Infrared photography is quite an interesting type of photography. The grass and foliage turns white and everything gets an eerie look about it.

However, here are a few problems with trying to take infrared photographs.
* Firstly we cannot see the IR light so we cannot judge what exposure settings to use.
* Secondly most cameras have a high pass filter infront of the lens which blocks out the IR light.
* Thirdly we need to either convert our cameras to IR (expensive and our cameras cannot be used as a normal camera any more, unless straight glass is put in place of the high pass filter - but then you need to use a filter at the end of your lens at all times) or we need to put a filter on the end of the camera.
* Fourthly, with the filter at the end of the camera we cannot see anything (as there is so little normal light that passes through the filter)
* Fifthly the IR light has a different focus point to normal light, so even if we have the camera focussed on a point before we put the filter on, it may be off.
* Sixthly (and lastly) many cameras cannot focus with the IR filter on the end, however I know the Canon 40D can.

While it sounds like there are many problems and it all may seem too difficult, in reality it is quite easy if you know how to overcome these hurdles.

You will need some special equiment to take IR photographs, either a special camera or a special filter or a film camera and IR film.
I use my Canon EOS 40D with a Hoya R72 filter to block the normal light and let infrared light through.

Trees and landscapes make for interesting subjects, as well as having humans. Just be careful as the lens may see under very thin clothing, however the risk is minimal and the clothes pretty much have to be that thin that you can see through them anyway.

Southbank - Moving on.

Southbank - Moving on.

Dec 1, 2008, 3:42:50 PM
Canon EOS 40D
EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II
Shutter Speed: 30/1 second
F Number: F/8.0
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100

It is a lot easier if you shoot in RAW mode as you may need to do a lot of post-processing on your image, especially when you start off.

You will want to set your camera to the lowest ISO possible, or you will end up with lots of (possibly unwanted) grain in your image.

You will also want to shoot in direct sunlight of you will end up with black photos (the sun puts out IR light, house lights/flashguns don't have any effect, unless converted to IR light.

Firstly set your camera to manual mode and about f/4 and 5 second exposure time, focus on grass or other foliage, then attach the filter to the lens and take a photo of grass that is in direct sunlight.
You should end up with a red photo. If the photo is too bright or dark, adjust your exposure time until you have a nice red photo.
Don't worry about a tripod at this point, it may make it easier to set the white balance if you end up with a very blurry photo from this.
Set your white balance in your camera from this red photo if it will allow - it will make editing the photos a lot easier later on. And if your camera will not allow this, then having this red photo will assist in the white balance correction later on.

Once your white balance is set, you will need to attach your camera to a tripod or put it somewhere solid and stable (such as a bench or a rock or wall etc), set the camera to about f/4 and anywhere between a 5 second and 30+ second exposure time, and then focus on your subject without the filter.
Once you have focussed on your subject, attach the filter and set your camera to manual focus (unless your camera resets the focus when you take the finger off the button, in which case keep your camera focussed at all times), attach the filter again, set the camera to manual focus (or you will loose the focus and have to remove the filter and refocus) and take the photo, preferably with a cable or timed release to stop the movement blur your hands will make when depressing the shutter button.
Look at the photo, it should look black and white, with maybe a few slight colours here and there.
Adjust your f/stop and shutter speed as needed to get a good exposure.

Southbank - The things we do.

Southbank - The things we do.

Dec 1, 2008, 4:00:03 PM
Canon EOS 40D
EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II
Shutter Speed: 30/1 second
F Number: F/3.5
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100

The post-processing is interesting. You can play around with the colours and get some pretty cool false colour images, or you can convert to black-and-white.
It depends on what you want to achieve as to whether you go for false colour or black and white.

To recap :
IR is fun, but requires special hardware.
A photo should be taken at f/4 and approx 5 second exposure in direct sunlight to get the proper white balance.
Most cameras cannot focus while the IR filter is attached, and you cannot see anything through the TTL viewfinder while it is attached.
Long exposures are needed, anywhere up to 30+ seconds.
Lowest ISO should be set to lower the amount of grain in the image.
Black and white or false colour is up to you.


Night photography can be a really easy and rewarding experience if done right.

What you will need is the following.

1. A camera with full manual (or at least shutter speed priority.)
2. A tripod, or something sturdy to lean the camera on.
3. The lowest ISO speed you can go. (Not as applicable with film.)

A timed release or remote shutter cable will make your job easier, but it is not absolutely needed. If you don't have one of these, you will need to ensure that your tripod is very stable, preferably at the shortest hight that it can go, or that the surface your camera is sitting on is stable.

One of the issues with taking long exposure shots is noise. The higher the ISO (or the higher the sensitivity of the sensor) the more the grain, and with long exposures this is made even worse. Try it out, take a 30 second exposure at the highest ISO speed your camera can go, and try one at the lowest ISO speed your camera can go, and notice the difference in noise (grain.)
This isn't as applicable to film, as film won't heat up and doesn't suffer the long expsoure grain issues that film suffers. However, high ISO/ASA film will still be very grainy so it is better to get the lower ISO/ASA speed.
The second reason for low ISO speeds is this will allow you to have very long shutter speeds and blur out the movement.

Southbank footbridge at night

Southbank footbridge at night.

Jul 5, 2008, 8:53:57 PM
Canon EOS 40D
EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II
Shutter Speed: 30/1 second
F Number: F/10.0
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100

If you are shooting in manual mode, you will most likely want to experiment with the shutter speeds and apetures, and depending on the amount of light will depend on how long the exposure will need to be.

I found that in my shots I like to have about 15-30 second exposures to really get the colours saturated and any movement blurred out, as shown in the image below called Tetris.

In the above photo of the Southbank footbridge, I used a long 30 second exposure to make the water all smooth and dreamlike instead of choppy and full of agitation. In this photo it meant that the water was no longer a distraction.

Another thing to note is it may be difficult to focus, especially if it is really dark. Having manual focus makes it a lot easier to focus at night, even if you have to take many shots just to get the focus right.

You will find that while practicing you will make many mistakes, this is normal and you will learn from those mistakes and get better.

Keep shooting and learning, I believe one of the biggest tricks of the trade is practice. Tutorials can only show you the start of the path, you have to walk down the path yourself and find your artistic strenghts and work with them, and your artistic weaknesses and improve on them.

And above all, don't give up, and don't get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again. Learn new techniques and have fun!

Tetris. (Giant ferris wheel at Southbank)

Tetris. (Giant ferris wheel at Southbank)

Jul 5, 2008, 10:35:45 PM
Canon EOS 40D
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC macro
Shutter Speed: 5/1 second
F Number: F/14.0
Focal Length: 36 mm
ISO Speed: 100



    Canon EOS 40D
    Canon EOS ELAN IIe (50e)

    EF-s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II
    EF 50mm f/1.8
    EF 35-80mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
    M42 80-200mm f/4.5-5.5


    December 2008
    November 2008


    Infrared Photography
    Night Photography

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