Digital camera infrared (IR) photography can be done generally in 2 ways. The cheap but inconvenient way is to attach an IR-passing filter, such as the popular Hoya R72, over the lens and shoot images. The expensive but convenient way is to have the digital camera converted and calibrated for IR photography.

The cheap inconvenient method is slow and clumsy, and it is not always a sure-fire way of producing IR images. This method can sometimes produce a whitish circular flare in the center of the IR image, often called a hot-spot.  This hot-spot becomes more visible with images shot at small apertures, and it can be observed that the hot-spot bears the shape of the diaphragm opening. There is no easy remedy for this optical problem.

The expensive convenient method is fast and easy. Not only are hot-spots absent, exposure times are short enough for hand-held photography. Not only can the tripod be left at home, the modified camera can be used at lower ISO values hence producing images with lesser electronic noise and higher clarity, or used at smaller apertures for longer depth-of-field to complement landscape photography which IR photography is popularly used for.

The conversion or modification of a digital camera for IR photography requires careful disassembly by a qualified technician, and sometimes the camera has to be optically (focus) calibrated after the modification. The imaging sensor (focal plane) position and lens focus (autofocus shift) can be calibrated to suit IR transmission in the camera-lens system. This calibration is necessary for the camera to correctly focus IR wavelengths and hence produce sharply focused images.

The following gallery presents infrared images I photographed in December 2009. Photographed in Sydney CBD, Royal National Park, Sea Cliff Bridge (Grand Pacific Drive), and Hunter Valley wine region, these IR images were appropriately enhanced in Adobe Photoshop for an improved visual appearance. I thank my Burmese friend Pyay Phyo Kyaw for hosting me in Sydney.

The Canon PowerShot SX100IS camera was infrared-converted by me in my workplace at Camera Clinic.

Scenery in IR – part 2