Digital Infrared Photography at 14,000 ft, Part 1

July 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This past weekend I had the joy of joining my friend and assistant Mickey who wanted to hike up Mt. Shavano for his birthday.  Shavano is one of Colorado's "14ers" at a height of 14,229 ft. Though I was a few feet shy of the top by virtue of being too dizzy to safely balance on the topmost boulder, I'm still counting it as a success. ;)  Shavano is near Poncha Springs and thus makes a nice weekend trip from Albuquerque.

For photography, I decided to bring along only my infrared-modified old Canon T2i and 10-22mm lens. I wanted both the practice and challenge of shooting only in infrared. For those of you not familiar with digital infrared photography, here's the gist:  digital sensors are sensitive not only to visible light, but also to near-ultraviolet and near-infrared light just outside the range of human vision. There is an internal filter over the sensor (known as the "hot mirror") that blocks this UV and IR light so that it doesn't throw off the colors in your images.

Now if you crazy enough, you can have this internal filter removed and then shoot with filters that allow only near-infrared light in and capture the world in a way you can't see with your eyes. What's interesting and unique about this is that foliage (anything with chlorophyll in it, such as leaves and grass) become very bright and the sky typically goes very dark or black (depending on your filter and the position of the sun relative to your camera).

So here are a few shots I took and went with the classic black and white infrared look.  Some were shot with a 665nm cutoff filter and some with a 780nm cutoff (aka Wratten 87 filter). The difference between the two is negligible when converted to black and white.

In my next post I'll show you some of the unique things that can be done with the 780nm/Wratten 87 filter when you don't convert the image to black and white.

Digital infrared photography of trees and mountains in ColoradoBlack and white digital infrared photography near Mt. Shavano

 


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