Elfin Forest in infrared (3 photos)

On my quest to find out “what do things look like in infrared?” I visited Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve near Escondido early in June. The riparian areas down by Escondido Creek are actually fairly similar to Los Peñasquitos Canyon, but I think the creek crossings are far more photogenic, so I went back to make some photos of flowing water, dragging the shutter as usual, but in infrared of course.

As I write this, an infestation with the Shot Hole Borer has been confirmed in Elfin Forest and all trails are closed to help limit its spread. I sincerely hope that they’ll manage to get this infestation under control somehow, or at least that it won’t get too bad. I don’t know if it’s true for this particular borer but in general, a lot of our vegetation is in distress from the ongoing drought – which makes it far more vulnerable to pests. :-/

Some technical bits: I found it particularly interesting that it is better to not use a polarizing filter when making photos of water with an infrared camera – the water appears very dark in infrared, and the surface reflection really helps to preserve the look and appearance of water.

With regards to the processing, these are “normal” color infrared photos – the red and blue channels have not been swapped (you can tell by the bits of “orange” looking sky peeking through the canopy of trees in the first photo). I did manipulate the colors, simply by using the controls in the “Camera Calibration” panel in Lightroom.

For normal color photos, this is not a section that I would recommend to use too much, unless you like completely false colors. A slight manipulation of the primary color’s hues can have an interesting effect where colors look just a bit “off” which can add some character to a photo (digital photos are often very neutral and/or bland in that regard, except for white balance).

For these photos, I’ve been shifting the shadow tint as well as the green and blue primary color hues around quite a bit, and I particularly like the rendition of the second photo.

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