Can You Believe This is NOT Photoshopped?

I’m so excited to share with you my first infra red photographs! I’ve wanted a camera that could take infra red photos since I first heard that they existed. I know my readers have different levels of experience when it comes to photography, some of you are experts and some of you are, like me, just stepping out with artistic photography so it was hard to make this article readable without being too technical or patronising.

I decided to make  this my second entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract because the challenge was to make the familiar unfamiliar, and it’s certainly done that. Scroll down for the two best photos (last two) or have a read of the journey behind this photograph.

For those of you who have never come across infra red (IR) photography, it’s not the heat-detection infra red (Far Infra Red) but it’s near-infra red, so it’s only a tiny bit outside the visible light spectrum (what we can usually see).  Infra red light comes from the sun and is reflected off everything just like regular light.

As you can see from the lead picture, it’s very different to the infra red cameras that the police use on those police chase shows, this doesn’t detect body heat and can’t see what you ate for breakfast (eww), this is MUCH more beautiful and artistic, and I fell in love with IR photography the first time I saw pictures, when I was putting a presentation together for a science lecture about 3 years ago. I swore that day that, when I had the money, I’d buy a camera that could do infra red (not the app on the iphone or the Photoshop setting that edits pictures to look like they’re IR when they’re not), and so when I bought my camera for Youtubing and photography, I made sure it would be able to do this by pointing the TV remote control at my camera.  I saw the red beam through my digital viewfinder, so I knew my camera could take IR pictures, now it just needed the right filter.

I bought a £10 filter for my camera and it arrived just before the sun left for winter. You don’t need a sunny day, but you do need bright natural light for IR photography to work – outdoors, natural features, midday-ish works best. A tripod isn’t mandatory but it will help.

Today, FINALLY, I got around to trying out my IR filter.
This is what the first picture looked like:

Infrared photography problem

Disappointed wasn’t the word. What was wrong with my camera???  Was the cheap lens filter I bought a dud?
So I fiddled around with the settings wondering why nobody on the internet seemed to have an article entitled: Infra red photography picture went black.
I changed a few things around and kicked myself.
It was too dark because, while I’d turned the shutter speed to max, I’d also dropped the ISO to 100 (the lowest on my camera).
When I wrote that presentation, 3 years ago, I remember reading that ISO has to be really really high for IR photography to work.  That’s why some cameras can’t do it.
So I flipped it up to 12,800 and hit the shutter to auto detect, and magically, I got this:

infrared photography problems
Okay so it’s not much but getting any image, however slight, proved that the principle was right and I was on the right track.

After fiddling around with the settings, refining the focus etc, I finally got both of these:

infrared photo canon eos 650d
I don’t think I could be more proud of this picture right now. It took so much trial and error. Taken on Canon EOS 700D with Infrared Filter.
Infrared photography of a tree in next door's garden. Taken on Canon EOS 700D (no modifications) with IR filter.
Infrared photography of a tree in next door’s garden. Taken on Canon EOS 700D (no modifications) with IR filter.

As you can see I need to practice – the hardest thing is focussing without autofocus or a viewfinder (you literally cannot see what you’re going to get) because the lens I’m using doesn’t have a “lock focus.”  Some lenses have a little graph on the side to help you focus accurately but this one doesn’t.  I think trial and error is going to be the case with every photo.

Another thing I want to improve about these pictures is that, as you can see in the last picture, distortion from vignetting is really bad when you tilt the camera at a high angle from the ground, I don’t know whether that’s down to the longer wavelength of infra red light, but it seems fine when the angle is closer to horizontal.

All in all though I’m really excited to be trying out this new form of photography to capture the beauty of the natural world, and if you’re looking to do the same, I highly recommend this £10 lens filter that I used (this one is for the standard 18-55mm lens that comes with the Canon camera, if you wanted to use a different lens, check the width of the front of the lens to make sure the filter fits; either way these filters are pretty cheap).

None of these images have been edited in any way they’ve come straight off my memory card from my camera and I resized them to fit WordPress; I’m so excited I want to do more and refine my technique!!!

