Seeing in Color, B&W & Infrared

Can you look at a scene

and envision how it will look in color? Sure.

In B&W? Probably.

In infrared? Rarely.

This is a skill you should develop.

You don’t shoot IR? You’re missing a treat.


Reflections – in IR

Forget that it’s trees & grasses alongside a pond

Enjoy the stark graphic patterns, textures & shapes

IR converted D300

Tripod, Circular Polarizer, RAW

ISO 400 to add a little noise as in film IR

Capture NX2 RAW conversion

Tonal contrast adjustments in Silver Efex Pro 2


Images captured in color, B&W and infrared

look drastically different from one another

If you expect your image captures to be any good

you must be able to envision the differences

You must know how colors look

when converted to grayscale and

how (drastically) different they are in IR

Wow! White trees and black sky in infrared.

What’s that all about?

Complete tonality shifts

Histogram – sky & hillside swap places

Almost like a negative

Read about it here.


So – what brought this on?

After getting my D800E, I had one of my D300’s converted to infrared (to replace my converted D70)

(The 2nd is a D800E backup)

I got the conversion back from Life Pixel yesterday

Out today like a kid with a Christmas present for an hour walk around the neighborhood

An aside – if you’re a true outdoor photographer then you know that midday  shooting on a sunny day is usually the pits.

Get into IR and you’ll finally appreciate a day like today – when I otherwise would have stayed indoors


A few samples. Click to enlarge to a full screen slide show.

(Note the two images with signs.

Those signs (in color) are green (just as foliage is green).

You’ll see that in IR the signs are nearly black and the foliage nearly white.

I included these to illustrate that, contrary to the belief of some, it’s not the color green that’s responsible for the white foliage.

Foliage is light because it reflects IR

Sky is dark because it absorbs IR

Signs & other man-made objects take on gray tone similar to what they would in B&W photography

Unless – you use software to “fake” the IR

There green is green and it all turns white

To make dramatic IR images you need to envision the ethereal effect of white glowing foliage contrasted against dark backgrounds.

Today my eye was seeing green and blue through the viewfinder, but

My mind was seeing stark white against black

In IR, it’s the “mind’s eye” that counts. Teach it to see.


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