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Don Komarechka
Works at Georgian College
Attended Georgian College
Lived in barrie, ontario
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I believe this image perfectly represents my photographic style, and the most unique "selfie" I've ever taken. In fact, I highly doubt an image like this has ever been made before. You're looking at a fisheye infrared image with a reflection in a "hot mirror" filter showing the man behind the camera. Say what?

Circular fisheye lenses have very limited use. They're goofy and fun, but it's rare that I actually get a valuable image out of one. The distorted 180 degree field of view can be manageable, bit the circular image truly limits the appeal in most cases. Then you're going for an oddball image, why not push even further and make it in infrared?

One of the reasons I converted a camera for exclusive infrared work was because I wanted to use extremely wide angle lenses that could not accommodate a filter. The infrared world continues to fascinate me, with a surreal glimpse into landscapes with glowing trees, but it's much more than that. It's an invisible world where light behaves differently. For those curious, I'm not a vampire - despite the look of my eyes in this frame. The iris becomes darker in IR images and can create a creepy look in your eyes. Skin also becomes smoother and softer, taking a few years away from your complexion in an eerie manner. (I call this the vampire look)

The real fun with this image is the use of a little known filter called a "hot mirror". This filter is transparent in the visible spectrum, but acts like a mirror in infrared light. I purchased this filter to block wayward IR light from interfering with another specialty camera dedicated to ultraviolet photography, but the mirror behaviour is fun to play with. There aren't many uses for such a filter (and they're quite expensive), but I'm finding interesting experiments that use it.

This image embodies much my photographic vision: quirky, scientific, unique and there's a story to share. I challenge you to find another circular fisheye infrared hot mirror selfie picture in the world. :)
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Definitely da 1st I have seen and freakin FANTABULOUS!!!!! Once again u have award!
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Dynamic Focus Fireworks - I had read about this technique a few years back, and always wanted to try it. Canada Day brings with it a fireworks celebration on most urban waterfronts, and those celebrating Independence Day will likely have an opportunity to try this in a few days. Read on!

This technique involves changing the focus of the lens during the exposure. Through the 2 second exposure, I manually turn the focus ring which allows for the fireworks trails to fall out of focus and expand. Shifting the focus back and forth from in-focus to out-of-focus can create interesting patterns unseen by your eyes! It's a fun trick that offers many random "happy accidents" and the exposures are really fun to review, almost like watching the entire fireworks display again from a different perspective.

Just be sure to grab a few frames with static focus, however! You'll need to mask in the foreground from a separate image to keep the landscape details looking normal. This is two images combined - one for the fireworks and one for the landscape below. I adjusted the reflections to match the colours in the fireworks image so that everything blends together nicely.

Next time you're out shooting the fireworks, give this "dynamic focus" technique a try!

(I just looked it up after writing this post, and I originally read about this idea here: )
Nicole Bossuyt's profile photoJeff Cox's profile photoLindsay Harting's profile photoXavier Francis's profile photo
Thank you so much for the info +Don Komarechka May I ask how you were able to match the reflections so well?
I apologise for the earlier question - should have read the description.
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It was a very exhausting weekend for me, starting with a night shoot in Killarney Provincial Park on Friday with +Ethan Meleg, then racing down to Toronto to participate in the Google+ Annual Photowalk in Toronto (where this image was taken). I barely slept, and I'm still recovering! It was a ton of fun however, and I'm excited to dig through my images.

I thought I'd post this image first, just because it's goofy. Using a circular fisheye lens on an infrared camera, I'd say this group shot is "unique" if nothing else. The field of view is so wide that it catches my feet in the frame, and if you look closely you can see +Ron Clifford waving in the background. He was only about 40 feet away from me, but the distorted perspective certainly changes the perception of distance.

