Exploding Some Myths About Infrared Photography

by | Aug 13, 2019

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 would like to explore and maybe explode 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 all the time 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 when using filters or with IR-converted cameras, like the Canon EOS 50D that was used to make the above photograph that was shot in the yard just outside my office window. 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. That’s not 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 in between (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 dramatic.

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 own backyard featuring non-deciduous tree species and the  image works pretty well, I think anyway, 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 and I think you’ll have fun too.

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 $14.98 as I write this. My other book, Creative Digital Monochrome Effects, has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies starting at $4.00.