Mastering the Art: How to Take Infrared Photos Effectively

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Last Updated on 7 months by Francis

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on taking stunning infrared photos! Infrared photography opens up a whole new world of creativity by capturing the invisible spectrum of light that the human eye cannot see. With this technique, you can create surreal and dreamy images that will captivate viewers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, this article will equip you with the knowledge and techniques needed to master the art of infrared photography.


Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the fascinating history and evolution of infrared photography
  • Learn how to test your camera’s sensitivity to infrared light
  • Understand the essential equipment needed for successful infrared photography
  • Explore different types of IR filters and their effects on your photos
  • Master the crucial camera settings for capturing stunning infrared images

A Brief History of Infrared Photography

infrared photography

Infrared photography has a fascinating history that spans back to the early 20th century. Originally used for military purposes during World War I, this unique form of photography has since evolved and gained popularity in various fields. From film to digital cameras, infrared photography has come a long way in capturing the unseen spectrum of light.

During the 1930s, infrared photography started to gain traction among filmmakers and photographers. Its ability to create dreamy and surreal images intrigued artists and allowed them to experiment with new visual styles. As technology advanced, infrared photography became more accessible to the general public with the advent of digital cameras.

Today, infrared photography finds applications in a wide range of disciplines. In the artistic realm, photographers use infrared techniques to capture landscapes, architecture, and portraits with a unique and ethereal quality. Infrared photography also plays a role in scientific research and forensic investigations, as it can reveal hidden details and evidence that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Table: Applications of Infrared Photography

Field Applications
Art and Photography – Creating surreal and dreamy images
– Exploring unseen perspectives
– Experimenting with visual styles
Science and Research – Studying plant health and vegetation
– Monitoring environmental changes
– Examining heat distribution
Forensic Investigations – Revealing hidden evidence
– Identifying altered or tampered documents
– Analyzing crime scenes

The history of infrared photography is rich and diverse, with its applications continuously expanding. As technology continues to advance, it will be exciting to see how this unique form of photography further evolves and inspires new artistic expressions.

Testing Your Camera’s Infrared Sensitivity

Before diving into the world of infrared photography, it’s essential to determine if your camera is sensitive to infrared light. You don’t want to invest time and effort only to find out that your camera cannot capture the desired effect. Luckily, there’s a simple test you can perform to check your camera’s infrared sensitivity.

All you need is a TV or DVD player remote control. Point the remote at your camera and press any button. If you can see a light beam emitting from the remote through your camera’s display, congratulations! Your camera is infrared-sensitive and ready for infrared photography.

If, on the other hand, you cannot see the light beam, don’t worry just yet. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your camera is not infrared-sensitive. Some cameras have built-in infrared filters that block out infrared light. In such cases, you might need to explore other options like camera conversion or using external infrared filters.

Testing your camera’s infrared sensitivity is a crucial first step in your infrared photography journey. It helps you determine the right equipment and techniques to use, ensuring that you capture stunning infrared images with ease.

Camera’s Response to Remote Control Infrared Sensitivity
Can see light beam Camera is infrared-sensitive
Cannot see light beam Camera may have a built-in infrared filter

Choosing the Right Equipment for Infrared Photography

infrared photography

Infrared photography requires specific equipment to capture the unique qualities of infrared light. Here are some essential tools to consider:

Infrared Filter

An infrared filter is a crucial accessory for infrared photography. It blocks most visible light and allows only infrared light to pass through to the camera’s sensor. The choice of filter depends on the desired effect in your photos. Popular options include the Hoya R72, which produces a classic infrared look with deep blacks and glowing foliage. Experimenting with different filters can help you achieve the desired aesthetic in your infrared images.

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A sturdy tripod is essential for infrared photography due to the longer exposure times required. Infrared light can be weaker than visible light, leading to longer shutter speeds. Using a tripod prevents camera shake and ensures sharp images. Look for a tripod that can support the weight of your camera and is easy to set up and adjust in various shooting conditions.

Camera Conversion

Another option for infrared photography is camera conversion. This involves removing the built-in infrared filter from your camera and replacing it with a filter that allows only infrared light to reach the sensor. Camera conversion provides the advantage of dedicated infrared photography with better image quality and the ability to capture infrared images without the need for additional filters. However, it is a more expensive option and should be done by professionals.

By investing in the right equipment for infrared photography, you can explore the hidden beauty of infrared light and create stunning and surreal images.

