Get the look of Aerochrome film with your infrared camera
I’ve been photographing the South Dakota Badlands and surrounding areas since 2005. This year, I took a different approach. Instead of photographing traditional sunrise/sunset landscapes, I instead focused entirely on infrared photography. This image is one of many that I captured during my South Dakota Infrared Photo Safari.
Late last year, I had my Nikon Z6 converted to full-spectrum infrared by Kolari Vision. This unique conversion lets both visible and infrared wavelengths reach the camera’s sensor. By itself, this conversion wouldn’t produce good images, but with filters, you can have any kind of infrared camera you want.
The Kolari Vision IR Chrome Lite filter works only with full-spectrum cameras, and produces results similar to Kodak Aerochrome film. Skies are blue/turquoise, and IR-reflecting substances like foliage are rendered orange or red. One nice thing about this filter is that you can process your images directly in Adobe Lightroom without having to use a custom camera profile; the standard color profiles included with Lightroom work just fine, provided you make the necessary white balance adjustments.
Rethinking the trade-offs in sensor size with modern digital cameras
If you follow my YouTube channel or The Image Doctors Podcast, you probably saw that I recently purchased a OM Digital Solutions (formerly Olympus) OM-1 body and an assortment of lenses. This is something I’d been contemplating for quite some time, given that the majority of my photography involves travel and wildlife. The OM-1 is not a perfect camera, but it has some features that make it extremely compelling for photographers who want professional quality in a vastly smaller package. It’s also far less expensive ($2199 USD) than a comparable 35mm format body (think Sony Alpha A1, Nikon Z8/Z9, Canon R5).
Each of these cameras is outstanding. They offer subject-detection based AF systems (including bird and vehicle detection), excellent in-body stabilization (IBIS), and high speed shooting of 20fps or greater for raw images using an electronic shutter and stacked sensor technology. The biggest difference then? Size. The OM-1 is a fairly small (1.3 lb) camera, but the lenses it uses are in some cases downright tiny. That one factor alone is what made me consider the OM System gear for my work.
The three newest lenses for Nikon Z-mount are now showing up in camera shops. These lenses are designed to cover Nikon’s DX format (APS-C) sensors, as found in the Nikon Z 50, Z fc, and Z 30 cameras. All three of these lenses appear to have a solid design and construction. Each one offers a 9-bladed diaphragm, weather sealing, and fast stepping motor AF
Photographing sloths, birds, and more at an upscale eco lodge
I’m flying home to Colorado after my third visit to Isla Bastimentos on Panama’s northwest Caribbean coast, and it was a fantastic visit. My journey started out in Panama City, where I checked in to a modern hotel downtown. As a side trip, I took a short Uber ride to the Metropolitan Nature Park in Panama City. I figured it would be an easy place to explore, and where I could check all the settings on my camera gear.
On this trip my primary camera was the Nikon Z9 paired with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Nikkor Z lens, and the Nikon 1.4x Z teleconverter. This camera and lens combination provides a focal length range from 140-560mm and a maximum aperture of f/8. I was also able to use the Nikon Z9’s DX crop mode, which narrowed the angle of view to effectively 840mm. Because the Nikon Z9 is a mirrorless camera, using DX crop mode magnifies the viewfinder image and improves autofocus accuracy. This comes at the expense of resolution, which drops from 45 to 19 megapixels in DX crop mode.
At the Nature Park, I photographed several bird species, including kingbirds, tanagers, and a squirrel cuckoo. I also encountered red-eared sliders (turtles), basilisk lizards (the fabled “Jesus Christ” lizard), and even a three-toed sloth. Of course, this particular sloth was basically just a ball of fur hunkered down at the top of a tall tree; hardly photogenic (more on this in a moment).
The next day, I greeted my photography clients as they checked in to our downtown hotel. After a brief welcome session, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at the hotel restaurant before retiring for the evening; we had a full day planned for tomorrow and needed to be ready for our morning tour to Monkey Island and the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary.
I’m off to Panama later this week to meet with clients on a weeklong wildlife photo safari. In Panama’s Bocas del Toro region, sloths are the featured highlight. In this region, you’re quite likely to encounter sloths actively feeding during the day. That’s because they aren’t subject to predation by Harpy eagles here (as they are in places like Costa Rica).
Nikon Z7 ii with Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF VR Nikkor lens