Things learnt so far
- This is cool and not that hard, once a bit of knowledge and play is indulged.
- There are lots to read and it helps to read the articles.
- It can produce great shots on the most boring dull days – hurrah.
- It does not need a lot of technical time and effort, it is possible to just walking around and ‘snap’. A bit of forethought and general photography skills help. Tripods, filter systems and big expensive cameras are not essential. Using a little ‘travel’ camera is perfectly feasible.
- Using a modified camera, where the original UV+IR blocking filter is removed, is so much easier than working with just external filters – especially not constrained by long exposures.
- Quite a few people have cameras converted, especially older DSLRs, and then get bored with them – this makes for an excellent low-cost S/H market to try and play with IR. However, older DSLRs with no LiveView capability, does limited the flexibility and UV/IR ranges that can be used.
- There is a distinct advantage in modifying a camera that has a LiveView capability, especially if you are going to use external filters; which is why Mirrorless cameras, like my M43 cameras, have a distinct advantage over older SLRs.
- Different frequency ranges, produce very different results. A camera modification is for a specific range; however, you can isolate specific frequencies within the original range by using external filters. I use my 590nm modified camera with external filters to also get 660nm, 720nm and 850nm.
- It is all very light variable – images vary a lot depending on the type and intensity of the day light at the time. It is a rare to get the same results on different days – part of the fun is not knowing exactly what you are going to get.
- HDR techniques work well with IR, especially on high contrast shots.
- Some understanding of post-shot processing RAW images is really helpful, if not essential. I am using Aperture3 and GIMP for most of my RAW processing (because thats what I already had – but there are a number of options, including using the usual Lightroom and Photoshop). Aperture3 for the standard tweaking and GIMP for the colour mixing/swapping.
- People look like weird albino alien vampires – shoot carefully. This is rarely a technique that works well for portraits.
- External lens filters, especially for cutting or passing UV+IR, are expensive.
- UV on its own does not give you much to work with, but when added to IR (and visible light is excluded) it is interesting.
- UV isolating and dual-band filters, besides being expensive, are not easy to obtain.
- Not all lenses work well with modified cameras – some lenses, at set apertures, produce hotspots in the centre of the images, These hotspots can be removed in post processing, but it is better to avoid these lenses (see the hotspot lens list for M43: link).
- With Full-spectrum modifications, better visible light results (getting back to how the camera original was) come from combining both a UV cut filters (std UV filter) and an absorption hot-mirror filter.
- White-balancing 590nm on cameras can sometimes not work – the camera reports an error and the custom white-balance does not work. The solution is to use a neutral-density (ND) filter with the 590nm filter when doing the custom white-balance (take off the ND filter after).