When I was a Forensic Photographer one of the films I used a lot was the 8x10 Infrared (IR) with many types of filters. I would go hours after hours of trial and error trying to find out what would work.
Now I’m not going to get all techie techie about IR because my blog is about fun IR photography. But if you want to know the definition of Infrared photography I grabbed this from the internet: “In infrared photography, the film or image sensor used is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the spectrum used is referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700 nm to about 900 nm”.
That’s out of the way…
I’ve always wanted to shoot IR for myself but you know, as always you don’t do it. I did buy 35mm IR film and small squares of Red filter but that’s how close I got to actually shooting.
25 plus years later I finally made it!! I know two options of shooting IR: 1) convert a camera for IR, or 2) buy an IR filter. A couple of hundred of dollars converting a camera that I can ONLY use for IR or buying a filter for less than $100.00…yep the latter suits me fine. I purchased the Hoya Infrared R72 filter. (not a spokesperson for Hoya but the price was right). It’s a dark red filter that requires a tripod for long exposures. (If you convert a camera to IR I believe you can hand carry). I’ve been shooting long exposures with ND filters lately so I have no probably with patience. I bought two filters: one for the 14mm and 50mm primes lenses. I wanted a filter for my favorite landscape/fine art 35mm but I couldn’t find the size.
Tip #1: During my research about IR I found out that some lenses don’t work well. Some lenses leave a “hot spot” in your image. I found a website that gave me the list of lenses that worked well with IR. It also let you know the ones that worked well, how far you can close down your F/stop. Don’t know if it’s 100% accurate but it could help when buying filters.
What’s so great about shooting IR besides photographing/enhancing evidence? If you convert your photograph to black and white, most likely everything dark (such as leaves) will turn white. Or maybe different shades of white because of what you’re photographing. If you leave it in color, you can create your photograph anyway you may like. There’s no right or wrong – it’s all to your own personal liking. The bottom line – it’s cool! You can create some AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHS!
Tip #2: In my research they recommend to shoot in broad daylight, maybe from 10AM – 4PM. I believe the more sun you have the more pop it gives your images. When I got my filters it’s been cloudy…but I couldn’t wait. It was a little sun trying to peak through but it gave me the chance to see how it all works.
This week (actually Tuesday) we had ONE BRIGHT SUNNY DAY! I got to my location and my first photograph was around noon. It was fun and challenging especially if I tried to shoot flowers, etc. I wanted to see how the long exposure with water would look like. It’s a lot of fun and I plan to do more.
Tip #3: Fujifilm mirrorless cameras I am able to see through the filter. Yes it’s very dark but because there’s no mirror, I can set up, set my settings and auto focus with the lens on. This holds true when shooting with ND filters also
Tip #4: If possible use your lens hood. You may get sun flare. One of my photographs I had my camera right in the direction of the sun just to see what it would look like. There’s some sun flare.
Tip #5: When it comes to post processing I used Adobe Camera RAW and Capture One. From my research I found you can edit in Photoshop using the Channel Mixer. That did not work for me. What I did in both software’s – for color I used the white balance and edit more after that. Black and white I just converted and edit to my liking. Everyone does it differently.
Below are some of my photographs first time shooting IR. Decided to play around and convert to color as well as black and white. I still have a lot to learn but I’m on track.
So if you want to shoot (like me) and don’t want to get up o-dark-thirty (like me) or stay up until midnight (definitely not me), go out in the middle of a sunny day and shoot some IR.
Gear used: Fujifilm X-H1, XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens, XF 50mm f/2 R WR prime lens, and Hoya Infrared R72 filter.