Del Mar Mesa in Infrared (14 photos)

I know, I know! 14 infrared photos from a single morning outing to Del Mar Mesa Preserve seems like a little bit much. I’ve had the infrared camera only for a couple of days, and was pretty excited when I saw how it seemed to cut through the clutter of the old-growth Scrub-oak and Mountain mahogany chaparral. Maybe it has to do with the duotone nature of the photos, maybe I had a particular good day, maybe I’ve gotten used to the place enough to feel comfortable making photos there, maybe I’m just nuts with the camera and chaparral. Or maybe a little bit of all?

I made and processed these photos about three weeks ago and I’ve let them sit and “marinate” until now. I’m still quite fond of them, so I’m putting them on the blog now, adding to the “what do things look like in infrared?” series.

These are mostly original infrared colors (ie. they’re not channel-swapped to get a blue sky, since there’s not a lot of sky in the photos anyway), except that I pushed the overall tint around a little bit to make the warm tones more apparent and, well, warmer.

So this answers the question what old-growth chaparral looks like in infrared. I hope you find the photos interesting (in a good way;-).

Some further observations and technical notes on infrared photography: this scenery would be quite challenging to photograph with a normal camera, in terms of dynamic range: it was partially sunny, with clouds slowly dispersing. Dappled sunlight, deep shadows and bright sky create situations that are extremely hard to capture adequately, if at all, with a single photo – at least with “normal” light.

This is not a problem at all with infrared photography. No exposure blending or HDR is necessary. Even in the most extreme situations, a single exposure is sufficient, and the dynamic range can be controlled in post processing (using Lightroom’s tone-mapping controls, ie. the Highlights & Shadows controls).

I wonder if it’s possible to somehow use an infrared photograph as a luminance mask for a photo that captures the normal light. It would require a full-spectrum converted camera and two exposures: one with a bandpass filter to capture the normal light wavelengths, and another one with an infrared filter. Not that I actually see myself doing this, but it’s an interesting thought.

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