Shot yesterday at the corner of 3rd and Martel
I remember back in art school, my photography teacher told us that Ansel Adams mixed his own emulsion, which allowed him to expose photos in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. This is the sort of thing I remember.
Ansel Adams knew how to take pictures but not how to shave
Flash forward 308 years to today, where the sensor on your digital camera does the same thing. This would be weird for taking snapshots of the kids’ birthday party, so the manufacturers cover the sensors with a filter that blocks the infrared. But if you WANT to shoot photos in infrared, you can take that filter off. Nerdy!
While I have a DSLR, I stills shoot most of my stuff with a Canon G-9. It’s a great point-and-shoot that allows you to shoot in camera raw format, gives you lots of controls, and also is ideal for using the Canon Hack Development Kit, a bit of software you can put on your camera to do fun stuff like time-lapse photography, or automatically take photos of lightning. Canon has updated over the years to the G-12, so I was able to find another G-9 on eBay for around 60 bucks, ready to be modified into an infrared camera.
I decided not to screw it up myself, and found a number of places on the web that will do the operation for you. I sent mine to a guy in New Hampshire, who charged me another 60 bucks to take the filter off.
I took a picture of two cameras with another camera!
Take a look at the difference between the two cameras (infrared on the left). The infrared camera sees reflected heat as white, so plant life (which has to reflect a lot of heat) comes out as white. A shot of my front yard in Southern California in July looks like a snow-covered winter wonderland.
It’s a boiling 84 degrees, folks!
Another cool thing is clouds. They really reflect the heat back down to us, while the blue sky lets it all go. This gives you great detail and contrast in cloud photos.
The clouds over my house 20 minutes ago
When we were at Mt. St. Helen’s, there was a forest fire raging north of there, so there was a lot of smoke haze between us (at the visitors’ center) and the volcano. Most of that interference is in the visible spectrum, it turns out, because when I shot the mountain with the infrared camera, the details were clear and there was very little haze. Which is weird, since clouds reflect so much heat, but whatever, I’ll take it.
Mt. St. Helen – but buy her a drink first
This is a 3x closeup to show the increased clarity
Pictures of people always turn out weird for some reason. Pupils and irises turn out black, even if the subject has blue eyes. Some blemishes are reduced, and clothing colors always get screwy. Also, if there’s something gross on someone’s clothes that they thought they had cleaned off, this camera pulls a CSI and shows the residue like a black light in a hotel room in Laughlin. (Image not included for obvious reasons)
A textured rock formation in Big Bend National Park
Tinted windows and sunglasses, for the most part, come out clear. Take a picture of someone looking stylish in big-lensed sunglasses, and they come out looking like Rod Steiger in “The Chosen.” You can put an infrared light on the camera, which is invisible to the naked eye, and take pictures into cars with blacked-out windows. It’s a wonder TMZ isn’t doing this, but I guess it’s an invasion of privacy so… it’s a wonder TMZ isn’t doing this.
I get all my glasses from Florida retirees
Here are some photos I took this Christmas on our trip to Big Bend National Park. We hiked down to a spot called “Windows,” a ravine that used to end in a waterfall, and still has the 200-foot drop just beyond. After the drought and fires, a lot of the rock faces were covered with soot, which was matte black in visible light but had a shiny, coal-like sheen in infrared.
A blackened cliffside in Big Bend
You can see that, in the case of these two photos, the color version is pretty but the infrared version shows the relief of the cliff face in much greater detail.
Finally, here’s a shot of an art installation outside Valentine, Texas, miles from nowhere. This was taken at midday, and the infrared camera gives the scene an almost antique look, with the gnarled wooden fence posts and scrubland looking pretty beaten by the brutal Texas climate. Also, if you look closely, the front door window (made of plastic) has a nice bullet hole in it, probably from a 30.06.
The art in Valentine is of a high caliber, as are the guns with which they shoot it
Guess there’s nothing else to do outside Valentine, Texas besides shootin’ up the phony Prada store. Yee haw!