Infrared or ‘IR’ photography is a small but growing photographic niche that allows photographers of all abilities and budgets to expand their skills, augment their artistic vision, and create unexpected and exciting images that cannot be captured in other ways. For the landscape photographer, IR photographs capture surreal images hallmarked by white foliage and dark skies – images that are at once familiar and unfamiliar. With a few manipulations, the sky can be blue and the foliage can be golden, lavender, or red. Black and white IR landscapes are striking even when the trees are bare.
Nikon D90 IR-converted (850nm Deep Infrared conversion)
20mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkor, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, +1 EV, ISO 200
Click for a larger image.
Architectural photographers are employing IR methods because the black and white images are contrasty and they often resemble high quality architectural drawings. Because IR light is reflected differently than full spectrum light, IR photos often reveal architectural details that are masked in visible light photography.
Nikon D90 IR-converted (590nm SuperColor)
20mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkor, f/10, 1/400, +1 EV, ISO 200.
Click for a larger image.
A growing number of wedding photographers are offering their clients dreamy high key and IR fantasy photos as a value-added service. Fine art photographers use infrared photography to produce unique low key studies of shape and light. Portrait photographers use IR to create flattering high-key images and some creepy images featuring dark eyes and porcelain skin. Even macro photographers are employing IR methods to capture eye-catching images of flowers, technology, and insects.
The reason for the growing appeal of IR photography is the widespread availability of IR-capable digital cameras. IR film was touchy, relatively expensive, and often difficult to use. The IR learning curve was steep in the film era because it could take days to realize you messed up the shot. With digital cameras, the “shoot, evaluate, adjust” cycle can be performed immediately after the image is captured. Immediate feedback allows photographers to acquire knowledge and experience more quickly than they ever could when shooting IR film. In addition, it’s cheaper to climb the learning curve with digital photography because there is no film to purchase and develop.
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