Keeping Sensitive To IR’s Needs

Tripping With Infrared Film • Running Out Of Walls • How To Go Pro • Waiting For Long Exposures

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tech tips
Digital infrared is only a camera conversion away. This image was taken on Molokai, Hawaii, with a converted Canon EOS D60 camera using an EF 15mm fish-eye lens at 1/45 sec., ƒ/11 and ISO 200.

Tripping With Infrared Film

I’m traveling to Patagonia, and I want to carry 35mm infrared film. What suggestions do you have regarding how to get it through international (Argentinean) security? Will they absolutely insist that the film be removed from the canister?
D. Owen
Via the Internet

No one knows what Argentinean security may do, much less TSA in U.S. airports. Infrared film is indeed much more sensitive than black-and-white or color film.
You’ll have to decide if carrying the film is worth the risk.

One of the advantages of switching to digital is that you no longer have problems with carrying film through security. In this case, just carry an additional camera body that has been converted to infrared. If you shoot Nikon, something like a D100 or D200 will suffice; for Canon, the EOS 40D or an earlier body would work. Digital cameras are sensitive to infrared light, but a cutoff filter works to keep the infrared light from being recorded and interfering with the desired color. If the filter is replaced with one that allows only infrared light to record, you have infrared capabilities that far exceed what you can capture on infrared film. You can have the camera converted at a number of reliabl vendors: Life Pixel (, IRDigital ( and MaxMax ( Before you balk at carrying another camera, think about how annoying it is to have a body tied up with infrared film when you need to shoot color or regular black-and-white film.

Running Out Of Walls
My walls are full, and there’s seldom a chance to get out a digital projector to showcase my work from a recent trip. Any suggestions?
J. Fawcett
Victorville, California

An elegant way of showcasing a group of images is to produce your own coffee-table book. There are several companies that make beautiful leather-bound book covers in various sizes; 8×8, 12×12 and 12×15 are standard sizes. The manufacturers offer a wide variety of paper styles, surfaces and weights that can be printed on both sides on your own inkjet printer, bound between the covers and protected by vellum interleaves. To contain and protect the book, some products include a classy sleeve on which you can display a special presentation print representative of the book’s contents. Because the pages are easily replaced and reordered, you can continuously refresh the content to highlight your most current work, or you can have a bookcase full of bound special editions for each of your important trips or themes. Indeed, this new media can take your work far beyond the old plastic-covered, adhesive pages and photo corners. With a little research into principles of design, you can print your own book and easily make copies for friends and relatives who might want one of their own. An excellent example of portfolio books and products is the Chinle series from Moab by Legion Paper ( We’re using these portfolio sets for some classes at the Lepp Institute ( Another company to check out is Stone Editions (

Another way to present your work is to display it on your high-def television. Make a slideshow in your favorite presentation program, such as PowerPoint, Keynote (Mac) or ProShow Gold (Win), to name a few. That’s the easy part. The hard part is the interface between the computer and the HD television. Some HD TVs have a computer USB input, making the process simple, since all laptops accommodate it. Others have an HDMI input, and only newer laptops accommodate this interface. If you’re looking for a new laptop, make sure it has HDMI connectivity.

How To Go Pro
How does a photographer get his or her work published in magazines and shown in galleries? I use a Canon Rebel digital camera. Would it be possible to have my work critiqued by a professional photographer?
M. Ward
Via the Internet

How to go pro is a question I hear at least once a week. The short answer is that you have to make a serious intellectual and financial commitment to photography to become a professional. What’s the definition of commitment? You’ll need professional equipment, professional instruction and lots of association with other photographers who are aspiring to or have achieved professional status in the field.

There are a number of organizations that will help you get started. Join a local camera club. Choose an active club that has frequent competitions and brings in professional speakers for seminars and workshops. Join the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA,; at their annual meeting, you’ll have opportunities to learn more about taking and marketing images and have your own work critiqued by a professional. Another group that focuses on instruction and advancing members skills is NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals ( Both organizations regularly issue helpful publications to their members and sponsor regional workshops as well.

Once you’ve established a body of images or produced an article at a professional level, you can submit it to magazines that publish similar work. The number of galleries that specialize in photography is diminishing, and this says something about the market for fine-art photography. However, once you have a group of professional-level images and have identified a gallery that might be interested in them, there’s nothing to stop you from presenting a portfolio for consideration.

Another way to showcase your photographs for sale is through craft shows, but it’s a difficult way to make a living. You need to do your research and see what’s selling at shows in your area. Often, the quality level is quite high and the competition is steep.

Many photographers have made their own gallery on the Internet to showcase, and hopefully sell, their work. There are billions of pages on the Internet, and everyone is facing the difficult challenge of getting viewers to come to their site. Another possibility is to consider marketing your images on one of the many sites that feature and sell image stock. But that’s for another column.

Waiting For Long Exposures
I’ve been taking some star-trail pictures with my Canon EOS 5D with the Long Exposure Noise Reduction set to. It takes just as long as the exposure to process the image on the camera using noise reduction. I’m wondering if the speed of the memory card has anything to do with how long it takes for the image to finish processing in the camera. Would the newer, ultra-fast UDMA cards help?
L. Payne
Via the Internet

You’re right. The amount of time the camera needs to process the image in its noise-reduction software is equal to the exposure time. The camera actually takes the image twice, once for the image and once with the shutter closed to compare where the noise shouldn’t be in the image version. This kicks in at 1 & 2 sec if you have the noise reduction set to Auto. For this reason, only use the camera’s noise-reduction mode if you really need it (and astral photography is one of those times) because it’s usually faster to deal with the noise reduction in your image-processing software. With that said, be aware that the computer noise-reduction software won’t give as good a result as the in-camera processing.

The speed of the CF card has nothing to do with the noise-reduction process. However, once the data is ready to be recorded, a faster card works well faster with one important condition. In the recording of data, there are two limiting factors: the card and the camera. Only the newer cameras are able to transmit the data as fast as the new cards are able to record. The EOS 5D doesn’t use the new UDMA technology. The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, the Nikon D3 and D300, the Sony Alpha and the Olympus E3 are the first advanced digital SLR cameras to use the faster UDMA cards. The real advantage of the new UDMA cards is seen more in the downloading of the images and not in the capturing of the images, even though these cards are usually rated at 300x in writing speed. It’s all part of the continuing saga of trying to keep all your equipment up to date and in sync.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at

One of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers and a leader in the field of digital imaging and photographic education, Lepp is the author of many books and the field editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine. One of Canon’s original Explorers of Light, Lepp finds inspiration in advancing technology that fuels creative innovation and expression of his life-long fascination with the natural world.