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Infrared Photography

Like many others I equally enjoy seeing artwork that shows different perspectives and to me infrared photography can be used to create alternative concepts. Prior to my pieces of work being displayed, I have written a brief introduction to infrared and infrared photography. If though you wish to jump through the intro and go directly to the images, click here.

Infrared (IR)

Ignoring the fact that some of us have to wear glasses or contact lenses (I occasionally wear glasses); the majority of us have, thankfully, a good eye sight. Vision is captured by our eyes and the respective retinas convert the sight into electrical signals. The optic nerve transmits the signals to the brain, which interprets the message and informs us of what we are seeing. That is a simplistic way of describing our biological visual system, though the question is based, in physics, as to how objects are visible?

Our eyes are capable of seeing the visible spectrum (also known as visible light or white light, yet simply, light) and it is a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM spectrum). The main source of the EM spectrum is from the sun and on a day without clouds, it is brightest at noon. (The speed of the EM spectrum, in a vacuum, is 186,282 miles per second). The visible spectrum has different colours and below is a table showing them; however if you are expecting to see indigo, it is not shown. In Sir Isaac Newton's book, Opticks, he used the Latin word spectrum (in English, appearance) and divided the book into seven categories with each related to the colours. Indigo is between violet and blue. As it is virtually impossible to spot indigo current scientists removed it from the spectrum. Beside the colours you will see the respective frequencies and the measurement in nanometres (nm). The point of showing the frequencies is due to our eyesight, as we can see anything that is within roughly 390-700nm:


You will notice that violet appears to start at below 390nm and that red ends above 700nm. Things do not always start and finish at the same point and to correlate this, you can see the separate colours by looking at the next rainbow.

The illustration shows how white light passing through a prism can create the respective colours. Notice how red is refracted less so that violet and that is based on their frequencies:

By looking at a rainbow you are seeing all the separate colours; however suppose you are looking at an apple, what makes it look red? As mentioned earlier, visible spectrum is also known as white light and the word white is used as no colours are shown. When the white light streams onto an object there are three things that can happen: 1) Transmitted, 2) Absorbed and 3) Reflected. Dependent on the result, two things can happen: 1) Transparent and 2) Opaque. The table shows how this works:

TransparentThe visual spectrum's frequencies do not match the object's frequencies and they will be "transmitted" through the object.
OpaqueParts of the visual spectrum's frequency do match and they will be "absorbed" in the object.

The remaining wavelengths will be "reflected" to our eyes and our brain gives us the object's colour.

Before discussing IR, remember that due to the reflection of the visible spectrum from the object, we know its colour. It is not that the object itself has a colour. To clarify, consider that on a very dark night you would be unable to tell the colour of the apple, yet in daylight you will know.

Previously I mentioned that the frequency of the visible spectrum is from circa 390-700nm and that it is just a small part of the EM spectrum. The table below shows that spectrum:

Gamma RaysFrom lower to 10 picometres (pm)
X-rays 0.01-10nm
Ultraviolet 10-400nm
Visible Light 390-700nm
Infrared 700nm-1 millimetre (mm)
Microwaves 1mm-1 metre (m)
Radio Waves 1m-100 Megametres (Mm)

On a sunny day in 1800 Sir William Herschel was testing the effect of light and heat. The darkroom was set-up to allow a small stream of bright light to enter a window. The light passed through a prism, which in turn created a rainbow. Arranged thermometers captured the separate colour, allowing him to observe and note the readings. He found that with violet, and so too the other colours, the temperature shown on the thermometer increased slower than that of red. This information triggered him to search further and on another day he arranged for the thermometers to register anything that he cannot see, namely above red. In essence he uncovered IR.

IR Photography

IR has different regions, which are: Near-IR, Mid-IR and Far-IR. The IR images I am photographing come from either a traditional film camera, where I am using an IR filter, or from a converted camera. In both cases the wavelengths start at 720nm and are within the Near-IR.

The images, shown in the table below, have the same photograph per row; however two difference styles. The first column shows the traditional IR images with the second column showing Faux Colour. Faux Colour, sometimes called False Colour, is the colours we would not expect.

N.B. This is an ongoing project, so please re-visit this page.

Traditional Faux Colour

Chantry Mansion

Chantry Mansion Faux


Neigh Faux


Martello Faux


Meadows Faux


Path Faux


Fork Faux


Snag Faux


Track Faux


Slapping Faux


Pond Faux




Tranquil Faux

Helt The Skelt

Helt The Skelt Faux

Ninety Degrees

Ninety Degrees Faux


Undercliff Faux

Straight Lines

Straight Lines Faux


Lattice Faux


Ploughing Faux

Dic Mere

Dic Mere Faux

Little Star

Little Star Faux

Damse Vaart

Damse Vaart Faux



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