Infra-red

With the good weather of late, Ian and I have been doing the rounds of the National Trust Gardens again. It has been several years since we last visited Scotney Castle, so one fine spring weekend we loaded up the car with our photography gear and off we went.

Earlier in the year we had arranged for a Canon 5D Mark II to be converted to infra-red* and I was keen to have a go and see what I could produce with it. I snapped away getting very strange, yet sometimes quite beguiling results.

You can take infra-red images by putting a filter on the front of the lens, and this is usually the quickest and cheapest way to get into IR photography. However, this has a few drawbacks:

  • In some situations you can get a lot of flare which is hard to remove from the image
  • The filter is very dark so it is hard to see what you are shooting, or to focus accurately
  • Exposure times are significantly increased so taking images of moving subjects can be quite tricky, or downright impossible

If you convert your camera to IR then these problems largely go away and you can use the camera pretty much as normal. Just remember that this permanently changes the camera to an IR only body, unless you want to pay to have it reconverted again!

The basics of shooting IR with a converted camera are as follows:

  • Focus may be slightly off (since lenses focus IR light differently to normal light). Different lenses are affected to varying degrees, so for perfect focus it is best to focus manually, using live view.
  • Since the image on the back of the camera (and when downloaded) comes out in shades of pink you have to use your imagination to visualise what the final image would look like. You can look online for ways to process these IR images, but the easiest and most common is to turn them into black and white.

The interesting thing is what to shoot, as IR changes appearances quite a lot! In landscape, sky and water go dark whilst foliage comes out white. People’s hair goes grey (very ageing!!) and their skin takes on a waxy appearance. Stone and metal look very much as normal. Looking around I could see several scenes where an attractive image could be possible. Some sky and water, attractive foliage and of course the castle itself.

The image at the head of this post is my favourite, but I have added a few more in the gallery below…

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* Most people choose to convert an old camera body when they are upgrading to a new one. There are plenty of places to get your camera converted, but we used Protech Photographic, in Sussex, and are very happy to recommend them. Great service at a reasonable price, with good advice on what sensor to choose.

One response to Infra-red

  1. Why?Matters!

    That seem to be a really interesting area IR photography. The pictures are great. And you are right i used a filter once and it is really difficult to become a good result. Great pictures!

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