Introduction: Intro to Infrared Photos

This is a short and simple intro in to IR photography. There is a lot of stuff on IR photos but I still had to do a lot of trial and error and digging to get as far as I've gone. A lot of it is about photo editing, but I wont go over any of that. I do as much as I can on the camera and shoot in JPEG only. Just how I roll.

I have a Canon T2i (550D) DSLR. I bought an infrared filter for it and I have recently finally figured out how to use it. I'll go over the steps and tips I found work best here. I won't really go over framing the picture or artistic stuff. You can find instructables on that elsewhere. The artistic part is pretty much the same with or without the filter. The big difference is just the settings you need to use and be aware of. That's what this instructable is for. The pictures I'm showing are examples and aren't fancy or anything. Most are of my backyard.

Needed:
-DSLR
-IR filter
-Remote highly recommended
-Tripod highly recommended
-Patience for some trial and error

Step 1: Physical Preparation

Go ahead and mount the camera on the tripod. With long exposures, you can set the camera down on something but really...use a tripod. Using a remote will probably be easier than using a preset long exposure time on the camera. With my camera, you can choose exposure times like 8, 10, 15 seconds, etc. But I prefer to set it to BULB mode and just use a remote. That way if you take a pic and need just a second or two longer exposure, just take the picture again and hold it down a little longer.

For the IR filter, I use a 720nm. How and why did I come to choose this? It was $4. That's why. 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003U65A7E/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

There are different wavelengths of filters you can get . Pretty much the bare basic guideline is that the lower the wavelength, the less exposure is needed and more closer-to-visible-light it allows through. From what I've seen online, usually a negligible difference. So I just went for cheap.

As for where and when to shoot. Shoot wherever and whenever it is bright. I've shot some  in the morning and they came out great. Before sunset is ok too but tends to need longer exposures. Mid day shots will be the easiest to get right.

Step 2: Settings Preperation

Focus: Autofocus. AF still works with the IR filter on. You can focus manually without the filter and then put it back on. But doing this will usually move the focus adjustment.

ISO: Lower the better. I don't go above 800. Above that gets really grainy in IR. However, a higher ISO and you can get a shorted exposure time. Depends on your needs. I like plant movement in long IR exposures. Looks interesting.

Aperture: I don't recommend above 8. Anything above that and you're usually looking at 45+ second exposures.

Exposure: I usually start at 8 seconds and adjust from there. In BULB mode with a remote, it's easy to make single second adjustments.

Picture Style: You can use the Standard picture style but usually you want to bump up the contrast all the way for IR pictures.

White Balance: This is the key to cool pics. If you leave the WB only on auto, everything will just look red. Here is the procedure to set the Custom White Balance on a Canon camera.
1. Have the above settings in place, IR filter on and camera mounted on the tripod.
2. Point the camera to the greenest, brightest plant you can find.
3. Set it to manual focus and put the focus to the opposite it should be (close plant=set focus to infinity). Set white balance to Auto.
4. Take a picture (8 seconds or whatever gets a good exposure)
5. Click on Menu
6. Go to Custom White Balance
7. Use the Image you just took to set the white balance (click "Set")
8. Go back to the camera settings and set the white balance to CWB and set focus to Auto.

You're ready to shoot.

Step 3: Examples

The biggest change you will get depends on your white balance. You can change the source of your custom white balance for different color effects. The deep greens seem to get the nicest pictures but it's best to experiment. None of these were modified, just straight from the camera. You could probably tweak these in photoshop but you can also just try to play with the settings and take a good picture to begin with. I still need a lot of work. But hopefully this will push some people in the right direction.

Comments

author
Donnage61 (author)2013-11-09

Thank you Going to give it a go

author
warrengoff (author)2011-11-25

Thanks. Will try that.