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Introduction to Infrared Photography

Romulo Lubachesky (Romulo Lubachesky)

Keywords: infrared, ultraviolet, photography, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips

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Infrared Photophraphy

Iinfrared photography has the power of showing us a different world. We can travel through the unknown with each image, an unpredictable and astonishing universe that marvels our eyes with unique textures and colors.

The majority of infrared photos are restricted to landscapes and static objects, because a long exposure is required when using infrared filters on normal cameras. The reason for this is the camera sensor sensibility to the visible and infrared electromagnetical spectrum. Thus, normal cameras have a filter often called “Hot Mirror” that blocks the ultraviolet and the infrared.


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Nikon D70r DSLR, 20mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor @ f/4, 140 sec. ISO 200


If you don't want to be limited to long exposures, it is essential to convert one of your cameras to infrared, a somewhat complex procedure that consists on the removal of the Hot Mirror filter and its replacement by an infrared filter.


After several attempts, in September 2005 I manage to convert my Nikon D70 DSLR camera.


It is now dedicated to capture infrared photos.


The experience of many Nikonians has shown this -the D70- to be one of the best DSLRs for the task, if not the very best so far.


Renamed by me as D70r, the camera captures images at high speeds, making it possible to photograph people, animals, insects and sports.


After such conversion, the photographer has all the freedom for creativity as offered by a normal camera, however allowing the transformation of any scene into a dreamlike picture.


I used the Hoya R72 filter on my D70r, which still lets a part of the visible spectrum to pass, that corresponding to the red region. This allows the capture of images with different colors.


For example on a landscape photo, with a customized white balance the clear sky turns into a yellowish brown color and the vegetation to light blue.


So this opens up a wide selection of interesting post-processing alternatives and final results.


If this looks scary to do it yourself, there are companies that can do it for you.

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Besides replacing the filter on top of the sensor of your DSLR, it is necessary to recalibrate the camera focus, because the infrared wavelength propagates differently -and even varies from lens to lens- making its image focus plane ahead of the plane of visible light.

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The focus adjustment allows you to photograph using fast lenses stopped down an f/stop or two with a very trustable focus as can be seen in the image at right made with the D70r, Manual Focus 105mm f/1.8 AI-S Nikkor @ f/2.8, 1/640 sec, ISO 200

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(4 Votes )
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Originally written on June 23, 2010

Last updated on March 27, 2015

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1 comment

Shane E (bv1) on June 30, 2015

Romulo "The experience of many Nikonians has shown this -the D70- to be one of the best DSLRs for the task, if not the very best so far." This statement is taken out of context. For shooting with an unmodified DSLR, the D70, D70s and D40 were the best of-the-shelf Nikon bodies for UV AND IR because the ICF covering the sensor was inefficient at blocking UV and IR light. Once modified their performance was little different from other Nikon bodies of similar age. In fact the D200 modified was better than the D70 in terms of resolution, noise and several other aspects. While the D70 is still a good IR camera it's performance is far behind that of the newer breed of modified Nikon bodies which offer better noise performance (higher ISO options), larger LCD, higher resolution, etc and last but not least LiveView (for more accurate IR focusing). I have shot IR and UV with the D70 and D40 (both unmodified), D70 UVIR modified, D200 IR modified, D200 UVIR modified (also the Fuji S3Pro UVIR and Sigma Foveon) and now shoot with a D800 IR modified. The only advantage of the D70 today, is that you can pick one up for around $50-100 making it a good intro DSLR for IR. However it will cost you more to have it converted so look for one already modified for around $150.

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