3 minute read

Into the Red by Peter Wells

Into the Red By Peter Wells ARPS CPAGB BPE3 EFIAP

Like most photographers I often found my self revisiting places I had been to before and taking essentially the same images as I had previously taken. I had read much about infra red photography and thought it might allow me to retake some shots, but from a totally new perspective.

In this brief article I will hopefully whet the readers appetite for taking the plunge and at least trying out this technique. Like many more technical subjects Infra Red is often shrouded in mystery but in reality it is very easy to get into and the results can be really interesting and “different”.

In Chatsworth Grounds

I don’t propose to get into the technical ins and outs but suffice it to say that our eyesight and “normal” photography centres around seeing the world with the visible part of the light spectrum. With IR however we see the world using a different part of the spectrum using only IR light which we cannot see with the naked eye.

There are two main approaches to IR photography, both very different. The first requires the use of a very dark red R72 filter (about £45) attached to the front of the lens. This may sound simple but has many drawbacks. As the filter is so dark it is often very difficult to see your subject. You will probably have to compose your image before fitting the filter and then allow for the fact that the amount of light cut out by the IR filter means you must use a very long exposure and hence a tripod.

Church Graveyard at Ford

The second, and my preferred solution, was to use an IR modified camera. Without getting into technicalities, this involves taking a camera to pieces and removing an internal filter and replacing it with another which only lets light through of a particular wavelength in the IR spectrum. You could be brave and give yourself a meaty DIY project but for most of us it will just be a step too far.

An internet search will reveal companies who will take your camera (you might decide to buy a spare body for this) and do the IR conversion for you for between £200 to £300. You will need to decide what IR filter you want installing but the most popular is probably the 720nm to give you good mono images.

Down in the Forest

In my case I looked for an already converted IR camera on an auction site and managed to buy a converted Lumix G2 that was compatible with my existing micro 4/3 lenses for less than £100 – what a bargain!

So, armed with my new camera I have returned to many places I knew and literally saw them in a new light.

Having taken the images I do a small amount of post processing by removing the saturation, increasing the contrast and sometimes playing about with the red slider to give the best effect.

Fountains Abbey
Lindesfarne

The results are very different to “normal” images but in their own way offer a new and interesting artistic approach.

Stonehenge

There are also advanced techniques which allow you to “channel swap” and replace colours in the original IR image to give even more interesting effects.

Wicker Elephants at Sudeley Castle

Like most photographers I often found my self revisiting places I had been to before and taking essentially the same images as I had previously taken. I had read much about infra red photography and thought it might allow me to retake some shots, but from a totally new perspective.