Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Infrared

I am not totally opposed to the use of the infrared end of the spectrum. My tirades are confined to the use of digital cameras and their sensitivity to infrared.

It's rare to see someone use infrared film, because it's difficult to use. Used correctly, it can produce impressive results.

This is not the same as using a camera sensitive to infrared, and does not involve any form of lighting. None. Photos taken using infrared film do not show orbs. They appear only on infrared-sensitive digital cameras.

What's the difference, you ask?

Digital cameras are sensitive to a wide spectrum, from ultraviolet to infrared. There is no way to differentiate what that camera sees. The outer edges of that spectrum do not pass through the lens in the same way as visible light, and the camera cannot compensate for that.

Infrared film is not (should not be) exposed to visible light. This involves placing a filter over the lens. This filter appears opaque--it blocks all visible light--so it's impossible to focus a camera with the filter in place.

The best way to use this film is to have two cameras attached together so that they will each photograph the same scene. One camera has infrared film, the other a visible-light film. This also allows a comparison: if someone appears on the infrared film but not on the visible-light film, then you have an interesting result.

Set up the focus with your visible light camera. Adjust your infrared camera to the same focal setting. Almost.

You will notice, on the focal ring of a standard camera lens, a line indicating the distance setting. Next to this line, a little to the left, is a dot. Usually it's a red dot.

Infrared does not focus in the same way as visible light. To place the infrared version of the scene in focus, you set the distance to the dot, not the line. Otherwise, the infrared light is not in focus--and if it's not in focus, you can get blurry orbs.

Digital cameras cannot compensate for the focal difference required in infrared photography. They are designed to focus visible light. They are not a substitute for real infrared photography.

There are some impressive infrared photographs taken in this way on this site. These show what appear to be full manifestations. No orbs.

Infrared film is difficult to use, expensive to buy and to develop. However, if you're determined to see into the infrared, it's the only reliable way.

6 comments:

Lola said...

"Girl on a gravestone" was very impressive.

Southern Writer said...

I have only one 35mm camera, and no digital, and you would not believe I used to be married to a photographer, and worked in a camera store, because I can't even unload the film on my own - but I would like to try to capture a ghost on film (I have no tripod other than the one my telescope fits on). So how would you suggest I go about it? Shoot during the day, or at night? What type and which speed of film should I use for either lighting situation? I have made "ghost pictures" before, by having someone walk through a long exposure - but never tried to pass them off as the real thing, I promise.

Romulus Crowe said...

Another good one was the Toys-R-Us ghost. Pity they didn't combine it with the visible-light photo, in which the background figure did not appear.

The problem is that these are too good. It's easy for the sceptic to say 'It's a real person'.

You can't win!

Anonymous said...

Hey. Are you ignoring my question? Hmpf!

btw, I never did find the young slave woman between the two buildings. All the others I saw.

Romulus Crowe said...

Ignoring? Me? Never.

Hit 'refresh' ;)

Anonymous said...

How embarassing. I knew that. Really. I did.

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