During my early years of Architectural study, I was always a big admirer of surreal works of artists like Salvador Dali, Antonio Gaudi, René Magritte, Max Ernst, etc…
One way to achieve surreal images in photography was, exploring the Infrared world. My journey with Infrared Photography started in 2009 when I converted my Nikon D200 to 665nm filter. HERE are my first shots with D200 converted back then. I always liked the surreal images that infrared photography reveals. I find IR Photography a kind of meditation for me. It makes you escape the real world to a magical surreal one.
The start was not easy for me. Getting nice results needed lots of getting used to in post processing. Actually I can say that post processing is mainly the most important tool to get nice infrared images.
When I started to shoot with Fujifilm mirrorless in 2012, I thought it would have been nice to add an IR converted X camera to my bag. It took me 2 years to convert my X-Pro1 to Super Blue filter. You can check my X-Pro1 IR album on Flickr HERE . In 2015, I converted my first Full Frame camera , a Sony A7 to 590nm filter HERE then a Fujifilm X-T10 to 590nm filter also HERE .
Today I use 3 converted infrared cameras : Nikon D200 665nm, Sony A7 590nm, and Fujifilm X-T10 590nm. (I am mostly using the X-t10 for the compact size and weight).
How people feel about IR images: From my experience with IR photography , feedbacks were either “I hate those fake colors and manipulations” or “I love those surreal colors”. Rarely I hear neutral feedback about an IR image I did. It’s either you hate it or you love it.
Post Processing: IR Post processing is a bit complicated (if you don’t know what you are doing) and easy (when you master the PP). White Balance should be mainly set to Custom in most filter choices; usually set to green foliage. I was able to shoot with the Super Blue filter on Auto White Balance though, so it really depends on the conversion filter you are using. In Post processing the Color Channel Mixer in Photoshop is the most important tool to manipulate the colors; and the results can be endless. The straight forward process is to invert the red and blue channel mixer colors… But you can also work with the Green for other effects. And sometimes I do more than one manipulation with Channel Mixer for the same image, depending on the effect I want to get. The funny thing is that sometimes i cannot get the same effect twice for the same image, because of the so many processing tools i use. It’s a matter of getting used to mainly, having in mind of what effect you want to reach at the end.
Camera Choices: Recently I am mainly using my IR Mirrorless cameras: Fujifilm X-T10 and Sony A7. They are lighter and more compact to carry along another “normal colored” camera. It doesn’t take too much space in the bag. And the most important thing about the mirrorless choice is that you can see the result with Live View and EVF while shooting unlike the heavy DSLRs: Changing the color simulation and/or the White balance will give you a direct view on the screen/EVF. Carrying the Fujifilm X-T10 (381 grams) along my X-T2 or X-Pro2 is like carrying an additional prime in the bag ; (XF23/1.4 weights 301 grams, XF56/1.2 weights 405 grams). Another reason why I mainly use my Mirrorless cams is tilt screen: it is very useful when shooting IR, for low wide and ultra wide angle shots.
Lens Choices: In every system there are some lenses that won’t work well with Infrared photography. the lenses mentioned below deliver Hot Spots at most of the Apertures used. So I recommend not using those if you want to shoot IR.
- Nikon FX: 24-70mm f2.8
- Sony FE: FE35mm f2.8 ZA
- Fujifilm X: XF18-55mm f2.8-4 (usable only wide open) & XF10-24mm f4 (unusable on most apertures).
When using other than the mentioned lenses above, sometimes you shouldn’t stop down a lot to avoid Hot Spots. The more you stop down the more risk you have to have a Hot Spot.
IR Subjects: the most common subject for shooting IR is Landscapes. In addition to landscapes I shoot some architecture and mainly street photography as well.
Shooting Portraits in IR
For me the most tricky subject to shoot in IR is Portraits and People in general. The thing I like about Portraits in IR is that it makes the skin so smooth without the need of any smoothing. The color choice is the tricky part here. Having hair colors in Pink, Blue, Orange, etc… might not please everyone; although some of my women clients loved the effect. Another tricky thing in Portrait IR is that the contrast between the lips and face is most of the times low as you may notice in the sample images below.