Beyond the Visible

July 24, 2022
Infrared Oaks

First weekend with the infrared camera provided some interesting results!

This camera has a bit of drama behind it.  I originally sent out my beloved Nikon D200, which I shot as my primary camera for ten years.  It went on so many adventures with me, shot so many concerts.  But it had been transitioned to my backup body after getting my D500 years back.  And with the upgrade to the D850, the D500 became the backup and the D200 was gathering dust.  I decided to give it new life by sending it off for an IR conversion, something I’ve wanted to do for nearly twenty years!

Infrared Oaks
Oaks in Towsley Canyon, California. 590nm Infrared

Shipped it out, waited a couple weeks, then got confirmation it was on its way back.  And, naturally, UPS bungled it.  Misdelivered my package and refused to help me, despite my calling their customer support no more than twenty minutes after the misdelivery.  I fought with them for over a week, but they refused to help and refused to mark it as lost.  So now the camera I had such sentimentality for is gone.  And I had no recourse for recuperating any of the cost.

Angry and frustrated, but determined to get SOMETHING for shooting IR, I ended up ordering a used D800 to get converted instead.  This time, it actually showed up.

I’m still really bummed about losing my D200.  That camera meant a lot to me.  And I’ll probably be mad for a long time at UPS over it.  But, at least I have something.  The D800 is a better body and full frame, too.  At least I’ve got that.  And I’ll keep hoping that maybe someday the D200 finds its way back to me.

Determined to move forward, I took the newly converted D800 out into the field this weekend for its first test run.  And I gotta say, this infrared photography is a LOT of fun!

Alien Worlds
Vasquez Rocks in 590nm infrared

It was converted with LifePixel to a 590nm sensor filter.  My goal is primarily to shoot color with it, so 590nm seemed the best choice.  Thinking about infrared is a whole other world from shooting in the visible spectrum.  Since living plant life reflects infrared, successful IR photography really centers composition around the balance of plantlife and other scenery.  It’s been fascinating to see the world this way.  I spent quite a few test shots, just seeing what reflected infrared and how much.  Interestingly, some things like certain types of desert lichens seem to reflect little to no infrared.  I plan on taking it up to Owens Valley in the coming week to test this out further.

Post processing with IR is also a whole new world.  There’s a lot of finesse needed for it, but it also allows a great deal of creative expression.  I’m really enjoying the challenge and the artistic freedom of it!  I’ve experimented with replicating the old Kodak Aerochrome look, as well as playing with other styles and methods of processing to best show off the infrared light.  There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but I’m enjoying the ride.

Next trip out will be to Owens Valley.  The whole trip will be devoted solely to photography and I should have a lot to show when I return!