Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts

Getting started with Infrared Photography

I’ve always been interested in Infrared Photography, but it seemed that I would never get the chance to try it out.  I had read about a Singh-Ray filter that you could use on your camera and it would shoot infrared.  But it would take a normal exposure during the day and require 2 to 4 minutes.  And I couldn’t find one to rent.  Then I was taking a workshop from Tony Sweet, and he offered the chance to try it out.  I had heard from others that one of the advantages of infrared photography was that things looked surreal.  I wasn’t after surreal photographs, if I wanted that I could always shoot HDR and adjust the sliders to their maximum.  And some of the published work in infrared just looked interesting to me.

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in Infrared

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in Infrared

So this was the first photo I took was this one.  Tony had his D800 set to black and white for preview, and the picture looked interesting there.  Then I took a look at the nef file and asked for help.  Sue Milestone showed us how to create a color infrared shot.  And Tony showed us black and white infrared processing.

The picture you see to the left is my version of what she showed us.

One of the things that Tony mentioned that the heat of the day worked well for infrared photography.  So I spent the next few days occasionally trying infrared.  I must admit it felt a little decadent, having both my D800 and Tony’s converted D800 around my neck.

The conversion that Tony had was the LifePixel SuperColor conversion.  There are a number of conversions, but this one gives you the ability to do color, instead of the more traditional conversions that are locked into black and white.  While I like doing black and white work, sometimes the color conversion is what you want.


One of the things that Tony mentioned was the infrared brought out details in the clouds.  Here I was interested in both the details in the clouds and the interplay of light in the valley below.  This picture is actually an eight shot pano using the Really Right Stuff Pano head.  This head makes a world of difference in being to have a pano that is easier to stitch together with level horizons.  Of course it does end up creating really big photoshop files.


So I bought a refurbished camera and sent it off to LifePixel. Shortly after I got it back I had the opportunity to go with Mike’s Camera for a HawkQuest event.
Since I had the infrared camera, I wanted to see if owls looked any different under infrared light. This shot ended up being a decisive moment shot, where it was just the moment of time. The white behind the owl, is a tree, and the leaves are bright white in infrared because they reflect almost all of the infrared to keep the cells from dying.

In Lenswork Extended 125, Brooks Jensen has a portfolio from Marty Knapp. In the interview  he comments that one problem with infrared photography is that it calls attention to itself.  In this picture, don’t think it’s evident that it’s an infrared shot.

At this point I’m still learning infrared photography and reading Laurie Klein’s book, “Infrared Photography: Artistic Techniques for Brilliant Images” and watching online lectures from Vincent Versace, Jason Odell and Jack Davis.