It’s been a while. The last time I wrote about infrared photography was over three years ago (Interpreting Invisible Light). At that time, I was shooting with two converted DSLR cameras at 590nm and 850nm, basically putting me at both ends of the spectrum. These days I am shooting with a Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera converted to full spectrum (more on this later). Infrared opens up a whole new world of exploration and art, in part, because the camera is able to capture what our eyes cannot see. We enter the world of invisible light, which allows us to create images that bend reality.
CURIOUS ABOUT INFRARED?
If you are new to infrared, don’t feel that you have to move to a mirrorless camera in order to dive in. Yes, there are some advantages, but, ultimately, it’s the learning, shooting and processing results that matter. Learn what you need to know before purchasing or converting your first infrared camera. As for me, it’s only been a few years that I’ve been shooting mirrorless, in color and infrared. The first nine years of my infrared adventure were all with my two converted DSLRs.
And, in case you didn’t already know, infrared photography has been around for a very long time. The first infrared film was developed in 1910 by Robert Williams Wood. It required long exposures to record the light and capture images. (Similarly, if you try to shoot infrared using a filter over your color camera, you invite long exposures and a host of other issues that a converted camera avoids.) It wasn’t until the 1930s that infrared film became available to the public after Kodak developed film emulsions for infrared. Over time there were more than forty types of IR film to choose from. Not so, today.
As with any type of photography, infrared is not for everyone, but I’m thrilled to have it as one of my tools. I do know that without having given it a try (reluctantly), I would never have known how much I would enjoy and embrace it. If you haven’t tried it and have the opportunity, give it a whirl. I mean, I have to admit that I, too, was a skeptic and not super keen on the suggestion that I “needed” to shoot infrared. I didn’t even know or understand what a nanometer (nm) was … It’s a wavelength of light. However, with a converted Canon 20D in hand and no directions, I took 590nm out for a spin that lasted three months before I got a chance to sit down and learn how to post process. In that experience I found a world of infinite possibilities that expanded my creative vision in ways I could not have anticipated. Admittedly, I never saw myself five cameras deep in the infrared world, but here I am.