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Well, over years, I have being traveling, hanging out with local photo friends. My friend Paul, suggest to me why not post some photos, write some thoughts, for the people that far away. Hope I can keep logging...Please come back often, and comments welcome!

OCT 17, Ghost Hunting

infrared ghost town

Ghost Hunting, just in time for Halloween.

more photos...

Aug 22, Receding

infrared image

Receding Glacier
Paradise Glacier, Mt. Rainier National Park.

more photos...

July 20. iHeadphone, Sony Sounds

iPhone earphone iPhone headphone, modified with sony driver

A so so music palyer with a pair of high quality headphones sounds better than a good player with a pair of so so headphones. I had been a Sony headphone fan for a while back to the magnetic tape era. Unfortunately, Sony did not boom well in the digital years. Not because of engeering. I remembered that long time ago, before iPod arrived, I had a Sony mp3. It was cute, tiny aluminum body, twist forward/backward, and press to select. (It hold only few songs. Well, my computer memory was not much larger at that time). It feels better and works better than Shuffle, not to mention at its time. Unfortunately, Sony decided to stay away from mp3 as far as possible (for copyright protection), thus the software was too hard to use, even for "nerd" like me. How can it boom! I was among the first to get a iPod. Well, now Sony seems totally embrace mp3, and some of its players are total USB drive that play. (You can drop mp3 file to it, and it plays. Plug to you friend's computer, and upload it.) It was too late. I still have the headphone from my original sony mp3 player, and I like it. The cord is short for convenience, and comes with extension cord!

I prefer the shimmer cymbal of Sony to the muddy bass of Apple. I had another pair of Sony, but had a bad connection. So, I switch the driver (with its house). Now it has the remote, mic and the sound that I like!

July 14. Fourty Years

moon footprint
Footprint on Moon
© NASA (not IR)
most of BW IR photos look like this

It has been 40 years. It proved to us that nothing is impossible, we just need to make up our mind. At that time, the computers on board had less brain power than your cell phone! I could imagin that people watched the whole drama unfold, as if the movie "Armageddon".

After I got my iPod Touch (the smallest netbook), I replaced the wall paper with one of my IR photos. Rightway, I changed it back to the original. It is the earth photo from space, more beautiful than any photos I will ever make. It is where we live, where we photo.

We need to take good care of it.

June 24. Our friends on board

dog surf
2009 Loews Dog Surf Competition
June 20, 2009, Imperial Beach, San Diego

"Who are you shooting for?", someone asked me when she saw me with a big lens, wading in cold water in a drizzle and surf spray. "Myself", I said.

Most of us taking photos for ourselves. I have couple of professional photographers there with me, and also, they are shooting for fun. Totally, I forget my own troubles, plus health care, financial system, climate...Most of my images goes directly to my well backuped hard disk, very few showed to friends and here.

There are lot of fun things happen in the summer, like the County Fair, State Fair, and our annual .US Open Sand Castle Competition!

June 22. Happy Solstice

lotus images
Lotus, My official Summer Flowers

In winter time, I once encouraged a friend in Vermont to go out take a IR image of a red barn (appears white in IR) against black IR sky, with a bare tree nearby, casting long shadow on the white now. (image is only limited by imagination!)

Any season is good photo season. Summer is perticularly good for IR, lush greens, and looong bright days! Please make full use of it!

June 19. Vegas, or, Mirage

Infrared images

World Largest Thermometer
134 feet (41 m), reads 101 Degree F
Along the freeway I-15, Baker, Mojave Desert, California

"When the well's dry, we know the worth of water"
- Benjamin Franklin

I went to solute the Colorado River, where most of the water in Southern California comes from. To make it sincere, I chose in a hot weather. I stayed at Vegas, taking IR photos during the day, stayed in significantly under-priced fancy hotel. Without water from Colorado River, there will be no Vegas, not to mention water dance at Bellagio.more photos...

June 11. Olympus IR

Infrared Yosemite tioga lake

Cotton Candy over Tioga Lake
Olympus E-410IR, kit lens, 715 nm filter, desaturated to B/W
High Sierra, Yosemite National Park

Olympus did plenty of pineer work in d-SLR, such as supersonic dust removal, and live-view (live-view is great when manual focus on a tripod, better than any interchangable screen!). It also made a SLR with the mirror swing side-ways, which made me laugh!

