Saturday, 5 April 2014

Photos - Richmond to Kew - Fuji X100

The following photos were taken on a walk from Richmond train station to and around Kew Gardens. My equipment list for the day was: A tripod, the Fuji X100 and a Hoya R72 filter. This is a nice walk to do in good weather at a photographer's pace. Depending on how far around Kew Gardens you walk at the end this is going to be about 4-6 miles. You can go back on the train from Kew, saving you from retracing the walk along the Thames and getting a bit bored and/or tired. 

     General Info
  • All of the following photos are taken using a stock Fuji X100. The filter used was a 49mm Hoya R72 (720nm), which requires an adapter.
  • This camera and filter were used hand-held for some of the following shots. This requires ISO values of 1600 or above using the lens wide open (f/2.0). You can then get away with 1/4th - 1/40th of a second exposures. Today however I wanted some sharper and more grain free images, so I used a tripod. There was a lot of wispy clouds here but the sun was consistently strong and it gave exposures between 3-10 seconds @ f/5.6 using ISO 200.
  • The processing I used here includes the 'False Colour' technique. This involves swapping the red and blue channels around using the channel mixer in Photoshop. 

This first photos was our first view of the Thames after walking through Richmond town centre. This shot was quite lucky as the paddle steamer left just after I took this. At this point we started walking north along the Thames (to the right of this image). This took us around a park, a golf course and eventually Kew Gardens itself, but the entrance to the gardens was still about a mile (1.5km) beyond that.

The large amount of clouds here weaken the typical dark skies of a dynamic IR photo. Despite this the water retains its usual dark tones. This suggests that these tones come from the water itself rather than anything it might normally be reflecting - like the sky. 

The haziness around the top of the fence is cyclists moving past while the image was exposing. In hindsight I should have waited until there was nobody there.

  • Contrast detail in bricks is often greater than the same colour image. 
  • Shadow detail is more prominant in IR while contrast remains high.
  • The red colouring of foliage originally comes from the blue channel of the original infrared image. This is transferred to the red channel in post process.

The motion from people and wind swept trees is difficult to eliminate when using low ISO and moderate apertures on a non-converted (normal) digital camera. With the camera's (standard internal) filter blocking most of the IR light there is little light left when using an external IR-pass filter like the Hoya R72 and worse still using anything higher than 720nm. 

  • Converted infrared cameras can fix this issue, but it costs at least £200 and usually means the camera can no longer take colour images. 

On top of the 'Richmond lock and Footbridge', just after a boat had passed through.

  • The motion of the boat moving off (top left) and the closing lock gates are perhaps a little less desirable. This sometimes makes me wish for a converted IR camera, but when I can be bothered to lug a tripod around I do like most of the motion effects.

A photo of the 'Richmond lock and Footbridge' itself. It didn't seem to stop east Richmond flooding later that day. We saw people stood on pub benches around 5pm (during the train ride home). 

Since we were here in low tide and there were some steps, the wife and I decided to explore the water's edge.

  • This was shot at 1/25th of a second @ f/2, ISO 1600. This camera and filter are very acceptable to shoot with in strong sunlight due to some very good quality high ISO noise performance and a relatively low light lens. Not every camera works as well as this so if you are interested in shooting IR without a tripod check to see if anyone else online has tried it first.
  • For more information on the hand-held abilities of the Fuji X100 check out my previous post here.

A spill-over from the stagnant river on the other side of the Thames path (right). I love the uneven cobbles (left), which I assume is a result of tree roots.

This illustrates the nice effects that you can get with a tripod and some slower shutter speeds when dealing with moving water. A waterfall would have been nice, but there aren't too many in London. 

Finally in Kew Gardens, where we sat to have a rest under a tree :).

