A little while ago I wanted to try out infrared (IR) photography on my Fuji x100s. There's something different about IR that really makes it interesting. The obvious is what you often see and that is the white foliage and dark water and skies. Since plants (and most living organisms) reflect a lot of IR light they become ghostly white. "But you live in Dubai Sebastian....where are you going to go see trees?" Well that is true...we don't exactly have forests out here....but there is a fair amount of greenery especially considering that twenty years ago it was nothing but sand out here. The focus however is specifically cityscape photography in IR. But anyway...I digress.
I was curious as to how IR changes things around the city. Infrared behaves a bit differently than visible light. There are services like LifePixel which can convert your digital camera to IR (with many different options) but many digital cameras can detect IR light already. Well...ALL digital sensors can detect infrared light but manufacturers actually add IR filters. So folks like LifePixel...remove said filters. They can do full spectrum conversions or add filters which block visible light and only allow certain wavelengths of light thru. So I slap on a 49mm R72 filter on to my x100s get to snapping. (as always, click photos for larger size)
The first thing you need to know (before you head out spending money) is adding a IR filter to your x100 is are going to need a tripod or have to shoot at ISO 1600+ even wide open (f/2). Looking thru my photos, the fastest shutter speed I have is 1/5th at f/2 at ISO 200. To shoot the same photo at 1/80th you would need an ISO of 3200. Would probably still look pretty good, but I much prefer to take advantage of the long exposures. Add the x100's built in ND filter and you're looking at easy 1-2 minute daytime exposures. Also a quick aside, if you're not using the Fuji WCL-X100 wide angle adapter, you'll need a 49mm ring adapter. Fotasy sells them on Amazon for like six bucks. Honestly you should have one in order to use a lens hood on your x100.
One of the neat things you get when shooting cityscapes in IR is the uniformity of reflections in glass. If you look at the two pictures below, the left was shot normally...I attempted to process the photo to be as close as possible to the IR version. I didn't bring an ND filter with me that morning so excuse the difference in the water. But pay attention to building on the upper left. Personal preference comes into play...but personally I like the way it looks in IR.
So there are some issues....not really issues....quirks? Maybe "challenges" is a better word. So, above I mentioned the long exposures we have a few other challenges.
For starters there is focusing. You cannot focus without the IR filter, switch to manual and place the filter in place. Focusing is different in IR than it is in visible light. For the most part I was still able to use autofocus on both the x100s and x100t. The x100s was superior when manually focusing however. The screen I found much sharper when manually focusing zoomed in.
So naturally you've added a filter in front of your lens. What is always the drawback of using lens filters? Flare can get pretty crazy. This is why when I would shoot at concerts or nightclubs I'd leave UV filters at home. So if you're shooting into the sun be very careful of the added flares you get as they tend to blow the highlights completely. Also be mindful of flares introduced by reflection off of buildings, cars, etc as well, bit more prone as compared to visible light.
So there's a strange hotspot that happens in the center of the shot. I'm not sure if it's due to the filter or the sensor (internal filter) or refraction happening between the lens and filter. It's not really noticeable on all pictures, but you should be aware of it. I've taken two examples and set white balance to 2000K and cranked the saturation up so you could see exactly what I'm talking about. Remember, your RAW files will be very red/orange straight out of camera. While shooting I set my camera to monochrome.
So when it comes to processing, there's really nothing special. Have fun and experiment. I'm a huge fan of crushed shadows in black and white photography. I limited myself to doing everything within Lightroom for these photos. You can do much more in Photoshop like swapping channels around, some false color, etc.
So really there's not much more to say. Want to experiment with some IR? Slap a IR filter on your x100 or x100s or x100t. Other cameras are obviously able to do IR as well. Ideally, you should have your camera converted to either IR or full spectrum. But this usually costs upwards of $300-$400 which isn't in the cards for everyone (compared to $50 for this filter). I've sent off my Sony A6000 to LifePixel to get an IR conversion done so expect some more IR in the future. Until then...here are some photos for your enjoyment. If you're curious if your camera can shoot in IR, turn on live view, point a TV remote at your lens and see if you see the light thru the live view. If so then have at it. :-)
As always, click like, share, comment, close the tab/browser, whatever. If you have any questions ask in the comments below or shoot me an email. I reply to all questions. Thanks for reading or at least looking at pictures. Cheers. Here are some more IR photos shot with the Fuji x100s and x100t.
Be sure to read my look back at 2014 <--Click here
No Pants Day
Every week I make it a goal to have a no pants day. I've been doing this the greater part of my adult life. Think of it as a "me day". It's not always a completely non-productive lazy day (though it is sometimes), but it's a day I'm not concerned with the outside world. I'll catch up on household chores, process photos, piddle around online, watch Archer, Top Gear, etc. And now do a blog. It'll probably revolve around photography or art, it'll probably have some pictures I shot that week (but might have some oldies), I don't really know what'll happen. It's my day and I'll write what I want to. Ideally, with no pants.