Infrared might be the kind of term that implies to many people high technology that is only applicable in the world of special military operations. In actuality, it is a form of photography that can be very artistically pleasing. Moreover, it has a range of practical uses across a variety of professional platforms. Infrared is really quite accessible technology and, in fact, all that is required to use the technology is a lens filter for a photographic or video camera.
Why Shoot Infrared Photos and Videos?
Shooting photos and videos in infrared has numerous artistic and practical applications. For those interested in the former, the infrared spectrum brings out details in a scene that would remain hidden if the scene was shot in normal color. Infrared photos have incredible clarity and extraordinarily sharp contrast. Filtering out ordinary colors and leaving a monochrome also adds an element of surreality to scenes, as if they taking place on another planet.
The ability of the infrared spectrum to bring otherwise subtle details into sharp focus has given infrared photography and videography real-world applicability as well. Many branches of science use infrared photography. Botanists are better able to observe cellular material in plants, and astronomers can capture clearer space images, for example. Infrared photography also helps doctors see vascular systems beneath the skin. Militaries have been using infrared photography and videography for decades to increase the efficacy of their operations.
Whether practicing an art form or attempting to capture details to better perform a professional task, infrared photography and videography helps the human eye see things that it otherwise cannot and greatly assists in the achievement of both artistic and practical goals.
How Do Infrared Camera Lens Filters Work?
On the spectrum of light, the human eye can only see between wavelengths of 400 and 700 nanometers. These wavelengths determine the colors that people can perceive. Infrared light is past 700 nanometers on the spectrum, which is generally imperceptible to the human eye.
Camera lenses are designed to let light at wavelengths of between 400 and 700 nanometers pass through in order to capture colors the way the average human eye sees them. An infrared lens filter employs opaque glass to absorb all of this visible light, allowing only light at the infrared end of the spectrum to pass through the lens and hit the film or image sensor, depending on whether the camera is film or digital.
Most digital SLR cameras are actually designed to block infrared light, but those photographers interested in shooting infrared photography with digital SLR cameras can still do so with an infrared filter. Colors may appear strange and a tripod will likely have to be employed because the shutter needs to be held open for a long time due most light reaching the sensor being blocked. Converting the photos to black and white will likely achieve the monochrome effect desired in infrared photography.
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