How to take Infrared Photographs

Monte Louro as seen by infrared Photography in Black and White

No longer a mistery, travellers usually seek new motivations in far-away lands. For all of you, photography enthusiasts, here’s our Photography series back showcasing Infrared photography.

Noia Cathedral as seen by Infrared Photography in Black and White

Noia Cathedral as seen by Infrared Photography in Black and White

  • What is Infrared photography?

A controversial fact: Infrared photography arised from an unusual discovery in the military, while looking for a camouflage detection system.

We are used to regular photography and like to admire the visible light spectrum with wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm. On the other hand, infrared photography wavelengths range between 700 and 1200 nm.

To achieve this an infrared filter is used. It excludes ultraviolet radiation and all, or a percentage, of visible light. Filters differ in the amount of visible light and infrared light which passes through.

Alameda in Noia, another stunning Infrared picture in BW

Alameda in Noia, another stunning Infrared picture in BW

  • How to shoot Infrared Photography?

Besides a special filter, for film photography, we need to use a infrared radiation sensitive film.

While in the case of digital photography, the process could be more complex. A filter that stops IR radiation to pass through comes with the sensor of many cameras in order to increase pictures sharpness. That said, to achieve our goal, we will need to modify our camera. Some of them are better suited than others for this purpose. And, a little number don’t even need more than a quick filter removal! Likewise, we are going to need longer exposure times than for regular photography. Although this could vary a lot depending on what are we shooting.

Black and white infrared photography of a wooden bridge

Black and white infrared photography of a wooden bridge

  • Why and when to use Infrared Photography?

One of the main applications of infrared photography is astrophotography since most of the stuff in the universe does not emit in the visible
spectrum but in IR. Also, it’s starting to be noticed by many artists; as the way everyday objects absorb and emit visible light and IR, is very different and striking. As a result, their artworks look stunning!

Monte Louro as seen by infrared Photography in Black and White

Monte Louro as seen by infrared Photography in Black and White

Monte Louro in Black and White

Monte Louro in Black and White

For instance, chlorophyl healthy grass and green foliage absorb most of the visible radiation and transmits most of the IR radiation. Certain buildings and many types of soil, rocks and sands also exhibit a high reflectance IR. In contrast, blue sky transmits a low IR radiation, and that’s why IR photography helps to emphasize the shape and contrast of the clouds.
In short, the world we are used to seeing is quite different from the world we see with IR photography.

Curiously, certain films simulate night scenes using a film sensitive to infrared daylight.

Technically, the difficulties of this type of photography are the adaptation of equipment (if we talk digital), focus and framing (you will virtually see nothing through the viewfinder), correct white balance, and noise that can get pretty high (a perfect exposure is vital and, of course, it will have to be completely manual since rangefinders built into the cameras are designed for visible light).

Infrared photograph of a galician landscape

Infrared photograph of a galician landscape

Personally I prefer IR photography in black and white and Simon Marsden is one of its great masters. With some patience and self-learning by doing, you can reach amazing results.

Give it a try and let us know how it went!




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