In photography, there is color, black and white, and the kind of monochrome images that can only be captured by invisible light. Every color’s wavelength is measured in nanometers (one billionth of a millimeter) and light with wavelengths from 700 and 900nm (nanometers) is considered to be infrared light. Surprisingly, this band of infrared light is a thousand times wider than that of visible light yet is totally invisible to our eyes.
Capturing images using infrared light has the power to transform mundane subject matter into dramatic photographs. Scenes that you might walk by and never think of shooting, take on a spectacular look when seen via infrared light and it has never been simpler to do than by using digital technology.
If you decide to get serious about digital infrared photography you might consider having a camera converted to IR-only operation and that way you’ll see the results immediately on the camera’s LCD screen. The many older digital SLRs coming onto the used market offer a perfect opportunity to pick up an extra camera body that uses all of the lenses in your system and can be dedicated to infrared photography without breaking the ole piggy bank.
One of the most important lessons you need to learn about shooting IR images is to forget everything you know about lighting and the best time of day to capture images. To give foliage that famed infrared glow you need to shoot at a time of day when there’s more sun on the scene than not. This puts your prime shooting times around mid-day! These are not the best of times to make conventional images but are the “golden hours” for infrared. If you need a rule of thumb, try this one: the best time of day to shoot IR is when it’s the worst time of day to shoot normal images. Want hands-on learning? Sign up for my summer IR Workshop series.
The above image in Arapaho National Forest was captured as a RAW file with a Panasonic Lumix G6 that was converted for infrared capture by LifePixel and Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (at 12mm) and an exposure of 1/400 sec at f/13 and ISO 400. It was processed in the free Silver Efex Pro and toned using PhotoKit 2.
Tip: By using the coupon code “joefarace50” you get $50 off Priority Processing from LifePixel, so you can save time and money.
My book The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is currently out of print but you can get an affordable used copy or not-so-affordable new copies of the book from Amazon.com.