Oh, by the way... an interesting feature of infrared cameras: because man-made dyes often reflect differently in the IR spectrum than in visible light, I can clearly see who has dyed their hair. It's much harder to see in the edited version I'm posting, so your secret is safe! :)

Thanks to +Ron Clifford for leading a great photowalk - I'm looking forward to next year!
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Great to see you as well, +Lena Dawood! Thanks for your compliments too, I always appreciate them - it's fuel for my next crazy idea. :)

Haha +sheryl kingstone, we call that war paint.
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"Never Lonely" - This spot is along the waterfront in the city of Barrie, and I drive by it frequently. I've seen this tree a thousand times, but the story isn't about the tree; it's about the man sitting silently underneath.

I thought the high-contrast and surreal effect of infrared would work well here, and I hope I made the right choice! The leaves on the tree hadn't fully grown when I made this shot, and I might gop back and see what's happening with this tree now that summer is in full swing.

Just a fun example of something you see so often that you never think it's worth photographing, until it is. :)
djamel mechalikh's profile photoWil Landry's profile photoAly Barro's profile photoEmily Lin's profile photo
Thank you Don!!!! You nailed it all the way from capture to post :)
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Discussion  - 
The Spring 2014 issue of Outdoor Photography Canada features an article on infrared photography. I wrote the article to help guide photographers through the process of photographing and editing their infrared images, which was well received. It's a technical process, but once you've done it once, the process becomes almost second nature.

This false-colour infrared image shows some of the characteristics that a landscape photographer should expect: bright trees, dark skies and dark water. The trees reflect a huge amount of infrared light in comparison to other elements of the image, and the water absorbs most of it. The sky rarely interacts with this spectrum of light (unless clouds are present), and this all adds up to create a surreal landscape with light that is invisible to your own eyes. Interestingly enough, even trees with dark purple leaves will glow brightly in the infrared spectrum.

The colours in this image are also fake, but any colour in an infrared image is fake - they're invisible to us, and therefore imaginary. It's the photographer's choice to make the image monochrome or to "remap" the wavelengths of light the camera captures into more familiar colours. Blue sky and water are typical, making the image look more natural while still appearing surreal.

For more information on how to photograph in the infrared spectrum, check out the current issue of Outdoor Photography Canada! If you've read the article and have questions, I'd be thrilled to keep the conversation going. Ask away! :)
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Don Komarechka

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Here's a fun and easy macro photograph for people to experiment with, requiring just a few simple ingredients and roughly 1:1 lifesize.

What I've done here is taken a blade of grass and twisted it, holding it on either ends with the clips of a Third Hand device just out of the frame. For those not familiar with such devices, they're of great help when setting up shots like this, and typically cost around $10:

Certain types of grasses allow water to bead up beautifully on its edges, and twisting the grass in this case allows for a slightly randomized appearance and a bit of depth to the image. The droplets are added through a simple spray bottle and when the right size and density has formed, I place the flower in the background.

The flower is held in place with another Third hand device, allowing for the specific positioning needed to make it refract inside the water droplets. The droplets act like lenses, showing an in-focus version of the flower inside the droplets what an out of focus version fills in the background of the image. It might take a bit of experimentation to find the right position and distance from the droplets to appear centered.

This image was shot around 1:1 lifesize at F/8. This gives enough depth of field to have most of the droplets in focus, and you could always take multiple frames at different focus points. These could be combined together in a focus stacking process, but it isn't always necessary. I think this image looks pretty good for just a single frame, and it's much easier to get results if you're attempting this for your first time. (If you're curious about focus stacking however, I discuss it at length in my book Sky Crystals: )

To light this image, a flash is connected to the camera with an off-camera shoe cord and held above the scene to the left. A few shots might be required to get a feeling for how the light is hitting the grass and the subject, but I always find these shots more appealing when the flash is hitting the flower more than the foreground - the flower tends to "pop" more. Flash is set to E-TTL automatic metering and it does a decent job.

While I experimented quite a bit with this flower (a large Gerbera Daisy), this was the first image I captured in the shooting session. Sometimes the first try is the best!

