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Seeing Red – Infrared!

Here is a fun idea that you can try with your smartphone, in your neighborhood – infrared photography!

Most digital cameras these days are designed to block the infrared spectrum, so you cannot use them for infrared photography even with infrared filters, but that is not the case with smartphones! Who knew?!

Here is an easy way to take infrared photos with your smartphone! Purchase infrared filter/filters, a step-up ring and an adapter/clip for your phone. The opening on the clip is usually about 37mm, so buy a step-up ring that will allow you to attach the infrared filter to the adapter/clip.

infrared equipment for smartphone


Each filter has a number referring to the range of wavelengths of light it blocks. The 720nm measurement is the standard IR filter and the most common choice among photographers. It blocks nearly all visible light, allowing just a hint of the red spectrum, which creates some beautiful colors in IR photos.

Once you have attached the step-up ring and IR filter to the clip, attach the clip to your phone and then go out and photograph high contrast scenes (which will give you the best finished images). Normally photographers try not to take scenes that are really high-contrast because of the harsh lines and shadows, but that type of light is perfect for infrared photography! Because you are only capturing infrared light, the photos will take on an other-worldly look. That is, after they are processed! When you first review your photos, don’t be alarmed that they are pink/red. That’s normal. You can use Adobe Photoshop or other software like Topaz Studio 2 to process your files by swapping the red and blue channels or just converting the image to black and white and adjusting the contrast, to give you light trees and a dark sky, the opposite of what you would see in a black and white photo.

Here are a couple of images to illustrate the process:

a path surrounded by trees

The scene as it normally looks

unprocessed infrared image of a path and trees

The same scene photographed with an infrared filter,
with no adjustments to the smartphone camera.

processed infrared image of a path and trees

The infrared image after it is processed.

Landscapes are a popular subject with IR, as is architectural photography. There is plenty of information on the web about infrared photography and processing photos, but the key is to experiment – both with taking the image and processing it – until you find the “look” that you like.

Give it a try, and send us your photos!

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