Invisible Light Photography by Andy Finney (header)

Photo Gallery: Types of IR Photography

There is more explanation of the techniques and materials in the technical introduction page.

Black and white film

For many years the mainstay of infrared photography was Kodak's High Speed Infrared film, known as HIE. This was sensitive panchromatically as usual with the addition of an extension beyond red to around 1100 nanometers. This was a tricky film to use. It was designed without either a fogged film base or halation coating so that after exposing the emulsion, the light continued to bounce around inside the film base. The result was a glowing effect that many people thought was an artefact of infrared, whereas it was an artefact of the way the film was made. And you had to load the film in complete darkness!

Exposure was also tricky, as any light meter would not be measuring infrared. I used to use a deep red (#25) filter and set the cameras's internal meter to 400 ISA and bracket. All the examples here were taken this way, either with a Minolta SRT-101 or a Nikon FM2.

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False-colour film

Colour infrared film started out as a means of detecting camouflage. It works by recording infrared wavelengths in the red layer, red in the green and green in the blue: blue should be filtered out (using a yellow or orange filter): hence false-colour.

Kodak were the only manufacturer producing the film as EIR (Ektachrome Infrared). I started using their E-4 version, which was very difficult to get processed, and then moved on to the final version which could be processed as E-6 in any commercial lab. The final version of EIR could also be developed using an Aerochrome process, which gave more accurate coloration than E-6. My photography does not aspire to that level of technicality.

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Digital black and white

Most digital cameras have colour sensors and if you filter to take infrared images you will have some residual colour in your photographs unless you use filters that limit wavelengths to greater than around 800 nm. This doesn't prevent black and white infrared photography, as any colouring can be removed in post-processing. The black and white image can be derived from any or all channels although the green channel will have slightly greater resolution than the others.

Photographs here were mostly taken through blue or ND filters, depending on the camera used. Digital monochrome infrared photos do not exhibit the halation of Kodak's film, although it is possible to add this during post-processing.

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Digital colour

Digital images as shot by the camera tend to have an orangish look to the skies rather than blue so most photographers, if they shoot colour, will swap red and blue channels in an application such as Photoshop.

In the case of my images, the process depends on the filtration and camera used with several different techniques used for the images here. With one exception, the colours bear little relation to anything real. The exception is a photo of the Millau Viaduct in France which was shot using a technique that emulates the Kodak EIR film.

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Infrared Movies

A couple of examples of movies shot using infrared techniques.

One is a near-infrared movie shot around the Keisersgracht in Amsterdam. This was done by putting a blocking filter onto a basic video camera. This was done many years ago so this example is standard definition.

The second example was shot using a FLiR One thermal camera using an iPhone as controller. This camera has a very low thermal resolution but adds some elements of the visual scene to help you see what's going on. The first part was shot on the London Underground using a false colour palette and the second part was shot in black and white on the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough. There is more information on the thermal imaging page.

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