I know, what a great way to start a piece, “Don’t believe everything you read” and you’re reading this. Let me clarify. There is a great deal of information on the internet about Infrared and Infrared photography, buuuuuuut, a good deal of that information is just plain wrong. As an instructor, I see many situations where a new IR photographer gets discouraged because they listen to a self-proclaimed “expert” who guides them in the wrong direction. And, I’m going to give you specific examples.
First case in point:
Most everyone knows you need to set a custom White Balance when you shoot Infrared. One way to do that is photograph foliage, like grass or trees and use that image as a White Balance reference image. What you are doing when you set a White Balance on foliage is capturing the way the Infrared light reflects off the organic material.
Along comes a so-called expert who starts selling a piece of green fabric to use in place of foliage.
The color green has nothing to do with the White Balance, yet this guy is selling it. It did not work for a White Balance any better than using the sleeve of your shirt would work.
So, more than a couple of new IR photographers were fooled by this “expert” wasted their money and got discouraged because it didn’t work.
Look around before you make a purchase. Legit products are usually for sale
Second case in point:
Another self-proclaimed “expert” gets online and starts putting out his “tests” of lenses, declaring what lenses are acceptable for Infrared, and what lenses you should never shoot Infrared with.
He did not know what he was talking about, or what he was doing. The tests he performed in his Moms basement were anything but accurate. For example, he declared that the Canon 70-200 f2.8 lens should not be used for Infrared.
He had several graphs which he claimed proved the lens is awful. The thing he didn’t have were any samples showing the problems. I responded by showing this; 3 examples of Infrared images made with this exact lens.
There is no problem with this lens, yet because of this person, there are photographers who won’t use the lens for Infrared.
If you already own a particular lens, test it out yourself and then you will know for certain. If you are thinking of buying a lens, ask to test it. Bring your IR converted camera to the camera store and take some test shots. I’ve never had a camera store refuse my request to take a couple of test shots.
So what should you do?
Examples like this are plentiful online because there is no way to police the internet. I’d like to think these people are just ignorant and not deliberately disseminating wrong information, but sometimes the amount of “junk info” online is discouraging.
Here’s my suggestion: When you see someone proclaiming that their way is “The Only Way” before you spend too much time digesting what they have shoveled out, . . . Look at their work.
If you like what you see, then listen to them.
For years the expression has been around “My work speaks for itself” and to a degree, that is true. An artists work shows what they can do. If someone is telling you how to process your color Infrared, but all their work is Monochrome, ….. something just doesn’t seem right.
There is also a certain degree of truth to the phrase “You get what you pay for”
There are a few people (including myself) offering training and workshops. Check their work, find the look you like, then you will know who you want to learn from.
So, next time you are online, keep in mind that just because it’s on there….. doesn’t mean it’s helpful.