Please ask any questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them but I’m definitely not an IR photography expert!!

What I used for infrared photography:

Camera:  Canon EOS 700D (no special conversions or anything)

Lens: 18-55mm standard kit lens (here in the UK)

Lens Filter: 58mm infrared lens filter (US) available here in the UK

IMPORTANT NOTE ON LENS FILTER: IT MUST FIT THE WIDTH OF YOUR LENS, IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO BUY LENS FILTERS, MEASURE THE DIAMETER OF YOUR LENS BEFORE BUYING A FILTER! The lens filter is available in different sizes, it doesn’t need to fit the camera, it needs to fit the front of the lens because it screws onto the front!! Sorry for the shouty capitals but it would be a huge shame if someone got the wrong size lens filter by accident.

This article contains links to Amazon via Amazon Associates.

Brussels, Belgium: Solo Interrail Part 2

Seconds after writing this and publishing it, I found out that Brussels airport and metro have been attacked in the last couple of hours by terrorists and it’s still unfolding.  I am completely shocked and disgusted that this has happened.  Nobody deserves this but Brussels is such a lovely place, nothing bad should ever happen there.  I hope everyone can get to safety and that they catch the monsters responsible.  Terrorists are so utterly evil, but how could even they do this?  What has Brussels ever done to offend anyone?  I am crying right now because this is so shocking.  My heart goes out to everyone in Brussels and all of Belgium right now, and everyone affected by this in any way.

Okay so I may have gotten one tiny detail wrong last week.  I didn’t get straight on a train with the intent of going to Belgium from Paris.  The Parisian Lecher was basically trying to get me to stay in Paris with him and I told him that if there were no trains to Venice then I would just go back home, and I bought a reservation to Calais. After making myself feel less disgusting in the train bathroom I pored over my maps of Europe and tried to work out a route over the Alps to Italy. I wasn’t going to let one bad experience ruin the whole trip.

I jumped off the train at Lille (France) and continued to Mons (Belgium), which was the interchange to Brussels.  As soon as you get into Belgium it’s really obvious that you’re not in France any more, because the Belgians are really big on their art-deco style, and you can see it everywhere.  It’s so classy and 1920s, and it’s very easy to see why this is the land of Hercule Poirot.  I was relieved I didn’t have to go all the way back to Calais, and after the stress of Paris, Belgium was just delightful.  From the moment I stepped off the train in Brussels and saw signposts in English, I knew I was somewhere friendly.

From my travel journal:

“…They have an open tourist information centre, which is in the train station (which has a shopping-centre-like layout map) and it can reserve hotel rooms and give you area maps.  It’s dead good.  So I’ve had a long, thorough shower, changed my clothes and am sitting on an actual bed in an actual hotel room.  And there’s a delicious box of Belgian chocolate truffles in reaching distance.

This evening I plan to have a meal out then plan my next move – likely to Luxembourg or Stuttgart,maybe Cologne.  I won’t continue to wax lyrical about Brussells.  All I will say is firstly, Belgium deserves its reputation for food and chocolate (they even make the vegetables taste amazing)*  I ate a boiled chicken and seasonal vegetables meal with a creme brulee dessert.  Secondly, the architecture of Brussells is way underrated.  The city’s up there with the big tourist centres as a really beautiful place – only Brussells is totally friendly.  I am staying at the Argus Hotel near Metro Louise, amongst the high-end shopping area (Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Sonia Rykiel etc), and it’s tariff says E110 on the door but I paid significantly less.

Later still:  I have looked over my map and decided to go to Stuttgart tomorrow from Bruxelles (via Frankfurt) aiming to be on the 11:59 (lmao) train from Bruxelles Midi Station (just in case I forget tomorrow).  This will give me plenty of extra time to buy a necklace and also to postcard-shop and take some photos, although if I keep snapping I’ll run out of disposable cameras!”

*At the time, I wasn’t the biggest fan of specific vegetables.  Looking back, I genuinely have no idea what I was eating.  Fast forward 6 months and vegetables were all I ate, because I went vegan!!

