The Blog of Patrick C. Cook

The photography blog of Patrick C. Cook.

A New Perspective

Infrared photography gives me a new perspective of the world. Due to the unique ways in which the near infrared spectrum interacts with objects, the difference from the visible color spectrum is often surprising and alien.

Human vision can't perceive radiation energy beyond the red, green and blue portion of the radiation spectrum. We typically call this color radiation "light". However, near-infrared radiation, to use technically correct terminology, is invisible to the human eye. Digital infrared photography is effectively the translation of near-infrared radiation energy into the color spectrum so that we can "see" a representation of the near-infrared radiation. So, it could be accurately stated that digital infrared photography is the process of "mapping" near-infrared radiation to the human perceivable color spectrum. But, that description seems a bit technically dry. I prefer to refer to digital infrared photography as discovering invisible light.

 Infrared Pink Paradise by Patrick C. Cook

Infrared Pink Paradise by Patrick C. Cook

I have chosen to work with pseudo color digital infrared photography rather than pure near-infrared. Keeping in mind that near-infrared radiation exists just beyond the red portion of the visible radiation spectrum, there is a point at which the radiation transitions from visible red to infrared, which is why it's referred to as "near" infrared. In scientific terms, this transition occurs at about 700 nanometers. By using a digital camera modified to capture radiation above 590 nanometers, the camera's sensor also captures some of the visible red portion of the radiation spectrum. This creates a red color cast in the captured image which can be manipulated during image processing to produce a variety of color tones in the final image. I enjoy working with some color because it provides a broader artistic range (and more surprises). I never did feel that this pseudo color approach was contrary to some idea of "pure infrared photography" for the simple reason that, since infrared radiation is colorless that we must map it into the human perceivable color range anyway, why not have a little fun with color while I'm at it. ~Pat