This image was an exercise in manual focus, timers and guesswork. This explains why we're so off-center here, but I kind of like the way it came out. Here are some ways that the tones of people come out differently in infra-red compared to colour:

  • Skin tones come out very pale in infrared. They also don't show many blemishes at all (the opposite of ultraviolet, which is very unflattering), which gives an almost 'china-doll' like effect. 
  • The glasses are tinted and thus dark in visible light. Here they look more like safety goggles because infra-red light passes straight through this material. 
  • The eye colour (around the pupils) seems the same tone in both of us here. In reality my wife's eyes are very dark brown and mine are very pale blue.  

Some bluebells, showing up red because of the 'False Colour' channels swap technique.

Plants a water are usually enough to interest me in an infrared shot, but this one got me most with the intensity of the reflections in the windows of all those lovely trees.

Plants growing over or through dark objects is often a great subject for IR and I am happy with the way it came out, just wish I had waited for the people to have gotten out of the middle of the shot.

I do love the effects IR has on water, not only the tonal, transparent and reflective differences but also mixed in with the motion from the slightly long exposure. 

One of my last shots from the day. I couldn't resist the twisted texture of this tree in stark contrast to the completely straight lines of the one behind it.

  • This was also a long exposure (around 6 seconds). There were quite a few people in frame, but only this guy came out because he stood still for such a long time.
  • There is a hot-spot starting to form here, so yes the Fuji X100's lens does suffer from this, but only stopped down a bit on longer exposures some of the time. This won't be an issue while using the camera hand-held because of the wide aperture.


  1. Love these pictures, I'm taking my x100 and the same r72 filter away with me this week so hope to get some pictures matching this quality! I have found hand held shots have come up a bit too grainy though, have you found you need to be in bright sunlight to get the best results?

    1. Hi Chris, Thank you very much for the kind comment! I do get grain from my hand-held shots, you do realise that most of my shots from this post are taken with a tripod right? My other post (see link at the top of the page) has some more hald-held examples from the X100 though, or had you seen those as well?

      I have found that bright sunlight is needed for decent results to be fair. I wish you luck on your trip, especially with the weather. Please post a link to your results if you can, I'd love to see what you get :)

    2. Hi Edd, so I had more of a play with the camera and filter and thought I'd share my first couple of pictures I've processed as its going to take me a while to get through the rest! I've posted a couple on my blog here:

      Let me know what you think as these are the first I've tried with a tripod set up. I can see why you'd need to use one for most shots though. Also a pain when the wind is blowing the trees around though!

    3. Hi Chris, They look great! and it looks like you've had good success with the processing too. If you turn them B&W then you'll get away with some characterful images hand-held all the time. It's mostly colour processing that seems to take a lot out of the image and introduce a bunch more noise which can take it over the edge.

      I kind of like the motion in trees and water for the longer tripod shots at base ISO. It can add an extra element of ethereal feeling to the images. The only way to avoid that is to get a camera converted really. I'm having a lot of fun with the Sony A7, but it's also a handful and doesn't like the Hoya R72 for colour so I'm having to experiment a lot more with different filters.

  2. Inspirational post, love the most Botanic garden looking shots. I realy like the lens flare Hoya gives X100 lens with this filter. Have to experiment some more. And it is hard to understand how to get such an amazing colors.

    1. Thanks! The colours from the Hoya r72 are quite tricky to process on the non-converted X100, I have a friend who has a lower wavelength filter and that seems to provide better colour and exposure. It says it's also a 720nm, but seems to be below 700nm. If you go too much below that (like <650) then too much colour comes in and again it's impossible to work with. A different sensor, hot mirror or a converted camera would also be very different.

      The flare (or hot spot) is mostly down to the lens, although a higher wavelength filter will intensify the strength of it.

    2. Hi, Edd thank you for response. I think i'l experiment some more with the setup that i have and not change the filter or buy more filters right now, because it is such a specialist thing and i have to get use to what i got with is. Will see when we have more green leaves here. It is early spring now, so will take about month or two.
      Best, Tenisd