Depth-of-Field and Infrared Portraiture

by | Jan 8, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

And to answer the question may have just popped into your head: Yes, you can shoot portraits in infrared, if you’re ready to deal with the unconventional results.

How I Made this Shot: The color digital infrared image of my former muse, Tia Stoneman, at left was made using a Canon EOS 30D that was converted to IR capture by LifePixel with an EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. To maximize the depth-of-field, the exposure in Aperture Priority mode was 1/200 sec at f/16 and ISO 400. The straight-out-of-the-camera JPEG file (made before my current RAW+JPEG regimen) had some burning and dodging via PhotoKit 2 before applying the Bi-Color Filter from Color Efex Pro and then tweaked in Exposure Software’s Exposure X4 to punch up the color using the plug-in’s Cinema filters. Exposure is currently up to X6 but is the only version that works with Photoshop CS6 and the OS I’m running on my 5K iMac. Finally, the Glamour Glow filter, also from Color Efex Pro, was added for the final touch.

One of the basic laws of imaging is that only one part of a three-dimensional object can truly be in focus at the image plane. Areas in front and behind that plane of focus will appear to be, more or less, in focus. At the point of critical focus, there is a range of acceptable focus that is one-third in front of that point and two-thirds behind it. Back in the manual focus days, lenses typically had a depth-of-field scales directly engraved on the lens so you knew what to expect. These days it’s rare to find lenses like this but it happens every now and then. You can, for example, see it on lenses from Voigtlander.

If all of this is new to you: Depth-of-field increases as the lens aperture is stopped down (larger numbered apertures) and decreases as the lens aperture gets larger (smaller f/ numbers.) Sometimes called depth-of-focus, it’s also affected by the camera’s distance to the subject: Closer distances equals shallower DOF and that increases as the camera-to-subject distance increases.

How I Made This Photo:  What do those colors (and her hair) that Tia is wearing in the above photograph look like under normal light using conventional capture methods?

The image at right was shot about 15-feet to the left of the wall that can be seen in the top photograph. It was made just a few minutes before the infrared shot with a Canon EOS 50D and EF 28-105mm lens (at 53mm) with an exposure of 1/250 sec at f/11 and ISO 800.




Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and have done most of my Canon DSLRs and all of my Panasonic Lumix G-series cameras. This is not a paid or sponsored endorsement, just my experience.

My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography costs $16.95 with used copies starting at $11.26 from Amazon for as I write this. My book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon for $20 with used copies starting at around two bucks, less than you’ll spend on that next coffee at Starbucks. No Kindle versions are available at this point.