Wandering my Neighborhood with Infrared

Pritchard store infrared  Crossing infrared Riverside infrared Bridge infrared Wolf ranch infrared Tree & fence infrared

Spring is here with cool nights and warm days. The snow has finally disappeared in my neighborhood, except on the mountaintops that surround the river valley in which I live, and everything is starting to get green.

I had decided this should be the week to wander the roads near my home. I selected my camera that I had converted to infrared some years ago, attached a 24-120mm lens, and headed out.  Over the past 37 years I have photographed everything in my nearby landscape again and again, and I won’t try to guess at the number of different cameras, films, and film formats and, of course digital cameras, I have used.

My goal this time (I always like to have some type of goal or plan), was to wait for a cloudy day and make use of the low, dramatic, and directional light at day’s end. I wanted to use my infrared camera as I have many times in the past.

Using infrared is always fun. The resulting images are always different and interesting. Before the days when I had invested in an infrared camera conversion, I had used Kodak infrared film. There wasn’t an exact ISO rating or even very consistent settings for that film. One would make test exposures for the filter density one used and the developing times. Good results would finally be obtained, but always after exposing several rolls of that expensive infrared film.

Nowadays my camera no longer requires a specialized infrared filter, and I don’t have to spend time in a lightless room developing the film. Yes, there was a cost to having my DSLR camera modified so that the image sensor is only sensitive to infrared light, but it has since paid back generously, because it is well worth the expense to be able to create unique images.

Most experts say infrared radiation peaks around noon, however, in my experience morning or evening is better, and the accompanying long shadows makes great pictures in infrared. So I waited a bit after 5pm before stepping out.

I went along the road searching out features I knew well, and that I thought might be perfect in the late afternoon light. My main interest was the sky. I wanted the very dark, hazy skies one obtains with infrared that are so dramatic, compared to those with visible light. As I stood alongside the road I thought about how the pictures I was making would be nice as colour images, but infrared and the black and white conversion I intended to apply would create more impressive, or as one writer called them, “otherworldly” scenes.

All my images from that day received some post-production using PhotoShop and Niksoftware. I shoot RAW so the original files from my camera are red and white. I convert each photograph to black and white, increase the contrast, and sharpen and strengthen the highlights and shadows. The final vision isn’t supposed to be a pretty, scenic document as much as it is my personal artistic vision.

It is possible for photographers who want “infrared-like” pictures to manipulate their normal captures using Photoshop, or any of several other programs that emulate the effects of infrared. However, those photographers like me that are interested in something different can find an older DSLR and send it out to be modified. Since I had my camera modified, there are several companies that have appeared, like www.lifepixel.com. These folks’ webpage begins with the question, “Are you tired of shooting the same stuff everyone else is shooting?”   So I suggest, if you would like to do something completely different, try infrared like me.

I look forward to your comments, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com

25 responses to “Wandering my Neighborhood with Infrared

  1. Amazing photos!

    Infrared & Black and White photography= my passions and I believe I shall specialize in both of those =O That is the plan anyway!

    I hope you do more like these soon! Love it. =]

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    • Yes, dedicating a camera to infrared only is a heck of a commitment when there are lots of creative things one can do without making a camera unusable for anything but that. I appreciate and am flattered by your comment Leanne.

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  2. Some arresting images here and I like that many of them don’t scream infrared but still show a different world.

    It just led me to think. I’m expecting to soon upgrade my Fujifilm X100 to an X100s and I understand that since there is no electronic viewfinder, you can use an R72 filter and compose images using the electronic viewfinder or LCD. Your images made me think of taking this one step further. I could take Jpeg plus RAW IR black and whites and use the internal camera filters to adjust the effect. Some of the Jpegs might even work OK by themselves.

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    • Thanks Murray, I like to use a bit of noise reducing on my infrared images. It removes the grain we used to see in infrared film and I prefer B&W to the usual blue caste most shooters favor. Regarding your X100, that might just work. It really depends on how the sensor “sees” infrared. I have been thinking about the Fuji…hmmm one more reason. Thanks again for your comment.

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  3. I have been wondering what I should do with my D200 now that I have the D800 (yes I know that was a jump, but I was not going to spend money unless I knew I would appreciate the improvements in technology) so maybe I will look into an IR conversion.

    Love these images and got my mind working ……… 🙂

    David.

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