Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Photographing the Female Form with Digital Infrared

It's been a while since Amherst Media published a slew of infrared photography books, including Joe Paduano's seminal The Art of Infrared Photography. Those are still in their catalogue, now joined by a fascinating book from Laurie Klein [Laurie's web site] with one of those 'exactly what it says on the tin' titles.

Photographing the Female Form with Digital Infrared

Near infrared light penetrates skin to a depth of a few millimetres. This tends to give skin a milky appearance as you're not seeing the surface (some moral there perhaps) but can also show up veins and make some marks, especially tattoos, stand out starkly. There can also be a spooky effect on eyes, making them look like dark pools. So combining infrared photography and skin can be 'interesting'.

Laurie Klein studied with Ansel Adams and spent some of her professional life as a landscape photographer, moving on to people and weddings. Her approach to people photography brings an appreciation of landscape; both the person in the landscape and the person as landscape. Almost all the images in the book are taken with a modified DSLR and shown in black and white. There is one example of 'good old' HIE 35mm film, which doesn't stand out as being that different from the digital shots, and one faux-colour shot ... of a woman in a wine-dark river ... which definitely benefits from the splash of colour. The models are all (or look to be) white; so my only wish would be to have seen what Laurie could do with darker skin tones. Having said that, the tonal differences at infrared wavelengths are not as pronounced as they are in visible light. In Laurie's photos, one interesting effect of the infrared is that the models' nipples render white as well. It's a very alabaster and sculptural look.

Incidentally I am impressed with the quality of the printing. In the past I have sometimes found Amherst's infrared images to be over-contrasty, but not here.

Alongside the photographs, Laurie explains how and why she posed the models as she did, and includes alternative 'takes' from the session. The train of thought is interesting, sometimes making me see the landscape photographer within being able to move those mountains to get the shot required. Here are nudes, props and landscape ... especially rocks and foliage ... arranged to taste.

As I said, it's a fascinating book, with lessons for all photographers and for any subject, and Laurie exploits the artistic possibilities of infrared light brilliantly.

[$27.95, 7.5x10 inches, 128 pages 180 photographs
ISBN-13: 978-1-60895-719-4]

Monday, 10 November 2014

Near-infrared used for vein visualisation

There's an interesting use of near-infrared detection combined with a kind of augmented reality in a device being trialled by the Australian Red Cross Blood service. Since near infrared radiation (NIR) penetrates a few millimetres into skin you can often see subcutaneous veins in infrared images because the de-oxygenated blood absorbs light at these wavelengths. This device, made by Christie Medical, takes that a stage further by illuminating the area with NIR and then projecting the resulting image in visible light back onto the skin. It's shown in this video ...

More information in this punning post from the Blood Service.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Simon Marsden 2015 Calendar

Halloween is an appropriate time to mention The Haunted Realm calendar for 2015, featuring the infrared photographs of Simon Marsden.

More information, and how to order, can be found on his web site.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Other thermal cameras are available ...

Digging around after my piece last week on the FLIR One I discovered that this isn't the only game in town when it comes to relatively inexpensive thermal imagers using smart phones for control.

I have already mentioned Andy Rawson's lo-res device, which I was told about in July 2013. Andy's web site now tells us that they have discontinued the camera because other inexpensive thermal cameras with higher resolution are now available. There was, however, another camera in the pipeline called Hema-Imager from Erik Beall, but this failed to reach its Kickstarter target. I get the feeling that these guys won't be giving up, and I wish them luck.

Israeli company Opgal have produced the Therm-App, which uses an Android phone as controller. This is more expensive that the FLIR One but has a higher thermal resolution (384 x 288 pixels and 7.4 to 14 microns ... which, of course, includes human body temperature) with a current price of $999 (full price $1600). This camera clips onto the back of your phone and connects via a small cable.

California-based Seek Thermal have announced a 206 by 156 pixel thermal camera add-on for both Android and iOS. It connects via micro USB or Lightning (depending on the device)and slots onto the bottom of your smart phone. Examples on their web site look good and so do the specs: vanadium oxide microbolometer detecting between 7.2 and 13 microns. The price, in the US, is $199.

All the companies marketing these inexpensive thermal cameras hope to build a market to help DIY (aka home improvement) by detecting hidden pipes and checking the temperature of food as well as seeing in the dark security.

There may be even more such devices out there ... if you know of one then let me know in the comments.

Friday, 12 September 2014

FLIR One now available in US

FLIR's iPhone add-on thermal camera, the FLIR One, which I discussed back in January is now available from the US Apple Store. Availability in other territories should follow.

It turns out that the resolution of the thermal camera is 80 by 60 pixels but this is merged with a 640 by 480 pixel visible light camera and the image is enhanced depending on which mode you use. The image below is a composite image used by FLIR for promotion.

You can see the softness of the thermal information but I have to admit the blend with the visual image makes for a quite usable result.

The cost in the US is $350 and you have to use an iPhone 5 or 5s. The device will not fit on either iPhone 6 and it would seem that FLIR have no plans to produce a new one. That was always the risk but this still brings thermal imaging into a completely new area of use, appealing to small businesses and hobbyists alike.

Gizmodo got their hands on one in August and explain just what you might want to do with it (if you don't know already). They also did a review, but they were unsure whether it's worth the money. Given the usual way tech prices inflate as they cross the Atlantic that may be a bigger issue over here in the UK. That said, to echo one of the commentators on the review, it's still cheap for a thermal imager.