I love digital Infrared photography. I've shooting it for nearly 20 years and teaching it for over 10 years. The look is interesting, and the idea that you are creating images using a portion of the light spectrum we can't see is very exciting. One constant in the world of digital IR has been the fact that post-production on Infrared takes more than a little bit longer than natural color photography does. If you are shooting Infrared in the range of 590nm to 720nm there is the famous Red/Blue color channel swap that is necessary to give your images a blue sky.
Many of my students want to know how to shoot IR without having to spend too much time on post-production. I then try to show them the quickest techniques and help them accept the reality of Digital Infrared post-production.
It takes time.
Well, that has changed. Thanks to the Kolari Vision IR Chrome Lite filter.
Now if you're not familiar with the IR Chrome filter, it is the digital answer to the now-defunct Aerchrome Film. Aerchrome film was an Infrared film made by Kodak from 1942 to 2009. To say it was challenging to use is being very polite, but it produced images with a bright Blue or Cyan sky and the foliage was in the color tones of Red, Pink, or Orange.
Now it is important to note that the Kolari IR Chrome Lite filter can only be used on a Full-Spectrum Camera. For those of you not familiar with a Full-Spectrum conversion, this is a process where the Hot Mirror, or IR-blocking filter is removed allowing the camera to capture images in the light spectrum range of Natural Color, Infrared, and Ultra Violet. The way you determine what you are going to capture is by what filter you place on your lens, clip-in front of the sensor, or drop-in behind the lens. It's a great way to shoot as you need only one camera body to shoot everything. If you'd like more information about a Full-Spectrum conversion, I suggest checking out Kolar Vision here They are the number one in the industry.
Now as for the images made with an IR Chrome lite filter, they will need to be properly white-balanced. In my opinion, the best White Balance can be achieved by using the RAW editor made for your camera. Each camera manufacturer has a free RAW editor that will allow you to properly White Balance your images. If you are not familiar with the RAW editor for your camera, you can contact me and I will point you in the right direction.
So, here is an example of an IR Chrome RAW image. An in-camera White Balance was set, but as I know the in-camera WB doesn't actually alter the RAW file, but rather the way I preview it, I don't give it any concern. This however can be a shock to some people as this is how my IR Chrome Lite image initially looks.
Not to worry though. I use my RAW editor, in this case, the Digital Photo Professional software to White Balance, and convert my RAW files to a Jpg or Tiff.
Once the White Balance is set, the image immediately pops. You will also notice I cropped the image slightly.
Just like that, I have a stunning Infrared image!
And without the need for a channel swap.
This is where the versatility comes in.
Let's say I like this image, but I want the look of a 590nm IR image.
Well, that's simple. I'm going to open my image in Photoshop and then select Image>Adjustmenst>Hue/Saturation
Then you see this dialog box.
All you need to do is select REDS and then move the Hue slider to the right. That will give you this.
If you want to adjust the sky from Cyan to Blue, Select CYANS, and then adjust the Hue slider to the right once again, to get this.
Want the look of a 720nm IR image? Simply lower the saturation on the REDS and then adjust the lightness to make it look like this.
Now how about an intense Monochrome Black and white? Simply follow the 3 easy steps I outlined in this piece here and you can get this.
Four different looks form one image, and all are done in less than 5 minutes total.
So you can see why I say the IR Chrome Lite filter is so versatile.
Let's not lose sight of how interesting the IR Chrome Lite filter looks without the changes.
The way the color tones come through with the IR Chrome Lite filter can make for some very surreal images.
Here is a long-exposure image image made using a 10-stop ND filter with the IR Chrome Lite.
Canon R5, IRIX 15mm f2.4, 10-stop ND, f13, ISO 50, 10 seconds
Here's an of a tree by the ocean, out for a walk.
Canon R5, IRIX 15mm f2.4, f11, ISO 100, 1/320 sec
And one of my favorites.
Canon R5, IRIX 15mm f2.4, f11, ISO 100, 15 seconds
You'll notice in this long exposure image that the subject retains a natural-looking skin tone, as opposed to the ghostly white look you normally get from an IR image.
This one really has an other-worldly feel to it.
Canon R5, IRIX 15mm f2.4, f18, ISO 100, 30 seconds
Shooting with the IR Chrome Lite filter from Kolari has been like discovering a totally new type of Infrared photography. The ease of use and the versatility of the images make for great shoots. It is now my first go-to filter.
So, what do you think?
Here's a list of everything I used and spoke about.