How did you spend Black Friday?
Personally, I’ve never bought into the annual holiday shopping spree. The idea of getting trampled in a stampede of people or fighting over the latest gadget just doesn’t appeal to me. To each his or her own.
Instead of spending the unseasonably warm day at the mall, I grabbed my IR converted Lumix camera for another installment of my Infrared San Fernando Valley series. This time I headed to Mason Park, a suburban oasis near Mason and Devonshire St. in Chatsworth. Mason Park is known for its recreation center and splash pad for kids. It’s all about family fun as opposed to hiking. I hesitated to include this park in the series as it’s not as outdoorsy as the other parks I’ve photographed in this invisible color spectrum. In retrospect, I’m happy I gave it a chance and hope these photos show that you can get good shots almost anywhere.
Mason Park Chatsworth Infrared Photo Gallery
Note: All the photos in this post were post-processed with channel swamping, hue/saturation adjustments, and auto toning in Photoshop.
When I arrived at the park, the signage immediately caught my eye. I don’t usually focus on the city park signs as there’s little variation from location to location. This time I noticed the way the sign was positioned with Mason street to its left and the park behind it to the right. I set my white balance to a custom saved value of foliage on a bright summer day to compensate for less sunlight. I tried to capture a bit of that contrast in the main image at the beginning of this post.
From there I wandered over between the baseball fields to get the hills in the background. Before I got closer to the hills in front of me I glanced up at the clouds that seemed to emanate from two particular trees. Since clouds are something of a rarity during fall in Los Angeles, I turned my attention to those trees in the photo above.
I realized I was standing at a good vantage point for an infrared panorama. I attempted to take an up and down pano rather than left to right, and only succeeded once. The result wasn’t nearly as awesome as I’d hoped (too much dirt in the shot), so I settled for a standard left to right pano. I plan to revisit the portrait mode panorama concept again with IR architecture shots.
I walked towards the playground area and discovered a single tree perched atop a little grassy hill. I loved the way the clouds around it seemed to point towards it and shot it from beneath a nearby tree with branches dangling above for some natural framing. I moved in closer for simpler composition minus the framing afterwards.
I started to walk to the other side of the park and spotted a squirrel near a park bench. The squirrel scurried away as I stepped closer, so I concentrated on the bench. I’ve seen several inspiring IR shots of benches with very simple composition in my infrared photography Facebook groups. I initially shot the scene in portrait mode, however, I felt the photo lacked perspective without a vanishing point. I ended up going back to landscape mode and used the shadows to give the shot a touch of perspective.
I heard the squirrel rustling behind me and caught an interesting scene out of the corner of my eye. I saw two tall trees jutting out above the rest from a distance. My eyes zeroed in on two other trees in front of me that seemed to frame the whole scene from afar. The wispy clouds added a delicate touch to the image IMO.
I looked around to see if anything around me might work with backlighting. I liked the way the shadows stretched across the ground with the sun peeking through tree branches. I wanted a bit of lens flare in the shot; I think the subtle flare in the above photo resembles a mystical aura.
I went back by the park bench to retrieve my bike and head home when the squirrel reappeared. I figured I may as well try to get a photo or two of it while I had the chance. The squirrel stared down at me as I fiddled with my camera settings adjusting the aperture. Just as I went to hit the shutter button, it lept away!
By then I felt determined to capture the little rascal. I followed the squirrel as it scampered around jumping from tree to tree above me. It finally settled on a branch for a snack. I zoomed in for a portrait of it nibbling. Clearly the lighting wasn’t ideal, but you can’t control everything when it comes to nature. It crawled to another branch where I got a shot of it peeking at me from behind the leaves. All that posing must have tired it out as it climbed to the other side of the tree and sprawled out on a branch. I giggled as a shot the squirrel lounging in the afternoon heat with a canopy of leaves surrounding it.
I learned a few things about IR photography by shooting Mason Park and I hope you did, too. I resolved to make sure future shoots take place earlier in the day, which is challenging for me as a late riser with health issues that tend to flare up in the morning. Until next time, stay shooting!