Infrared Time-Lapse Examples

"The Chinese Pavilion" by lrargerich on Flickr. Creative Commons Sharealike license.

Infrared Photography

An infrared photograph picks up on infrared light instead of visible light. This gives photos an otherworldly look that’s interesting but not used very often. DSLR sensors are especially good at picking up infrared (so good, in fact, that they come with IR blocking filters built in) so I thought I’d give it a try.

As I do with any photography, I began by finding some examples of photos I like and then tried to find what equipment the photographers used. I particularly liked the feel of this video, which the photographer said he made with an 850nm filter. $9 and a few days later, I had my own IR filter. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t speak for its quality.

Once I had the right equipment, I wanted to see what others have done with their IR filters and time-lapse. The pickings are a little thin, but here are some of the best, most interesting, or most helpful IR time-lapse examples I could find with a few hours of searching.


IR Time-Lapse Videos

This first video is a great example of what to expect from infrared. It was made with a camera with the IR blocking filter removed and an external filter on the lens. It’s not necessary to modify your camera as long as you have an IR filter on the lens but it’s easier to focus and make adjustments.

As in most infrared photography, green plants appear white without much variation in color. The sky is a dark blue because this was shot in RAW and color adjusted. There’s an easy way to do this as shown in this video. I think the original sky color would have been a brownish-red. You can read more about how natsuani made the video on his website once you translate it from Japanese. I also wanted to start with this video because it has clear images, good composition, and some panning and zooming.

This is a much simpler time-lapse of part of San Francisco Bay. I like it because it shows how infrared looks in black-and-white. It’s also a good example of how foliage, water, buildings, and clouds appear.

Here’s another boat time-lapse, this time by Brian Hiltz. Notice how the sky darkens as it goes higher in the frame.

This one seems to adjust for white foliage and leaves the other colors alone. I think the pale color of the sky is due to cloud cover and shooting near the horizon. It also has a tilt-shift effect that adds some interest.

One final video worth mentioning is called “The Invisible World,” but doesn’t allow embedding on websites. It uses HDR infrared for another unique take on this type of time-lapse and also has a red/blue channel swap. The creator, Bruce W. Berry, Jr., lists his equipment and software below the video and gives a little info on how he made it in the comments.

My Takeaways

I’ve learned a few things from watching these videos–shoot in RAW, consider color swapping, try to include foliage, and combine other techniques for added interest. If I’ve missed the world’s most amazing infrared time-lapse, please let me know in the comments so I can add it.

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