The Strange Realm of Infra-Red: 2

Infra-red photo - 2

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Even this very humble shack in Louisiana looks mysteriously beautiful when the visible spectrum is blocked. If we had infra-red sunglasses, the world might appear a lot more pleasant than in its more usual shades of dull-brown, muddy-green, and dirt-gray.


  1. If we had infra-red sunglasses, the world might appear a lot more pleasant than in its more usual shades of dull-brown, muddy-green, and dirt-gray.

    You just, like, totally blew my mind, man.

  2. The photo is very pretty, but I like the natural colors just fine. Those greens keep us alive, as does the dirt and mud.

  3. Charles, Charles. You really need to move somewhere with a more vibrant ecosystem, if all your nature is tainted by the colour of mud. Come up to Northern BC, where I’ll show you vibrant green forests, crisp white mountaintops, clear blue skies, bright aqua pools in volcanic deposits, frothy grey ocean waves, brilliant red rosehips, jet-black bears, white kermodeis, rusty grizzlies, yellow coyotes, and iridescent salmon.

  4. f y’r gng t pst smthng lk ths, t lst pst smlr pht n clr r blck nd wht fr cntrst. Prly xctd nn-pst…

  5. Reframing Echonomist: I am interested to see this same scene, shot with the visible spectrum included, for comparison.

    Not that the original is not totally stunning. I am just curious to see the extent of the difference.

  6. Echonomist,

    How about not telling the posters how to post, and how to run this blog?

    Also, you can be as clever as you like, with the numbers for vowels thing.. but your comment is gonna get zapped anyway.

    If you have commentary on the blog or the moderation policy, take it to the Moderation Policy thread.

  7. what’s so humble about a classic Louisiana shotgun? nice square footage, porch, backyard… the sterility of IR is what cheapens the image.

  8. Xopher: If you look up the cover shot from U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire,” you’ll see what people look like on infrared film. Unlike the surprising IR brightness of plant life, an IR portrait of a person is rather unremarkable. Pretty much like standard B/W.

    Here is an IR photography Flickr pool for anyone interested in seeing more:

  9. very Friedlander-esque image.

    I’m not sure how well it would look in color. I mean yes, the pink infrared image would look creepy (altho there is a nice infrared image of bob dylan out there in web-space somewhere). but there’s a dreamy quality to b&W infrared.

  10. I’m going to disagree that people look “pretty much like normal B&W”. On the plus side, everyone has great skin in the IR, you get kind of a china-doll complexion. On the minus side, irises don’t reflect much IR, so you get a creepy dilated look in some folks.

    For comparison images, check out:

    Scroll down to “Tiffen Hot Mirror” for a ‘normal’ image.

    I put that page together to rant about the apparently deliberate breakage of in-camera WB data in “Pro” photo tools. Open source software gets it right, of course.

  11. These posts actually contain rather incorrect information.

    These cameras are not ‘capturing’ in the infrared spectrum. So it is not right to think that this is what the infrared spectrum would look like if one could see it.

    Instead, infrared reaching the camera’s sensor actually creates colour errors on the sensor’s readout.
    So what you see in these photos is actually the errors caused by the sensor misinterpreting infrared light.

  12. They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
    I got a Nikon camera
    I love to take a photograph
    So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

    Another vote for the lush shades of green in the actual landscape.

  13. “Ten dollar infrared goggles” trick does work for this, sorta. However, if you want to directly view a 750 nanometer image like the above, you need tight-fitting welding goggles, a *very* bright summer day, and more than ten layers of Congo Blue filter. With fewer layers, the peak isn’t so far into the NIR spectrum, and the trees aren’t nearly so “frosty” looking.

    For real time IR viewing, much better is to put some IR-pass filter on a monochrome CCD camera such as the old Casio wristwatch-camera from the 1980s.

  14. Noen, see how I “took care” of Antinous’ post?

    Muh-haha haha hah ha!

    IOW: accomodating, isn’t he?

  15. @18: As someone who has spent a lot of time with IR photography and has converted 2 cameras, I think you’re wrong or are getting confused. Perhaps you’re talking about false colour IR, where the image is often cast in a colour due to the way the camera processes the image. The image processing unit may get “confused” if you don’t do it correctly, but the sensor is being accurate.

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