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Extend your photo shooting time by adding infrared to your arsenal

Photograph in the dawn and sunset times. So goes traditional advice in making beautiful photos. That is wonderful advice. But, you can increase your image capture time with infrared.

Infrared time

While you can capture infrared images at any time 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. can be prime time for infrared. I find those hours increase my shooting time on location. The high contrast and skewing of a deep blue sky black with gorgeous white clouds adds a dimension to black and white photos.

Chlorophyll also reads different with infrared making green grass and leaves glow white. All in all, having an IR camera in your quiver increases the number of keepers you can get especially when traveling.

Imperial Sand Dunes near Brawley, CA. Early afternoon allowed the sun to come from the right. Shadows add depth and dimension.

Convert a camera

Back in the day you would add an IR filter in front of your lens and shoot with IR film. It added a lot of complexity to the process for focusing and handling of the film. Focus was difficult because the filters were so dark and IR light rendered slightly different from visible light. With Live View digital cameras and a change to an in-camera infrared filter on a dedicated camera makes focus a snap.

“Dedicated camera? What’s that, Bob?”

I suggest that many of us have a slightly older model digital camera on a shelf that is not seeing any use. Getting that camera outfitted with an IR filter gives it new life and you a different way of seeing the world. These images were made with my Panasonic Lumix GH4.

desert infrared photo from joshua tree national park
Made at Joshua Tree National Park. Midday light is brutal in the desert. With some clouds in the distance infrared makes this work.

I am an affiliate of LifePixel conversions. There are a number of other companies to check out as well. Heck if you are handy you might do a conversion yourself. I recommend LifePixel because I’ve had a couple cameras successfully converted. But even more important, they have tons of tutorials and information on various options from color IR to standard 720NM filters.

Infrared processing

Because the camera is working with the less visible spectrum you’ll need to do some extra processing to complete the final image. LifePixel offers help with that as well. Here also is an article I wrote about the IR process using Adobe Photoshop. Photofocus has a number of articles on infrared from myself, Joy Celine Asto, Michael Ryno and Nicole S. Young. See those links here.

If you have any questions give me a shout!

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

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Rafael Jones

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