A Photo Escape

Mid February I managed to escape for a day from the hassles I was having with websites (DIMi had been hacked somehow and I was putting it all back together). So I went up country into central Victoria (Australia) for a day of shooting with various cameras. Continue reading “A Photo Escape”

Digital Tri-Color Photography with free Photoshop action

An old technique has a new lease on life in the digital world of Photoshop to create interesting images from both compact digital cameras and from dSLRs.

Back in the dark ages when I shot film ūüôā I used a creative technique called tri-color photography. In this technique I would set my camera, then a wonderful Canon T90, into multiple exposure mode, mount a Cokin filter holder and then, with the camera on a good tripod, shoot three exposures onto the same frame, one through a strong red filter, one through a green and one through a blue. The resulting transparency (that’s what I normally shot) would show a roughly naturally colored image of anything that did not move but wonderful color effects on subjects in motion. The technique worked well but it was not without its issues. Even with the Cokin filter system there was a risk of moving the camera or adjusting the lens zoom or focus while changing filters. Also, whilst in theory the three filters should have given a result in natural color, there were the inevitable differences between the exact exposure required through the three filters so that the result always had a color cast, though sometimes a small one. But the technique worked and I got some lovely images, especially of the sea, that I exhibited as large Cibachromes.

Now that I work digitally this technique is even easier. Digital cameras have the red, green and blue filters built in, but few have the ability to take multiple exposures. Thankfully there is no need for it.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

Digitally, the tri-color process consists of the following steps:

  • Mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and either use a cable release or the self-timer;
  • Take three shots of a scene with some part of it moving;
  • Open the three images in Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro or similar software;
  • Copy the green channel from the second image and paste it into the green channel of the first image;
  • Copy the blue channel from the third image and paste it into the blue channel of the first image;
  • This gives you a composite image with the red channel of the first, green of the second and blue of the third.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

You want to time the shooting so there is opportunity for movement to occur between shots. General with things like the ocean or trees on a windy day you can just shoot. With clouds moving you may want to give more time between shots.

Here is the step by step in Photoshop:
1.    Open three images in Photoshop. Select the first one;
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

2.    Do a Select All
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

3.    Activate the Channels palette and click on the Green channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

4.    Switch to the second file and select its Green channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

5.    Select All and copy the channel to the clipboard
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6.    Switch back to the first file and paste the clipboard into the Green channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

7.    Select the Blue channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

8.    Switch to the third file, Select All and select the Blue channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

9.    Copy the Blue channel to the clipboard
Tri-color digital photography tutorial
10.    Switch back to the first file and Paste the clipboard into the Blue channel
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

11.    Click on the RGB channel to see the result
Tri-color digital photography tutorial
12.    The result after a mild sharpen
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

Tri-color digital photography tutorial
Tri-color digital photography tutorial

I have provided a free Photoshop Action for the Tri-color Process (you may need to right click the link and Save As) that you can download to your computer and use to do the above. You must open the three images first and have the first image the active one before playing the action.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

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The above is, if you like, the classic approach. There are lots of variations you can make.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

For example, if you shoot infrared, as I do, you can do a slightly different sequence:
1.    Open the three IR images
2.    Select the first image, do Select All and then select the Green channel
3.    Switch to the second image, click on the Red channel, do Select All and Copy
4.    Switch back to the first image and Paste the Red channel from the second image into the Green channel of the first
5.    Select the Blue channel
6.    Switch to the third file, select the Red channel, do Select All and Copy
7.    Switch back to the first file and Paste the Red channel from the third image into the Blue channel of the first.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

You can, of course combine the green channels, in which case you move the channels into the middle file, moving the Green from the 1st into the Red of the 2nd and the Green of the 3rd into the Blue of the 2nd.

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

Tri-color digital photography tutorial using infrared images

Remember, the resulting image is just a starting point for further work. You can swap the channels around till you get the color effects you want, do individual adjustments on the channels, apply blur or sharpen and so much more.

These tri-color processes work and work well. Some subjects work better than others, as is true of any technique. The results can be subtle if the movement is slight or bold if the movement is substantial, and particularly so with long exposures where the movements have blurred.

Give it a try, you just might like it.

Most Recent Infrared Photography

I do love infrared photography. So when testing other cameras I still had my IR camera handy.
Last weekend I was out in the country. I had a number of cameras in for testing, specifically the Olympus E-510, Nikon D300 and Sony a350, and so decided to head off to my favorite bit of the world at present and do a day of shooting. It was great though the weather was less than perfect.

As is my normal practice when at all possible, I took my converted for infrared Canon 350D along for the ride. In between testing these other cameras (reviews up shortly) I also got some shooting in with the IR camera.

I’ve been processing these images a bit differently lately. Some I’ve been handling just in Aperture, a program I am growing to love. Others have been going through Adobe Camera RAW. Here I’ve been using the new Vibrancy control to increase the color saturation of the subtle color my camera typically gives me.

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall
Here I used the Hue/Saturation control to adjust the overall color of the image

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall
Does this look like a shot of a toy landscape to anyone else? It sure does to me.

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

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Autumn (Downunder) in Infrared

It is autumn in Australia and I was curious to see how the landscape would render in infrared.
It is autumn in Australia and I decided to head off on Saturday out of Melbourne to Mount Macedon, a cooler area that also has a lot of European trees. I was very curious to see how the landscape would appear with my converted for infrared Canon 350D.

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The photographs below were all taken in an impressive garden that was open to the public. It is called Tieve Tara and they have their own website.

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

Infrared at Hanging Rock

A day out shooting at Hanging Rock with my infrared converted Canon 350D camerarnHanging Rock is an amazing place.
Though most people have heard of it as a result of the amazing fictional book and movie, Hanging Rock is a weird place in real life.

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Last Saturday we went for a family drive through the area and spent some time at Hanging Rock. It is am amazing place. Sticking up from a largely flat surround, the walk to the top is steep and challenging in places. But it is worth it because you are rewarded by stunning views and great rock formations and plant/rock combinations when you get there. Stunning shots are to be taken all the way from the base, with the rock towering above you, to the top.

On top there are many narrow passageways between the rocks, creating a mass of individual views to shoot and explore. One thing that is amazing about the place is that although it is not massive in area it is still easy to get lost. I got separated from my school group on the top back when I was eleven. One minute I was surrounded by 60 noisy school kids and the next minute they were gone and I could not even hear them. Very weird. In wandering lost I found three other schoolmates that the same thing had happened to. We kept walking downwards knowing that eventually we would get to the base and could always walk around the rock to find the car park and buses. This we did.
This time I had my daughter with me (my wife and mother-in-law only made it part way up as it was a hot day). I took my converted (by MaxMax.com) Canon 350D camera and the Canon 40D I have for review with me.

Hanging Rock photo by Wayne Cosshall

Hanging Rock works well in IR. Not all Australian trees record well in IR but those on the rock did. The contrast between the plants and the rocks works and there were so many scenes to shoot that I will be returning soon for another session.

Hanging Rock photo by Wayne Cosshall

You can view more images from this shoot in the gallery on my personal photography and art website.