Once you select a subject, know what infrared method you’re going to shoot in, and have all the corresponding gear, consider the following factors before shooting.
Adjust your camera settings.
Similar to other long exposure photography methods like landscape photography, infrared photography requires attention to detail when it comes to your settings:
- Wide angles will help achieve a better depth of field. Keep your ISO low to avoid overly exposed photos.
- Manually correct your focus. Autofocus may not work correctly when dealing with infrared light.
- Shoot your images in RAW mode to account for motion blur when mounted on a tripod. This will allow for more flexibility on corrective edits.
- Customize your white balance. You will not be able to gauge color well through your viewfinder once you put the filter on, so adjust your white balance ahead of time.
The brighter, the better.
Normal photography steers clear of harsh shadows or sunny days. Infrared photography runs toward it. Not only does more light give the photographer more infrared for imaging, it also makes shutter speeds more manageable and raises the intensity of the refracted IR light within the scene. This can deliver stunning effects. “I only shoot during bright, sunny weather or minimally overcast days, so you get that bright infrared light. It doesn’t work as well if you have a cloudy day,” says infrared photographer Kaitlin Kelly.
Experiment, experiment, experiment.
Infrared photography is easy to begin but tough to master. It can take years of dedication and patience to fully apply the technique. Don’t be afraid to just start shooting. “It’s not straightforward photography. Experimentation, playing around, and figuring out the look you want is fun because you can determine that for yourself,” says Kelly. Take notes on what you like and what’s not working to craft your unique infrared recipe.