The purpose of this article is to help people through the process of filter selection.
A few years ago I upgraded my Canon G12 cameras to a newer model, the G1X. At the same time I decided to convert the now G12 camera to infrared.
After reading a number of online reviews I decided on Life Pixel for the conversion process. That was the easy part. The difficult decision was choosing the right filter for my needs. So what exactly was the ‘right’ filter for my needs, or your needs for that matter? That depends upon the type of photographic images you intend to produce most often, i.e. what you really love to create as an artist.
So what type of Infrared photographs would you like to produce? If you are not sure how to answer that question I would suggest looking through the galleries on the Life Pixel website, or performing a Google search. It is important to be honest with yourself as to what images you truly like the best. Purchasing photography equipment is a lot like buying a car in that we can convince ourselves that each and every type of vehicle would be the correct choice for a different aspect of our lives, and ego often tends to get in the way of clear judgment. Sure we can all picture ourselves in a Ferrari, but if you have a large family, or work necessitates carrying a lot of tools then that might not be the best choice.
Back to the filter dilemma:
My first selection criteria involved color versus black-and-white. While I appreciate good black-and-white prints I was especially attracted to the results produced by the ‘color’ infrared filters, especially the deep blue sky affect. Sure I could see myself wanting to create Ansell Adams style black-and-white photographs, but again this is not going to be the majority of my work. This quickly narrowed the choices down to the Super Color IR or the Super Blue IR filters.
My final selection was to Super Color IR as it seemed to be the best filter for producing the type of color infrared photographs that I was most interested in. As an additional bonus for those times when I want to produce a black-and-white IR shot I still have the ability to easily de-saturate the colors in Photoshop using the saturation slide adjustments. Some final tweaking of the contrast and you will have an excellent black-and-white photograph if you desire that.
Whatever filter you decide upon you will need to play around until you get used to it, the same as any other new tool. You also need to play around with Photoshop, or similar software, until you get the results you are looking for. I will admit that until I got this part down I was a bit frustrated. Now I am extremely happy with the Super Color IR conversion from Life Pixel.
Below is an image of the “Duck Pond” located outside of Philadelphia PA. The image was shot in May of 2016 on a hot sunny day with the Canon G12 Super Color conversion, 1/320s., f4.0, ISO 100, EV-2/3. I like to underexpose by 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop if I have foliage in bright sunlight.
What about those cool purple and magenta photographs I often see?
Not a problem;
Canon G12 Super Color conversion, 1/160s, f5.6, ISO 100, EV-1/3
“But I also want B&W.” Again not a problem;
Canon G12 Super Color, 1/160s., f5.0, ISO 100, EV0
In upcoming articles, as well as videos, I will cover the techniques I use to produce the images presented in this article.
Take care, and keep experimenting.