Digital Innovations
Black & White And Infrared All Over; Don’t Overlook Your Digicam’s IR Capability

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A digicam's infrared capability is a feature that's sometimes overlooked when cameras are reviewed in Shutterbug and other publications. Lest you think digital IR capture is an esoteric pursuit, a Google search turned up 8,770,000 hits for "digital IR." By comparison, "gum bichromate" produced only 13,300 hits; that's esoteric.

My favorite filter for capturing digital IR images is Cokin's ( 89B and their modular system lets you attach it to almost any camera. Although you can capture a digital IR image in color and convert it to monochrome later, I prefer cameras that have a Black and White mode; so you can see the results directly. Yet, not all cameras with Black and White modes, such as the Canon EOS 20D, have IR capability, while others, including the Olympus E-300 EVOLT, have both Black and White mode and IR capability.

My photographs of this old farm have appeared many times in "Shutterbug," but shooting it in digital IR with the Olympus E-300 EVOLT makes it seem fresh. While there's not much living foilage in wintertime Colorado to provide the famous infrared glow, this image exhibits tonality that is uniquely IR. Image made at 1/8 sec at f/4.5 with an ISO of 400. Lens was a Digital Zuiko 14-45mm zoom at 19mm. (Above): The Imaging Factory's Convert to B&W Pro 3.0 has been redesigned with a re-sizable preview window, more user control, and the ability to save favorite settings for later use.
Photos © 2005, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

If your favorite digital camera doesn't have IR capability, you may be able to convert it. Check out the "IR Guy's" website ( for information on what cameras can be converted to IR and while there, take a look at some of the breathtaking examples made with his handiwork. After conversion your camera won't need a filter, making it easier to look through the viewfinder and hand holdable IR shots a possibility. I'll show you some examples after I receive the Canon EOS digital SLR he's converting for me right now.

Plug-In Of The Month
The best Photoshop compatible plug-in that's available for converting color image files to monochrome just got better. (See "Are Plug-Ins Dead?") The Imaging Factory's ( Convert to B&W Pro 3.0 has more user control than before and the ability to save favorite settings for later use. The floating control palette contains four tabs for adjusting all relevant parameters needed for conversion. The Prefilter tab lets you filter the original image to enhance or dampen certain color areas. The Color Response tab is like using different black and white film types when shooting a film camera and acts as a color equalizer. Convert to B&W Pro 3.0 automatically compensates exposure for prefiltering and color responses. For the Contrast tab, Ilford provided their original curves data allowing the Multigrade slider to set contrast that matches their traditional darkroom papers. Two different "Sepia" types are available: Tone is a graded transition that leaves whites pure, whereas Tint adds an overall color tint.

My photograph of "Stretch" at the Denver Zoo was made with a Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro at 1/250 sec at f/4.0 with an ISO of 400. Lens was a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom at 19mm.

Traveling Companion
Farace's Law Number 256: No matter how big your laptop's hard drive may be, it's not large enough to hold all of the images you'll shoot on your next trip. Lately I've been taking along a small, portable USB 2.0 hard drive in my camera bag. Pocketec's ( DataStor Mini measures 3.5x2.87x.43" and slips easily in your shirt pocket. The Mini is hot-swappable and bus powered so you don't have to lug around an AC adapter or worry about batteries. It's compatible with Mac OS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows so cross-platform sharing is a snap. Naturally, to achieve USB 2.0 speeds, your computer must be USB 2.0 enabled but it will work, albeit slower on a USB 1.1 connection. A 20GB DataStor Mini is $189, and a 40GB costs $249, so get the larger one and don't worry, be happy.