Exploding Myths About Infrared Photography

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A reader once e-mailed me asking “Why do you do infrared photography, when regular photography is already so hard?” I wrote a post responding to that question for my former blog and you can see my answer to her question here.

But today I want to explore some common myths about digital infrared photography:

#1: There’s nothing to photograph. This statement is not just true for infrared photography but I hear photographers complaining about this when talking about all genres of capturing images. Instead, I’ll submit to you that there’s always something to photograph when shooting IR either with filters or with IR-converted cameras, like the Canon EOS 50D used to make the above photograph that was shot in my yard just outside my office window The camera was converted for infrared capture by LifePixel. Exposure for the photograph, made with the EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, was 1/250 sec at f/16 and ISO 400.

#2: Infrared photography only works with deciduous trees. Note entirely true. Infrared photography is most effective when photographing deciduous trees—the kind of trees that shed their leaves in the fall. The larger trees in the above photograph are Ponderosa Pines with a small blue spruce (it’s since grown a lot) which is the official state tree of Colorado. All of these trees are evergreens, a non-deciduous species, yet as you can see there is some IR effect. What I have found is to be the best Wood Effect from evergreens happens early in the Spring and while they still respond somewhat later in the year, it’s not as much. (The above image was made in April.)

Combining both of these myths together, the way The Dude’s rug tied the whole room together, is that this photograph was literally made in my backyard featuring non-deciduous tree species and still works pretty well as an infrared photograph. So photo ops are always around the corner especially when it come to infrared photography. And “maybe in your own backyard.” Give it a try.



My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is out-of-print but used copies available from Amazon for $14.10 or less as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies a steal at just four bucks and like the IR book would make a great gift for your favorite photographer or yourself.