Infrared Photography Equipment Guide

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Infrared photography equipment offers photographers the opportunity to explore the world of the unseen because IR light lies beyond the spectrum of human eyesight. In this video, professional photographer Steve Niedorf walks you through the infrared photography equipment you will need to capture your images in that ethereal unseen world. Infrared images are produced in two ways: using a modified camera body, or through an external filter on your regular DSLR camera lenses. Steve prefers the external filter approach, the #87 infrared dark filter, which pulls out all the visible light and leaves only the infrared. You might also purchase a step down ring to fit this filter on your various lenses.

To capture such a minimum of visible light, exposure decisions are all important. For a typical exposure on a sunny day, Steve suggests 30 seconds at f4, the ISO at 1250. Since the filter won’t pass visible light, you need to focus your lens manually by removing the filter and then replacing it each time you make an exposure adjustment. To zone in on your focus points, it’s a good idea to use your camera’s live view feature for a backup check. You can even use a loupe over the LCD screen. And always remember to keep your autofocus turned off.

Another piece of infrared photography equipment is the tripod. It always needs to be stable, which might not work on a windy day. For extra weight, Steve uses a plastic jug filled with water and hangs it on the tripod center post. For timed exposures, he suggests an automatic tripper. It comes in two parts, a wireless receiver and a wireless transmitter, and will control the exposure length and the number of frames you expose at various intervals. Leaning to use infrared photography equipment requires patience and time, but well worth the effort in capturing abstract landscapes or architectural images.

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See all videos in our Creative Experiments: Infrared Time Lapse & Post Production Techniques Course: