Sunday, August 4, 2019

IR Chrome

Time-ball station, Lyttelton Harbour
My latest camera arrived in the post the other day. It's a Canon Elph, converted to full-spectrum infrared and fitted with the latest IR Chrome filter from KolariVision. I might talk about the Elph later, for now, this is about the IR Chrome filter.

The IR Chrome filter was designed to replicate the look of Kodak's Aerochrome film from the days when we all shot film. Aerochrome is now history and I never got to use it, so I don't know how well this filter matches the original film look. What I do know, after only a short acquaintance, is that it produces some stunning results.

Pearson Park, Oxford
What the IR Chrome filter does, is capture quite natural colours in everything that doesn't reflect infrared wavelengths. Anything reflecting infrared (grass, trees, etc.) is produced in brilliant red tones. Seeing everything that should be green, represented in red, can be a bit disconcerting at first but somehow the simple green/red swap doesn't seem as confronting as some other false-colour infrared representations.

It's important to get a good white balance set in the camera and this filter white balances to a very high Kelvin - something north of 50,000K (normal daylight photography is around 6,000K). Fortunately, the Elph can handle this but, if you shoot RAW, your RAW converter may not - mine tops out at 50,000K but many won't go beyond 25,000K and that's just not enough for the look you see here.

Provided that the camera can set an appropriate white balance, then the JPG files from the camera will have the correct white balance baked in and that is what I have been using for these shots - until I resolve the RAW processing issue.

Sumner Beach looking towards Cave Rock
It's not all brilliant reds, sometimes it just pink; like these tiny black muscles clinging to the rocks but reflecting infrared, and the trees and bushes - too distant to make a bold statement. It's a strange world that this IR Chrome filer portrays, but one worth exploring and full of new compositional opportunities for the photographer to learn.

Sumner looking towards the Southern Alps

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