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An Introduction to Infrared Photography - Ray Magill & Hugh Rooney

Last Friday two club members Ray Magill and Hugh Rooney FRPS presented their endeavours and discoveries in IR [infrared photography].


Ray was up first and began by outlining what IR photography and referring to the electromagnetic radiation spectrum which ranges from radio waves ,microwaves infrared,visible light, ultraviolet X rays, gamma rays . Visible light is that which the human eye detects is only a small part of the total spectrum. Ray continued to explain that humans do not see in colour and that colour is a function of our brains work and reinforced this by showing that we all do not see colour in an immutable manner as we are different one from the another in the way our brains work.This often raises the question what is reality and do we each create our own however for now the subject is infrared photography so best not to dwell there.

Ray said that his interest rests in black and white photography as he outlined the several types of this branch of photography with colour IR photography also possible and explained that the human eye cannot see infrared radiation.


Infrared black and white imagery can produce a different surreal mystical aspect and provide the fine art imagery that is extremely appealing .


So how is this to be achieved ?


A good recent DSLR camera is essential but needs to have the sensor replaced professionally one that can record in IR Here as it is impossible to see an image in the camera viewfinder a photographer should use the screen on the back of the camera to focus an image and the camera should be placed on a tripod as exposure times are increased . While this produces good results the disadvantage is that the camera cannot be used for normal photography.


Another option is to fit an IR filter to the camera lens but here if you wish to usr different lenses you need to fit filters to every lens . Here again the camera should be placed on a tripod a with option exposure times are even more increased .


Bright summer weather is recommended as dull winter light or early morning or late evening light will not give good results . Choice of subject matter is vital with summer foliage with blue skies , white clouds and water provide a strong desirable contrast .

Ray advised that to experiment is necessary in what is a fun challenge to a photographer in a fascinating branch of our pursuit. Setting the camera to shoot in RAW which captures an image with no in automatic adjustments is best .Ray displayed the difference between a red RAW image straight from the camera and a final processed mono image using Adobe Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex software.


After a break for refreshments Hugh took up the baton to outline his adventures in black and white IR photography using an iPhone . Hugh counselled that if it is outright quality you wish for then a suitable converted DSLR camera will give the best images however for having some fun with a light camera that can be carried in a pocket provides an introduction into this branch of photography. Hugh explained that a commercially available cover which enables the fitting of different lenses ,wide angle or telephoto for example is fitted to the phone and from another company an adaptor is available to which it is possible to attach a standard IR filter . This produces a red image similar to that which Ray demonstrated . However here again a longer exposure time is the result and to achieve that Lightroom can enable the camera to take a succession of shots up to twenty which are combined to give one image similar to one long exposure image, which can then be processed in Adobe Lightroom.


Hugh finally displayed some printed image of his mono photography adopting the options outlined above and ended the evening by showing a short video instruction in infra red photograph.


Many thanks to Ray and Hugh for their illuminating foray into this fascinating branch of photography.


Next week we have Hugh Rooney again for a talk on black and white photography .

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