Over the last three years, I have been photographing cities with an IR-converted Nikon D80 DSLR while traveling on business trips. I am very fortunate that my job duties involve the administration of international projects, so I travel once or twice per month, mostly in Central Europe, but also in Western and Eastern Europe. Whenever I travel, I try to plan at least a very short window for photographing, even if it is sometimes only 1-2 hours long. In this article, I share some insights after photographing with an IR camera for almost 3 years in roughly 20 European cities.
Last week, for our How Was This Picture Made? series, I had posted a landscape photograph to share and discuss. Thanks to our PL commentators, Gary Bunton, Brian Webster, and Shane, for their participation and sage commentary on the techniques employed and the overall considerations. Well done!
Due to overwhelming emails, comments and response we got on our “How Was This Picture Made #6” post, which went viral and got us over 25 million hits (funds from which we are planning to use for the next team retreat on the beaches of Mongolia), we decided to publish the answer to the last post today and not put our readers through the pain of having to wait.
Now that I have my Nikon D800E converted to infrared (big thanks to Ilija at Kolari Vision for an amazing conversion job and Bob Vishneski for inspiration and tips), I am experimenting with some infrared photography when I have a chance. During my last trip to Death Valley, I armed my D800E with a couple of lenses like the Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 and the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G and decided to give IR a try by shooting in various conditions. Along the way, I learned a lot of lessons, some of which were quite painful to deal with during the capture, while others were a shocker after I imported images into Lightroom and tried to post-process them with Photoshop.
I have been a fan of infrared photography for a while now (largely thanks to Bob Vishneski’s amazing infrared work), but I have not had a chance to explore that side of photography yet. After I bought the D810 to replace the D800E, I first thought about selling the D800E. But seeing how much the D800E was going for on eBay and other sites, I decided to keep it and convert it to an infrared camera instead. After some research and a few email exchanges with Bob on who he recommends, I picked the folks at Kolari Vision, who effortlessly converted my D800E to an IR camera. I did not want a full IR B&W conversion, so I opted for the thinner 720nm filter that allows some colors to come through. Have not experimented yet, as it is really cold and snowy outside, but there are some great news for our readers – my future lens reviews will now include infrared ratings and hot spot reports! So if you already enjoy infrared photography or want to start exploring it (I highly would recommend reading Bob’s excellent introduction to infrared photography article), then you will find the IR section of the reviews particularly helpful!
Lifepixel, perhaps best known for its high quality infrared digital camera conversions, recently added a new service to its list – removing your DSLR’s anti-aliasing filter. The price varies between $400-500 depending on your specific camera model. The notion of removing a DSLR’s anti-aliasing feature is not new. Maxmax.com has been doing this for years. Anti-alias filter removal, in the digital camera arena, has been thought of in a similar manner to overclocking your PC (before some manufacturers eliminated this capability) or perhaps souping up your car’s engine via a special engine conversion kit – a bit risky but capable of producing good effects. Why is this “risky” with respect to your DSLR? Voiding the warranty for one. Benefits? A sharper image.
My wife, Tanya, and I recently vacationed in the Canmore/Banff area of Alberta, Canada. We settled on this location after reading a variety of reviews and looking over some stunning photos of the many attractions and wildlife. We planned a series of activities that would take us to some of the most scenic, historical, and cultural locations, provide some challenging hiking expeditions, and enable us to take a “few” photographs along the way. After receiving a new Nikon D800 (review), which I tested thoroughly, I was eager to put it to work in the field. Most of the photos in this article were taken with the D800, although some were shot with my infrared D90 (converted by Lifepixel.com). For those of you reading this on an RSS feed, you may want to consider linking to the main Mansurovs site, as there are quite a few photos associated with this post.
Infrared, or “IR” photography, offers photographers of all abilities and budgets the opportunity to explore a new world – the world of the unseen. Why “unseen”? Because our eyes literally cannot see IR light, as it lies just beyond what is classified as the “visible” spectrum – that which human eyesight can detect. When we take photographs using infrared-equipped film or cameras, we are exposed to the world that can often look very different from that we are accustomed to seeing. Colors, textures, leaves and plants, human skin, and all other manner of objects can reflect IR light in unique and interesting ways, ones that cannot be mimicked with tools such as Photoshop (yes – there are limits to what Photoshop can do!). Like any form of photography or art however, it is a matter of taste. I would strongly urge people to explore the world of IR. As the number of cameras-equipped devices proliferates and the associated technologies improve, IR photography may offer the opportunity for photographers to expand into new arenas and differentiate their offerings from those of others.