Creatives and the Law

Monday, February 8, 2016

Infrared Photography: Life Pixel Experience

Before Christmas I decided that I would like to begin experimenting with infrared photography. To give you the short explanation, infrared photography enables you to capture the wavelengths of light that are usually not part of the visual spectrum. Modern cameras tend to filter out most infrared light. However, with infrared photography, the photographer uses film or a modified camera sensor sensitive to infrared light to capture the infrared light that would otherwise be filtered out. As a result, the photographer is able to create false color or black and white images with a dreamy, surreal effect. If you would like a more in-depth explanation on infrared light take a look at one of the following articles: introduction to infrared photography, what is infrared photography, or Wikipedia infrared photography.

Infrared Filters, Conversions and Film

As stated above, modern DSLR cameras filter out most infrared light. Therefore, if you are interested in experimenting with infrared photography you will either need to purchase a filter for your DSLR camera lens (cheapest option) or you will need to have the infrared filter located inside your camera removed, which is referred to as an infrared conversion (more expensive option but better results). 

Now, if you are interested in experimenting with infrared photography and you are relatively new to photography, you might want to simply start by purchasing an infrared filter to put on your lens. Why? It is a cheaper investment. While the resulting images will not be as great as those coming from a camera that has been converted, it is an easy way to figure out if you want to make the investment in a full infrared camera conversion.

I want to also note that you can still purchase infrared film. Therefore, if you are using a film camera, you can easily experiment with infrared by simply investing in a couple rolls of film and development costs.

Infrared Camera Conversion Experience

I have experimented with infrared photography before; during my high school photography class I developed and printed multiple images taken with infrared film. As such, I knew that I would want to have a DSLR converted. Initially, I planned to convert my old D60 but, after a little research, I opted to purchase a new Nikon D3300. It was on sale, so I received a great deal, and it offered more features than my 2008 D60. 

One thing to note, performing an infrared conversion on your camera will automatically void the manufacturer's warranty so I would not recommend going out to buy a nice, new camera for your conversion. I opted to do this for a lot of different reasons that are unique to my circumstances, including I own a high end, full frame DSLR camera that I use for the bulk of my photography work. If your nicest camera is a D5500, for example, and you would like to perform a DSLR conversion but do not have another, older camera, then either consider waiting a bit until you upgrade your camera in the future or buy an older, used camera online for cheap.

How and Where to Convert Your Camera

With that said, once I decided I wanted to convert my camera, I needed to figure out how to go about that conversion. When it comes to an infrared camera conversion, you have two options: (1) perform the infrared conversion yourself or (2) pay a reputable company to perform an infrared conversion for you. I am very technically-minded and I love to tinker with things. All that said, there was NO WAY I was going to do this myself; simply too great a risk I might break something permanently. As such, I began to search for a reputable infrared conversion company. After reading a variety of blogs and forums, as well as a decent number of horror stories, I settled on Life Pixel. 

I spent about a week corresponding with one of Life Pixels representatives and I have to say, their customer service is awesome. The representative I spoke with was very knowledgeable and really helped me figure out exactly what I needed. Additionally, after sending in my conversion, I needed to change the delivery address for my package (I had to move on short notice) so I just emailed the representative and he changed it without any issues!

My Conversion Choices

You can check Life Pixel's website to learn a little more about the terminology I am about to throw at you. I purchased Life Pixel's super color infrared (590nm) filter and I had the focus calibrated on a Nikon 18-55 mm lens. I opted for the super color filter because I knew it would allow me to bring the colors I liked into my images. And, since I intend to only use the Nikon 18-55mm lens with my converted camera, having the focus calibrated on the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera just made sense.

Cost and Timeframe

My conversion cost $290 and I purchased priority processing, which meant the conversion would be completed in 7 business days or less. You pay for shipping the camera to Life Pixel so I used USPS (although the company recommends you use UPS or FedEx). I mailed the camera on December 10th and Life Pixel acknowledged it was received as of December 14th. The order was completed by December 17th and then shipped on December 18th. I received it on December 24th (great Christmas present for me)! 

Final Thoughts and Images from Conversion

Overall, my infrared conversion experience was very positive and I am very pleased with the results. I am still in the process of developing my post-processing workflow, but I am confident I will find a rhythm soon. Below are a few of the infrared images I have taken and processed with my newly converted infrared cameras. I hope you enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment