Previsualizing Infrared Photographs

“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no short cuts in photography.”
– Edward Weston

Oxymoron? If a photograph is all about lighting, how is infrared photography  about making images using invisible light, which is why comparisons to traditional photography can be difficult. If you want to create a dramatic image, few things beat a beautiful sunrise photographed in vibrant colors. The same scene captured in infrared might be disappointing unless there’s some  reflective subject matter to add interest. The glowing appearance of foliage you see in infrared photographs is called the “Wood Effect” and it’s not named for the material wood, which does not strongly reflect infrared, but after IR photography pioneer Robert W. Wood (1868-1955).


To help with your IR previsualization, Here’s one of Farace’s Laws about capturing infrared photographs: If the lighting looks great for standard photographs, it’s probably not going to work for infrared photography. Don’t take my word for it; you need to experiment because you never know what the results will be when working in infrared until you try. There are no ‘official’ subjects for digital IR photography. Summer landscapes with deciduous trees, grass and puffy clouds often make a great infrared picture. Evergreens, like the Ponderosa Pines here on Daisy Hill, don’t reflect as much infrared but depending on the invisible light will reflect some.


Don’t confine your infrared photography just to landscapes. I like to photograph cars and made the picture of a Lotus Europa using an EOS 50D converted for IR-only capture by LifePixel. To insure sharp focus for this image I set the lens at its hyperfocal distance and changed exposure compensation to plus 1-1/3 stops to make the whites sparkle. Any subject is fair game if you want to produce digital infrared images. Experiment to discover what works. You may be surprised at the variety of subject matter you can find for your IR photographs.

Special for this blog’s readers for the next 30 day: If you want to save $50 Off with Priority Processing Upgrade when converting your camera to infrared, use the coupon code “FaraceIR” at LifePixel.

IR.bookMy book, “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography,” is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon at most affordable prices. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon at an affordable price with used copies available at a giveaway—less than a buck— price. Pick up inexpensive copies of these books for your favorite photographer as a Holiday gift.

Author: Joe Farace

Share This Post On