Unveiling the Invisible: A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Infrared Photography

Exploring the world of infrared photography is like entering a parallel universe where familiar landscapes take on a spooky appearance. Infrared photography uses part of the light spectrum invisible to the naked eye, thus providing images with striking contrasts and surreal effects. Initiating such an approach requires understanding certain technical aspects while embracing a good dose of creativity.

Necessary Equipment for Infrared Photography

The camera and the lens

Start with your usual digital camera, as long as it can capture infrared wavelengths. However, most modern devices incorporate an infrared blocking filter to improve color quality in the visible range. It is often necessary to modify the camera to remove this filter, a delicate operation best entrusted to a specialist.

The infrared filter

For those who do not wish to modify their device, using an infrared filter to attach to the lens is a valid alternative. These filters block almost all visible light, allowing only infrared wavelengths to pass through. The Hoya R72 filter is a popular choice among photographers.

The tripod

A sturdy tripod is crucial in infrared photography. Since the infrared filter absorbs a large part of the light, longer exposure times are necessary, hence the importance of rock-solid stability to avoid camera shake.

Camera settings

Exposure time and ISO sensitivity

Because infrared light is less abundant than visible light, longer exposures are generally required. Don’t be afraid to experiment with longer exposure times and adjust ISO sensitivity to reduce digital noise.

Diaphragm opening

Choosing the right aperture influences the sharpness and depth of field of your infrared images. A medium aperture, like f/8, provides a good balance between these two aspects.

Composition in infrared photography

Look for the contrast

In infrared photography, plants reflect infrared strongly, appearing very bright, while the sky and water remain dark. Playing with these natural contrasts can produce particularly striking compositions.

Integrate graphic elements

Well-defined elements such as lines, patterns or textures can gain intensity in infrared photography. Look for subjects that could benefit from this treatment to create powerful images.


White balance

Successful infrared photography often requires correcting the white balance in post-production. Adobe Photoshop software is frequently used to adjust shades and convey the unreal atmosphere specific to infrared.

Adjusting contrasts and colors

Manipulating contrast and color is also essential in post-production to highlight the subtle nuances captured by the camera. Infrared images can go from monochrome to bright colors, depending on the processing applied.

Use channels

The red and blue channels can be inverted to create the “Wood Effect”, characteristic of infrared photography and which gives tree leaves this bright and white appearance.

Practical tips for beginner photographers

Train and experiment

Learning by doing is essential. Don’t be afraid to fumble and experiment with different settings and light conditions. It is through experimentation that you will develop your eye for infrared photography.

Time of day

Favor times of the day when the sun is high in the sky, because it is at these times that infrared light is most intense. Early afternoon is often ideal.

Seek inspiration

View the works of established infrared photographers to get inspired and learn from their compositions and techniques. Platforms such as Flickr or Instagram are full of communities dedicated to this art.

Patience is a virtue

Infrared photography requires patience, both in shooting and in post-processing. Give yourself time to learn and refine your skills.

Immersing yourself in the warm ripple of infrared photography requires dedication, curiosity and creativity. With these tips and techniques, even the most novice photographer can indulge in this captivating art and transform the common vision of the landscapes around us. Each infrared image captured is a door open to an unsuspected world, suspended between reality and mirage.

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