Wonder and enchantment are two words that spring to mind when viewing the world through an infrared lens. Whatever your personal photography taste, there’s no question that infrared imagery adds a touch of the serene and the surreal to the outside world, from ornate buildings to nature and even urbex photography.
Buildings in Black and White
Most black-and-white infrared photography is achieved by using orange, red or visually opaque filters over the lens to block blue visible light from the exposure. The aim is to block blue wavelengths and allow infrared to pass through. The effect is a dreamlike and slightly otherworldly twist on traditional black-and-white photography. The buildings and full moon above illustrate this wonderfully.
Buildings in Colour
Colour infrared films have three sensitized layers that reproduce infrared as red, red as green, and green as blue. All three layers are sensitive to blue, requiring the use of a yellow filter to block blue light while allowing the remaining colours to reach the film. The colour of foliage on trees can be determined from the relative strengths of green and infrared light reflected. And as the pictures above show, the results can be stunning!
Parks and Gardens
Green-as-blue and yellow skies are depicted perfectly in these mesmerizing photographs. They transport the viewer into what could be a parallel universe – or, if nothing else, a colourful departure from what is in reality pleasant but ordinary urban parkland.
Abandoned Trains and Railway Lines
Abandoned railways and train graveyards always present interesting subjects for photographers, especially those trying to freeze in time the swift onset of urban decay. But such scenes can still be dreary, dull and melancholy. Infrared photography helps package this material in ways that drive its appeal beyond those with an affinity for abandoned buildings and places. After all, pleasant blue grass sprouting between purple and golden sleepers helps cast the scene in a whole new light.
Sun through the Trees
The deep red creeping through the blue foliage is like an ethereal sunset in the above scenes, although the photos most likely capture the sun some time during the afternoon. The bottom right image looks slightly more conventional, with green leaves on the trees, but set against the backdrop of an exaggerated fiery sky.
A Walk in the Woods
Normal black-and-white photographs can bestow a moody atmosphere upon their subjects, but the infrared version of the craft would give even Tim Burton’s fairytale landscapes a run for their money. Above, a watchful cat sits regally in one picture while a walk in the woods is spiced up in the others. The tree root (bottom right) is highlighted perfectly within the blue-green grass. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out 10 Amazing Pieces of Infrared Photography.