Black & White Infrared Photography

The Black & White Infrared Camera

In the film days I loved using B&W infrared film. At that time my favorite was KODAK High-Speed Infrared Film / HIE. The film is no longer available and besides I sold most of my film cameras.

The good news is you can get similar results using a digital camera that records in the infrared range. You can purchase such a camera or you can have one converted that records only black & white infrared.

Several years ago I purchased a used Nikon Coolpix 995 on ebay. I purchased the Coolpix for the purpose of having it converted for black & white infrared photography. What the conversion includes is removing the hot mirror filter that is in front of the sensor. This filter is there to block the infrared part of the spectrum while allowing visible light to pass. This filter is then replaced with a custom manufactured infrared or clear filter. Many camera makes and models can be converted.

Spencer’s Camera & Photo is one of the companies that does infrared conversion. Most modern digital cameras can be converted and that includes DSLRs, mirrorless and even point & shoot cameras. Spencer’s Camera has a list of highly recommended cameras.

Life Pixel is another well known company that does infrared conversions. According to them, mirrorless cameras have become one of their most recommended lines especially for IR and full spectrum conversions. If you are new to B&W IR photography and are looking for a starter camera, then you may want to consider starting with a point & shoot camera. You can have one converted by one of these companies or purchase one that has already been converted.

My First B&W Infrared Digital Camera

I was amazed by my old Nikon Coolpix 995 that I had converted to B&W IR. I used it on some of my weddings and engagement portraits. I’ve sold several 20×24 inch framed portraits. And they were beautiful. I could not go any larger because at 20×24 inches, there was some pixelization. But for prints in 10×10 or smaller wedding albums, the results are amazing. I made sure the Coolpix is set to shoot in the fine mode. But with the newer point & shoot models, I have no doubt one could create some beautiful wall decor prints.

When to use Infrared Photography

I prefer black & white infrared photography on bright sunny days, rather than on cloudy days. And if there are white puffy clouds with a deep blue sky, the results are even more dramatic. You

can also get great results when the sky is a bit cloudy such as when storms clouds are brewing. The infrared seems to cut out a lot of the haze and bring out the dramatic storm clouds.

Black & White infrared photography is very dramatic when you use it in high contrast settings to get a complete tonal range, such as foliage against water or a deep blue sky. Since green foliage and grass absorb most visible light, they reflect and transmit most of the infrared, causing sunlit leaves and grass to appear a glowing white.

You’ll notice that water and a deep blue sky render a very dark tone, almost black in some situations. Whereas foliage and clouds appear very bright, giving a full and dramatic tonal range. This, I believe, is the secret to a successful and dramatic infrared photograph, along with a wide angle lens to enhance perspective of the landscape.

Adding the Sizzle

Now that you know how to get the most from B&W infrared photography, you can take it to the next level by enhancing those black and white images.

Learn More About B&W Infrared Photography in Video Below