If anyone in the macro photography community has questions about this process and how to experiment with water droplet images, ask in the comments and I'd be happy to answer. :)
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Thanks +Shelly Gunderson, I find the "behind the scenes" info on shots like this can be as interesting as the image itself. :)

Hah +Tina G, you'll quickly realize that the more you know, the more you don't know. The world of photography is never-ending and there is always more to explore - even with images like this, taken on my kitchen table!
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Don Komarechka

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This image exists for one reason: curiosity. I love experimenting and learning with my photography, and there will never be an end to the creative ideas that come from experiments. So, what exactly is going on here? Read on!

Experiments like this keep me inspired and help further my understanding of the world around me. This image is a combination of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. Three images were taken from three different cameras and combined together as colour channels in Photoshop. The red channel holds the infrared image, the green channel is visible light, and the blue channel represents ultraviolet. Combined together, there are some interesting observations to make:

- Most artificial lights do not produce much (if any) ultraviolet light. I suppose this makes sense, and you're not likely to get a sunburn while indoors. This means that the ultraviolet image contained a mostly-dark cityscape, with a few isolated lights being visible. The sky, however, seemed to scatter and reflect UV light to a greater degree, even at dusk. This allowed for a blue sky and stronger blue tones in the water.

- Some buildings can be clearly differentiated in the city based on the kind of lighting they use. Some show more strongly in infrared light, while others do not exhibit much IR radiation. This results in some buildings having green lights and others red due to their spectral response.

- The colour bands in the sky are also interesting. They form a rainbow effect where the light nearest the horizon packed more IR light relative to the rest of the sky. Not a bad result, given that this image was taken on Pride Weekend in Toronto.

- The water has various splotches of colour, but this is primarily due to the waves not being static from one frame to the next. This random colour shows less red, partially because infrared light is absorbed to a greater degree by water.

The image itself isn't that remarkable, but the experiment behind it reveals some hidden details and curiosities that make me ask questions. It images didn't line up perfectly, and I'm sure I could improve the technique used in making the shot.... but I'm happy with what I've learned. And this reminds me of a quote:

"Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."
- George Eastman
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Beautiful colors & awsoe. Lighting for an experiment. George Eastman said it best! Thx again for sharing Don!
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The Roundhouse Grounds - Downtown Toronto has many great places to visit, with one such location being the Roundhouse. Situated behind me, the open courtyard area allows for a great view of the skyline, or at least part of it. The iconic CN Tower is just out of the frame to the left, but I thought the image had better balance without it.

I shot this infrared image with a 14mm lens, which amplified the keystoning effect on the buildings and (in my opinion) added a bit of extra drama to the cityscape. It looks like +Gary Munroe has me in his sights toward the bottom right!
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+Harijanto Puyeh You are most welcome!
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Astrophotography has always been a passion of mine, and one I only pursue on rare occasions. This past weekend was one such occasion, and I could have been happier with the results. View large!

Fellow nature photographer +Ethan Meleg and I traveled to an iconic location in Killarney Provincial Park just in time for some good evening night and plenty of time to settle in for some star trail photography. The location was perfect, the weather was exceptional and the mosquitoes were terrifying. After we each experimented with single exposures of the starry landscape, we switched gears into star trail mode and let the cameras sit for over an hour, collecting light in 30-second segments.

Just as I set the camera to begin shooting the star trail sequence, a large green meteor lit up the sky. The brightness was too intense for the camera to capture on the actual meteor, but the reflection on the water shows a dimmer reflection and the true colours. I was thrilled! I think this is my favourite star trail image to date.

I pushed the limits of technology with this shot, edging up to ISO 8000. With the Canon 1D X, images taken at this level of sensitivity can be tamed, especially when multiple exposures can be used to remove noise in the foreground. I was test-driving a Canon 14mm lens for this shot, which makes it the first star trail image I've attempted with a non-fisheye lens, and I love the framing I was able to achieve. It was "version 1" of the lens, but it still performed admirably.

