Welcome to the world of the unseen. Read on and you will get to know what I mean by ‘the world of the unseen’
The most striking feature of infrared photography is that these pictures just cannot go un- noticed; they force you to have a second look.
Not many people try their hands at this genre as it needs a special consideration about the equipment and it asks for an altogether different approach and technique. But once you get to know the technique, you will be unstoppable at it.
So let’s get to know more about infrared Photography.
What is Infrared Photography?
The world we see is because our eyes are designed to perceive visible light. This visible light to the eye, however, constitutes only a very small portion of the whole spectrum of light.
Normally our vision is restricted to light wavelengths from 400 nanometers (nm) to 700 nanometers. The light with wavelengths less than 400 nm is called ‘ultraviolet light’, while the light with wavelength more than 700 nanometers is called as ‘Infrared light’.
Infrared photography is a way to capture the unseen infrared light into the camera.
The atmosphere is filled with infrared light all the time. You will be astonished to know that 50 % of sunlight is infrared light.
One more interesting thing to know is that the sensors of our Digital cameras are more sensitive to infrared light than the normal visible light.
The question arises here, why can’t we make infrared pictures with our cameras?
Infrared photography has been around for many years. Let’s know some more interesting facts about infrared photography
Interesting facts about infrared photography
- Digital camera sensors are more sensitive to infrared light than normal visible light.
- Infrared photography is used by Law enforcement officers to detect evidence which is not visible to the normal eye.
- 33 different kinds of infrared films were available during 1937 for film cameras. Manufacturers included Kodak, Agfa and others.
- The first infrared sensitive plates were developed during World War I, for spectroscopic analysis
- Infrared images are captured at a light wavelength more than 700 nanometers. A human eye is restricted to vision from 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers.
- Kodak developed camouflage detection film using infrared photography principle in 1940
- Jimi Hendrix used infrared cover photos for his album covers, so did Frank Zappa and the Grateful dead.
- Infrared movie was used to create day and night effects in motion pictures during the 1940’s
- Infrared astronomy is a branch of Astronomy to study astronomical objects visible in infrared light.
- Most manual focus 35 mm SLR lenses have a red dot or line marked with ‘R’ for infrared indexing.
- Infrared photography is used in landscapes and wedding photography, sometimes with an opaque filter to block the blue visible light.
- Fuji has produced infrared digital cameras for forensic criminology use and in the field of medicines.
- The golden hour to shoot infrared photography is midday.
- Coloured infrared images are a mix of infrared light and visible light.
- Just like infrared photography, there is also ultraviolet photography.
Equipment’s needed for Infrared Photography
You will not need much; If you have an existing DSLR camera, it will work, but with a few additions. Let’s see one by one, all that you will need for infrared photography.
- A digital camera: Obviously you will need a DSLR. Now there are some people who get their digital cameras converted specifically for infrared photography to get the best results (more on that later). To start off with infrared photography a regular DSLR will work fine.
- IR Filters: There are special infrared filters available in the market. The best filters to start with will be 700nm filters & 900nm filters
- Lenses: There is no need of expensive lenses for infrared photography. The kit lenses of your camera or a 50mm prime would be sufficient to start with. Primes will definitely give better results. One thing to make sure is to buy IR filters compatible with your lenses.
- A sturdy tripod: You are going to need a sturdy tripod as you will have to shoot long exposure shots to achieve what you desire. So to avoid any kind of shake, you will definitely need a sturdy tripod.
- Wired remote (Optional): Once you have mounted your camera on the tripod, it is always better to have a wired remote so that you don’t risk shaking your camera when you press the shutter button using your fingers. A wired remote is of great help for long exposure photography. You can avoid shaking by making a delay in exposure by a few seconds as well, but I would recommend having a wired remote for two reasons. One you can click right away when you want. Imagine if you have to wait for a few seconds every time you feel like taking a picture. I would rather have a wired remote and secondly, these are not expensive at all.
As you can see, it is possible to shoot infrared images with your routine camera by adding an Infrared filter to it. To get the best results, you also need to have a thorough understanding of the infrared light.
You need to know how this special light behaves and how your camera will respond to it. How infrared light is reflected off various surfaces and how our lenses behave differently with this light.
It is just a matter of getting acquainted with infrared light. Let us see a few effects of infrared light on photographs.
Effects of infrared light on Images
The best part of infrared photography is that you do not need those typical golden hours for landscapes or soft diffused lights portraits.
All you need is the sun in the sky and you can get amazing pictures at any time the sun is visible in the sky. As the golden hour for landscapes is during the sunset or the sunrise, Infrared photography golden hour is at midday.
Infrared light produces unfamiliar colours in the images. Colours, that most of the people have not witnessed in photographs before. That is what makes such pictures attractive in the first place.
Below is an example of the same picture in natural visible light and in infrared light.
Black & White photography works best with infrared lights. True infrared light makes only high quality black and white images; however, with a small amount of visible light mixed in it, we can even make colour infrared images.
Infrared light has a very surreal effect on photographs.
The spectrum of light used for infrared photography is called as near infrared spectrum as the actual or far infrared spectrum is used in thermal imaging.
If you enjoy day-to-day photography and understand many of its nuances, it is time to come forward a few steps and enter the new world of this special unseen light.