Besides having converted most of the Nikons and Canons, I also did some Pentax. Being curious of new models, I opened an Olympus E-410, once was the lightest d-SLR. It was in fact thinner than D60 and XSi, kind of remind me Leica rangefinder and the grip feels like upscale Nikons. The lens is also pretty sharp when comparing to other maker's entry-level kit lenses. The drive-by-wire focus need some time to get use to (I set the focus mode to S-AF+MF). Image is very good in bright sunlight, and useful functions, such as AEB, mirror lockup are easy to access. Overall, it is very excellent middle-day hiking companion.

June 9. Home, sweet HOME

Please watch


beautiful video, every frame is beautiful image: the early morning/late evening golden light, the composition...and it reminds us that we only have only one home, Planet Earth. Please reduce, reuse and recycle.

June 9. Shade of White

Infrared Yosemite

Care for another cup of hot tea?
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Infrared is invisible. You will be amazed to to see the outcome. The cloud and running water are white, while the sky and still water are very dark. This brings contrast in sky and streams. The foliages can be as bright as cloud and snow, and may have slight varation in brightness and tint. For example, the conifer is less bright as grass blades. The difference is more dramatic under bright sun light.

Of course, the white-balance is critical. I normally use the greens as my white-balance reference, and shoot raw + jpeg. The software that comes with the camera generally works very well (but not third party software). I can use either "as shot" or choose the foliage (cloud, snow...) as white.

May 31, 2009. Save Our Statepark!

IR images

Early Summer Wildflowers
a state park near my home in San Diego
might be closed as early as Labor Day

I am appalled by the proposal to close 80% of California's state park and state beach, including Big Sur. Sure, it will cost a lot of money to open, it actually brings more income for the local economy, and bring a lot of fun for the kids and family in this difficult time.

More sensibly, when the economy is sluggish, we need to pour the "stimulus" money to the infrastructure to creat new job. Not to lay off the park rangers. Just like to cut the dental cost, the negnigence will cost us dearly later on. The close of the park will lead to decay of the trail, or even vendalism.

Please call your congressman.

May 25, 2009. Summer starts!

IR images

Corn Lily Furnace
IR is best when light is too harsh for color
at my designated lunch area near a trail

The days get longer and there is a lot of greens. Yay, a great hiking/backpacking season begins!

Sunrise or sunset at an alpine lake, with some wild flowers in the front, and the dark side of Galen's filter to hold back the burning sky, wonderful.

To get there, many hours of activities under harsh sun. I normally sneak in a small IR SLR (about one pound) into the side of my already crowded backpack, and snap along the way, when take a rest, or have lunch! I always get excited of what I get, even after shooting dozens of thousands of IR images.

May 10, 2009. Redbull Brings You Wings

air race IR

Twisted Turns
Frontal or slight side-lit are best for IR
from Conronado Island, San Diego, May 10, 2009

Redbull brings me wings, I mean the Redbull air race. These are small highly-powered stunt machines. I had to learn how to pan my D90 smoothly for the video.

We could have enjoyed from the comfort San Diego side, but that was against light, not good for photo, especially fo IR.

For best IR, the bright sun above you or behind you, custom WB, f8, bracketing, and be there!

April 26, 2009. Delicate

Finally, I caught the last day of the butterfly show. Not whole lot left. My friends said that there were so many at the beginning, so that had to be careful not to step on them.

This reminded me to updated my blog about saving the fragile environment with tiny things we can do now.

April 19, 2009. See (and photo) in Total Darkness

infrared image

Sony IRM IR Light on D60 in IR
Want to check out the bunnies in your backyard in total darkness? I have just add a link to Sony IRM IR Light Review.

April 18, 2009. Lift

ucsd library
Knowledge Lifts
UC San Diego Geisel Library, La Jolla

The UCSD library looks like hands lifting books up -- actually, it is the book that lifts us up.

I had been busy for a while, work, chasing after wildflowers, and a lot of studying. I snapped this photo when left for lunch today. I now have a Tamrac Adventure 6 backpack. The lower padded compartment protects camera well whereever I go, and it really looks like school bag!

