Capturing Infrared Photography in HDR

by | Jul 20, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I’ve been interested in infrared photography for more than forty years and have really embraced the concept of digital infrared photography as being both practical and fun. And perhaps that’s why the motto of my blog is to Have Fun with Your Photography!

There have been two kinds of digital IR capture that I’ve always wanted to experiment with. First was the idea of infrared panoramas made by sticking multiple infrared images together but have been discouraged because of the lack of an easy or affordable way to display such images. The second type of IR shot that I wanted to explore was crafting HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. So I gave it an initial try using filters

The base exposure for the “before and after” images was approximately f/11 at ISO 400. For the “before” exposure, the shutter speed was 1/800 sec which was fast enough the freeze the tree’s leaves during a series of three bracketed exposures—keeping the aperture at f/11. Then I processed the files using HDR Efex Pro to produce the image you see above.

In the infrared version at right, the long exposures created by using an on-camera Cokin 007 (720nm) IR filter produced subject motion in parts of the tree that moved during a series of exposures that ranged from shutter speeds of six to 13 seconds. I waited for some quiet time but the wind never slowed up, in fact the weather only got worse. I processed the three bracketed files using HDR Efex Pro to produce the image that you see here. The blurred leaves in the final image added a kind of ghostly effect that I feel—possibly a cop-out—adds to the mood of this shot. Tip: Using a camera that had been converted to IR capture would have produced shorter exposure times and eliminated the blurring, which is something I plan to try this summer. In that experiment, I will try two ways: doing the HDR conversion on the RAW files before converting to monochrome and then converting the files and then combining then into an HDR to, you know, see what happens.

This HDR IR technique is not found in my book, “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography” but you can just Google “HDR” you can find out how to capture and convert images into High Dynamic Range photographs using a series of RAW or even JPEG files.


I’ve found that Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and they’ve done most of the conversions for my Canon DSLRs and all my Panasonic Lumix cameras. This is not a paid or sponsored endorsement, just my experience.

My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is available from Amazon with used copies selling for $45.09 or used for around seven bucks as I write this. My other book, Creative Digital Monochrome Effects, has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon for $19.31 with used copies starting at under two bucks!