• 2022-11-01T00:35:49.071-07:00

    The Old Vet Tower. Massey University

     There are those shots where you can play with the composition, experiment with shutter speed, get it right! Then there are those times when it happens in front of you. no planning and you barely have time to get the shot. That was today!

    I was on my way to a meeting, when I heard the sound of crunching concrete, of falling debris, of a powerful diesel engine. I looked at my watch, I had maybe 5 minutes to find a composition (not easy in this overgrown area) and capture the image. The exposure was 3 and a half minutes.... so I just had to get on with it.

    I like the image, and it is in some ways its an historic image at least for me. This building has been part of the Massey landscape for many decades. It is going to be missed.


  • 2022-10-20T22:05:16.452-07:00

    Keeping Watch

    A few weeks ago, I made a last minute decision to join my camera club on a weekend away. You know how it goes, previously made plans fall through which gives opportunities for other things. The trip was quite brief, just two nights, but the forecast looked reasonable.

    I spent most of my time with Vicky and Pieter, we laughed, we wandered and we even found some interesting new places to photograph. Thanks to both of you for being so patient when my exposures drifted into the multi minute territories I enjoy so much. I have said this a few times and I will say a lot more in the future, I love how the unconverted 6D I have allows me to shoot long exposures no matter what time of day it is.

    The first image I want to share with you is from Lake Taupo. This was captured at around midday, on a bright sunny warm day. The waves lapped at my feet, the lake was a buzz with the sound of boats and jet ski's. But all of that fades into the background for this image. Why this composition, because of the contrasts. Not because of blacks and whites (although I do love the high key look), it's because of the subjects. In the distance you can see Mt Tauhara, in the foreground is Lake Taupo, the caldera of a super volcano which is active but currently sleeping. The final subject is the tree with the bird watching the world pass by. According to what I have read, the last major eruption from Lake Taupo (in around 220AD) started when an earthquake near Mt Tauhara cracked open the magma chamber beneath and allowed the magma from Mt Tauhara to flow into the magma chamber beneath Lake Taupo. This triggered an eruption which was calculated to be around 7 on the VEI scale, the largest eruption in the past 5000 years. So on the surface this image looks idyllic, if it was in colour you could even say post card material, but it tells a deeper story, of death and rebirth, beauty from tragedy.

    The details for this image are, unconverted Canon 6D mki using Magic Lantern firmware, Canon 24-105mm L lens at 95mm, 720 nm Zomei filter, ISO 50, 180 sec's, F11. Then processed in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.


  • 2022-09-24T12:13:32.681-07:00


     If there is one aspect I love about infrared above all else, it's the power to transform. Shooting in infrared is a technique, it in itself will not create a magical image. But the way it can change a scene, enhance it. The way it can bring out some items, while hiding others, makes it such a useful tool in the toolbox.

    I found this little scene at the beautiful Greenhaugh Gardens near Palmerston North. As winter has now turned to spring and the gardens are beginning to wake from their winter slumber, I like how the greens are beginning to change. This is where this infrared capture on my unconverted Canon 6d has come to shine. The longer shutter speed (10 minutes in this case as the clouds were quite heavy with the odd shower passing through) and the way the infrared capture has highlighted the lilypad's while darkening the water, has transformed this image in a way that 'normal' light didn't.

    I look forward to many more visits to this beautiful gardens and enjoying the transition through spring, summer and into autumn.


  • 2022-09-15T22:14:57.636-07:00

    Coming Into Leaf

     Just a quick post today. After yesterdays success, I decided to head back down to the domain this afternoon for my lunch break. The conditions were even better today with less wind and more warmth. By going a different way I found this nice composition. I like how the trees are changing each day at the moment.

    720nm Infrared filter, Exposure 180 seconds, F16 ISO, 100 Channel swapped in Photoshop

  • 2022-09-15T00:31:14.938-07:00

    Exploring New Tools - Magic Lantern

     This will be the third summer I have photographed in infrared. In the past two years I have noticed a trend. I am not sure if it is specific to infrared or more based in my nature. I find my interest in photographing in infrared wanes over the winter, comes to life in spring (with a bit of effort). Then in late summer or autumn I come into the possession of a new piece of gear, but too late to really get familiar with it.  

