How to Shoot in Infrared

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  By Jennifer Berube
How to Shoot in Infrared

When we look around the world, we see things in the visual spectrum. We see things as our eyes have evolved to see them, but there is much more to see. One spectrum we can’t see without modern technology is the infrared spectrum. Seeing things in the infrared is actually really amazing, and it allows us to see things in a whole new way.

Many see infrared as a dream-like image, and it can change your entire perspective of an image. A lot of photographers, pro and hobbyist, shoot HDR to add an overly exaggerated color and get surreal images, but this is taking it to the next step. It can make your images stand out as something unique and wonderful.

The question is, how do you create the image with your camera, without having to spend a lot of money on high-tech technology? Well, the good news is that you have a couple of options to help you get that cool infrared photo.

Infrared Filter

The first, and by far the cheapest, is to use an infrared filter. These filters are priced at about $30 to $50 and they will give you that unique perspective you were looking for without having to change anything with your camera. All you do is attach the filter and start taking those photos. It should be noted that these do work great, but they won’t give you as crisp and clear infrared photos as you would get if you took the pictures with the next option.

A good infrared filter is the Hoya 52mm RM72, which will give you the effect you’re looking for.

Convert Your Camera

If you have a spare camera, or you just want to do infrared photos, you can convert the camera permanently to only take infrared photos. This is done with an infrared cut filter and the installation of an infrared filter into the camera.

You should only do this option if you want to convert to infrared permanently, and you want to specialize in that style of picture from this point on. One reason for this is that your camera will shoot with fast shutter speeds and a low ISO. This is very useful if you are getting action shots in sports and you want to use the infrared.

Another point to think about is that there are companies that handle infrared conversions, so you should actually send your camera off to them so that you can make sure that the conversion is done properly, and that you will continue to get great and crisp photos but in the infrared spectrum.

Why Shoot Infrared?

You may be asking why you would send your camera off to have it converted to infrared when you could just take normal pictures. This is a very good question, but it comes down to the fact that you will get stunning photos that offer drastic contrasts and create an otherworldly look to the pictures. The light focus is in a different wavelength, and your photos will be something that truly catches the eye.


Shooting in infrared does take some practice, but these tips can help you get the best photos with the infrared conversion.

First, shoot with small apertures and make sure you do a bunch of test pictures to ensure that everyone is in focus. Second, when you can you should always get the pictures during the midday sun, so about noon to 3 p.m., to get the best look for the photos. Lastly, when you are shooting portraits, you should use a flash to fill out the shadows and help to define the subject and enhance them at the same time.

Post-Production Tips

When you are working in post-production following the photo shoot, you should make sure you change the white balance of the picture to give the sky a look of being more red than usual, and that will also give the skin tones of your subject a bluer feel to it. You can also swap out colors through the Channel Mixer in Photoshop, which will once again create very interesting photos.

Have fun with the photos and really play around with the infrared look. You can get some stunning photos with infrared filters, and you can take something that would seem boring in natural light, and create a photo that is out of this world with infrared filters.

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Before I became Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, I spent over five years specializing in Photography Writing and contributed articles regularly to sites like PictureCorrect, Sleeklens, and PhotoWorkout. Photography has always been a huge passion of mine; I may not be professionally trained in the art, but the knowledge and experience I have gained writing about photography techniques, interviewing some of the biggest and most inspiring photographers out there, and covering industry events has been invaluable!

Comments (1)

  1. Glenn Goryl Guest

    Thank you for doing this, Jennifer!