Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fun with Infrared Photography - Part I

Years ago, when for the first time I saw Daniela's infrared pictures taken with the Minolta Dimage 7, my jaws dropped to the floor, with a loud thud. These surreal, mystique, and fascinating pictures looked so otherworldly. I told myself that I would have to try it. The only problem, was money, or lack thereof. Back then, most infrared pictures were taken with an infrared filter screwed onto the front of a lens. Dedicated infrared cameras were very rare, partly because digital cameras back then were very expensive. Few would risk damaging the camera to convert it to IR.

Over the years, I tried some IR filters, but, most Canon DSLRs are not sensitive to IR, it would take many seconds to minutes to expose for an IR picture. On top of that, you can't see your composition with the filter on, because the filter is opaque. I soon gave up.

Next was the Sigma SD10 that was semi defective that I bought in a camera show. The batteries would only last about 30 shots. Something was wrong with it. But, the SD10 had a removable IR blocking filter. By removing this filter, you would expose the sensor to all spectrum of the light. So, I tried again, with an IR filter, but the image never came out the way I liked it. After that, it was enough for me. The only way I was going to try again is to get a dedicated IR camera that shoots just like a normal camera.

My chance came a few years ago when someone was selling a IR modified Canon 10D. I went for it, but soon discovered that I could not make any sharp pictures with it, regardless of aperture or focus point. The pictures were always soft. I returned it to the seller, who gracefully accepted the return, minus $50. My heart was broken. I have not touched, or even thought about IR until I saw someone was selling an IR modified Canon 20D on Craigslist, and I was lucky enough to be the person who bought it, at a great price.

I took some shots with the kit lens the day I bought it, and it proved to be excellent. A few sharp pictures, but mostly soft.

Next time, we will talk about the pit falls of IR modified cameras, and how you can avoid it.

Cheery Tree in full blossom - Canon IR modified 20D & EF 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

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