infrared photos

Technical details: I made these photographs using an Olympus C-2020Z digital camera equipped with a Hoya R72 infrared filter. This camera’s image sensor is a Sony ICX224AQ CCD chip, which even with its color filters still has usable sensitivity to infrared light. Slap on an infrared pass filter that blocks visible light, and it becomes an infrared camera. It’s fun.

tree branch In infrared, foliage is bright and the sky is dark. A photograph which shows both can be dramatic and strange. The colors here are as recorded by the camera. The sky’s infrared brightness is greatest at the shortest wavelengths, which leak preferentially through the camera sensor’s red filters.
flower Strange but true: Except for my own, I’ve rarely seen an indoor IR photograph made outside a studio. Here is a potted plant backlit through a window by a cloudy sky. The leaves are so infrared-bright that I boosted the contrast to make them stand out. You might not guess that the black-and-white photo was made with infrared light, but the same photo made with visible light would have shown the leaves silhouetted rather than backlit (or else it would have burned out the sky to pure white).
The halogen torchiere is on low. To the human eye, the overhead fluorescents outshine it by far, but in the infrared, fluorescent lights barely glow at all. Fluorescents are more efficient in part because they don’t waste energy creating light that we can’t see. halogen lamp
glowing coals Hot coals glowing “blue”. The longer-wavelength infrared light leaks preferentially through the sensor’s blue filters. The camera can only detect near infrared, which has much shorter wavelengths than the thermal infrared emitted by objects around room temperature. But if an object is hot enough to glow red, it is more than hot enough to glow near infrared.
I see this arrangement of figures (note the neutral “art critic” phrasing here) in a surreal landscape as mysteriously symbolic. I have no trouble interpreting its meaning, but I expect that your interpretation is different. pathway with people

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
Originally written in 2000. Updated November 2011 with larger re-edited versions of the images. Upgraded to XHTML 1.0 in January 2012.