Scan_Pic0009

brussells2
The Art Deco dining room in Bruxelles’ Argus Hotel, showcasing the main drawback of old fashioned film-cameras – you had to wait until the picture was developed before you could see how (or if) it had come out.
brussells1
Somewhere in Belgium – Belgium was full of rather delightful architecture.
brussells4
This was a stunning light and water display in a shopping centre in Brussels. Once again the disposable camera didn’t quite capture the moment.

What I learned in Belgium:

One of the things that really surprised me at the time was how lovely Belgium is, and it’s completely underrated among the under 30’s.  Having seen more of the whole country now, I think it’s a delightful destination and well worth a visit if you like a classy travel experience (rather than a non-stop party).  If that sounds duller than a dry white wine,  Brussels (or Belgium for that matter) probably isn’t the place for you.  I did actually go back to Brussels in 2014, when my husband and I just dropped into Brussels for dinner (we were hungry, and I’ll link the story here when I get to it), and I still think it’s an incredibly sophisticated destination with unparallelled food.  In terms of ambience, it’s probably how Paris was forty or fifty years ago and it makes for a good romantic getaway because it’s not packed with tourists but it’s still very ambient.

The main thing I learned though was that there’s a reason people don’t use disposable cameras any more. At the time, I thought it was the amount of space they take up.   Actually, I didn’t learn about the photo quality difference for several years – I have always believed that film-cameras are way better than digital, and I think I was right until the last couple of years, when digital cameras finally started having a good enough resolution (number of megapixels) to be able to produce better pictures, and we finally got a unified digital storage method (SD cards) with a reasonable amount of storage per card, at an affordable price.  There was a long time when there were so many different types of memory cards for different cameras and devices, that it was pointless buying either cameras or cards because as soon as they stopped making the cards, the camera was useless, and as soon as the camera broke, you had to buy a new set of different cards for the new camera, it was all the most ridiculous situation because of compatibility (and that’s if we don’t get started on those stupid wires we had to use to upload stuff – how many different connectors does the world need?  I’m so glad that 99% of everything uses a micro USB these days).

There’s a world of difference between a disposable camera and a regular camera, however, and one of the key differences is aperture.  Disposable cameras (and those cheap non-disposable fixed focus 35mm cameras that everyone used to have) have a fixed aperture that’s optimized for daytime holiday shots in the sort of light you get in the Mediterranean.  That’s why these tend to come out acceptably on them.  But they’re really not useful at all in low-light settings such as evenings or indoors in certain places.

Nowadays, I use a DSLR camera and I have a bridge camera as my backup.  Yes, a DSLR is heavier, and OH MY GOD it was so expensive, but it’s worth it to get stunning pictures first-time-every-time when I’m on a once in a lifetime trip or at a concert.

Read part 3 of my Interrail journey here
To see my articles on photography, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons (Autumn)

This week’s photo challenge is to do with seasons; seasons as a reflection of your inner landscape.  I am thinking I’d like to do one for each season, but today I feel Autumn.
Being born in November, I guess I’m more prone to feeling Autumn than most people – the feeling that summer is over and winter is coming, and all you can do is watch as the temperature goes down and the wildlife runs for cover from the blizzards.  I think this picture sums it up, as the rabbit stares out at the dwindling stalks of grass:

autumn bunny
Fifer, Taken in October 2015.  Taken with Sigma 18-250mm lens.

Here’s where I found the weekly photo challenge: Seasons

Photography 101: How to set up a shot

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”
– Edward Weston

These is my easy method for setting up a shot with a DSLR camera, there’s no “rules” here about what should be in the photo itself, because rules are subjective when it comes to photography.  I have been ill with man-flu for the past couple of days and am still burning through tissues at a fair rate of knots, so I’m going to keep this article very short and sweet.  It’s aimed at people who have just bought their first DSLR and perhaps don’t know how to set up a shot so it comes out really well (without resorting to the automatic settings).  Why bother?  Because if you take a decent picture on the spot, then you don’t have to waste any time messing around with photo-editing software when you get home:

1. Identify what you want to take a picture of.

2. Find the landscape (if it’s a picture with a landscape). Usually but not always a horizontal line between land and sky. If you have a diagonal landscape e.g. in the Scottish Highlands, set your camera up using the upward lines from buildings.  If you have a tripod you can just use its spirit level.

