to Reid Park to eat my lunch.  Of course, the IR shots excel with clear skies and lots of vegetation, and though the monsoons were still hanging around, the clouds sometimes add a little drama.  There are open ponds at the park too, and besides showing the vegetation as bright white and the skies dark, water is also a strong absorber, though it offers some reflections of bright trees...  I think the shot at left is my favorite, and when returning to UA, I ambled over to the just-finished addition to Arizona Stadium.  This time the addition wasn't for the Mirror Lab, which is under the east stands, but rather for the football team.  They added an artificial-surface field for "Bear Down" field, to be used for intermural sports.  While made to look like green grass, you can tell immediately from the IR shot is isn't nearly as bright as real vegetation, like the trees in the background are...  Real grass would be just about as bright as the painted lines in IR!

A day or two later I went up to Finger Rock
Canyon when friends were hiking the trail.  While waiting for them to come out, I took a few shots.  Besides the cacti showing lots of green, being the end of the rainy season the ocotillo were all in leaf.  During the dry Spring, they mostly look like unadorned thorny sticks in the ground, but rain brings out their fine leaf structure.  In this shot I've also got mountain slopes with saguaros, partly clear skies and one of the houses built on the national forest boundary line high up the slopes.  Another effect of IR imaging is in haze penetration - you can see and image at great distances without any haze blurring.  I made a small panorama of the downtown Tucson area with a telephoto lens shown at right.  Coverage is from "A" Mountain at right past our "skyscrapers".  Note the light-colored vegetation, as you would expect, but also the visibility of the distant Sierrita Mountains, a good 30+ miles away are quite clearly defined.  The white spot at lower left is a golf course fairway, and the nearby ridge shows individual plants as they appear in IR.

It was great to again image with this converted camera (the IR-blocking filter that all cameras have, was replaced with an IR-passing filter).  Certainly it isn't something you use every day, but is fun to break out now and again!

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