Infrared photography can be a stunning alternative way to capture images. This technique adds a striking edge to black and white imagery. Some people may not take to this but others will be amazed and captivated.
Infrared light lies just outside the visible spectrum before radio waves. When you look at a rainbow, infrared sits just off the red end where it fades away and becomes invisible. This is followed by radio waves further along. The Violet end of the rainbow is followed by invisible rays such as ultraviolet (the rays that cause sunburn), x-rays and then gamma rays.
As infrared is invisible to the naked eye, photographic equipment that is sensitive to it must be used to create an image. There are various ways of capturing infrared. One method is to use infrared film. This only reacts to the infrared spectrum and is not sensitive to visible light. Another way is to convert a digital SLR. This can be done for about £200-£300. This is only advised if you have another camera as it will no longer be able to take normal photographs. The third way is to use an infrared filter on your lens. Most SLR sensors are slightly sensitive to IR but to capture images this way will involve hugely extended exposure times.

Now to the free an easy way...
There is no real need to pay any attention to the photographers that say the methods above are the way to infrared effects. These are time consuming at the capture and post processing stage and expensive.

The effect can be created in Photoshop using the RAW format in your camera. The better the dynamic range of your sensor the more effective the results will be. Full frame DSLRs with a low pixel density are best. i.e. Nikon D700 or D3 and the Canon 5Dmk1. The end result if processed correctly looks almost as good as the real thing. Certainly good enough to warrant the expense of filters/conversions unnecessary.

The subject.

This attractive image was taken on Dartmoor a few weeks ago. For infrared conversion I am looking for an image with as much blue and green as possible, so landscapes with trees, decent skies and white cloud are ideal. The reason for this is that the blue will darken, the green will lighten to almost white and red will remain largely unchanged.

The RAW image.

Open the RAW image and then increase the temperature slightly to warm the greens and yellows. Also increase the clarity and contrast. Next slide the ‘fill light’ slider to the right to increase shadow detail.

Select HSL/GREYSCALE. This allows adjustment to the colour channels. Then check the ‘convert to greyscale’ box.

Next slide the yellow/green sliders to the right and the aqua/blue sliders to the left. A little light adjustment each way may be needed. Then click on ‘open image’.

You will then have a result that pretty much represents a Infrared image.

Minor adjustments can now be made in ‘levels’ with layer masks if needed.

Other recent examples

Adrian Oakes 2012