Tutorial for IR Photography (Color and B&W) - Long Post

Started May 23, 2003 | Discussions thread
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JamesL Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Tutorial for IR Photography (Color and B&W) - Long Post

Hi All,

This is Part 1 of a Tutorial I am writing on IR. This part deals with taking the IR shots. I will post the second part on Monday, which will deal with processing IR shots.

I thought I would share my experiences in trying to learn how to take good Infrared (furthermore known as IR) photos (both Manual and Nightshot) with my F707 camera. Also, I wanted to share the method I use to colorize my shots. Please note that I am using methods that I have picked up from other great IR artists on this site (Daniella, Dwight, and others), so I can't really take credit. I have learned a few things, though, and I thought I would pull it all together into one thread.


With the Sony cameras, there are two possibilities for shooting IR; Nightshot and Manual. Nightshot IR pictures are taken by setting the dial on the cam to Auto and the Nightshot switch to "Nightshot". The Aperature will be forced to open all the way up (F2 to F2.4), and you will be limited to 1/8 to 1/60 (i think) shutter speeds. You will most likely need one or more ND filters (discussed further down) to darken the scene plus your IR filter, as the pictures will be overexposed otherwise. In nightshot, the IR hotmirror is removed from in front of the CCD, and the camera will be very sensative to IR light. These pictures can be taken handheld, and come out looking slightly greenish.

Manual IR pictures can be taken in dial settings SCN, M, A, and S. Personally, I prefer M so I have more control. These shots required a tripod, as the shutter speeds can be between 2 and 10 seconds, depending upon the aperature. Also, if you are shooting foliage, you want to make sure there is no wind, as it will show up blurry. Depending upon the White Balance you choose (discussed later), the pictures will come out either Red and Greenish. These shots only require a Infrared Filter.


Pretty much any Sony camera can take IR pictures in Manual mode, so long as you can add the filter and have the ability to shoot in long shutter speeds. Only the Sony cams with the Nightshot feature can shoot IRs in Nightshot. You will also need an IR filter. The most popular one I've seen, and what I use, is the Hoya R72 filter. It can be bought from B&H ( http://www.bhphoto.com ), The Filter Connection ( http://www.2filter.com ), and other places. Some people use the Wratten 87c, and I believe there is a B+W Infrared filter, but I can't speak to these as I haven't used them.

If you are going to shoot IRs in Nightshot mode, you will need one or more ND (Neutral Density) filters. These basically darken the scene, keeping the IR shot from being overexposed. I used tp stack 2 ND filters (a 1 stop and 2 stop together) and my polarizer to get good results. This gave me lots of vignetting (darkening on the corners) Now I use a 10 stop B+W ND filter, and I really like it. It lets pretty much no visible light through. If the IR light is not strong, though, it doesn't work very well. In those cases, I use my other ND filters.

Another good thing to have when shooting in Nightshot is a donut cover for the IR emitters. These are the two little holes that are around the lens near the top. If you don't cover these, you will get a round circular reflection near the top of your pictures from the IR light reflecting off of your filter. I made my donut out of cardboard. I cut the outside diameter by using my lens cover, and the inside diameter I adjusted till it was just outside of the lens. Pop the donut on and then stick your IR filter on over the top.


Anything! Plants glow white, water and sky turns black (or blue if shooting manual), clouds turn white, etc. Everyday normal things look magical in IR. See the end of this post to see some examples.


From my expience (and what I've read), the best time to shoot IR is either in the late morning or early evening. When the sun is directly overhead, it is hard to get good contrast between IR sensitive objects and the sky. My best results have been shooting in the evening, about two hours before sundown. Also, my shots seem to turn out the best when the sun is behind me.


For Nightshot IRs, change the dial to "Auto" and set the Nightshot switch to Nightshot. Add on your ND filters if the scene is too overexposed. Also, use the EV jog dial and change it to "-2". This will force the fastest shutter speed possible in Nightshot, and help in darkening the scene. You can shoot these handheld, but because I have a hard time keeping the camera steady at these shutter speeds, I like to use a tripod. Also, remember to make sure you have your IR emitter donut on. For focus, I normally use Auto. If the IR light is not strong, though, you may want to switch to Manual to ensure the image is sharp.

For Manual, I use M mode. Depending on what DOF I want, I adjust my Aperature. Normally I shoot around F4. I then adjust the Shutter Speed till I get "0 EV" on the camera. This can take some experimentation, as the camera doesn't always meter correctly on these scenes. I usually try to bracket my shots by 1 EV on each side, just to be safe. Composing in manual can be hard, as you can't see what you are shooting. If you switch to "SCN" mode, and set the EV to +2, you should be able to compose ok. Once composed, switch back to "M" and shoot away.


This is something I haven't quite gotten figured out yet. If you shoot with "Daylight", your pictures come out with a Reddish tint. With "Indoor", you will get a purplish tint. What I like to do is put my IR filter on, and use the "Manual WB" button. This will make the foliage green and the sky reddish.

Ok, I think that's everything for the first part.


Check out my photos at:

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