I am wanting to experiement with IR and I have a Nikon D50. I need some good advice as to where to start. What filter should I get? What settings should I be using? Do I need to turn anything off to prevent color from getting into the picture. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and Happy New year.
87, 88A, 89B are all infrared filters that block visible light to different degrees. Some people use a dark red filter also. But what you have to do is screw one onto the lens and let the camera decide what the exposure will be. Then look at the LCD and see if you've captured an image, which will mean that the camera has infrared capabilities.
I have a Nikon D70 and I use it extensively for infrared. The D50 should have similar IR characteristics. I personally use a Hoya RM72 IR filter. It cost about $70 for the 18-70mm lens (67mm filter thread) on Ebay. I put my camera on a tripod and compose my shots without the filter as almost zero visible light is transmitted through the filter. Then I screw on the filter carefully not to turn the focal length ring and make the shot. I set my D70 to Auto White Balance, Aperture Priority, Autofocus and RAW mode. Make sure to cover the viewfinder before making the shot as stray light would screw up the exposure.
In the Photoshop RAW converter, I use white balance As Shot, tweak Exposure and Shadows to maximize the tonal range.
In Photoshop I desaturate, use Levels to stretch the histogram, use Brightness/Contrast as needed.
If desired, add/increase halation effect (available in 8bit mode only): Filter/Distort/Diffuse Glow.
If desired, add noise/grain/blooming effect (available in 8bit mode only): Filter/Artistic/Film Grain.
Sharpen as needed.
Let me know how you are doing in this exciting field of photogarphy. Ask me any questions you like; I know from experience that it is hard to get started, but you may get hooked just like me.
I forgot to mention to turn on the noise reduction in the camera for long exposure times. I have this on always, so I overlooked to mention it.
Thanks for all the great information so far. I have began to look at the filters on eBay plus I have a Calumet store near me so I may go look at them there.
Do you need to tweek the photos in Photoshop for them to come out correctly? I do not have photoshop but it is needed I may look into obtaining.
The steps that I outlined above are for Photoshop. But you probably could do those steps with other photo editing programs, but I am not familiar enough with other programs to advise you on that. Photoshop Elements is way less expensive and may give you all the editing steps needed, but make sure that you get an editing program that will allow you to do at least the basic steps that I outlined. RAW capability is not essential to do IR, but allows you to get the most out of your images, but may be more than you would want.
There are actually many different ways to take and process IR images. I use the 87 filter that larry mentioned which is darker than some but I like the end results.
Some things to think about - the focus for IR is a little different than visible light. Some of the old lenses use to have IR focus marks on them. I use a small aperature (f11 to f16) to keep good depth of field so a minor focus error won't hurt.
I mount the camera on a tripod and frame the image and focus the camera (and sometimes take a color shot). I then set the camera to manual focus (so the focus won't change), put the camera into manual mode and set the shutter speed for 2 seconds and make sure the in camera long exposure noise reduction is turned on. Then I put the filter on and take an image. Next I look at the histogram to see how the exposure is - adjust the shutter speed and take another image. It does not cost anymore to take a bunch of shots so I will bracket +/- 1 1/2 stops from what I think is proper that way I will always end up with something that has a good exposure.
The images do need to be processed with some type of image editor because they will come off the memory card with a strong red color to them. What you need to do is make it a black and white image. There are many articles on how to do this with color images. The conversion process is no different for IR images than color images.
I use photoshop and you can just make the image monochrome, you can use one of the color channels, or mix the channels using the channel mixer or you can just use the lightness channel in L*A*B. The image I have attached was taken at f13 for 2.0 seconds and converted using the L*A*B technique. I will then adjust levels and contrast, and not much else.
I hope this helps -- and again the best way to learn is get a filter and start shooting. You will figure out what works for you.
Wow, this is great. This is my first post to the Shutterbug Forum and the response is awesome. I hope to get me an IR filter and start shooting. Thanks for all the advice and I will add the photos to a gallery and let you all know when they are uploaded. Thanks again.
