I love traditional landscape photography, and I still take many of my shots with a classic style. However, I always have the feeling that something is missing: a color, a detail.. Therefore, I started getting more and more interested in infrared photography. It really gives you the freedom to look at the world with different eyes. To take photos with IR technique is necessary to know some concepts before starting but don’t worry, I can assure you that the infrared world it’s very fun and creative.
Technique and Equipment
There are excellent IR filters like Hoya R72, but if you use a modified camera, you can reduce exposure times and get better results. I use an EOS 20D and a Canon 5D converted for infrared (720nm). I think is a good place to start because other wavelengths below this create more color cast and allow less freedom in post-processing. The use of a tripod is also recommended, especially if you work with filters or you want to mix images IR with conventional photography.
The ideal time of the day to take infrared photos is around midday. Then you should not worry too much about waking up early to find the best light as in traditional landscape photography.
It is very important to choose a sunny day to get a good infrared picture, on a cloudy day is difficult to obtain good results. I recommend finding a good weather app for your Smartphone. Observe and choose the optimal light conditions to execute the picture you had in mind
Don’t forget the principles of good landscape composition, foreground interest and a strong focal point to satisfy the eye. I always try to choose landscapes with green foliage and skies with clouds. The effect is great in these situations. However, there are other elements such as water or architecture that can give a push to our infrared picture. And the most important tip: Enjoy, do not try to find the perfect picture. Enjoy the landscape, people, moments and a good picture will be the consequence of all this.
The world is full of details that sometimes need additional shots to capture them perfectly. A best practice I usually follow is to take the same shot with a normal camera. By taking a shot with a different exposure and colors I can choose some elements in the composition of this photo to combine with my infrared photos when I edit the final image.
A very important fact in IR photography is that depending on the variety of the tree and the chlorophyll of its leaves, it will stain to a specific color.
The editing is quite simple and there are numerous tutorials on Internet but this would be my workflow:
First of all, I use Adobe Camera Raw to adjust white balance, temperature and tint. Then, I open the result in Photoshop, adjust levels and perform the digital post-processing of the infrared picture with the channel mixer. Up to this point is a very automatic process.
Once the picture is ready to give it our personal touch, I start my favourite and most creative part of post-processing. This is because you can do this process several times and the final product will always be different.
We can start playing with any filter that alters colors like Hue/saturation and start combining layers of the image as we wish. My tip? Be patient at the editing stage, the infrared is a creative art that takes times to learn until you get the desired result.
About Pedro Fernández Aguado
My name is Pedro Fernández Aguado and I was born and raised in Madrid (Spain) . After I graduated in History of Art and then worked in the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum, I decided I wanted to focus my career in photography. Whenever I am doing anything related to photography time goes by really fast and I am in a different world.
In addition, I feel very lucky to work together with Marta, my partner. She is also very passionate about photography and it makes the whole workflow even funnier.