Last October I had my camera, a Lumix G6, converted to IR and thought I’d take you along on my journey down the Infrared road. This will be the first of several posts as I go through my trials and tribulations acquiring the IR look that I want in my images.
Let’s start back just a bit when IR capture was just a bit more difficult. Wait did I say just a bit? Let me rephrase it was an extreme PIA. Film was so sensitive to visible light that it had to be loaded into the camera in a darkroom or changing bag or there would be light leaks ruining captures… and you wouldn’t know until the processing was complete. Did I mention that IR film and processing was not cheap?
On to IR capture back in the days of yore here were some of the challenges. Various IR filters were extremely dark to the point of having to capture focus without the filter on the camera, replace the filter, make an adjustment for the actual focus point of IR on the film, and hope that you didn’t bump the focus in the process. Bracketing captures in hopes of getting the proper exposure ratio in the highlight to shadow areas of the image and then to printing which led to yet more expense.
Fast forward to today. Taking one of your older cameras and getting it changed to your choice of Infrared filter moves you to a new world – A world of light and brightness. Focus is accurate because of Live View. With the camera dialed in to produce a black and white image you can get a realistic view of the capture right away and there’s no abnormal long time exposure. Let’s get started with my first foray into the Digital Infrared World.
After researching the web and friends for the best IR conversion company the name that kept coming up was LifePixel. I attacked the web site for info and ideas on which filter to choose for my conversion. You want to research this carefully as different filters will have different effects. I’ll leave that for you to decide. Not being a fan of color IR my choice was for the 720nm filter AKA the standard filter.
My first venture with the camera was a little less than successful. I learned that the histogram on the back of the camera was not accurate for IR. I had a lot of blown out clouds with un-recoverable areas. Lesson learned.
Next time out I decided to capture lots of information by bracketing by five stops in RAW and jpeg and here is where my process begins. As I begin to feel more comfortable with different scenes I be knocking it down to 3 stops of exposure still in RAW plus jpeg. The RAW is so I’ll have all the information presented to the camera at capture just in case I need it. The jpegs are captured because the camera set in black and white mode will pre-process files and give me an idea of what the IR look will be right on the back of the camera and still will be around when I import my images. If you were to use the black and white setting and only capture in RAW the black and white will disappear never to be heard from again.
Each session with the new filter I’ve learned more and will share the capture and processing of images. I feel I’m getting closer and closer to the IR look I am working toward and hope the lessons I’ve learned will give you a head start with your images.
John Marsh says
I have a very parallel story with using Kodak High Speed Infrared film in the past that had to be loaded it total darkness, was impossible to get accurate exposure and very dense in the enlarger. It even left small dots on the negative from the camera’s pressure plate that had tiny indentations that trapped heat from the pressure plate. Even cameras with cloth focal plain shutters could leak IR so metal ones were preferable. And yes, focus was a nightmare. I would never, no never, shoot IR film again. Digital conversions are the best although I did have outstanding success with an unconverted Minolta Dimage 7 camera which was a real treat to use and excellent results. I also prefer BW to color tinted IR’s, but do recommend the filters that let some color in as you can then better adjust your gray tones with color sliders in your software. I prefer small portable cameras, especially micro four thirds, Olympus and Lumix as they have outstanding response to IR and excel with the 7-14mm wide angles.