Still Time for Infrared

It won’t be long before the leaves start falling off tree, so now might be your best chance to go out and shoot some infrared images—Joe

Shot with IR-converted Camera

1/125 sec at f/9 and ISO 200

There’s color, monochrome 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 is considered to be infrared. Surprisingly, this band of infrared light is a thousand times wider than visible light yet is totally invisible.

Capturing images using infrared has the power to transform mundane subject matter into dramatic photographs. Scenes you might walk by and never think of photographing, take on a more spectacular look when seen via infrared and it has never been simpler to do than with digital capture. With IR film the process wasn’t easy. In addition to using special film stock your camera had to be loaded and unloaded in total darkness to reduce the possibility of fogging the film. To shoot IR film you needed to use special filters and process the film yourself. Now you can do it on your desktop.

If you 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. Life Pixel is among several companies that convert digital SLRs and point-and-shoots into IR-only cameras. Conversion prices vary depending on the model so check their website for details.

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.

Author: Joe Farace

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