Shooting Infrared Landscapes with Mirrorless Cameras

by | Jul 22, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

In photography your capture options include color, monochrome and the kind of images that can only be captured by invisible light.

Every light color’s wavelength is measured in nanometers (one billionth of a millimeter) and light with wavelengths from 700 and 900nm is considered infrared. Surprisingly, this band of infrared light is a thousand times wider than that of visible light, yet is totally invisible to our eyes.

Capturing images using infrared light can transform mundane subject matter into dramatic photographs. Scenes you might walk by and never think of shooting, take on a completely different and sometimes better appearance when seen via infrared light. It’s never been simpler to do this by using filters or digital cameras converted specifically for IR capture.

If you decide to get serious about digital infrared photography you should think about having a camera converted to IR-only operation. With many older or refurb DSLRs and mirrorless cameras coming onto the market at affordable prices, there’s opportunities to pick up an extra  body that accepts all of the lenses in your camera system already uses this new (to you) camera can be dedicated to infrared photography without breaking the ole piggy bank.

How I Made this shot: The above image was made in Arapaho National Forest and was captured as a RAW file using a Panasonic Lumix G6 that was converted for infrared capture by LifePixel. Lens was a Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (at 12mm) with an exposure of 1/400 sec at f/13 and ISO 400. The image file was processed in using some of the techniques that are mentioned in my post, How important is white balance in infrared photography?

Tip: One of the most important lessons about shooting IR images is to forget everything you know about lighting, especially the best time of day to capture images. To give foliage that infrared glow you need to shoot at a time of day when there’s more sun on the scene rather than less. This puts your prime shooting times around mid-day! These are the worst times to make conventional images but are the “golden hours” for infrared. If you need a rule of thumb, use one of Farace’s Laws: The best time of day to shoot infrared is when it’s the worst time of day to shoot normal images.

LifePixel 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.

New copies of my book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography are available on Amazon for just $17.35 with used copies starting at $13.75, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon for $30.90 with used copies starting around two bucks as of this writing. There are no Kindle versions of either book available, sorry.