Digital Infrared Photography: Make Stunning Photos with Invisible Light

Digital Infrared Photography: Make Stunning Photos with Invisible Light
Alexandra Morrison shares her tips on digital infrared photography. Check it out below!

One of the most beautiful and unexpected kinds of photographs can be produced using digital infrared photography techniques.

Infrared photography has been around for a long, long time, but using film, it was expensive, very difficult to do and the results were extremely unpredictable, and frequently disappointing.

But now with digital cameras becoming more affordable, just about anyone has access to the hidden world of invisible light photography. I’m not just talking about manipulating regular digital photos using Photoshop, or your favorite image editor either. I’m talking the “real McCoy” here – real infrared photos with real infrared light! How cool is that?!

You’ll need a few, not terribly expensive, additional accessories, depending on your camera.

Currently, I have three digital cameras (an Olympus 3030, and an Olympus 5050 and my best friend, my Nikon!) all are able to take beautiful digital infrared photos. Of course, you can imagine my delight when I confirmed that my Nikon D70 produces absolutely amazing infrared photos.

If you haven’t got your Nikon D70 yet, now’s a great time to get one. The price has really come down since I got mine! If you have one but are looking for new glass or accessories, you can get your discount coupons here. Nikon Digital Camera Rebate Offers at RitzCamera

But moving right along…how is it possible to take a photograph with invisible light? And if the light is invisible, what does it look like? What exactly would such a photo look like?

I’m glad you asked! Let’s go the only technical page on this site, which explains in simple terms, how this whole thing works.
If you’d rather just stay here and look at what digital infrared photos look like, and get started making them, you can go to the fun stuff by following the links below.

You’ve probably seen digital infrared photography but never realized that’s what you were looking at. Or perhaps you have seen these kinds of photos and wondered how to make them.

Here’s an example of typical digital infrared photographs.

I’m happy to be able share some of my best personal secrets and techniques for digital infrared photography, so you too, can start to take these surreal and weird photos of the hidden worlds of infrared!
What I REALLY like is seeing how other people capture the most impossible scenes, and by using infrared, turn their imaginations loose! It’s wild!

You’ll find all you need to know to start taking these mysterious photographs right here.

Step 1: How do I know if my camera is a digital infrared camera?

Digital infrared cameras – how can you tell if your camera is able to do digital infrared photography? Well, if you have a digital point & shoot camera – with an LCD viewing screen that you compose your shot in, there’s a super easy way to tell – more or less.

To find out if you have a digital infrared camera, try this quick test:
Hunt down a TV, VCR or DVD player remote control. Look at the end that points to the TV (or VCR etc), and you’ll see a little bulb or flat back plastic. This is the transmitter that sends the signal from the remote to your device. And, guess what? The signal (usually) uses infrared waves!

“OK, so what does all this have to do with my camera,” you ask?! Ok, I’ll get to the point!

Turn on your camera, and point the remote at it and look at it through your LCD screen. If you see your remote sensor light up with a white light, while looking through your camera LCD, there’s a very good chance that you camera will take infrared photos.
See what I mean?

Step 2: Digital Infrared Photography Equipment – A Few Critical Supplies

Have you checked to make sure your digital camera is able to take infrared photos? Excellent!

But before you can begin to click away, you’ll need some additional digital infrared photography equipment. Depending on your camera, you may need a few extras too.

The main accessories for digital infrared photography are a TRIPOD, and an INFRARED FILTER, that will block visible light but let the invisible infrared light pass through to the camera’s sensor.

The tripod is almost always a requirement to stabilize your camera, because the filter is so dense that your exposure will be very long – and camera shake will knock your images out of focus. When you look through an infrared filter, it is just about black, and you can barely see anything except the brightest objects (like the sun!) through it.

If you have a point & shoot digital camera, you will probably need an ADAPTER TUBE and a STEP UP RING to allow the filter to fit onto your camera.
Your set-up would look something like this:

The adapter tubes and rings aren’t too expensive. For my Olympus the tube was about $35.00 and the ring was about $15.00.

The filters are more expensive, ranging from $50.00 to a high of $135.00. If you shop on the Internet, I’ll be posting the best place I have found for filters of all kinds, as well as adapter rings and tubes, here in the next few weeks.

Step 3: Your Free Photo shop CS tutorial for digital infrared photography with your Nikon D70

This is the right place to find your free Photo shop CS tutorial for digital infrared photography. You’ll find out what to do with that weird looking digital infrared image in your camera using post-processing techniques in Photoshop.

Method #1
You got the filter, you got the camera, you adjusted your D70 to the right settings, you have the perfect sunlight, and the perfect shot. CLICK! You got it!

You preview your masterpiece and what do you see? Hmmmm…red, red and more red!

Panic not. Here’s how to turn that weird image, like this…

into a much more interesting digital infrared photograph, like this,

using Photoshop.

There are hundreds of ways you can make your digital infrared photos more interesting, but this is one of my favorites.

STEP 1: open your image
STEP 2: Go to Image>Adjustment>Auto Levels, click.
STEP 3: You may like this effect, if so save your images as a PSD file so you can adjust it again later without any degradation to the file. If you want to make a few more adjustments, proceed to the next step.
STEP 4: go to Image>Adjustment>Hue/Saturation, and bump the saturation down till you like the effect. Depending on my image I take it right down to –70 in some cases.
STEP 5: If you like it, save it as a PSD, for future manipulation. Now you can save it as a TIFF or JPG for printing, publishing on the Web or sharing with your friends!

How easy is that!

About the author:
Alex is a professional photographer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is an accredited member of the Professional Photographers of Canada.
Visit for more info and photos.

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