• Dr. Jitendra Katre

What is Infrared Photography?

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Infrared photography is not new. It was used in the WW2 era to identify camouflaged military settlements from green vegetation. Green leaves are known to reflect almost all the infrared light, which comprises to about fifty percent of the the visible light. The light we can see ranges from 400nm to about 700nm wavelength. All wavelengths below 400nm belong to ultraviolet range while wavelengths above 700nm are infrared. There are two sub-categories. First is near infrared, which ranges from 700nm to 1000nm and this is the range which is used for photography. Second is far infrared, which ranges from 1000nm and above.

Cameras are equipped with filters to block infrared and ultraviolet range of radiation. For infrared photography, this filter has to be removed and a new filter is installed which blocks visible wavelengths of light. Pure infrared images are essentially black and white, with beautiful contrast. it is possible to mix some visible light with infrared radiation so as to make images colorful.

Infrared photography is mainly used to create surreal looking, artistic landscapes and portraits. Since we never see infrared landscapes by our naked eyes, photographer has all the freedom to use his imagination to create his vision. The infrared wavelengths are reflected from deeper layers of leaves and human skin, which impart a kind of glow to the edges. This is known as "Woods effect", named after Robert W. Wood who is considered Father of infrared photography.

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