Photographing Oregon in Infrared

Color Infrared

I recently read, Digital Infrared Photography by Deborah Sandige, and was inspired to convert my old Canon Rebel to an infrared camera.  I am smitten.  I think I may love my infrared images of Oregon more than my color images.  I chose a color infrared (IR) filter which lets some of the visible color spectrum into the sensor.  There are many choices when converting; you can even convert one of your old pocket cameras.  Just so Peter didn’t feel left out, I bought him a Singh-Ray IR filter for Father’s Day.  I’m not sure if we’ve really figured out how to use it yet, but we are getting some interesting images.  Here is an image straight out of the camera, converted to black and white, and color IR image using a technique that mixes the channels.

Infrared image from the camera (digital negative)

Infrared converted to black and white

Color Infrared

Oregon was my first big outing with my IR camera, so I decided that every image I made would be both in color and IR.  This would give me an opportunity to understand what subjects and lighting worked better with IR.  What really struck me is the strong results you can get with IR by shooting mid-day in the bright sun.  My good friend Jack Graham has often teased me about being a 10:00 – 2:00 nature photographer because I hate getting up at 4:00 am for sunrise, and I tend to fall asleep around 9:00 pm and miss sunset.  Now with IR I can be a 10:00 – 2:00 nature photographer.

I found scenes that had bright blue skies and bright green foliage gave me enough distinction in tonality to create a color IR image.  Below you will see two photographs with a similar composition, the first is a color image taken on my regular camera.  The second is a color IR image taken with my converted camera.  I like the surreal nature of the color IR image, and find it striking and unusual.

Straight color image of lighthouse

Color IR of Lighthouse

I also found that dramatic cloudy skies looked better in my infrared images.  Overcast skies did not, there was not enough variation in tonality.  Here is an image that I took during sunrise, I combined the black and white version with the original infrared digital negative and reduced the opacity to give in an unusual tone and preserve the “glow” that was part of the original negative.

Blended IR image of sunrise at Tillamook Bay

I also found that black and white conversions were richer and more dramatic with my infrared images.

Trees in campground

Barn in Oregon Wine Country

Barn at the Colene Clemmons winery

I still have a lot to learn, and am always seeking more information on how to make great infrared images.  Let me know if you find anything, or if you have questions and I will try to help.  Since I am in the middle of summer, I may sign up for Deborah Sandige’s IR course on BetterPhoto.com.  I’ll keep you posted.  To see our “best of Oregon” photographs, go to www.pamphotography.com.

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