Although infrared cameras capture little or no visible light, you still produce a color image in your camera. You can get creative with these colors depending on the type of conversion you have and your software. One favorite technique is the “blue-sky” effect. In this post, I’ll explore a couple of ways you can create this effect with different software packages.
If you’ve followed my or my photography over the years, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Nikon cameras and also Capture NX2 editing software. You’ve probably also noticed that I’ve been experimenting with Lightroom 4 recently, and I started teaching classes on it.
I made the move to digital photography from film in 2005. At that time, there were raging battles between Nikon and Adobe over things like “encrypted White Balance” and such. At that time, converting NEFs (Nikon RAW format) images with software other than Nikon Capture 4 (or later, Capture NX) was potentially risky. Early versions of Adobe Camera RAW and other programs sometimes created artifacts and rendered colors differently than what Nikon’s converter did.
The beauty of processing RAW files is that every setting is plastic and reversible. However, the initial conversion parameters set the baseline for exposure, contrast, and color rendition and differ with each RAW converter application. One thing that Nikon photographers point out is that they like their default (starting point) conversion to match the “as-shot” look (as viewed on the back of their camera) as closely as possible. This makes sense. If you like the look of Nikon’s Picture Control “Standard,” then it’s very convenient to see the initial image rendered this way when you open the RAW file. After that initial conversion, you can do whatever you want to process your image. Continue reading How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Convert NEFs with Lightroom 4→
A favorite creative style of mine is the “color-bleached” look with selective colorization. This technique can be particularly useful in HDR images because you can control the textures with different tone-mapping styles.
Here’s a brief overview of how you create this effect in HDR Efex Pro 2
After you merge your images, select a tone-mapping (Tone Compression) style that suits you. For this image, I went with the “Sharp” setting in the Drama control in HDR Efex Pro 2 to exaggerate contrast.
Then, dial in a slightly over-exposed look by adjusting the Exposure (brightness) slider to the right and fine-tuning the contrast controls to your liking. Then, apply a global de-saturation by setting the Saturation slider in the Color Panel to a value around -75% or so. This leaves a little color in the overall image.
Last, apply Control Points to the area(s) of the image you wish to colorize. Use the Saturation slider on the Control Point to add color back to those areas.
Tip: Create a saved preset for your global settings so that you don’t have to manually adjust every slider each time you want to apply this effect to your images.
The Nikon D800 has a 36x24mm (FX format) sensor with 36-megapixel resolution. How do you get the best quality from this amazing sensor? By using good technique and properly sharpening your images, of course. If you shoot JPEG with the D800/e, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you want to make large prints (or crop). In my initial testing, I’m seeing that the sharpening halos produced by the in-camera sharpening algorithms (Nikon Picture Controls) are a little too large to bring out the finest details. So, how should you attack your D800 images? I’ve taken a look at sharpening routines in three different programs: ACR 7.1/ Lightroom 4, Capture NX2, and Aperture. When you sharpen properly, you’ll be amazed at what pops out of the RAW files from the D800!
Before you begin, do keep in mind that no amount of sharpening is going to produce great results unless you’ve got a properly focused image and a well-supported camera. If you had camera shake or subject motion from a slow shutter speed, there isn’t much you can do.