How to Take Your First Infrared Photography

The infrared photography It is the one that allows to photograph one of the light spectra between 700 and 1,200 nanometers, not visible to the human eye. Its first use was military, however, this photographic technique It is widely used scientifically and artistically. Of course, this last aspect is the one that interests us in the blog and the one that I want to show you today. You may think that doing this type of photography is really difficult, but nothing is further from the truth, if you want to know how you can launch yourself to achieve your first infrared photography in a simple way, I invite you to make yourself comfortable and continue reading.

What can you photograph?

In principle, whatever you want, but landscapes with lots of vegetation and very green, with sky and/or water are the reasons that will look best with an infrared filter. You can also include some architectural element, which will look great. Be careful with photographing a landscape that only contains green because it will not be attractive at all, look for a nice composition, some contrast or, as I mentioned before, some architectural element. The composition is as important or more than in any other type of photography. Here are a couple of examples.

What do you need?

  • You camera, I know, this is very obvious, but it’s not going to be that you forget it at home 😉 . As for the lens, I recommend the 18-55 mm, as not all lenses work.
  • Tripod. You’ll need to take a long exposure, so a tripod is essential to keep your camera steady.
  • Remote Switch. If you don’t have, don’t worry, you can make use of your camera’s timer to avoid any vibration when shooting.
  • Infrared filter. What this filter does is block the visible light spectrum and let only infrared light through. A filter with which you can obtain very good results is the HOYA R72, with different thread sizes and that can be attached to the lens like any other, such as a polarizer. Other manufacturers are Heliopan, Wratten, Cokin, B+W or Tiffen that offer a wide range of IR filters. Your camera may be adapted for this type of photography, if so you would not need the filter.
  • The desired conditions (not essential). A lot of vegetation (better varied), that there is no wind so that it does not come out moving, if there is water to capture the reflections much better and clouds to achieve more attractive skies

Steps to take your infrared photography

1. Find the reason. I have already told you at the beginning what type of image is the best with the infrared filter, so you should look for what to photograph to obtain more attractive results and with that magic or fantasy point that these images have.

2. Put the camera on the tripod. The exposure time will be very long and you need a lot of stability. Frame the scene before placing the filter, because when you place it you will not see anything. This filter is very opaque and you will see everything dark. That is why it is important that you frame and make your composition before putting it.

3. Put the filter. And don’t be scared when you see that you don’t see anything, I warned you in the previous point ;), so you don’t need to bother looking… that’s why framing and focusing before 😉 .

4. White balance. You have two options, do it manually, for which you must bring your neutral gray or white card, but you can check the results on-siteor shoot in RAW mode with automatic white balance and adjust it in processing.

5. Adjust the ISO. Although you may be tempted to raise the ISO to capture more light, this is not recommended due to the high level of noise you would get. The ideal is to put it as low as possible, although without going below 200, better between 200 and 400.

6. Overexpose your camera. How many? It is best that you do several tests, as it will depend on the light you have. But a guide is that when you shoot a photo, check in the histogram that there is nothing in the extreme right part, in that part it must be empty so that burnt areas do not appear.

8. put the camera on Manual mode and focus. You could also do it automatically, but much better if you focus manually, that way you ensure the result.

9. Use a medium aperture. Adjust your camera’s depth of field between f/4.5 and f/9.

10. Exposure time. It will depend on your camera, the filter and the light you have. That’s why you will have to work with the famous “trial-error” technique ;), sorry, I can’t give you a magic formula, I can only tell you to start for example for 4 seconds and readjust according to the results.

12. Shoot! As the exposure time is very long, any slight vibration of the camera can result in a blurred photo. It is for this reason that I recommended the remote shutter. Anyway, if you don’t have one, you can set the timer on your camera and the photo will be taken once your finger is away from the little button 😉

Do not panic! You’re going to get a pretty red image, it’s normal. Now is when it’s time to make a few small adjustments with an editing program.


With the following adjustments you will make your “red” image become an infrared image:

  • You must be in RGB mode (Image > Mode > RGB Color)
  • Go to the channel mixer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer…)
  • Select the Red Output Channel and in the Source Channels adjust the following values: Red 0%, Green 0% and Blue 100%.
  • Select the Blue Output Channel and in the Source Channels adjust the following values: Red 100%, Green 0% and Blue 0%.
  • You can also modify the green ones if you wish.
  • Create a new Adjustment Layer for the levels (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels…)
  • Select the Red Channel and move the sliders so they cover the full range and repeat the same actions for the Green and Blue Channels.
  • Increase the contrast (this step is optional).

You can also try turning them into black and white, as it creates a lot of contrast and you can achieve really nice images.

Create infrared images from your computer

As you have seen, it is not that difficult. But there is another way to achieve this type of images (I can’t tell you if it’s easier or more difficult, everyone’s tastes come in here) what I can assure you is that it’s more comfortable 😉 because you won’t have to move from the chair. You only need a photograph, your computer and an image editor.

Here are a couple of links that explain how to do it.


If these images have not convinced you to try this type of photography, maybe this wonderful gallery encourage you

Do not despair, it is not a difficult technique but like everything you need time to learn. It is true that some values ​​will have to be readjusted a few times, yes, once you get the hang of it… there will be no one to stop you!

Hopefully the bug bit you and you start trying. Our main objective is that you learn and for this there is nothing like practicing. You know… theory is forgotten, practice makes us grow! Until next time and don’t forget to share, I’m sure someone will thank you (I’m sure) 😉 .