Jan 20, 2009. Crazy Colors

Canon XS full spectrum images

Purple Sky
Dawn at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley N.P.
Canon XS, full spectrum internal filter
Zeiss 2,8/25 Distagon, via adaptor with EF contacts

Death Valley has one of the darkest sky in the States. I do not remember when is the last time I saw so many diamonds hanging. Surely, there was a camera with a full spectrum (UV-vis-IR) filter out side of my tent!

The next morning, few miles down the road, out of curious, I put my star-gazing gear on the tripod...

Oh, my! Next time, I need to bring this thing to Mono Lake. I do not know how many rolls of Velvia I have burnt to get the Tufa in that color!

I have got many emails about using a full spectrum filter inside the camera, so that the camera can be used as a very sensitive IR camera, after put an IR filter on the lens; Or, can be used as a regular color camera.

I would highly recommend full spectrum camera (modified with clear glass) to astro-photography, because it greatly enhances the sensitivity to Hydrogen alpha, but would not recommend as a color/IR camera. Because I found that most of the time, the color form the "clear glass" camera was not accurate, even when a hot mirror filter is used. For color photography, I would say, color is everything. And also, an good hot mirror and IR filter are as expensive a used SLR camera now!


Jan 20, 2009. The Winner is...

Nikon D60 infrared images

Race Track
30 mile dirt road into Death Valley N. P.
Nikon D60 infrared, 10.5 mm fisheye

I used to drove to Death Valley Friday after work, arrived around mid-night, took a nap, and join my friends for the sunrise. This year, furtunately I had Monday off, so my annual trip was a little more relaxed!

Jan 2, 2009. How to Avoid IR Flares and Hot Spots

IR images

IR Flares

I am having few days off. Besides hanging out with friends, traveling, taking photos, I started to write some tips for IR photography. Here is How to avoid flare in IR!

Jan 2, 2009. Happy Holidays

Season's Greeting from Infrared Jim! Best Wishes for you and your family!

Hmmm, the economy is kind slow, but, think positively, the camera is so cheap now! Keep clicking shutters, and everything is gonna be fine...

Dec 13. Color in IR

infrared image

Blue IR Sky
San Diago Mission, by channel swapping
I have got so many emails about how to shoot the best IR photos, including how to get the color shown on my webpage. I always try to answer them all in details. Now I decide to write it out, so that every time, I only need to point to the How to get the color right in IR link!

Dec 4. Utah Rocks

Capitol of Rocks
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Nikon D90Infrared, 18-105 kit lens

I have been to Utah many times. Get up early, stay late, for the first and last light. The rock glows, like melting glass. Still remember the first sight of the Delicate Arch.

During the day, when the light is harsh, I used to do scouting, or get ready (by taking naps).

Roadside Rocks
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Nikon D90Infrared, 18-105 kit lens

With IR, the bright light the better. Rocks under direct sun light will be much bright than the rocks in the shadow, thus very contrasty. If there is no cloud, the sky will be black; if there are clouds, then will be white on black! These keep me busy all day long...

Metal Leaves
Near a Scenic Turnout
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Nikon D90Infrared, 18-105 kit lens

Even when take a break, there are always interesting thing to shoot...

Dark Forest
Near another Scenic Turnout
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Nikon D90Infrared, 18-105 kit lens

Nov 23. Pacific or Atlantic?

The only thing comes out the pipe of this car is water
Which Ocean will you let the water go, is up to you

June 2004, Loveland Continental Divide, Colorado.

At 11,990 feet above the sea level, the view was breath-taking. But I was more amazed by this little Focus, powered by only hydrogen. I really had to rev my little civic to get this high. The exhaust of the Focus was hydrogen oxide, aka, water.

I thought this was dramatic, and sent this image to Ford to see if they would like use it for PR (for free). Unfortunately, at that time, the theme was "Build Ford Tough".

What can we help now?

Nov 16. Zoo in IR

Giraffe's Latest Hair Style
Canon XS, 400 mm @ 1/400 s, f 7.1

One easy way to get rid of stress accumulated in the week, is to walk in a park, as a spectator.

