INFRARED PHOTOGRAPHY – an introduction by Jack Dascombe

Hi James, here are my paragraphs, hope they suffice. Thank you very much again and good luck, can’t wait to see the final newsletter.


Hi everyone, hope you’re all enjoying this beautiful edition of Camera Clips, I’m Jack Dascombe and I’m a new member to Blackwood Photographic Club. If you’ve never seen me, I’m the loud, bearded pom who is the youngest person in the room. I was given the wonderful opportunity a few meetings ago to talk about my passion, among others, for infrared photography and thought I’d sum it up here.

Infrared photography is a special avenue of the photographic field whereby images are produced by picking up infrared light waves that humans cannot see with the naked eye. Whilst most surfaces do create this infrared “effect” known as the Wood Effect, vegetation most highlights this wondrous phenomena.

Once the correct white balance has been chosen, the vegetation in infrared images can be converted to almost any hue via Photoshop.  I love infrared photography because now I think about it, it reminds me very much of film photography. Because I don’t know what the photo will look like due to my extremely dark infrared lens, then whilst I apply as much skill as possible, I sometimes am hoping for the best with unexpected results a very common occurrence, haha. This allows photography to be unpredictable and consequently exciting and rewarding. Infrared is often used to create “creepy” atmospheres but I completely disagree. Yes it can achieve this but I believe it gives otherwise mundane images a completely new lease of life.


For example I photographed an image of an old abandoned house whereby infrared allowed me to convert the foliage to a golden/orange hue. As cliché as it sounds (and trust me nothing more annoys me than clichés!), I chose this colour because gold highlights the shining life that is still left within an otherwise abandoned and forgotten building. It must also be aware that infrared images are in no way untruthful. If the optical systems of human beings were to not be able to see the wavelengths we see but instead infrared wavelengths, then such a species would witness a world with many similarities to my photos.  In fact there are many insects on Earth that do not see in the same wavelength as we do and thus we should not treat photography as if it must be only viewed through one specific spectrum. I thank you for taking the time to read this and if you have any future questions about infrared photography, please feel free to ask.

Thank you.      Jack

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Infrared Photography – The details  (I add these facts for people who need the detail)

  1. The human eye has four sensors (1 rod and three cones) that allow us to see and discern a range of frequencies that we call visible light. (390 to 700 nm)   We are blind to radiation outside of this range.
  2. In film cameras, Infrared photography was possible if you bought IR sensitive film.
  3. In digital cameras the sensor can discern many frequencies that the human eye cannot.  In order to prevent undesirable “blowing out” by unseen IR and UV radiation, digital cameras have filters to block these frequencies.
  4. IR images are traditionally in the 700 – 1200 nm range.  To take IR pictures on a digital camera you need to block visible light and permit IR light to pass into the camera.
  5. You can pay a lot of money to have your digital camera’s internal filter removed and an IR filter put in it’s place.  This will allow fairly normal shutter speeds.
  6. The Alternative is cheaper but also clunky.  You screw a special IR filter on the front of your lens.  It is very dark – blocking visible light and allowing IR light.  The IR light passing through this filter then needs to punch its way through the internal filter (that blocks IR light) of the camera.  This means long exposure times.  You will need a tripod and there will be movement blur.
  7. There may be a bit of trial and error.  You will need to prefocus your lens prior to putting on the IR filter (which renders focusing impossible).  To make it harder,  the correct focus in the IR is slightly different to that in the visible spectrum.  You may need to bracket different settings to get the correct exposure.
  8. The image needs post processing.  The simplest strategy is monochrome conversion.
  9. Colour is artificial, being related to the relative affinity of the three camera sensors for IR light.  The red sensor has the greatest affinity,  thus the image has a very heavy red colour cast.    Colour rendition requires heavy white balance correction.  After correction skies are often red, living things (plants and animals) glow white.  Authors often manipulate colour heavily to get a pleasing result.  Sometimes red and blue colour channels are reversed.
  10. The military use of thermal imaging in night vision goggles relies on collecting both IR and visible light and fairly high end edge enhancement to show objects that stand out from their surroundings.  It is more manipulated than the standard IR photograph.
  11. Satellite imaging and Astrophotography often take IR images.

1 Response to INFRARED PHOTOGRAPHY – an introduction by Jack Dascombe

  1. Pingback: September Edition Camera Clips | Blackwood Photographic Club of South Australia Inc.

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