Infrared photography

Willy-Brand-Platz, Frankfurt, Germany

Infrared photography

There is more "light" than the human eye can see. What's visible to us is just a small spectrum of electromagnetic radiation.

Modern DLSR sensors are far more sensitive to a broader range of frequencies. In fact, the range of wavelength that reaches the sensor needs to be limited. Otherwise, auto focusing would be nearly impossible and pictures would lack of contrast.

One way of capturing near-infrared light (750nm - 1400nm) is to modify the camera sensor. A longpass filter replaces the original low pass filter. As this is no job for the kitchen table, companies like Optic Makario offer their professional help.

Recently, I had the chance to shoot with a modified Canon 30D. I went for a walk in Frankfurt and Darmstadt. The results are amazing.
The clear blue sky turns into a dark grey gradient. Trees change colour into a wintery white almost like snow. Shadows contain more detail than I've ever seen before and even the highlighs don't burn out as much as you would expect on a sunny day like then.

Over all, contrast and dynamic range are raised, auto focus gains speed and sharpness is increased.

Any complaints?
Yes, there are. A modified camera like this can ONLY be used for infrared photographie. Although, IR is not a one trick pony it's area of operation is limited. Landscape works great, architectural photographie also looks gorgeous. Portraits I haven't tried, unfortunately.
When it comes to colour, you are stuck. There are ways to recover colour information from the IR image by tweaking the RGB channels in the RAW file. But it'll always be false colour photos.

Conclusion: Great tool for black&white photography Popping contrasts, amazing sharpness and broader dynamic range. Almost like in the ancient days with black&white film.

Thank you, Frank Feyertag, for lending me the camera.

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