    The first summer, after exploring the possibilities of infrared, I managed to find a 77mm 720nm filter. The 77mm thread allowed me to use better lenses with a wider range of focal lengths, but with shipping delays it only arrived in April. Then last autumn, through a bizarre chain of events, I purchased the canon 6D which spawned this blog.

    Just because it hasn't been the greatest light to photograph with, it doesn't mean I have been idle. Quite the contrary. I have been getting to know the 6D better, the positives and the things I miss from my Canon 80D. I have also been looking at the possibilities, how the negatives can be lightened, reduced. 

    Two drawbacks that were highest on my list were:

    1. Extending exposures past 30 seconds through the use of a bulb timer
    2. Brightening the live view screen to make focusing easier

     Then one day, watching YouTube videos, I came across a video on the use of magic lantern on older DSLR's. Magic Lantern is an additional firmware layer that sits on top of the standard Canon firmware. Magic Lantern enables features that Canon have disabled or provides new code to mimic features provided in later camera models. Now this doesn't come without risks and this is laid out on their website. But most of the risks are around those features which work the camera harder than it was designed to. The features I was interested in though do not push the camera any harder, so I thought the risk was worth it.

    After a month using the Magic Lantern software, there are three great features which I have found very useful. Those being the bulb mode features, the additional controls in Live View mode and an unexpected feature, focus peeking. The image below used all of these features, with an exposure time of three minutes.

     So if you are using a Canon DSLR camera that is supported by the Magic Lantern software and you have issues similar to mine, then maybe spend some time considering if you could benefit from this. I hope you found this article helpful, and I look forward to posting more over the coming months as I get to know this camera better. Only a week to go till spring :)

  • 2022-06-13T16:22:04.262-07:00

    Virginia Lake Part 2

     When people first use a camera, they are full of hope. They expect to see the images they capture look exactly like they did when they pressed the button. This expectation is so powerful, that to most it's not till they look closer they see the difference. This can lead to frustration, and for some a learning curve that allows them to master the skill.

    With time and experience we learn to use that difference to our advantage. We learn to use the flaws and short comings to see the world in a more creative way. To see things our eyes cannot see unaided. Longer exposure times allow us to see the passage of time. Faster lenses allow us to separate the subject from the surroundings and see the wonders of the night sky. Through the use of filters we can see wavelengths of light far outside the normally visible range.  

    This is the power of photography, as Marcel Proust put it "not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.". To see the world as it is, not the world we glance at occasionally. To ask the questions most wouldn't even think of. In this case I had one question, how does autumn colour look in infrared. Does the red colouring of the leaves make them glow less? The image below is one answer to that question, but with different light strengths, warmer or cooler days, or time of day, there is so much to explore. 

    What questions do you have?

  • 2022-05-12T22:43:06.898-07:00

    Virginia Lake - Whanganui

     Virginia Lake in Autumn is a beautiful place to spend a few hours. Warm sunshine on your back, autumn colours adorning the trees. To top it all off, Les had found time in his weekend to join me for the afternoon walk. But as we began our walk, the clouds filled in, and that beautiful sunshine became a more fleeting prospect. That wasn't part of the plan! The weather forecast had promised broken cloud.   

    With the unconverted 6D, the lower light levels made live view focusing a lot more challenging. So the change of light would mean a change in approach. Actually it was an idea I had been considering anyway so in some ways I suppose it was a great time to test it. What was the new approach? Remove the filter from the lens, explore, compose, focus (using the infrared mark), then reattach the filter and photograph. This approach will take more time, but on the other side it is like taking your camera off a tripod to compose the next shot, it allows you to be more intentional.  

    Of course infrared photography will not render the scene you see in front of you. That is the best part of infrared photography, its ability to reveal the surprising. Light snobs beware, flat mid day light can yield surprising results. In normal light photography, we are hunting the best light, the unusual, the dramatic. Why are we doing that, I think it is in part, because we have seen it in every other light so often. We are looking for new and interesting. But in infrared, everything is new. Swathes of green foliage in normal light, turn into a collage of colours, tones and textures in infrared.

    The image above appears to be captured in a wintry frost, cold and silent. But instead it is a infrared image, processed in Adobe Lightroom and then channel swapped in Photoshop. For the photographers, this image is made up of 6 exposures, each of images were captured with the settings of ISO 400, the aperture was F8 and shutter speed was 30 sec's. These images were then combined to make a single exposure which was effectively three minutes long. This longer exposure turns the flowing river into something that looks very calm and peaceful.

