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Digital Infrared Photography


Last Summer I explored Infrared Photography on film using two of my favourite vintage cameras. I was thrilled with the results! A highly technical process that when done right, can reward the photographer with something truly unique, casting an eerie alien glow to the surrounding landscape.

Rockwood water digital infrared

Over the Winter, I researched digital infrared photography, specifically the process of taking a digital SLR or mirrorless camera and modifying its sensor. Out of the box, modern digital cameras are designed to capture visible light. This is the narrow band of light that humans can see on the electromagnetic spectrum, hence the name visible light. Beyond that is infrared, which we cannot see. In the case of my Canon, the modification was a two step process. The filter that had been applied to the sensor at the factory to block infrared light is removed. At this stage, the sensor can capture both visible light and infrared. The second step is reapplying a filter that will block visible light, allowing only the infrared light to pass. There are varying degrees of visible light filtration. I went with one called a 720 NM filter, which allows infrared light to pass, while blocking almost all visible light. 

Digital infrared image of Rockwood

So, what are the benefits of modifying a digital camera for infrared photography? The image that I see on the camera’s LCD screen is in infrared. I can see exactly what the sensor sees, which aids in composition. Many of us have early generation digital cameras that are no longer being used. They can be converted to infrared by one of many reputable companies, or you can choose one that they already have in stock, giving these old cameras a second lease on life instead of sitting on a shelf! I went with a Canadian company called Night Sky Camera, located in BC, and purchased one of their modified used cameras.

These photos were my first captures using my modified Canon 60D, captured at Rockwood Conservation Area.

Digital infrared water scene

Happy shooting!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of Jason’s photography you will find his contact information on the right sidebar.

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