Using a Camera Modified for Infrared on vacation.

Infrared lightInfrared tree  construction IR  Cupola IR  Waterfront IR  Infrared and brick  Marina in IR    Infrared in street  Tower IR  IR light on clock  Flag & Building in IR

When on vacation I always bring along my camera. Actually most of the trips I take are for the purpose of relaxing and making pictures. If I couldn’t bring a camera I would suffer because I would see shots I wanted to take and wouldn’t be able to do it.

I enjoy wandering about with my camera wherever I go and for the short vacation my wife and I took to the coast of Washington state at La Conner.  For this trip I wanted to make a real change from my everyday shooting, and decided to spend each late afternoon making exposures with the well-worn Nikon D100 I had modified many years ago to only “see” infrared light.

Digital camera sensors are as sensitive to infrared light as to visible light. In order to stop infrared light from contaminating images manufacturers placed in front of the sensor what they call “a hot filter” to block the infrared part of the spectrum and still allow the visible light to pass through. My infrared modified D100 has had that filter removed and replaced with a custom filter for infrared only.

The first day we had lodging in the town of La Conner.  I began walking the town in the morning with my Nikon D800e, and then returned in the late afternoon walking the streets and waterfront with my Modified D100 for infrared images.

On the second day, after a leisurely drive sight-seeing unsuccessfully trying to get close to the annual snow geese migration, we went a bit further to some big stores at an outlet mall near Seattle my wife wanted to check out.  Next day we moved about 20 miles down the road to a motel in Anacortes and again I roamed the streets, alleyways, and oceanfront with my infrared camera in a new location.

There is nothing quite like infrared (IR) Photography. Making an image with a modified camera is an exploration.  I like the contrasty tones that I can obtain when I convert the image to black and white. I suppose, like any form of photography, or art, it’s all a matter of taste.

Reflected IR light produces an array of surreal effects. Vegetation appears white or near white. Black surfaces can appear gray or almost white depending on the angle of reflected light. And the sky is my favorite part; it will be black if photographed from the right direction. The bluer the sky, the more the chance there is for a dramatic appearance.

Get everything right and there will be a “crispness” that’s rarely seen in regular photography, with everything looking very different from a normal black and white conversion.

The low-angled, late afternoon coastal light created lots of deep shadows on the buildings and trees, and it was that light and the contrasting effects that I was able to capture.

I like photographing architecture and other human-made structures. Well, actually, I like photographing just about anything. But on a trip when my goal is to photographically discover, or in this case, rediscover a small town or city, I let myself be as creative as possible with the many architectural structures, and a camera that sees only infrared does help. In addition, the colourful coastal architecture is very different from what one finds in the usually very dry, forested interior of British Columbia where I live.

I walked and walked. I photographed and re-photographed. I talked to people I met in the alleyways, along the street, and on the waterfront. My only goal was to capture the way the infrared light touched things and to be back at the motel before dark.

Life Pixel, writes on their website, “Are you tired of shooting the same stuff everyone else is shooting?  Then be different & shoot infrared instead!”

I don’t think I care whether I’m shooting the same stuff as others, but I sure do like to change how other photographers sees the stuff I do shoot, and infrared works perfectly for that.

Of cours….I am always happy when someone comments. Thanks, John

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14 responses to “Using a Camera Modified for Infrared on vacation.

    • Hi, No its not that way, when I wrote: ” My infrared modified D100 has had that filter removed and replaced with a custom filter for infrared only” I was referring to the filter inside the camera, next to the sensor.
      Check these guys out, they are the experts on digital camera modification.


  1. Very enjoyable read, i have a second camera which see’s very little usage now and your conversation on Infra red conversion rung a bell in my head ..I’m going to look into this with-in the next few weeks ..Thank you John


    • I, as always, appreciate your comments Duncan. And am pleased you liked this post on Infrared.
      If you do have your camera modified for infrared I will expect exciting images from you: The harbour, plants from that park we first met at and gosh, so much more.


  2. Hey John, these are very nice! You say that using IR can turn the sky to black. so these shots look like night shots but are the day? just curious. I really like that 1st one of the window.


    • Hi, Infrared changes the way light is registered on film or in this case, the sensor. I started walking around in the late afternoon. I wanted the angled coastal light. I was done before 5PM.
      I am pleased you like that 1st image – it worked well. Thanks, I appreciate that you took the time to comment.


    • You might as well – that old D90 will just keep dropping in price, so converting it to infrared will give it a new, and I expect, endless lease on future use.
      Besides, you will have so much fun in the different light of infrared.


  3. I just rediscovered this post, John, and I have just ordered an IR camera. I don’t have a suitable one to convert so I ordered a new X-E2 for conversion by Life Pixel. Some of your images make me think it might be interesting to see what I can do with images that don’t obviously appear to be IR.

    I’ve gone for a 590nm option, so I’ll be looking for colour as well as mono.


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