Digital Infrared Photography Questions
I get hundreds of questions about my photos, my Web site and my techniques, but by far the most popular questions have to do with digital infrared photography.
I’m a big believer that if one person has a question, the likleyhood that others have the same question is pretty high. So in case you are shy or didn’t feel the urge to write, here are a selection of some of the more frequently asked digital infrared photo questions – and ANSWERS!
Checking Camera’s Infrared Ability
I have a Nikon d100. I love infrared and normally I use my HIE with my Nikon F100. With the d100, I tried to follow your instruction to find out whether or not it can do the infrared, but there is no white colour appear on the infrared beam from my remote control.
As far as you know, is Nikon F100 can be used for infrared effect? And have you heard about Nikon F200?
With DSLRs, such as the D100 the method is a little different (the technique on my site is for point & shoot digital cameras). For your type of camera, you have to take a photo of the infrared TV or DVD device WHILE you (or someone else) is holding down one of the buttons on that device. The image that results will show you the white light, as opposed to just viewing it in the LCD screen of the point & shoot – since they allow you to “preview” your shots. Which DSLRs don’t. IF you see some whiteness where the remote control device IR port is, then your sensor can “see” IR, although its actual sensitivity will be determined once you make your real exposure in a landscape.
I believe the D100 can take IR images, but it is not a sensitive to IR as the D70 is. Folks who use the D100 for IR report longer exposures are necessary and a higher ISO. But it is capable of taking decent IR photos. It would most likely be worth it to buy the IR filter and give it a try!
Camera’s Infrared Ability Part 2
I really love your website! It is very informative! I recently purchased a new Nikon D70s and have been just “playing with it”, while reading the manual through and through. I am also a proud owner of a Nikon N80 film SLR which I really love. I am really starting to love my D70s, also. I have taken some really beautiful pics, IR pics included (post PS Elements 3.0). What I want to know is this: Is this camera set up for Color IR? Or do I have to work in PS for it? I have seen some stunning digital color infrared pics on the ‘net, but I just don’t know how to create them. I use a Hoya r72 IR filter for my current IR shooting (B&W, of course). I am just at a loss regarding COLOR IR.
Congratulations on your new D70. It IS a great camera. Soon the two of you will be inseparable!
Ok – on to the colour infrared. The D70 is just as capable of colour IR as the traditional B&W style.
But this is all done in post-productoin using Photoshop. When you shoot digital IR all your resulting images will be red as a result of the way the IR filter works with the sensor. (Unless of course you have a camera that you can set to shoot in B&W, but the Nikon D70 does not have this mode.)
Here’s how it’s done in PS. (but don’t forget to adjust your white balance before you shoot!).
In PS, I do “autolevels” first, and then use the Channel Mixer to switch the colours. Like this, take the Output Channel for red channel and decrease the red slider value to to 0 and increase the blue slider to 100.
Now to the Blue in the output channel, and make red slider 100, and blue 0.
Now go to Hue Saturation, and decrease the saturation in the magenta channel. Sometimes depending on the image, I go to Image>adjust>Selective colour to further refine the tones, to get whiter whites.
You can also make colour adjustments before the Channel Mixer step by using Image>adjustments>colour balance. This is a totaly image dependant technique and you will get awesome results with one image and dissappointing ones with another. So you have to experement a bit.
To get the IR “glow” I use the Filters>Distort>Diffuse Glow with settings at Graininess = 2, Glow amount = 1 and clear amount = 7. But these will depend on the resolution of your image and the amount of white pixels in your final rendering. So, I hope that helps you. By all means write back if you have more questions.
Digital Infrared Camera Filters
I am interested in digital infrared photography. I just purchased a Nikon D70s and would like to get started with digital infrared. Previously I owned a Nikon Coolpix 950 which did a nice job with digital infrared. I had used a Kodak Written #87 with the Coolpix 950. Since the filter size is quite different I will need to buy a new infrared filter. Do you think the #87 will work with the D70s or should I buy a #89B as you suggested.
Also how do you adjust your digital infrared photos in your gallery to have a blue color?
Thanks so much for writing! Good questions.
The thing with the IR filters is that they have to be “compatible” with the IR sensitivity of your camera sensor. The Coolpix has a much higher IR sensitivity than the D70 so you can get great effects with the stronger filter.
If you use it with the D70 however, it will block out too much of the visible spectrum, and since the D70 is not as sensitive to IR, you won’t get much capture of that either, so you won’t get the nice IR images you want. I use Cokin filters because they will fit any camera – all you need is an adapter ring (about $5.00 or less). You can even use it with your Coolpix with an adapter, like my Olympus set up on the Web page.
For the blue images, here’s the trick:
In Photoshop, I click “autolevels” and then use the Channel Mixer to switch the colours. So the drop down box is selected for Red, red channel is made to 0 and the blue 100. Then the blue is selected in the drop down and switch the order again.
Then in Hue/Saturation I adjust each colour till it looks the way I want it. Hope this helps.
Infrared & White Balance
I am new to digital infrared.I have a D70 with an R72 filter. Regarding white balance – I have read it is best to take white balance at one second or longer at approx f8 on green grass in full sunlight. When I try to do so all I get is NO GOOD flashing at me. If I close down a few stops I get a good reading. Will I still get an accurate WB? Am I doing the right thing?
Likely your camera is overexposing at the aperture you’ve set, thus rendering an unusable WB. By stopping down, you’ve corrected the exposure and the white balance will be “accurate” for digital Infrared photos
Advanced Infrared Techniques
I used my Nikon D70 with Hoya R72 filters on both my Nikon 17-35 and 28-200 lenses to photograph these dwellings. I can not seem to find any detailed instruction as to how to post-process these images in Photoshop CS. I shot the images in RAW format. All I can find is to open the image (which is obviously red) in Photoshop, perform an auto level and then desaturate the images through hue/saturation to around -70. I do not seem to get the “glow” that I am looking for. The images actually look pretty flat. I am willing to spend lots of time with these images. Any instruction you could recommend or books to buy or websites I would greatly appreciate.
These are usually a couple of things about IR photography that seldom get mentioned and one is specific to digital IR and the other is applicable to both film and digitalIR photos.
The first thing is that the “glow” of typical film IR images occurs because of the way the silver halide crystals in the film react when exposed to IR light. Since there are no such reactions with digital IR, this effect has to be added in post production.
I’ve found that in Photoshop, the most authentic way to do this is apply the auto levels to your red image as you have been doing. Convert your image to B&W in whatever manner you usually use. If you have a very contrasty image, bump the contrast down a notch or two. Use the Add Noise filter from the Filters menu. You’ll have to play around with the values, but use Gaussian distribution and check the Monochrome box on. This will emulate the typical grain of film IR images.
Then making sure your background colour is white (on your colour palette in the tool box on the left of your screen), go to Filters>Distort>Diffuse Glow. Again you’ll have to play with the values, depending on your exposure, resolution, size and tonality of your image, but a bit of experimentation will give you the traditional IR foggy, diffuse glow.
Now, for the other critical detail. This applies to both film and digital IR photography and it has to do with how IR light is reflected back to the environment. Just as all objects reflect the colour spectrum at different wavelengths (to give us what we see as colour) objects reflect varying amounts of IR. Living things reflect the most IR – deciduous foliage, clouds and the sky, and human skin are among the best reflectors, while rocks tend to be one of the least reflective.
It might be that your subject matter in these shots isn’t reflecting a high enough amount of IR light to make a distinctive image. Are the dwellings quite dark in your converted images? Is there much foliage in your shots? Are there sky and clouds in your composition?
If you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to try to help
More Color Infrared with a Canon A70
I have a Canon Powershot A70 and a Hoya R72 filter for infrared photography. I take my photography in color and then I transform these photos in black and white with Photoshop. It works just fine.
But do you think it’s possible to make infrared false colors with the photos taken with my A70? I have tried but I have no result. Do you know people who take infrared photography with the Canon Powershot A70?
Nikon D70 Modifications
Did the Nikon D70 need any alteration to be sensitive to infrared?
Good question! No alterations to the camera at all, except slipping on a Cokin IR filter.
It’s not the most sensitive camera to IR light, so exposure times tend to be long (for sure use a tripod) and I have seen other articles in which severe modifications are made to the high pass filter inside the camera, but the shots I’ve taken are with the D70 right out of the box.
I have uncovered a few new techniques over the winter that I’ll be sharing as soon as I have some foliage to shoot! Also keep checking my blog as I convert a D70 into a dedicated digital infrared camera – spring 2006.
Hope this helps and if you have any other questions I’ll be happy to try to answer them for you.
Digital Infrared Aerial Photography
Do you think that it would be possible to take IR or near IR photos of forests from overhead with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second? That is the minimum shutter speed for aerial photography. My digital Canon Rebel has zero IR sensitivity, unfortunately! But does a great job of regular photos, and aerial photography. The only IR camera I have found is the Tetracam ADC at 4K USA it is pretty pricey, and very limited.
When you say aerial photography I’m assuming you aren’t meaning ortho photos the kind used for mapping, which you probably know requires pretty complex equipment.(before I quit the corporate rat race, I worked for a GIS software development company – got my fill of orthos there!)
I haven’t spent a lot of time shooting at high ISOs with the Nikon D70 – the initial results were just too noisy for my taste, so I can’t tell you specifically what shutter speeds you could expect. But my exposure times at ISO 300, with the Nikon kit lens supplied with the D70, in full sun, with the Hoya R72, were in the neighbourhood of from 1/30 to 4 seconds. I always have to use a tripod. I can send you the EXIF info from a few shots if you like.
If you had a fast lens, and you didn’t require super fine images or large enlargements you may be able to do it at 1/125 but I think you’d be pushing it (no pun intended!). Mind you the D70 is also not the most IR responsive DSLR on the market either.
If you think it’s worth the cost, several web sites show in detail how to remove the internal IR filter from the D70, thus enabling it to shoot very nice IR photos at decent shutter speeds.
Bracketing for Infrared
Hello I just looked at your page about IR with the D70. GREAT INFO!I have 1 quick Q, When you set the camera up for bracketing what are the settings…3f 1/100?”
With the D70 I set for 1/3 of a stop either way +/-. But sometimes depending on the light, I maually bracket, in increments of one full stop.
I also bracket ISO.
If I’m shooting RAW, I may get a little lazy and make all my white balance adjustments in ACR in post.
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