infrared – |ˌinfrəˈred| (adj): having a wavelength just greater than that of the red end of the visible light spectrum but less than that of microwaves. Infrared radiation has a wavelength from about 800 nm to 1 mm, and is emitted particularly by heated objects.
Infrared (IR) photography is not a new photography technique, however the advent of the digital camera has made it a much easier technique to get into. All the imaging sensors in digital cameras are capable of collecting light from well beyond the visible spectrum which includes the infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. Because normally we don’t want to capture the non-visible light, digital cameras come with a “hot-mirror” installed over the imaging sensor. This mirror has a dichroic coating that allows only visible light to pass through and reflects all of the non-visible light.
Relatively recently people have started to modify digital cameras by replacing or even removing the hot-mirror so that they can capture images outside the range of visible light. The most common modification is to place a new dichroic filter over the sensor that only allows infrared light to pass through and maybe a little bit of visible light at that end of the spectrum. If you are comfortable taking apart your camera you can buy a kit, but for not that much more money there are companies that will do the modification for you.
Why would we want to photograph light that we normally can’t see? Well, it is just another way to look at the world and it can produce some very striking images. With that, I gave you my photo of the week:
As you can see, the colors are very different than what you normally see. The most odd is probably the sky, which comes out orange. IR images also make beautiful black and white images which you can do right in your favorite photo editor. It certainly gives you quite a different perspective on the world.
This photo was taken lat summer with a Nikon D70 that had been modified for IR. I borrowed the camera for a few days from the staff photographer at camp to play around with it. Hopefully I will get the chance to do more this coming summer. I would love to have one of my old cameras converted, but right now I could use the money for other things.
As always, comments and critiques are welcome and encouraged.