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Today I'm going to talk about taking infrared pictures. This post will not contain any technical terms, scientific data, complicated procedures, or incomprehensible words. Other than the word “incomprehensible” which I just wrote. So if you want to find out about nanometers, IR spectrums, or wavelengths of light, I suggest you spend an afternoon Googling it because you won't find those answers here. And it's not because I don't want to share it, it's because I don't understand it and frankly I'm very leery of those who do.
There's two basic ways of taking infrared pictures, the inexpensive way is to buy an infrared filter that goes over the lens of your camera, these usually cost less than $100 depending on the quality and the size, and is normally the way most people start taking infrared. The other way is to have a camera converted internally to take infrared pictures, this costs more but there are a lot of good reasons to have it done this way. The biggest downside to doing this is it usually makes your camera only take infrared pictures from then on. So it's best to do this to a spare camera, which is the way I did it.
There's one other way but its not for the faint of heart. Some brave folks take their camera apart and do the conversion themselves. There are parts you can buy on the Internet that will convert your camera to infrared, and there's a lot of information about how to do it on the Internet. But In my opinion there's a couple of things you just don't do yourself. One is, open-heart surgery. The other is take your expensive camera apart with only a faint hope that you can ever get it back together again.
I started with an infrared filter over the lens and even though it's cheap there are a lot of downsides. An infrared filter is almost black when you're looking through it, it's actually a very dark red. And that's what your cameras looking through when you put it on the end of your lens. This makes it very hard for the camera to focus. It also makes it very hard for you to see the subject. I don't know if this applies to all cameras but that's the way it was with the three cameras that I've tried it with.
Normally what you have to do is put the camera on a tripod, because your exposure times may be several seconds long, and with the infrared filter off you manually focus on the subject, then put the infrared filter on the lens, without disturbing the camera at all, and let your camera read the exposure through the infrared filter. All that to take one picture. And doing all that every time you take a picture is an unmitigated pain in the butt.
If you get serious about infrared photography having the camera converted is your best option, it costs two or three hundred bucks depending on the camera, but it has none of the problems associated with the infrared filter over the lens. In fact you take pictures just like it was a regular camera, the only difference is the pictures look very, very, weird.
This is getting kind of long and has too many words in it, and since my attention span is too short to deal with a lot of words I will make this a two-part post and talk about actually taking the infrared pictures tomorrow.