Last week, I received my new infrared converted camera and decided to share my experiences with infrared photography as I study the art form.
Instead of getting into the nitty gritty of the camera or the infrared process, I thought I’d begin with researching the topic and preparing for the purchase.
For several years, I kept my eye on infrared, reading blogs here and there, following a few artists on Instagram, but I never made the commitment to a purchase. I knew right away I would like to dive into infrared, but after a brief glance on a couple conversion websites, I knew it would be an expensive endeavor and require a lot of patience and study. So, I waited.
This year, after about four weeks of hard study, I finally pulled the trigger.
The first thing I decided was how to acquire my camera. The two basic options are to order a conversion online or attempt a conversion myself. After watching a DIY video on YouTube, I decided pretty quickly I wouldn’t do it myself. (My attention span has limits!)
This left ordering a conversion. From my research, I found two main companies – Kolari Vision and Life Pixel. I found the Life Pixel website to be more informative, particularly the process the site walks you through, so I decided to go with this company.
After deciding on Life Pixel, I was able to decide on the type of conversion and external filters I would order. Like many artists, I decided on a full-spectrum conversion because it offers more options with the use of external filters. I didn’t want to buy all the external filters, so I limited myself two to start. I love the blue and white of the Standard IR (720 nm) and purple is my favorite color, so Hyper Color (470 nm) was my next go-to. So between the two filters and the option of no filter at all, I thought three shooting options was a good place to start.
My next, and possibly the longest, decision was the camera I would have converted. Many artists start by converting an older, unused camera, but I wanted something higher quality right away. As I mentioned, the Life Pixel website is quite informative and after reading their suggestions, I chose a mirrorless body. In addition to the reasons the website states, I decided a mirrorless would be easier to carry around on a daily basis, something I don’t do with my large dSLR.
Finally, as I waited for my order to process, I did more technique research – and boy am I glad I did! Google the phrases “white balance” and “infrared photography” and you’ll find dozens of blog posts about the importance of understanding custom white balance in infrared photography. I won’t go into the details now, I’ll have my own post later, but it is quite possibly one of the most important aspects of the art.
I also practiced editing. That’s right – I practiced editing. Life Pixel’s filter comparison page offers RAW and JPEG downloads of images straight off a camera using each filter they offer. Because of this, I was able to understand the necessity of swapping color channels and I was able to experiment with color adjustments before I even had my camera. The option to download these images was the best feature of Life Pixel’s website, in my opinion.
By the time my camera arrived, I was able to take adequate photos right away and edit them without a problem!
On that note, stay tuned for my next post!