I recently discovered that an infrared filter which I used to use on an old camera, and since forgotten about, fit one of my current lenses. Excited at the prospect of trying something relatively new, I ventured straight out and took, what I consider, a crap photo. Here’s why it turned out so bad, and I wasted my time on the shoot.
I have not shared this image with any social network or published it to any of the gallery websites I belong to. I am however going to use it as a warning to anyone else that rushes their photography as you will end up with less that satisfactory results! I do plan on going out on another shoot to capture an image I am happy with, and fully appreciate that I could have improved the image with further work in Photoshop etc, but I thought it would provide a good lesson for us all :)
Lack of preparation
One thing I do before embarking on new techniques or genres of photography is to read up about them and have the basics clear in my mind before even getting involved on a practical level. In the case of infrared, I didn’t stick to this rule and jumped in, feet first, without proper prep, not good.
As a result there were a number of elements that I was either not prepared for, ignored completely or didn’t now about prior to the shoot. All of these thing, added together, made for a less than great end result.
Always research things you don’t know about, never assume that you can wing it and just ‘muddle through’. If you do your homework you’ll waste a lot less time and get much better results, faster.
Too much noise
One of the elements that I did not prepare for was the fact that an infrared filter takes MUCH longer to expose an image. As it only lets a certain type of light through, you will need to allow for the longer exposure. With longer exposures can come an increase in noise within the image, this can be reduced by using the lowest ISO possible or removed in post processing but it is likely that this will have an impact in the clarity of the image overall.
So, another thing to read up on prior to the shoot, ‘noise reduction in long exposure photography’.
Not giving myself enough time for the shoot
Another mistake I made was rushing the shoot. Instead of choosing a time where I was free to concentrate, for as long as I needed, on the task at hand, I chose a time when I had other things to do, and therefore was constrained.
Always give yourself enough time to learn at your own pace and not have other things, that you have to do, on your mind.
Another consideration that should be made when taking long exposure photos is where to position the camera. In this shot I was on a bridge and, although quiet, there was always the chance of someone walking by and creating vibrations that affected the shot, which they did.
Always position the camera where there is the least possible chance that it will be disturbed, in even the smallest way. Sometimes you can’t avoid using a bridge or other platform that can move for your shot, but try to accommodate by using settings that minimise the exposure time without compromising the quality of the image.
Using unsocial hours is a good tip to avoid crowds, distractions or interruptions…early mornings are good.
Focus, and watch the shakes!
Another mistake that can be made when using a filter which the camera cannot automatically focus through is that, once you have focussed without the filter attached, you attach the filter and unfocus the lens in the process. Be sure to take extra care when reattaching the lens and be as gentle as possible. The slightest of touches to the lens could throw the focus out and ruin the image, something you might not notice until viewing the photo at home on a larger monitor than that on your camera.
Camera shake can also be caused by the camera itself, as it starts the exposure. Avoid the shake caused by pressing the shutter button by using a remote ans also use the ‘mirror lock’ function on your camera if it has one.
Do everything you can to get the shot right, setup is important.
School boy error
Dust spots! Easily reduced or eliminated by a simple cleaning cloth, so why did I forget to do this 5 second task before taking the photo. Never forget to complete even the most basic of things, such as cleaning the lens.
It’s all very well that we learn new, clever and often complicated ways to capture great images, but sorting the basics is just as important.
Rushed post processing
How ever long it takes to complete the post processing is worth it if your left with an image your proud of. An image that needs 20 hours work needs it for a reason, as does one which only require a few minutes. Never rush the processing and thing “that’ll do” is it won’t, and you won’t be as happy with your work as you could be.
Instead of looking like the lovely infrared images you might see on 500px or Flickr, my image is 2 tone and boring. Again, if the time had been taken to research post processing techniques then this would have improved the image considerably.
I’ve fabricated and exaggerated a lot of the above but, like a fashion show, take away from it the elements that will affect your photography in the future for the better, not the story as a whole. That said, I really don’t like the image and it could be a lot better, and will be next time! :)