How to take infrared photographs

Get some attractive, unusual and eerie results

Infrared is a type of light, invisible to the human eye, that lies just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. Unlike the eye, however, most digital cameras are sensitive to infrared, providing us with a means of seeing the invisible.

Infrared photography is used in agriculture, mineral prospecting and ecology because it reveals hidden information. But it's also fascinating for the rest of us because it produces such strange-looking results.

Trees and grass are so bright they almost glow, while blue skies come out virtually black and clouds remain white. The bizarre properties of infrared produce results that are ghostly, ethereal, eerie and other-worldly.

In this walkthrough we've used Corel Photo-Paint X3 to process the images. Other photo-editing suites will offer similar functions, but some entry-level packages don't include the channel-splitting features you'll need in the later steps.

1. First, check your camera can record infrared. Point a TV remote at the lens in a dark room and press a button (on the remote). If you can see a bright spot on the LCD viewfinder, your camera is recording the infrared. Most SLRs can't preview on the LCD so you'll need to actually take a photo.

infrared-1

Step 1

2. To take infrared shots, your camera will need a filter that excludes visible light. A glass filter will set you back about $50; for a cheap alternative, sandwich a circle of gel filter between two second-hand skylight filters from a good camera shop.

infrared-2

Step 2

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