Go into the red

James Pater­son goes be­yond the vis­i­ble colour spec­trum to cap­ture strik­ing in­frared im­ages

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Use an in­frared fil­ter to cap­ture land­scapes as you’ve never seen them be­fore

In­frared pho­tog­ra­phy shows us the world il­lu­mi­nated by in­frared light, a part of the colour spec­trum we can’t nor­mally see, and pro­duces beau­ti­ful, ethe­real im­ages that couldn’t be cap­tured in any other way. Fo­liage and skies look es­pe­cially good in in­frared – blue skies will turn very dark, while green trees in di­rect sun­light will glow white.

In­frared light is in­vis­i­ble to the hu­man eye. In or­der to cap­ture it, we need to block all but the in­frared light from hit­ting our cam­era’s sen­sor, and there are two meth­ods for do­ing this. The first is to mount a spe­cial fil­ter on your lens. These are very dark, and typ­i­cally re­duce the amount of light by up to 10 stops, so you’ll need to get set up to cap­ture long ex­po­sures.

The sec­ond op­tion re­quires mak­ing ir­re­versible changes to a D-SLR’s sen­sor, so it might be worth con­sid­er­ing if you’ve got an old body ly­ing around. Nor­mal D-SLRs have a fil­ter that re­moves in­frared light, but this can be re­moved by spe­cial­ists like ACS (www.ad­vanced­cam­eraser­vices.co.uk), who supplied the con­verted D3s we used here. The con­ver­sion makes the cam­era just as sen­si­tive to in­frared light as it pre­vi­ously was to vis­i­ble light, mean­ing you can use it as you would a nor­mal D-SLR. It also pro­duces cleaner im­ages than you can get with a lens-mounted fil­ter.

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