Curiosity finally caught up with me as I have always been wondering about this 'other world' of infrared and how all this works. A blog email from Tony Sweet prompted me to strike out into this world and see how exactly I could compose and create some of these images. A unique effect of infrared photography is what happens to the leaves of trees and other living green things - they turn light (often white) as they have infrared light. Having this piece of information, enjoying landscape photography set me off down a path to see what I could create.
First, I needed one of the infrared filters that block out normal light and only allow the infrared to pass through. I purchased the B+W Infrared filter, a 77mm to allow for using 'step down' rings to my smaller lenses. Specifically, I purchased two different filters to allow for both of us (Jim and I) to shoot infrared at the same time, but also to see what the differences might be between these different filters. First, the B+W 77mm Infrared filter was used as it was my first purchase. Second, the Hoya Infrared filter, R72 was purchased. Both are great filters for doing infrared, the Hoya is about half the price of the B+W filter.
Second, I checked several websites to determine which lenses worked well with Infrared, then compared that to which lenses I actually owned. Much to my dismay, a large number of the lenses I have are known to be poor performers with infrared photography leaving 'hot spots' or other interesting things on the photos that are not desired. This is the URL I used, hopefully it will remain valid for sometime into the future is http://www.kolarivision.com/lenshotspot.html
Here's my first really good image. It's taken at Riverhills Park in Temple Terrace - probably one of the most photographed trees in Temple Terrace because of it's location and character.
So how was this picture taken?
First, I composed this picture with my camera on a tripod. This was done to ensure the composition was to my liking and my subject is clear. I took a few pictures to ensure everything is set correctly.
Next, turn the autofocus mechanism off. Some people actually put tape on the lens to ensure it doesn't move, I did not in these photographs. Then screw the infrared filter onto the front of your lens (do this carefully as you don't want to move the focus). Once this is done, you will no longer be able to see through your camera lens as it will be basically 'black'.
Using either a remote or the self timer to avoid movement of the camera while taking the photo, I clicked off a few frames being careful to block any light from coming in the eye piece since I was not looking through the viewfinder (which would have blocked the light because my face/head would have been covering the viewfinder).
The picture was taken using a Nikon D7000, ISO 200, 48mm, F/11, 91.0 seconds. The lens used for this photograph is the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 - however I have sense learned that this lens generates hot spots and there is probably one in this picture as well, but the tree hides it so well it is not notable. Now, if you're paying close attention, you see that my shutter speed is 91 seconds, yes - that is 1 and 1/2 minutes - hence a tripod is definitely needed to do this type of photograph.
If you do not make changes to set your white balance to "custom" for infrared photography, your pictures will come out 'very red or magenta' depending on the filter used. In my case, I am shooting pictures in RAW and importing the photos into Lightroom 5. After completing these steps, I convert the picture to black and white by decreasing the saturation (there are several ways to perform this action). Next, you need to increase the contrast and possibly utilize a software package like Nik Silver Efex to make your picture more stunning.
Here's a few more pictures I took using this process. If you're interested in doing infrared photography, or just find out more about what it is, do an internet search and you'll find lots of helpful information.
Riverhills Park, Temple Terrace, Florida
Lowry Park, Tampa, Florida
Beer Can Island, across from Apollo Beach, Tampa Bay (boat access only!).
Thanks, until next time.