Category Archives: Notes on Infrared and Near-Infrared Photography

Notes on Infrared and Near-Infrared photography

I wrote about my early explorations into Infrared Photography here (2012, so long ago and in my earliest days as an OCA student!).  On a re-reading I realised that I’d included most of the technical information there, so I ditched the lengthy notes and draft new blog post, so please do read about my early explorations if you’re interested in the process. That post produced quite a lot of comments and very useful discussions on whether infrared photographer should be considered ‘tricksy’. Two of the comments pointed to elements of Infrared that are of particular interest to me at the moment:-

Keith Greenough (OCA graduate) referring to one of my black and white IR images on Flickr and how the pylons stood out strongly:-

….This made me think about whether it might be possible to use IR in a project/assignment to highlight elements within landscapes or urban scenes which would normally be overlooked. The idea would be to make the viewer conscious of these previously unseen elements.
Just a thought…

Norma Bellini (OCA graduate)

….. What is ‘reality’? Is it what we actually see, or what is really there, but we don’t see? If it is the former then ‘reality’ is a variable because we see, and interpret what we see, in different ways. If it is the latter, we are being misled by what our eyes see.

These aspects have been occupying my mind lately in considering ‘The Sublime”, particularly “The Uncanny”.  There are elements in the landscape of our lives that can’t be seen even though they exist; radio and microwaves; feelings and emanations.  How is it that we can walk into a room and sense an atmosphere or feel a cold shiver down our spine before we even know that a place is said to be haunted or that something bad once happened there.  History and memory are layered into our landscapes along with the ravages or depradations of time. Infrared photography could be used as a visual metaphor for these perhaps – just as Richard Mosse used it in his project The Enclave  (2013). Remembering of course that he used a different type of infrared and infrared film (16mm colour infrared film,discontinued film stock developed by the United States military as a reconnaissance tool during the Second World War). This film turned the landscape deep pink and the rebels’ camouflage uniform bright green – making them stand out instead of hidden. As I mentioned in my original blog post there was much debate at the time as to whether this was appropriate.

In his latest project The Castle (2018) Mosse used heat as both metaphor and index by using a military-grade thermal video camera to document refugee camps and staging sites along mass migration routes into the European Union from the Middle East and Central Asia .  Also, in her project Dan le Noir (2017) the photographer Lynda Laird used infrared film to photograph the remnants of Normandy’s bunkers, accompanying these with a diary entry from 6th June 1944 written by Odette Brefort who was a member of the French Resistance . In an interview here   Laird talks about her use of the film and how it fits with her ongoing work concerning memory and a sense of place “trying to look at what’s invisible in a landscape – what you can feel and what you can sense”.

There’s precedent, therefore for my use of infrared, although I won’t be using infrared film but a digital camera converted to use the reflected light from near-infrared. An unprocessed infrared image tends to be brick and cyan but it can be converted to other looks in Photoshop. The images below show original image; conversion using  the channel mixer (plus some work in Nik Silver Efex Pro) and the gradient filter (blue/yellow).

I doubt I would ever use the gradient filter, even though the psychedelic effect is intriguing, but it was interesting to try. The more usual black and white can be very effective but, in the case of this particular Assignment, I intend to use the original red tones because they fit my concept.




Busch D.D. David Busch’s Digital Infrared Pro Secrets (2007) Boston, MA, Thomson Course Technology