3. Identify light levels and do a test shot (snap a quick pic to check whether it all looks ok).

4. Fix ISO (you want it at the lowest number you can set it to without getting a black photo back).

5. Fix aperture (a low number brightens the picture if it’s too dark, and vice versa).

6. If picture is still too dark, slow down your shutter speed until you get a bright enough picture.  1/8 is the lowest number this should be unless you’re doing a “long exposure” shot.  If you’ve got to take it below 1/8 to get a bright enough picture of a non-moving subject, or a landscape, then increase the ISO.  If there’s anything moving in the picture, you probably don’t want to go beyond 1/80 shutter speed because the moving object will start to blur; in this case, increase the ISO to get a brighter picture instead.

7. If picture is too bright, increase your shutter speed to darken the picture.

8. Zoom (if your lens does this) if you need to. This might change the aperture as some lenses (my Sigma 18-250mm does this) make the picture noticeably darker as they zoom in on something.

9. Focus using the manual focus ring (or autofocus).  On most cameras you need to flip the switch from “AF” to “MF” to manually focus.  This switch is generally on the lens.

10. Take at least two pictures just in case one doesn’t come out right. Check the first one in the viewfinder to make sure you’re satisfied, if not, repeat steps 2-10 until you’re happy with the result.

11. If all your pictures are coming out too dark and you’ve tried everything else, increase the ISO as a last resort.  I will talk about ISO in more detail in a future article because it’s important to know when NOT to change it.

There are exceptions to all of these rules, and after the first couple of thousand photos, you will start to develop the judgement to know instinctively what to do with your camera in specific situations.

Did I miss anything?  Let me know in the comments!

Breaking News… Again

So I was driving my car this morning when I drove past an accident… then 500 yards away there was a second accident at the top of the same road.  I, of course, being the heartless photographer that I am, lamented not having my DSLR camera with me (with the telescopic lens) and instead only managed to snap a few terrible shots with my cameraphone.  It was a fairly minor accident in the end although the cyclist looked unconscious when I saw him, so maybe he was going into shock (I don’t actually know the gender but I suspect male).

Anyway, I contacted the local paper where I was driving and sent in my photos – and this afternoon, they’ve published one of them with the updated article. Turns out they’d only been aware of one of the accidents before I called.  You can read the article here (mine’s just the second photo):

The article with my photo.

Eek I used my real name. Am I ready to link the two together indelibly??? I figured after I accidentally linked you a webcomic (which I’d written my name on when I was naive and thought that was how copyright worked), either y’all don’t care or my stalkers are biding their time. Either way, for the record, Jasmine Honey Adams are all legally parts of my name. Sorry to be a bitch but for future employment purposes, any comments using my real name will be deleted for the time being.  Sorry folks, I had to delete the link as someone’s getting obsessive a few days after I joked about stalkers.

I guess I just keep being in the right place at the right time.

I’m back, I’m back, SHAM-OWN! You know I’m back, I’m back, you know it (woo)…

First, the Seroquel saga continues as I await a pharmacy that actually stocks the dosage.  Apparently they should have specified time release on the Rx then I could have got it fulfilled at 5 different pharmacies.  That was my day wasted.  All else I did today was the school run (I would have sent him in with an apple for the teacher, but he IS the teacher and he detests apples.  I did consider putting ribbons in his little ringlets but he went with the Health and Safety ponytail which is fair when you’re in a room where you get to burn things).  And I had two different hours of therapy.  There’s the psychotherapy in the morning and the EMDR for PTSD in the afternoon.  Tuesday was a busy day.  And an expensive one.  But both approaches have their advantages and I’ll discuss them once I’ve spent more time doing them both.

Then, there’s the trip to London which I got back from yesterday evening.

Friday I bought myself two new camera lenses, an 18-250mm one for close and far stuff (the zoom is IMMENSE and the wide angle is BEAUT), and a 40mm lens for lightweight snaps, and for times I need a sharper image.  Such as when I’m making youtube vids.  The best things about the 40mm are a) it sounds like a James Bond gun. b) it doesn’t have an official Ultra Silent Motor, but it’s motor is the QUIETEST EVER and c) It’s the smallest lens that canon make.  oh and d) its aperture is the best I could afford and better than the other two lenses.

I’m so glad I tried the lenses out as I would have bought the 50mm on Amazon and it was WAY less good than the 40mm (and 50mm doesn’t sound like a James Bond gun, it sounds like a Duke Nukem gun: Hail to the KING baby).  I bought them from Park Cameras off Oxford Street in London (Tottenham Ct Rd end of Ox St), and they had a selection of new and quality second hands, and if you take your camera they let you try out lenses on your camera so you can see what you like.  I saved a LOT of money compared to buying these lenses online (like, I saved £300-ish).  The staff are all knowledgable about cameras too – so I also found out why my original lens was so crap – it wasn’t original to the camera, it was older, so whenever the previous owner sold my camera to Cash Converters, they kept the original lens to my camera and bunged their older, more crap one on it instead.  Bastard.  I wouldn’t have minded but it arrived WITHOUT A GODDAMN LENS CAP.  Who treats an expensive DSLR like that????  I’ll put sample pics up when my computer isn’t infested with some weird spyware or AIDS or something.
I also bought myself a camera microphone.  I treated myself to a RODE branded one from an audio shop off Tottenham Court Road and early indications are that it is going to be perfect.

My workshop was great on Saturday and I was really psyched to find out that the originator for this whole theory/technique came up with it as a way for traumatized musicians to re-find their voices after surviving WWI as conscripted soldiers in Germany (he moved immediately to France and later turned his efforts to helping traumatised Jews escaping the Nazi regime).

However, something must have hit a nerve or something because on Sunday I really didn’t feel well at all and I couldn’t go to the second day which was a shame because I was looking forward to taking it all further.  It took 4 hours, but I felt a bit better by the afternoon and went into the City and took some pics (which are travelly so I’ll devote a whole article to them.  I might do a whole nother article on the shops you can find in Mayfair because it’s an impressive collection.  There were TWO Maseratis illegally parked).

I then went to have an unplanned and therefore VERY detailed consultation at Victoria’s Secret in Mayfair, which is on New Bond Street, at the other end to Tiffany’s (which is where New BS becomes Old BS; and which I did NOT let myself near until I was certain it had closed for the day, and even then I only took photos from the other side of the road just in case I got tempted to go online on my phone and make a purchase.  Hells to the NO I didn’t set foot in there, because I has ALL OF THE WILLPOWER).

I did however go to Vic’s S. as mentioned above, and I did get a thorough and informative and friendly consultation whilst dressed top to toe in mens clothing (excepting underwear) and wearing men’s shoes (not intentional, just happened to throw it all on that a.m.).  So full points for professionalism.

ALL.  OF.  THE.  WILL.  POWAH.  Tiffany and Co Old Bond Street London.
ALL. OF. THE. WILL. POWAH. Tiffany and Co Old Bond Street London.

At Vic’s S. they don’t just wrap a tape measure round your squishies then truss you up in elastic, they start by taking your name, and introducing themselves (I know it’s like they buy you dinner first), then they ask what type of bras you like, then they measure you, give you some samples to try (that are kept for the express purpose of ascertaining which type of bra you like) then they tick on your personalized consult card to tell you what bras you liked, they write your size on the card, and tell you where (in the 4 floor store) to find the bras you’ve been matched with, where you find them in a range of colors, accents and lace options.  I chose to ignore all the advice from my consult and bought myself a nice front zipping underwired sports bra in black.  Because I almost exclusively wear sports bras (TMI, I know).  I also bought the AMAZINGLY SCENTED body lotions I’d been craving ever since someone brought me back a sample set from Florida about 5 years ago, and I’m so glad I did because now I can smell like that again EVERY DAY.  I haven’t used any of them yet, but occasionally I’ve popped the lids of one or other and just inhaled the delightful scent.

BRB.