Selecting the Right IR Filter for Different Effects

infrared filter

When it comes to infrared photography, the right IR filter can make all the difference in achieving the desired effects in your photos. Different types of IR filters produce unique results, ranging from false colors to black-and-white images. Let’s explore the various options and their effects.

Hoya R72 Filter

The Hoya R72 filter is one of the most popular choices for infrared photography. It blocks most visible light and allows only infrared light to pass through, resulting in striking black-and-white images with deep contrasts. This filter is ideal for capturing the classic infrared effect.

Deep B&W Filter

The Deep B&W filter enhances the contrast and sharpness of your infrared photos, giving them a dramatic and artistic feel. It produces monochrome images with rich blacks and whites, adding a touch of elegance to your compositions.

Standard IR Filter

The Standard IR filter is a versatile option that delivers a balance between black-and-white and false color infrared images. It allows some visible light to pass through, creating unique color toning effects and adding a surreal quality to your photographs.

Enhanced IR Filter

The Enhanced IR filter is designed to bring out vibrant false colors in your infrared photos. It allows a significant amount of visible light to pass through, resulting in images with intense and vivid hues. This filter is perfect for experimenting with bold and eye-catching infrared effects.

Each IR filter offers a distinct visual aesthetic and creative potential, so it’s worth exploring different options to find the one that best suits your artistic vision. Whether you prefer the classic black-and-white look, the elegance of monochrome, or the vibrant allure of false colors, the right IR filter can help you achieve stunning results in your infrared photography.

IR Filter Effect
Hoya R72 Striking black-and-white images with deep contrasts
Deep B&W Dramatic and artistic monochrome photos with enhanced contrast
Standard IR Unique color toning effects with a balance of black-and-white and false color
Enhanced IR Vibrant false color images with intense and vivid hues

Essential Camera Settings for Infrared Photography

When it comes to capturing stunning infrared photos, understanding the essential camera settings is key. These settings will help you achieve optimal results and unleash the full potential of this unique photography technique.

ISO Setting

Setting the ISO between 200 and 400 is recommended for infrared photography. This range allows for a good balance between noise reduction and image quality. Higher ISO settings can introduce more noise, while lower settings may result in underexposed photos.

Long Exposure Noise Reduction

Enabling long exposure noise reduction on your camera helps to minimize unwanted noise that can occur during long exposures. This feature works by taking a second exposure of equal length with the shutter closed, allowing the camera to capture and subtract any noise present in the original exposure.

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Setting the aperture to f/8 is a commonly recommended choice for infrared photography. This aperture provides a good balance between depth of field and diffraction. It allows for a greater depth of field while still maintaining sharpness and clarity in your infrared images.

White Balance

When shooting in infrared, it’s best to select the Auto white balance setting on your camera. Infrared light can greatly affect the color temperature, and using the Auto white balance setting allows the camera to adjust accordingly and produce more accurate colors in your photos.

Shooting in RAW

Shooting in RAW mode is highly recommended for infrared photography. RAW files contain all the information captured by the camera sensor, providing greater flexibility in post-processing. This allows you to fine-tune the white balance, adjust exposure, and bring out the full potential of your infrared images.

Remote Shutter Release

Using a remote shutter release or a self-timer helps to minimize camera shake and ensure sharp, blur-free infrared photos. This is particularly important when shooting long exposures, as any movement during the exposure can result in unwanted blurring in your images.

By adjusting these essential camera settings, you’ll be well on your way to capturing stunning infrared photos with optimal exposure, colors, and clarity. Experiment with different combinations to find the settings that work best for your unique vision and style.

Tips for Shooting Infrared Photos

Shooting infrared photos requires a different approach compared to traditional photography. Here are some essential tips and techniques to help you capture stunning infrared images:

1. Shoot in Sunlit Conditions

Infrared light is most abundant under bright sunlight, so shooting during sunny hours will maximize the infrared effect in your photos. Look for scenes with strong sunlight and interesting subjects to create visually captivating images.

2. Cover the Viewfinder

While shooting infrared photos, it’s crucial to cover the viewfinder to prevent any unwanted infrared light from leaking into your camera. This can result in inaccurate exposure and color balance. Simply use a viewfinder cover or place your hand over the viewfinder to block out any stray light.

3. Focus Carefully

Due to the longer wavelength of infrared light, achieving sharp focus can be challenging. To ensure sharpness in your infrared photos, it’s recommended to focus manually or use manual focus assist tools. Take the time to focus accurately before attaching the infrared filter to your lens.

4. Use a Small Aperture

For greater depth of field and sharper details, it’s advisable to use a small aperture (higher f-stop) when shooting infrared photos. This will help maintain focus throughout the scene and ensure that both the foreground and background are in sharp focus.