I guess timing is everything. I just signed up for the forum yesterday. Seeing IR is one of the things that I like to do it was the first place I went to.
I need to comment on some of your inputs.
First, if you focus first with visible light and then set the camera to manual focus, you are perfectly focused for visible light but not for IR. It has been my experience, that it is better to leave the camera in autofocus; at least my Nikon D70 seems to have no problem focusing with the IR filter on.
Second, while using a small aperture increases the depth of field, it also increases the diffraction, resulting in unsharp images. For IR it is best to use larger apertures to increase the overall sharpness. The added advantage is that shutter speeds decrease, resulting in less blur because of movement of particularly leaves and twigs if there is even a tiny bit of wind.
Thirdly, using the channel mixer to convert an IR image to black and white has some disadvantages that you need to be aware of. The channel mixer allows us to emphasize the information in one or more of the R, G and B channels and therein lies the rub. The R channel includes most of the typical IR information or fuzzyness if you will, while the G and B channels include more sharp details like branches in trees, contours of a park bench and the like. If you emphasize the R channel in the channel mixer, the IR effects of fuzzyness and blooming of particularly greenery will increase; however, you also will loose details that contribute to the overall impression of sharpness (which for IR is already a lot less than for visible light photography). If you emphasize green and blue, you will improve sharpness, but will loose more of the IR effects. For me personally, I don't use the channel mixer, but instead use desaturation and levels. Using only one of the color channels has the same issues as with the channel mixer, but even more pronounced since you discard a lot of image information, either detail or IR effects.
I like your attached image, but think that it could have been improved substantially if you had taken the issues above into consideration. I recommend that you try out my suggestions, because I think it would improve your IR images considerably.
With the darker filters the camera will not focus. It will just sit and hunt, that is why I prefocus with the camera on a tripod. In fact you need to make sure that the image is framed as well because you can't see enough to do that either.
As for how you want to make things monochrome I think the method to use depends on what you are looking for in the final results. I personally like using lightness from L*A*B mode for most images. In the earlier post I was pointing out that there are many different ways of doing the conversion and you need to find the method that best fits the final image you want.
The small aperature that I use is actuall right in the middle of what the lense can do (it will go to F32). I have tried all kinds of different way of shooting IR and have tend to use the methods that give the results that appeal to me.
There is a mater of your personal taste in what you want your images to look like. I like things that are soft and smooth. I am attaching a color image this time to show where my taste is. While the original image was tack sharp the end results that I want is not.
The image was to bag and got cut off - here is a small one
If the camera won't focus through an infrared filter, it doesn't have enough infrared sensitivity.
The whole issue about shooting digital infrared is that the camera sees through the filter and is able to capture the scene. If I put an infrared filter on my CoolPix 950, I can see the scene clearly on the LCD because the camera is sensitive to infrared radiation and sees right through the filter that I can't see through if I hold it up to my eye.
How you like your final image to look is a question of personal taste. In my opinion it is better to start with the sharpest possible IR image (using autofocus or adjusting manual focus for IR, using larger apertures and shorter exposure times) and then, if desired, in 8 bit mode use Diffuse Glow and/or Grain to accentuate effects typical of infrared film, like halation, noise, grain and blooming. This, to me, yields a more pleasing effect than working with an original IR image that is out of focus, was shot with a long exposure time (with the associated risk of movement blur) and suffers from additional blurring, caused by diffraction at small appertures, which for infrared is much more pronounced than for visible light.
I'm pretty new to IR with my D70, Kenko filter holder, Kodak 87C gel filter and step down ring. It all works quite well except for one thing. I get a black circular ring around about 2/3rds of my shots. I use manual, ISO 200, often f/5.6 at 2 seconds and I get this ring around my photos. I can crop but I don't know why this happens. Could it be that spot metering causes it? I read something about a delay in firing on a long exposure. Can you help? Thanks, BillB