The Weather for Infrared

Olympus EM5 converted to Infrared. f7.1, 1/400", ISO200, lens at 14mm
Olympus EM5 converted to Infrared. f7.1, 1/400″, ISO200, lens at 14mm

If you live in the UK and enjoy Landscape Photography you will have noticed that the light is growing more harsh and the time of day for shooting great Landscapes is becoming more restricted. At this time of year you often find yourself need to be shooting landscapes at either end of the day or in bad weather. If you are out in the middle of the day in bright sunny weather, you can find it very difficult to shooting anything. This is when I like to turn my attention to Infrared photography as these are the ideal conditions.

If you shoot infrared with a digital camera you really need strong sunlight to get the best infrared effects. Whilst you can shoot in any weather conditions, if the light isn’t strong you will find that many of your images have a soft appearance, lacking sharp detail and look a little grainy. Compare this to scenes where the light is strong and you can achieve some amazing results.

This was the case yesterday when I went for a walk around the Chatsworth Estate. I found myself snapping away at all sorts of scenes that were literally transformed by the infrared capture.

Whilst I do love Infrared photography, I miss the halation effect that could be seen in films such as Kodak HIE. If you want to create the glowing white effect and shoot digitally, you will need to simulate it in some way as I have done in the image above. In this case I used Alien Skin Exposure 7 which has a good halation simulation. I then selectively introduced it into my image using a mask in Photoshop. This was to restrict the effect to the foliage as I didn’t like how it affected the sky.

I hope you like the finished image. It really didn’t look like much with a conventional camera but was transformed by infrared.

9 thoughts on “The Weather for Infrared

  1. Robin, I love this image. It conveys some feeling of the british countryside. After looking at some of your IR images, I bought a R72 filter and shot some images with a non-converted Olympus Pen. The results are not exciting, but I shall practice and take advantage of your suggestions. Cheers, Andrea

    1. Thank you. I have also experimented with a 720nm filter on an EM5 which hasn’t been converted. I could achieve an infrared effect but the exposure times were quite long. Also ensure you are shooting RAW as you will need to do quite a bit of post capture processing.

  2. Beautiful – Love it! Question: Now with the new panorama mode in Lightroom, how do you rate the EM5 IR Mod vs. the Xpan film IR? Both seem to be working very well for you.

    1. Thanks John. I still like the XPan a lot but the limitation is the IR film. Effectively you are now limited to Rollei IR which has a very limited halation effect. With the EM5, I think I have arrived at a nice way to process the images so that they math what I would like to accomplish with IR. That is I can create the halation and grain effect that I like. I actually think I am having more success with the Digital IR.

      1. I agree that Digital IR via modified sensors and computer software excel for great IR prints. There is, however, that urge of going back to film for all of its challenges. I don’t think I ever achieved anything close to what I can do with Olympus M43 and the brilliant software we now have. Thanks, John

  3. I am so enjoying your posts on IR photography, thank you!
    Might be interesting to see examples of a best effort “regular” color photo and IR photo side by side. Perhaps something for all of us to experiment with at home.

    1. Thanks Karen. Yes, in the future I will look to produce an example to illustrate how poor convensional shots are when the weather is well suited for Infrared. I don’t think I have any in my archive so I just need the weather to play ball.

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