By following these tips and techniques, you can enhance your infrared photography skills and capture captivating images that showcase the unseen beauty of the world through infrared light.

Post-Processing Infrared Photos

Once you have captured stunning infrared photos, you can enhance their visual impact through post-processing techniques. Post-processing allows you to fine-tune the colors, contrast, and overall aesthetic of your images to achieve the desired effect.

One essential step in post-processing infrared photos is adjusting the white balance. Since infrared images often have a strong red hue, correcting the white balance can create a more natural-looking result. Experiment with different color temperature settings to find the optimal balance for your image.

Another technique to enhance the infrared effect is to swap the red and blue channels in editing software. This process can further intensify the characteristic surreal and dreamy look of infrared photography. The exact steps may vary depending on the editing software you use, but the process typically involves accessing the channel mixer or color balance tools.

Quote: “Post-processing infrared photos allows you to unleash the full potential of this unique photography style and create captivating images that transport viewers to a different reality.” – Professional Photographer

In addition to adjusting white balance and channel swapping, you can also consider increasing contrast to make the infrared elements in your photos stand out. This can help create a more striking visual impact and emphasize the otherworldly qualities of infrared photography. Fine-tuning saturation and vibrance levels can further enhance the colors and tones in your images, adding depth and dimension.

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Table: Common Post-Processing Techniques for Infrared Photos

Technique Description
White Balance Adjustment Correct the color temperature to achieve a more natural look.
Channel Swapping Swap the red and blue channels to intensify the infrared effect.
Contrast Enhancement Boost contrast to make infrared elements more pronounced.
Saturation and Vibrance Adjustment Fine-tune color saturation and vibrance to add depth and dimension.

Remember, post-processing is a creative tool to refine and stylize your infrared photos. Each image may require different adjustments and experimentation is key to finding the perfect balance. With the right techniques and a touch of artistic flair, you can transform your infrared images into mesmerizing works of art.


Infrared photography offers a unique and intriguing way to capture stunning images. By understanding the history, equipment, and techniques involved in infrared photography, you can master this art form and unlock the unseen beauty of the world around you.

Experimentation plays a vital role in achieving the desired results in this fascinating photography technique. Don’t be afraid to try different filters, lighting conditions, and compositions to explore the possibilities offered by infrared photography. Embrace the opportunity to see the world through a different lens and let your creativity soar.

Post-processing skills are also key in enhancing the aesthetic of your infrared photos. Adjusting the white balance, swapping channels, and fine-tuning contrast, saturation, and vibrance can make a significant difference in the final outcome. Use editing software to bring out the full potential of your infrared images and create truly captivating photographs.

Embark on this journey of infrared photography, and you will be rewarded with a fascinating world of hidden colors, ethereal landscapes, and surreal scenes. With practice and exploration, you can master the technique and capture breathtaking images that showcase the unseen beauty that surrounds us.


What is infrared photography?

Infrared photography captures the spectrum of light that is invisible to the human eye, creating surreal and dreamy images.

What is the history of infrared photography?

Infrared photography dates back to the early 20th century and was initially used for military purposes during WWI. It gained popularity among filmmakers and photographers in the 1930s and became more accessible with the advent of digital cameras.

How can I test if my camera is sensitive to infrared light?

You can easily test this by using a TV or DVD player remote control and pointing it at your camera. If you can see a light beam emitting from the remote, your camera is IR-sensitive.

What equipment do I need for infrared photography?

Infrared photography requires specific equipment such as infrared filters, tripods for long exposures, and potentially camera conversion for dedicated infrared cameras.

What types of IR filters are available?

There are different types of IR filters available, such as Deep B&W, Standard IR, Enhanced IR, and Super/Ultra Color IR. Each filter produces different results in terms of false colors and black-and-white images.

What camera settings should I use for infrared photography?

Recommended camera settings include setting the ISO between 200 and 400, enabling long exposure noise reduction, setting the aperture to f/8, selecting Auto white balance, shooting in RAW mode, and using a remote shutter release.

Any tips for shooting infrared photos?

It is recommended to shoot in sunny conditions for optimal infrared effect. Additionally, covering the viewfinder while shooting is essential to prevent infrared leakage. Focusing and maintaining a small aperture for greater depth of field are also important considerations.

How do I post-process infrared photos?

Post-processing infrared photos often involves adjusting the white balance, swapping the red and blue channels, increasing contrast, and adjusting saturation and vibrance.

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