An Infrared Experiment

I previously posted “everything you need to know about digital IR“. Yesterday, while out in thick fog (50 foot visibility at times) and rain in Shenandoah National Park, I decided to try an IR experiment. We all know what IR images look like when there is green foliage and bright sun in the scene. Something like this –

But – what if there is no sun or green foliage? What if, instead, there was fog and rain, and most of the foliage was in the form of dead late autumn leaves blanketing the ground?  Surprisingly, nothing much changes in terms of the appearance of the resulting IR image. Things that would be white or light tones under “normal” IR shooting conditions appear about the same in this less than “normal” situation.

Lesson learned for this IR lover – ignore the weather conditions when deciding whether to shoot IR or not. Go for it. Here are some examples from yesterday. All images made with an IR converted Nikon D70, shot in RAW, B&W conversion and fine tuning done in Silver Efex Pro. Click any image to enlarge.

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This image answered a question for me. Does lichen (the white patches on the tree trunks) act like actual foliage in an IR image? The answer, obviously, is yes.

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The green foliage (white IR) growing along the fire road (for example upper right corner) are evergreen mountain laurel. The white along the edges of the road are dead autumn leaves – no difference in color between the two (and substituting rain/fog for sunshine made no difference either).

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Forest detail.

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Was it foggy? Oh yeah! The mountain laurel’s green leaves (lower left) are like little beacons of light. The leftmost tree is about 50 feet away and the next one is maybe 25 feet further down the mountain side.

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A landscape taken through the mist and clouds. Click to enlarge & see details such as the greenish blue (white here) lichen on the tree and boulder.

For comparison, here is the same scene made a minute later in color. You can see that there’s more contrast/detail in the IR image. This is due to IR’s ability to reduce haze.

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Next experiment – IR when it’s dark??

2 thoughts on “An Infrared Experiment

  1. Thanks for the Inspiring images. As a novice I have a shopping list of photo-toys that keeps growing and now I MUST add my first infrared lens to it. Glad it’s close to Christmas 😉

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