Simple Infrared Photography Tips Anyone Can Do

Want to add a little punch to your photos? Try shooting in infrared to get oversaturated, dream-like images that really draw the viewer in. Check out this video of Danish photographer Esben Zollner Olesen, an IR photography god who specializes in infrared sports photography portraits:

There are two options when it comes to shooting infrared.

  1. You can use an infrared filter on your lens.
  2. You can convert your camera to IR permanently—to do this, you have to remove the IR cut filter and install an IR filter.

If you want to specialize in the field of infrared, converting the camera is probably the better option, since you can shoot with faster shutter speeds and a lower ISO. This is especially useful when shooting high-paced action shots like sports photography portraits. If you want to convert your camera to IR, you should send it off to a company that specializes in such conversions so you know it’s done right.

No matter which option you choose, however, the results will be drastic and stunning.

normal camera raw file

An infrared camera will produce a raw file like this:


Shooting infrared means you have to adjust to a shifted focus as the light is perceived on a different wavelength. Some lenses have a red dot that indicates the shift and helps you focus better manually.

Infrared Shooting Tips

  • Use small apertures and run tests to ensure your subject is in focus.
  • Midday sunlight is preferred for shooting IR photography.
  • When shooting portraits, use a flash to fill in the shadows and enhance the subject.

Post-Production Tips

  • When importing your images, make sure to set the white balance at a point where the sky looks a little bit red and the skin tones look slightly blue.
  • You can swap colors in Photoshop using the Channel Mixer.
infrared image with post processing

Infrared Image with Post-Processing

You can fine tune your images in post-production to get the look you want. Most importantly, experiment! Try new things, you may be happily surprised with the outcome.

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2 responses to “Simple Infrared Photography Tips Anyone Can Do”

  1. Kendall says:

    Note that one camera lets you shoot in IR or color at will without conversion – the Sigma SD-1, or SD-14, or SD-15 DLSR cameras all have a very easily removed IR cutoff filter that lets you do real digital IR photography.

    Also the book linked to seemed appealing, but there was no way to buy a digital version of it, only paper… very unappealing as I don’t want more “real” books, just ideas on processing digital IR images.

  2. Arthur Raynolds says:

    Your article I find most interesting. I messed around with Ektachrome Infrared Aerial film back in the 1970’s. It required a yellow filter to produce interesting color images. Since the filter you are describing is so dark, do you need to crank up the ISO to produce a good image? This is one of the many advantages of digital cameras, the ability to increase your ISO’s. Back in the film age, we were soooooo limited by the film speed in most cases.

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