Nov 12. How to get a smooth water
without a tripod

Weekend Trail Brunch
Canon XS, 18-55 IS @ ISO 100, f 22, 0.3 s, mirror lockup
camera was pressed against a vertical rock

"The camera you have in hand is the best in the world". I bring a camera with me almost all the time. Thus, I accumulated so many photos of hiking in my neighborhood, that I need to find ways to name them.

I did not let my "non-photography" friends feel alone. I always pay attention to them, and do not bring much equipment when we need to move fast, and apologize right away for taking much time waiting for the light. Thus, I enjoy many activities with friends, and photography as well.

Someone happened to ask me the details of how to get a smooth water in IR, following my recent post. In IR, it will be the similar to color photography: keep everything still, except water. Let the shutter open for a quarter of a second or more.

Everything, includes the camera and everything in the viewfinder. If you have a tripod, then it is easy. But sometime, when tripod is not an option, we can rest the camera on anything solid, hiking pole, tree trunk, rock. If the camera has a mirror lockup, please use it. I also like to use a timer (2 second). Some Nikons may not have a mirror lockup, then we can use shutter delay. If you like to include some greens in the scene, then you need to watch for the wind, so that the reeds, branches, grass do not sway.

The light. Without sunlight, the IR images will look dull. Too much sunlight, then it is hard to have long shutter speed. To get long shutter speed, we need to set the ISO to the lowest, use a small aperture, and maybe put on a circular polarizer filter. I also like to use AEB. Normally, I will bracket for 3 frames, 0.7 stop. Wait a little to let the light shine on the subjects that are interest to you.

Happy shooting, and enjoying other things! Do not get too involved into it, when with friends!

Which way, if on foot?
Canon XS, 18-55 IS @ ISO auto (320), f 9, 1/50 s
my hiking snapshot (in case get lost)

Nov 7. Why Tungsten Bulb Burn
an Infrared Study

Top: regular Nikon D50 color photo (your eyes see)
Bottom: Nikon D50IR infrared photo (your eyes can not see)
Both shot at ISO 200, f 13, 1/4000 s
Three bulbs are (from left) 27 W CFL, 30 W tungsten, 100 W tungsten

Invented more than one hundred years ago, the tungsten light bulb light our modern history. However, these bulbs emit more heat than light. Form the above regular color photo, we can see that a 27 W CFL is as bright as a 100 W tungsten. Why? Because it emits far less IR light than the 30 W and 100 W tungsten! It will be even better, if we could use LED lights (the one used in the newest Apple Cinema Display).

Waste not, want not. Even electricity from solar panel is not free: it already took a lot of energy to make! Please reduce, reuse, recycle. Turn off lights when leave the room, turn off the TV when not watch. Good for your bank account, and good for Pachamama.

Thank you!

Nov 5, Zion N.P. Each year, at the end of October, there is a fall color "fireworks" show. I brought couple of Zeiss lenses, try to get the most of the color. So far, the most often used, however, is the hiking outfit 17-40 and 70-200 f4L.

Zion Fall Color

Yellow Canopy
Riverwalk parking lot, Zion N.P.
Canon 5D, 17-40 mm @ 17 mm

virgin river

Fall Foliage in IR
Virgin River, Zion N.P.
Canon XTi IR, f 22, 0.5 s, monochrome mode

Also with me is an infrared XTi (sure, now my other body is infrared!). Guess what, the changing leaves still reflect as much IR as the greens!

smooth stream

Smoooth Flow
Zion Narrow, Zion N.P.
Canon XTi IR, f 22, 0.5 s, monochrome mode

How to get a smooth water in IR: As in color photography, to smooth the water out, we need a slow shutter speed. Since the IR modified camera has a similar sensitivity to color, I need to use the lowest ISO (100), and stop down the lens, and put on the circular polarizer filter to further cut some light.

classic sunset locale

Sun yet to set
Bridge over Virgin River, Zion N.P.
Canon XTi IR, monochrome mode

Every day, people come here couple of hours early on the bridge, waiting for the classic sunset photo. I admit that I never get a good one. Can I excuse myself for not having a Galen's GND filter? The sunset from my viewfinder is great. I use a dark-colored towel on my head and camera...

Please visit my Digital Infrared and Digital I R FAQ pages about how to take digital infrared images as easy as color ones! Questions of any kind welcome!

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