    This is the first of a few images from this walk around the lake, more will be coming in the next few blog posts. If you have a question, leave it in the comments.



  • 2022-05-01T22:57:46.403-07:00

    Welcome to the Blog

     There are somethings which people have difficulty understanding. Things that go against the social norms that seemed ingrained in our cultural fabric. I am not talking about the big things like hate speech, or shaming. I mean those personal likes and dislikes. Those choices which most people assume "everybody" likes. A great example is that my mum doesn't like chocolate.  Another example is one of my daughters doesn't like cheese. I myself don't like coffee. I mean, how can you not like coffee! I have heard that one many times. These are the choices which in some ways make us us.

    Why do we like that but not like this. Was it built into our DNA, or was it the result of a bad experience? Does it really matter? Will it change one day, who knows? Matters of loves and likes, of pet peeves and obsessions, who knows where they begin. Whatever their origin, there is no getting around it we like what we like.

    Recently I found another one of those social norms, at least among those few people which photograph in infrared. The choice to convert a camera to just capture infrared light. If you have a spare camera and do the conversion, it costs about $500-600, and the conversion is done overseas so a little more needs to be added on for shipping. Once converted the camera in many ways will act like every other camera, the only difference being rather than capturing normal light, you will be capturing the reflected infrared light. 

    Like many I wanted to dip my toe in the water, experiment a little. I wanted to see if this was something I was ready to spend the money on. Before doing the conversion, there is another option. That is to use a screw on infrared filter to block the 'normal' light. If the Infrared blocking filter in your camera allows enough infrared light through to make 10 to 30 second exposures, then with a tripod you can have some fun.

    The idea of capturing images in infrared has intrigued me for a while. Particularly the black and white images captured by some of the greats. At first a dabble here and a dabble there, but it wasn't an enjoyable process. But in early 2021, after meeting another infrared photographer, and some new ideas,  I decided to put both feet in, pull out that old Hoya 720 nm filter and give it a go. This time I aimed to do it for the whole four day trip. But there was one problem, the Hoya had a 58mm thread, did I even have a lens that would fit it. After rummaging through those items we keep, you know the ones, the gear at the back of the closet in a box, the stuff we have given up on. I found a canon 18-55 mm kit, yes it feels like plastic, lens. So I had an unconverted camera, a cheap and cheerful lens, an idea and a hope something might work. I was prepared to fail, to give up like I had before. Many unconverted cameras block so much light that the exposures need to be 5 minutes or longer, at high ISO to even make an image, some cameras block all infrared light. 

    Seen Better Days - Canon 6d, 17-40 mm L lens (30 sec, f5,6 ISO 400)

    I have since learnt that the way the Canon 80 D handles infrared is not typical. It appears that the quality of the infrared blocking filter to block IR light is a sliding scale. To take normal light pictures the infrared blocking filter needs to be good. But nothing is one hundred percent perfect. Where the infrared blocking filter begins to block infrared light and how steep that curve is is a matter of cost and design. The second sliding scale I found is the quality of the sensor and the Live View capabilities. Canon's cheaper cameras tend to have difficulty with the quality of the live view image when looking through an infrared filter. Canons more expensive cameras have problems with the infrared blocking filter blocking more of the infrared light. The 80D (and the 90D) seems to fall in that Goldilocks zone.

    In that four day holiday at the beginning of 2021 I discovered two things. I loved the way that the infrared images looked, in fact it simplified the way I created some images. The second was I liked the way that this combination of camera and filter enabled me to capture long exposure images whenever I wanted to. Normally if I wanted to do long exposure images in the midday sun I would need a 15 stop filter, and they are not cheap. I was hooked. 

    But now you are thinking this blog is called the Unconvert6D, not Unconvert80D? Recently I had the fortune to buy a Canon 6D. The full frame nature of this camera I hope will allow me to create images with more depth. But being a more expensive camera, how would it handle infrared light? The Canon 5D mk IV I tried did not do that well. But after a few weeks I can now say I am pretty happy with the results and the step up in quality. The blocking filter is a little better, a slight negative, but then so is its sensor which is a positive to balance that out.

    This blog is going to be about my journey into the world of infrared, with a tripod in one hand and my unconverted 6D in the other. I hope you enjoy the journey and if you too shoot infrared I would love to see your approach.

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