On my recent trip to Germany, I just had to visit Lichtenstein Castle. It is such an iconic castle and was on my bucket list for many years.
But, I am obviously not the only person that thinks this is a marvel of medieval architecture, so I had to find a way to make my photo different from the normal photos. Yes, you most likely could guess that I would use one of my old tricks - photographing it in infrared.
We arrived quite early in the hope to get some fog at the castle, but, although it was quite cold and did rain the previous night, no fog was in sight. (I underestimate its elevation, so I don't think one would easily get to photograph the castle in fog.)
We took quite a number of photographs from the outside while waiting for the official visiting hours in order to be able to get some photos from inside the castle walls.
In one of my compositions, I noticed that the sun is shining directly on a very green spot of moss, and decided to create a custom white balance for my infrared camera using this moss. The resulting white balance rendered the subsequent scenes in beautiful blue and purple to amber tones.
Lichtenstein Castle - Infrared photo with a custom white balance
I ended up using this white balance for most of my infrared photos on the remainder of my Germany trip.
At home, I decided to just try the typical "channel" swap method to create a pseudo-realistic scene with a blue sky, and actually like this version of the castle as well.
Lichtinstein Castle in Infrared - with the RGB channels swapped
Channel Swap Technique
For those of you interested in my way of using the channel swap technique, here is a short tutorial.
(Warning, this will become quite technical!)
As you all know, all digital colour photos are defined by three colour channels, the Red, Green and Blue Channels (RGB).
Each pixel is a mixture of a bit of red, a bit of green and a bit of blue.
When photographing in infrared we are shifting the colour representation high up on the light spectrum. So much so that the blue channel of the photo is now going to be the lower end of the infrared spectrum, while any red channel information will be deeper into the infrared spectrum. As my camera is fitted with a 590nm blocking filter (this is actually not infrared but the normal visible orange colour), it means that when I take a colour photo with my infrared camera, the normal visible purple and blue will be captured as this orange colour.
The basic reasoning behind the channel swapping technique is the fact that all the red pixels of an infrared colour photo must actually become blue - thus making the original sky blue again.
When you add a channel mixer layer to any photo in photoshop (or other software), you will notice that the Red channel is made up of 100% red, 0% green and 0% blue, while the Green channel is 100% green, 0% red and 0% blue, while the Blue channel is 100% blue, 0% red and 0% green. (Hope you are still following...)
To swap the colours around, we want to change the Red channel's red representation to 0% (it was by default 100%) and the blue representation to 100% (it was original 0%). We also need to change the Blue channel's blue representation to 0% and its red representation to 100%. This means all current red colours will now become 100% blue, and all current blue colours will now become 100% red. We normally leave the Green channel as the neutral colour.
Swaped RGB channel values of the Lichtenstein Castle
As you can see from the above screen print, I normally do not do a "pure" channel swapping. I play around with the values until I get a photo that is pleasing to me.
In this case, I ended up with the red channel still having 27% red representation rather than the 0% as explained above. Also, to get the blues to "pop" more, I kept 68% of the blues of the blue channel visible. You will also see that I did not keep the green channel as a neutral colour, but added some extra green - especially in the blue channel. This was necessary to get the castle walls not to look too blue, but rather a sort of brown.
Hope you managed to follow my explanation.
The Swapped Channels photo is nice, but I still prefer the original infrared photo - it has a more medieval look to it. What do you think?
This is my entry into this week's # architecturalphotography challenge created by @juliank.