How to Take Infrared Photography
Today we will explain everything on the topic of how to take infrared photography, what the aesthetics of this type of photography includes, of course, which techniques are best to use, how to find the right motifs and ultimately how to process that photo and bring it to perfection. We will answer the most frequently asked questions on this topic and thus bring you even closer to the phenomenon of infrared photography and its application.
- The Aesthetics Of Infrared Photography
- When To Photograph In The Infrared Technique?
- Searching For Motives
- Infrared Photo Processing
- What equipment do I need for Infrared Photography?
- How do I modify my camera for Infrared Photography?
- What are some tips for the topic ‘How to Take Infrared Photography’?
- What are some common subjects for Infrared Photography?
- How do I focus when taking Infrared Photographs?
- How do I process Infrared Photographs?
The Aesthetics Of Infrared Photography
To answer the question of How to take infrared photography, we must be aware of the fact that its aesthetics play a big role in this. It might be fair to say that infrared landscape photography provides the most contrasting and interesting photos, but that doesn’t have to stop you from doing infrared photography with other subjects.
For many, the charm of infrared photography is that with motifs that are familiar to all of us, they can show some kind of different reality. None of us knows what the world around us looks like in the infrared spectrum, without blue, green, yellow and all the other colors. The objects in the photo are familiar to us, but the colors are not exactly what we are used to. If we stay in the black and white variety, we get an almost black sky with very bright, almost white areas that represent what we see as greenery.
I like to say that infrared photography is like a children’s coloring book. By framing and shooting, we get the basic contours; it depends on us as the authors how and with what colors the photo will end up painted.
When To Photograph In The Infrared Technique?
Although you can always take photos in the infrared spectrum, we will still get the most impressive photos when there is enough sunlight and, even more important, enough plant mass (leaves, grass) that will reflect the most IR light. From my experience, on the continent, it is from March to November, while on the coast you should avoid summer because then the vegetation is usually dry, and what is green is usually pine and olive, which have a much smaller surface that will reflect IR light.
Of course, this is just a guide, you are free to experiment at any time of the year and in all kinds of conditions, it is best to see for yourself. Also, apparently there will be no night IR photography.
Searching For Motives
Motives can be all kinds, there is no wisdom here. It should be said that the sky and water will always be dark because of course they do not reflect infrared light, while clouds, grass, leaves, and flowers will be bright because the chlorophyll in them helps to reflect infrared light from them back into the environment.
It is also good to say that infrared light “penetrates” through the haze, so objects in the distance will often be clearer to us than when taking a classic photo. Therefore, forests, trees and lakes often look very effective in IR photography. Architecture and people, if they are integrated into the greenery, also turn out to be interesting, a bit alien.
When you get to the place where you will take photos, first observe the scene with the naked eye, so I put the filter in front of my eyes and if you judge that there are enough interesting details, then you will frame with the camera. It takes a few seconds for the eye to adjust to the change and then you see a very red world with very white areas of what is normally green.
Please note that you do not accidentally look directly at the sun through any filter, including IR. After framing and setting the focus (usually at the hyperfocal length), place the filter in front of the lens and make the exposure.
We recommend that the sun is always somewhere behind your back or to the side. Not only because you will get a better-lit scene, but you will also have fewer bright spots. Because, if the sun is visible in your lens or is quite perpendicular to the axis of the lens, there will certainly be a reflection of light from the filter to the front element and back and if you have any pieces of dirt on the filter or lens, it will also appear as bright spots across the frame, which will be quite difficult to clean in post-processing.
Also, it is wise to cover the camera’s viewfinder so that excess light does not come through it due to a longer exposure. This last tip is not so important to you if you use compact cameras that do not have an optical viewfinder or a modified camera because then you also have short exposures.
Infrared Photo Processing
Although it is possible to use photos as the camera recorded them, you will still agree that it is better when we also play with colors and get an effective infrared photo. Sometimes we’ll just switch it to black and white, but much more often we’ll try to get an effective blue-white or maybe reddish-blue photo. The final colors can also depend on how you feel that day, what suits you in that particular photo and what doesn’t…
As far as processing is concerned, of course it is understood that you will take photos on a digital negative, i.e. RAW format. Since there will be a relatively large number of digital manipulations on the photo it lose less quality.
What we recommend that you do on your photos first is to emphasize the contrasts within the program for processing those raw photos. So, additionally (if needed) darken the sky and lighten the parts you want brighter in the final photo.
Play with all the numbers until you get what works for you. Somehow in my case, it’s usually close to the initial values, but of course, it doesn’t have to be the case for you. The last step is to play with the curves to get more contrast in the photo.
Sometimes, the colors we get just don’t turn out right, maybe they’re pale or leaning towards greenish or something. Then you can switch the photo to black and white, emphasize the contrasts and simply solve the problem.
If you are still asking yourself How to Take Infrared Photography, then just follow all the steps we have presented for you today and your infrared photos will take on a new glow.
What equipment do I need for Infrared Photography?
You will need a camera that can capture infrared light, which can be achieved by either modifying a digital camera or purchasing a dedicated infrared camera. You will also need an infrared filter, which can be mounted onto your lens to block out visible light and only allow infrared light to pass through.
How do I modify my camera for Infrared Photography?
Modifying a camera for infrared photography involves removing the camera’s internal infrared-blocking filter and replacing it with an infrared-passing filter. This modification can be done by a professional camera technician or as a DIY project with the right tools and instructions.
What are some tips for the topic ‘How to Take Infrared Photography’?
When taking infrared photographs, it is important to remember that the camera will not produce the same colors as visible light. Instead, the foliage will appear white, the sky will appear dark, and skin tones will appear different. Here are some tips for taking infrared photographs:
- Shoot in RAW format to capture more detail and enable more post-processing options.
- Use a tripod to keep the camera steady during long exposure times.
- Experiment with different shutter speeds and apertures to find the best settings for the scene.
- Look for scenes with interesting textures and patterns that can be highlighted in infrared photography.
- Use a polarizing filter to reduce glare and reflections.
- Consider shooting during the golden hour or blue hour for more dramatic lighting.
What are some common subjects for Infrared Photography?
Infrared photography can be used to capture a wide variety of subjects, including landscapes, architecture, portraiture, and even wildlife. Some common subjects for infrared photography include trees and foliage, bodies of water, clouds and skies, and urban landscapes. The unique look of infrared photography can also be used to create abstract or surreal images.
How do I focus when taking Infrared Photographs?
Focusing can be a challenge in infrared photography because infrared light doesn’t focus at the same distance as visible light. One way to overcome this is by using manual focus and focusing on a distant object, such as a mountain or a tall building. Another option is to use autofocus and then adjust the focus slightly to compensate for the shift in focus caused by the infrared light. Some cameras also have a dedicated infrared focus mode that can help with this issue.
How do I process Infrared Photographs?
Processing infrared photographs requires some adjustments compared to processing regular photographs. The white balance, contrast, and saturation settings will need to be adjusted to create the desired effect. Infrared photographs also tend to have more noise, so noise reduction techniques may need to be applied. Some photographers prefer to convert their infrared photographs to black and white or sepia tones to enhance the mood and atmosphere of the image. Overall, processing infrared photographs requires some experimentation and trial and error to find the best settings for each image.