142 frames, each 30 seconds long make up the final image, resulting in an exposure around 71 minutes long, plus the "gap time" between shots. The images are pretty easy to combine together in Photoshop in a basic way, for those curious about the process. I wrote about it in an article for the Digital Photography School that you can find here:
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Thanks so much +Len Bishop and +Apurva Pavaskar! It was a fun shot to work on, and a joy to shoot. Nothing beats a night under the stars. :)
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With my newest purchase being a UV-modified camera, I needed to find out exactly how it performed against visible light and IR cameras. I have the equipment to split the light from a light source into its component wavelengths, which was used to put this graph together. What's it all mean? Read on! (and grab your propeller hat)

The scale on the bottom represents the wavelength of light. Human vision is typically between 390nm and 700nm, which we call "visible light". Digital cameras are designed to mimic this perception so that our images look like the world around us. Your standard digital camera blocks everything beyond what our eyes can see, even if the camera would otherwise be able to detect more light.

In the visible spectrum at the top, you'll see three primary colours with very little divide between them. The "fullness" without any gaps tells me all of the wavelengths are being recorded, but the three colours doesn't quite seem natural. I think this is due to the Colour Filter Array (CFA) of specifically green, red and blue colour filters in front of the camera sensor. Most cameras use this technology, but it would be very interesting to see the results from one of Sigma's Foveon sensors. Hint hint, +Sigma CorpofAmerica!

The infrared spectrum is longer wavelengths of light. CMOS sensors in digital cameras can detect down to about 1000nm or so, based on my findings. As the wavelengths have plenty of variation from 720nm to 1000nm, these can be "remapped" back into colours that exist to our perception; this makes false-colour infrared photography quite interesting. Foliage glows brightly while the water and sky remain quite dark, and the entire image can be made in light that is invisible to our own eyes. This graph was made with a camera specifically modified for infrared photography.

Ultraviolet photography is less common. Cameras can be modified to photograph light in the 300-400nm range on the opposite side of the spectrum than infrared. The filter that sits in front of my camera's sensor also leaks in a small amount of infrared light, which I had noticed in some of my recent images. This can be fixed by using a "hot mirror" filter, which is now on my wish list! UV light behaves differently with flowers, often creating a dark area in the center. Invisible to us, this can be seen by insects and can be photographed in interesting ways, adding a whole new level of curiosity to macro photography. I'll also be experimenting with astrophotography with the IR and UV cameras, it should be quite fun!

To make this graph, I needed to take apart a flash and remove its UV-blocking filter. Xenon flash tubes emit UV light, but that can be harmful to our eyes so manufacturers block that part of the spectrum. I bought a Vivitar 285HV and disassembled it today, removing this pesky filter and putting the flash back together for full-spectrum photography. Be sure to wear protective eyewear when you attempt to use a flash like this, UV light can cause "welder's flash" and make it feel like you have sandpaper in your eyes. Yikes!

The spectrum was split using a diffraction grating normally used by astronomers to figure out the composition of stars. See those lines, particularly in the infrared that are brighter than the rest? These "spectral lines" are created specifically by Xenon. Different elements have different spectral lines, and this knowledge is used to determine what stars are made of.

Xenon is often used in camera flashes because it's pretty even across the visible spectrum, with only a tiny little hiccup just before 500nm. Other light sources have different spectral qualities, and all of them affect the quality of images taken or viewed in their presence. That's the subject for an article I'm working on, but much more research is needed!

If you read all the way to the end, you can now consider yourself a light geek. :)
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Thanks +Ollie Dale! This kind of information is very useful for photographers working in a studio, especially when I compare it to CFL and LED bulbs with far weaker balance across the visible spectrum. It's all about understanding light!

Exactly +Seth Burgess! The filter in front of my sensor is an XNite330C, and while I had originally missed the right side of this graph ( ) it was playing a very big role in scenes that had far more IR light than UV light. The signs of glowing foliage were present, and I wasn't getting a clear picture of "true" UV light. As soon as I got this experimental data, I placed an order for a 77mm "Hot Mirror" filter, which blocks IR light but nothing else. Expensive filters, as very few people have a proper use for them.
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A new toy and a failed experiment that lead to new creative choices.
This image is the first shot that I've taken with my new ultraviolet-modified camera. The UV world doesn't have as much to offer photographers as the infrared world, but I knew it was something I wanted to explore. Patterns appear in flowers, usually only visible to certain insects. With that in mind, I also want to attempt to use this camera for extra-spectrum landscape photography and astrophotography.

