See the world in a whole new light: Infrared
January 29, 2010 9:56 AM   Subscribe

See the world in a whole new light: 100 Years of Infrared Photography (BBC blogger, Phil Coomes). You too can take digital infrared photos (in a nutshell) by using an infrared filter that screws on the front of the lens (or make your own), OR you can convert your camera to take IR photos. 26 Incredible Examples of Infrared Photography with Descriptions. The Complete Color Infrared (IR) Tutorial Guide Walkthrough (although I prefer them converted to Black & White (NSFW fine art nudes included). Beginning Infrared Photography with Digital Cameras. An easy way to test to see how sensitive your camera is to infrared (using a remote control) and (a similar page). How about a massive (on-going since May, 2007 - 51 page) forum thread on Infrared Photography Methodology and Post-processing Workflows? More links at Infrared Photography Resources and see the Flickr groups devoted specially to IR: IR World and Digital Infrared.
posted by spock (17 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Previously (2004)
posted by spock at 9:59 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Infrared is quite a bit of fun. Two things IR has done for my photographic hobby:
1) Forced me to work on my composition. Since I don't know what is going to be darker or lighter than what else, composition is key.
2) I can now shoot outside in the dead of winter and get something *interesting*. in color, winter is a *lot* of blue and dingy brown.

(is this where I can link to my flickr IR feed?)
posted by notsnot at 10:07 AM on January 29, 2010

I think you forgot to mention you can use IR film. In something called a "film camera".
posted by GuyZero at 10:24 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I got a converted Nikon 8400 a couple of years ago, and while I don't use it nearly as much as I should, I love it. It's a fine photographic exercise, and I love the slightly-surreal look of B&W infrared.

Just about the only thing I don't like about IR photography is the endless use of "on a different wavelength" or "in a different light" by everyone with an article or an exhibition. Cool article, though.
posted by echo target at 10:32 AM on January 29, 2010

Harder to take digital infrared with film, GuyZero (although I think that WAS covered in the past 100 years part). I am in the process of setting up an old-school B&W darkroom (after a couple of decades without it) and infrared film is one of the things I will probably be playing with again. I have to admit that digital has a number of advantages over film in the IR arena, not least of which is the plethora of wildly different options you have available with a single exposure.

You also just gave me a very wild idea.
posted by spock at 10:41 AM on January 29, 2010

I think you forgot to mention you can use IR film. In something called a "film camera".
posted by GuyZero at 1:24 PM on January 29

Sounds made up.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:42 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is sort of weird, but I wish they would release the NSFW infrared film "The Operation" on DVD.
posted by mkb at 11:48 AM on January 29, 2010

I was totally wrong in what I thought these photos were going to look like. That "26 Incredible Examples" really shows the breadth of what can be done with this. At first I thought it was going to be more of a toy, but some of those pics are stunning.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:02 PM on January 29, 2010

I've done this, it's a lot of fun. Here's mathowie at a special infra-red meetup!

Also, I wrote an explanation of how false color IR works, as applies to digital cameras (self link, obviously).
posted by aubilenon at 12:09 PM on January 29, 2010

Argh, I was about to ask if anyone had tried Konica's 35mm IR film, which I believe could be loaded in daylight and processed like regular B&W film, but it has apparently been discontinued. Poop.

Digital IR is still lovely, but the grain of IR film adds quite a bit. I did try the self-made technique using unexposed slide film and that gives a nice grain effect too... unfortunately the only camera I have with a small enough lens for the improvised filter is only 1.3 megapixels.
posted by usonian at 1:02 PM on January 29, 2010

If you are willing to withstand the possible headache that accompanies this trick, you can actually see in infrared to a point.

Using the unexposed developed film trick from the "make your own" link, and then get some welding goggles or something similar that restricts light from the sides. Remove any kind of tinted material from the front of the goggles and replace it with the developed negative and tape it off to make sure that the only light coming through is through the film.

Now, wait for a bright sunny day, put them on and wait for a while till your eyes acclimate, and eventually you'll see some really crazy stuff, like pink trees and the like. Have someone with you to lead you around though, because navigating can be a little tricky at first.

Sadly, the couple of times I've done this, I've ended up with a killer headache after a while, but it's neat enough experience to try once.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2010

My favorite use of IR photography is to uncover printed sheets used as binder's waste. When the first U.S. edition of Fanny Hill had to be scrapped, most of it ended up like this.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

The "Nightshot" feature on older Sony digital cameras is essentially a night vision infrared device. On my DSC-F717 (an untested $10 thrift store find) the front of the lens has two infrared transmitters that provide the infrared light to see in the dark with. These Sony cams are among the easiest to shoot digital infrared with, thanks to this feature. A IR filter + a couple ND4 filters and electrical tape over the infrared spotlights (which would glare back off the lens filters) and you've got a pure daylight infrared set-up with Nightshot turned on.
posted by spock at 1:55 PM on January 29, 2010

Fun fact: CIR (color infrared) photography was developed in the 1960s to be able to detect enemy locations that were camouflaged with green paint. Live vegetation similar to camouflage in the visible spectrum, but in IR it is much much brighter. Thanks for all the pretty pictures, military industrial complex!
posted by stinker at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2010

@Horace Rumpole
Very cool! Your post reminded me of the "x-ray" controversy about the Nightshot infrared hack that caused Sony to pull the feature from their cameras:
posted by spock at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2010

Example of the X-Ray-ish effect here:
posted by spock at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2010

My favorite use of IR photography is to uncover printed sheets used as binder's waste.

Awesome. I'd heard of this, but never seen it.

Example of the X-Ray-ish effect here:

Thanks, spock.
posted by fake at 5:40 AM on January 30, 2010

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