About Infrared Photography

There's a lot of light bouncing off the world that we cannot see. Between gamma radiation on the high energy end of the spectrum to radio waves on the low energy end, there's the small window of light we can see, the familiar ROYGBIV rainbow we learned about in grade school - visible light. Snuggled up next to the red end of the visible light window is infrared (IR) radiation. Think of night-vision goggles and the James Webb Space Telescope. When captured on camera in daylight, it produces surreal and dreamy versions of what our eyes detect. The effect can be seen by comparing these photos of Hvar, Croatia. On the left is a visible light photo; on the right is an infrared photo (including some striking color manipulations in Photoshop). 

In the same way that a blueberry reflects indigo light and a banana yellow light, objects reflect infrared light differently. The molecule chlorophyll, for example, found in plant life, strongly reflects IR radiation, so grasses and trees in landscapes appear very light, sometimes snow-like. Additionally, there isn't much atmospheric light scattering in the IR range, which we observe as haze in visible light, so skies and water appear clearer and darker; clouds and shadows are more pronounced. Infrared light can also penetrate a few millimeters into skin, making portraits ghostly.  


I grew up with a darkroom in my house. Right next to the water fountain (dad, why?). My twin and I suffered many a "hold still, one more" moments in which my dad perfected his portrait lighting. But he taught me everything about photography and helped me build my own darkroom in the house I live in now. I started using IR film in high school and bought my first digital IR-converted camera in 2009. RIP dark room. I love the depth of creativity IR photography offers, both in composition and processing, and I hope to have ignited your curiosity about this light we cannot see.

Some of my favorite photos can be found here, please reach out if you're interested in prints!