Yesterday, the forecast was set for perfectly clear skies all afternoon, so in the late morning I set out for a location over two hours from home, Duchesnay Falls in North Bay, Ontario. It's a beautiful waterfall site with endless compositions for photographers. As I arrived, the sky was still completely overcast, and it stayed that way until the evening when I gave up and came home. I'm still confused as to how the weather forecast could have been so wrong, but I switched gears and looked for different subjects.

The base of this tree caught my eye, with the jagged rocks and roots adding texture to compliment the smooth flow of water through a narrow channel. There is a certain quality that the UV light lent to this frame, a certain crispness without being overly contrasty that I quite like. It gives the images a bit of a "film" feel, if that makes any sense.

This camera is a special weapon in my arsenal, but it will find a few valuable uses. It's been modified to remove the filters that normally block UV light, and in its place is a UV-pass filter that only allows ultraviolet light through. This camera takes things a step further, however.

Most digital camera use a "colour filter array" or CFA for short, which allows certain pixels on the sensor to pick up red, others to pick up blue and the rest to pick up green. Software analyzes this information to create a colour photograph, which is now most DSLRs work. The CFA is not very helpful for UV work, as it too blocks this spectrum of light to some degree. Removing this filter means that the camera sensor can be up to six times more sensitive to UV light, with the caveat that it can only be used for black & white images. Colour images can still be created with the aid of a second image taken with another camera in visible light, which is what I'll be experimenting with next.

The photographic adventure continues!
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Thanks +Darryl Van Gaal! I haven't properly experimented with the UV camera and the night sky, yet. It's on my to-do list. Next time you're heading out for a night shoot, let me know! I look forward to experimenting.

Haha thanks +Theresa Gallegos, it's a tool that very few photographers will use to create their art, and it's not an easy tool to use... but I think I can find some interesting uses for it. :)

Thanks too +Harijanto Puyeh!

Awesome +Bobo Fango, glad I could inspire you! My experiments are continuous in tghis area, and I might look into this... but I've been having great success with my tinkering so far. I just purchased an IR flashlight for some interesting light painting experiments. I'll be trying that next!
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$3, that's all it takes for either a cheap firework or a large Gerbera Daisy. I opted for the daisy, and coupled with a dandelion seed, this image was pretty easy to make. Read on!

The seed is held in place with a small clip, and so is the flower which is placed behind. All of my water droplet refraction photographs follow the same basic formula:
- Droplets come from a spray bottle and hit a surface that allows the water to bead nicely.
- A flower (or some other object) is placed behind the droplets. The droplets act like lenses and refract an image of whatever is behind them.
- Take a picture! Careful positioning of the flash and the angle of the camera is important and requires a bit of experimentation, but you can often see the effect with the naked eye and snapping the shot isn't as difficult as it might seem at first.

Sure, this kind of image is something that we don't normally encounter in our everyday lives, and need to be staged. That doesn't make it difficult, and the simplest ingredients can combine for some fantastic effects.

Extra tip: This particular dandelion seed had a bent "stem". This was important, as it allowed the clip to hold it in place while shooting straight through the "sail" of the seed did not show the end of the stem where the clip was holding it. It took a few tries before I figured this out!

Most of my macro shots include focus stacking, and this image consists of 16 separate frames; fewer than most! Because the depth in each image is so shallow, multiple images need to be combined to achieve the proper focus across the entire image. Such are the challenges of a macro photographer!
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+Don Komarechka I can say I learned sumthin new today :-) 
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In his circles
1,170 people
Turn knobs, press buttons, and take pictures.
  • Georgian College
    Part-time Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Don Komarechka Photography
    Owner / Photographer, 2008 - present
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barrie, ontario - sudbury, ontario
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(705) 796-6799
(705) 796-6799
Nature & Landscape Photographer, Teacher, gadget geek. :)
  • Georgian College
    Advertising, 2007 - 2009
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