Ohhh…..

Love Spell and Pure Seduction you both smell sooooo good!

*does that Homer Simpson drooling thing*

Must not eat them.

Ahem…

Anyway, my laptop was doing a strange thing when I got back so I’m not sure what’s wrong with it but both Hijack This and Malwarebytes are embroiled in fisticuffs trying to detangle why my security log and internet history have been edited while I was away.  HMMMM…

Also Banacek was apparently too lazy to get up to eat today, so he did it lying down:

That's right... he is the laziest rabbit.  If Winnie the Pooh came to visit, he'd have no trouble getting back out of THIS rabbit's house.  Banacek has actually chewed the entrances to his play boxes so he can fit better.
That’s right… he is the laziest rabbit. If Winnie the Pooh came to visit, that bear would have no trouble getting back out of THIS rabbit’s house (although I think they may fight each other to the death over who got to eat the Hunny). Banacek has actually chewed the entrances to his play boxes so he can fit better.

And speaking of Honey, as y’all probably know, it’s my middle name.  Jasmine Honeysuckle is actually the name my mother gave me when I was born, she was told by the Catholic priest at my Christening that this name was no good and that there had never been any Saint Jasmine or Saint Honeysuckle (he cancelled my Christening over this) so she changed it to something more traditional.  I am NOT having the word “suckle” anywhere in my name, so when I recently experienced name dysphoria (before I knew it was gender-related), I changed it (unofficially) to Jasmine Honey about a month before my mum died, then she died and I never got a chance to finish connecting with my new name and make it legal etc.  Honey Jasmine had been my preferred configuration but I wanted to eliminate Jasmine first since that was the way I was originally named.  And it’s all gone down the krapper and stuck.  My acquaintances (all except my ex-best-friend/unrequieted-whatnot) have all been very good with this, although when I started pinpointing major genderqueer-ies (gender queries?) I felt Jasmine wasn’t my best fit first name.  So for the past few months I’ve not really thought of myself in terms of actually HAVING a name.  Which I’ve been happy with, I don’t need a label, I know who I am.  But society insists on calling me words and medical types insists on repeating my full legal ‘name’ several times per sentence to show they know who I am (when they do this it really alienates me from them further).  So I’m thinking of swapping it around to Honey Jasmine (etc).  The only issues are, a) I’d have the same initial and part-last-name as my mum (and that’s a bit weird given all the medically-diagnosed-PTSD she caused me) and b) I feel a bit bad because my dad chose my legal, re-registered names but they’re terrible I hate them and don’t recognize them to respond to because all my life nobody ever called me my registered names.  Apparently it’s been so long since anyone last called me Jasmine, and I see people so infrequently that no-one uses my name to my face, that I don’t seem to be able to associate with it any more either.  That’s very sad.

People call me Honey a lot.  And it’s simultaneously stupidly gendered and still non-gendered.  Which kinda makes it more androgynous.  Like me.  And while it sounds like a porn name, go and google Jasmine Honey and see what comes up.  Or search it on Twitter.  There is a real porn star with my actual name.  Just saying.  It’s hard to rise to prominence on the internet when you keep wondering whether your followers are waiting for you to get your double G’s out, then they see your itty bitty C’s half hidden by a fake moustache and they send you hate mail (which, having received both, is very slightly better than wank-mail but still).

I know there are a few better names out there than Honey, but I’m saving them for when I have kids.  Plus Honey is familiar and comfortable.  Icons with the name being Honey Rider and Miss Honey from Matilda.  Or maybe I should keep Jasmine and stop over thinking this.  I’m considering something else as well, but I just don’t know right now.  Imma think about this s’more before I do anything irreversible like change my Twitter name m’kay…

And I got my manuscript completely edited (and somehow added about 5000 words to it in the process) and sent back to the editors to double check.  Now I’m waiting to find out if it’s getting the go ahead or needs editing further.  I canNOT edit without a list written by a responsible person.

And here’s the video that the title is a reference to:

So let me tell you once again – Who’s Back!

So that’s been my whirlwind of a past few days, how’ve you been?  Let me know in the comments!