This is a re-post of my original from 2012.
So I have decided to take the plunge into infrared photography! I have always been interested in the beautiful dark skies and snowy foliage but put off by the complicated and sometimes expensive modifications needed to achieve true infrared photography.
There are loads of tutorials online on how to achieve an infrared effect using a normal image but they are never as effective as the real thing and to me it feels like cheating. I want real IR!
My first experience with infrared was rather disappointing to me as it worked first time! I like a bit of a challenge when trying new photographic methods and after hearing how difficult it was to achieve I was hoping to get my hands dirty with some camera modding, but my first shoot was pretty close to what I wanted to achieve.
The first camera I tried was a Canon G10 with an Ilford SFX filter; I experimented with the settings and focusing until I got the balance of ISO, shutter speed and aperture right. Below is how the shots look straight from the camera.
To get the colours many people recognize from IR photography you must use the Channel Mixer in Photoshop. This is very straight forward as all you need to do is:
- In the red output channel change RED to 0% and BLUE to 100%
- In the blue output channel change RED to 100% and BLUE to 0%
After this you will get an image like below:
You will then need to tweak the Levels to your liking, but I cheat slightly and use Auto Levels and then fade it, this produces the final image below:
The G10 isn’t perfect as it creates what is known as a ‘hot spot’ in the center of the image. This is caused by internal reflections of light between lens elements, and also the coating on some lenses. The hot spots can be reduced by changing the aperture settings.
After using my G10 I thought I’d step it up a gear and try my 50D but this was really disappointing. As the 50D is a pro DSLR camera it is far less sensitive to IR light and this means the pictures were pants!
The next image shows what the images look like from the Canon 50D, I used the same settings (including white balance) but the results were very different.
They did however make very nice black and white images.
My next plans are to find a suitably cheap camera to modify, preferably an old Minolta like the Dimage Z1, it may only be 3 mega-pixels but the image quality is fantastic!
But more on that next time when I will be discussing why mega-pixels aren’t the be all and end all of digital photography.