How I Created ‘Infrared Caboose’

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I made the above photograph at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado, one of my favorite places to shoot. You should know that this is not just a single photograph but a composite of several infrared image files. That’s because on this particular day, this caboose was being used for a children’s party with kids and their parents running in and out of it.

I really just wanted to get just a shot of the caboose and the tree but wasn’t sure how IR images of people and kids in the scene would affect the mood that I was trying to produce. I tried waiting for the activity to settle down but just kept shooting hoping to get an image without birthday celebrants running around but that never happened.

Combining several different image files with people located in different places within the frame, I used Photoshop’s Layers and erased areas with no people to produce a composite image that, to my mind, was inspired by HBO’s offbeat series Carnivàle, despite that show being about a circus—maybe it’s the effect of the warm toned infrared photo, who knows…

I shot the image with a Panasonic Lumix G5 that has been converted to infrared capture by LifePixel. Lens was a Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 M Mount Aspherical III lens attached to the camera with a $22.75  Fotodiox Leica M to Micro Four-thirds adapter. The RAW files were captured with a nominal exposure of 1/250 sec at f/11 and ISO 400. After computing, the image was processed in Silver Efex Pro then toned using PhotoKit 2.

Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and have done most of the conversions for 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 is currently out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon for $11.57 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies selling for three bucks, less than your next coffee at Starbucks.