What is infrared or “IR” photography and why do we love it?
Infrared photography refers to a special type of photography, which uses films or sensors, which have infrared light sensitivity. Sir Frederick William Herschel, a German-born British astronomer, discovered infrared light on 11th February 1800. While using a variety of colored filters to view sunlight, he observed that some colors passed more heat than others. Herschel hypothesized that the colors themselves may have actually produced different temperatures and set out to test his theory. Directing sunlight through a glass prism to produce a spectrum, he measured the temperature of each color with a thermometer. From the violet to red parts of the color spectrum, the temperature increased. Herschel then decided to measure the temperature beyond the red-colored light, where there was no sunlight. This area had the highest temperature reading of all, despite being invisible to the naked eye. He named this radiation ‘calorific rays’, however nowadays we call it infrared.
We love it because it is a beautiful pictorial medium. These type of images make wonderful wall portraits because of its qualities. Used properly there is a lot of depth and mood, and the larger the image is made the more it becomes a piece of art. We usually will shoot a few IR images at each of our weddings and our clients love them. Many times it ends up as the cover image on their album. At first glance, it may look like a regular black & white image, look again. The characteristics of infrared images are quite different. A blue sky will appear black, or very dark, while foliage, grasses and trees have a snowy white quality. Ethereal and dreamlike come to mind when explaining the appearance. This creates amazing contrast in the image that makes the photo ‘pop’.
Back in the days of film usage it was always a tricky film to work with. Now with digital photography the best results always come from a camera that has been altered to capture Infrared wavelengths. Once a camera is altered it can only be used for Infrared photography. We use cameras that have been converted to photograph in IR only. Images straight out of the camera are red in appearance and must be processed in imaging software to bring them to their intended look.
This medium is something that photographer Barb Bower has been enjoying the results of for over 30 years and we are thrilled she brought it to our studio. Used properly the images are stunning and a great addition to your wedding day or outdoor portrait session!