Testing the X-M1 with R72 Infrared Filter

A photographer friend once commented that I studied at the "Dracula School of Photography" based on my use (or overuse) of dark, moody, black and white images, specifically my infrared images.

Infrared changes the rules of black and white photography: greens render as white and blues become black. While the otherworldly effects can be interesting during summer scenes, I prefer the winter for infrared photography because the eye is drawn to dramatic skies and smooth water and not unnaturally white trees.

To get the infrared effect without physically modifying my camera, I use an inexpensive Hoya R72 filter on the lens and later convert the image to black and white during post processing. Using an R72 filter, however, can be a little tricky because the R72 filter interferes with your camera's auto settings and exposure times so you have to go manual and go slow. As a result here is a little workflow I use when shooting infrared images with an R72 filter:
  • Use a tripod - the R72 blocks light and as a result exposure times can be long. 
  • Use RAW - while you can take infrared images using JPG, RAW offers far more latitude in post processing. 
  • Take your camera off auto-ISO and set your ISO manually to either 200 or 400 - The R72 blocks a lot of light and significantly lengthens exposure times. You can adjust your ISO to control the length of the exposure. 
  • Set your camera's mode dial to Manual. 
  • Set your lens to the desired aperture - typically between F8 to F11 to get those long exposures and soften clouds and water. 
  • On some cameras the R72 filter will blackout your viewfinder so you need to remove the filter to frame your scene and focus manually, then reattach the filter. 
  • Adjust your shutter speed until your exposure meter centers on 0. Here the tripod is critical as it allows you to work with really slow shutter speeds. 
  • When you have your aperture set, your shutter speed suitably slow, and your exposure meter centered on 0, shoot....and wait...for the shutter to close 
  • You can force reallllllyyy sloooow shutter speeds by stacking a Neutral Density filter in addition to the R72 filter. 
  • Images taken with an R72 will be tinted red. In your software of choice, convert the image into B&W and adjust contrast and black levels to suit your taste. 
I personally find infrared photography very rewarding as it forces me to slow down, use a tripod, and consider all the image elements from framing, focus, aperture and shutter. Shooting infrared encourages me to explore the craft of photography as opposed to allowing the digital marvel that is my camera to take the picture for me.

The pictures below of Providence, Rhode Island were taken with my Fujifilm X-M1, a Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, and a Hoya R72 Filter. Previously I shot infrared with Micro 4/3 cameras and lenses, but those are gone. This was my first infrared outing with the Fuji. I chose the 35mm only because my R72 filter has a 52mm filter thread, same as the XF35. Exposure times were between 5 and 30 seconds. The time was midday, around 1pm, which is a huge benefit of shooting with an R72 filter as it extends the shooting day and gives you a purpose to be out in the harsh afternoon light.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Have you observed an HotSpot when shooting with 35mm combined with the Hoya IR filter? I've got the same combination but towards my online research i observed a bright HotSpot with it.