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Infrared Photography


Why Shoot Photos in Infrared?

Because it gives us another way to view the world around us through our camera’s lens.  Infrared is light that we cannot see with the naked eye.  You probably have  IR devices in your home right now,  such as, your TV remote which uses IR to communicate your wishes from your couch or armchair.

See End of Page for Color Photo of Same Location





I became interested in IR photography after seeing examples on the internet.  I especially love the way plants and flowers show up as bright white, as if they were covered with snow.  Materials and objects reflect or absorb IR light differently.  With some looking the same as they do with visible light and others giving us a surreal look at an otherwise normal scene.






The Equipment

I took my old Nikon Coolpix 995 3.2 MP Digital Camera and converted it to shoot strictly Infrared.  Which means I can no longer use this camera for anything but infrared photography.  The cost to convert my camera was about $75.00, since I did it myself.  Basically, this involved removing the “hot mirror” filter from in front of the camera’s sensor (which filters out the IR spectrum for normal photography).  It is replaced by either an IR filter or optical glass of the same size and thickness (if glass is used an external IR filter is also needed).  I chose to use the optical glass and external filter since it was the cheaper option (and I was not sure If I was going to screw the camera up by taking it apart). The IR filter basically screens out the visible light spectrum below about 830nm.


If I didn’t already have the camera I would have looked on Ebay and found a Nikon 995 or 990 to use.  There are many cameras that are sensitive to IR, just do a little internet research and see if yours makes a good candidate for conversion.   

Here’s what I needed to do my conversion.  A piece of optical glass sized 11mm x 12mm x 2.5mm thick (the glass was $4 and the shipping was almost double that), a B+W 37mm Infrared (87C) Filter and a 28mm to 37mm Step-up ring to fit my camera.


One test you can do is point your IR remote from your TV at your camera.  Then press a button on the remote while at the same time taking a picture of the front of the remote (without using a flash).  When I tested my cameras, the Nikon Coolpix 2200 could see a little bit, the IR converted Nikon 995, saw  so much IR, I could have used it to read by and my Canon 5D didn’t see anything.

Nikon Coolpix 2200

Nikon Coolpix 995








 ** Just remember if you convert your camera for infrared use, it will not work for normal photography anymore (never ever again). 







1)  The Step-up Ring was silver and my first shots; when taken with the sun to my side, showed reflections  (ghosting) in the image.  I remedied this by painting the inside of the ring with flat black spray paint.





2) The IR filter that cuts the visible light spectrum out is very dark glass.  This means you will need quite a bit more available light to actually shoot.  I have tried taking IR photos inside the house and the camera will not even autofocus, because there is not enough light.


3)  I have also noticed the final output is a little soft, requiring some sharpening in the post process stage.  I also adjust the levels (using Photoshop) to increase the contrast a bit.  I have found that dragging the shadows slider to the right, just until it touches the left side of the histogram, makes the IR photo “pop” and gives it some depth.






4) For white balance, I use auto as it seems to give the best look.  Incandescent, florescent and cloudy settings all seem to just tint the photo which is not the look I am going for.







UPDATE:  I recently had my old Canon Rebel XT converted to IR by Life Pixel.  I choose the Standard IR conversion which allows a little bit of the red spectrum into the photograph, about 720nm vs, the Nikon described above whic is deeper at about 830nm.  By swaping the red and blue color channels in photoshop, a false blue sky can be added to the shot.  See below for a couple of examples from my first outing to test the new camera.




If this looks interesting to you, give it a try.  It might get your creative juices flowing in a new direction.

Below are a couple of links to sites I found very useful in my camera conversion:

Have fun!



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