Since this is my first posting, I wanted to explain a few things. My intention is show you ways to become a better Infrared Photographer, and enjoy the experience of capturing IR images. The important thing to keep in mind is this is an art form, and as such there many ways to create stunning Infrared images. What I will show are the techniques that I have had success with. I welcome feedback and suggestions on future subjects to make this Blog more useful. My contact information is available on my Bio page.
White balance and Shooting RAW
The two things that I feel make the biggest impact on an IR image are white balance and shooting in RAW.
White balance is the process of removing color casts, so that objects which appear white in reality are rendered white in your image. Many digital cameras do an excellent job of white balance on color images. With your IR converted camera, you need to “tell” the camera what white is. Since most IR produces images with foliage (trees, grass) as white, they are a natural for white balance. Each camera has a different procedure for manual white balance, but most allow for you to take and image to use as a reference. That image is used to establish what white is.
RAW image capture is a method by which you have all the image data from your camera sensor with very little processing. RAW images need to be processed and save into another format for printing and most editing. The advantage is a RAW image can be adjusted before converting to whatever format you use. Most RAW convertors have the ability to manually white balance. Shooting in RAW with a manual white balance gives you two opportunities to get the color tones the way you want.
For an example, let’s look at an image shot with difference white balance settings. This is an image of the St. Louis Arch grounds. Here is the image shot with the camera on full automatic.
Now we start to see a bit more color separation. The foreground has much less of a red-ish tone and the image appears to have more depth. This image was shot with a manual white balance, and then the RAW image was processed with an additional white balance using the grass in the RAW image as a reference.
This image has more depth, and color separation. From here, the Infrared image can be processed in which way you choose. Here are some examples: