Staring into your soul

Infrared Self-Portrait

An infrared self-portrait is our One Picture for today. The subject is yours truly. This may be in the had-to-be-there category to appreciate. What makes this photograph personally compelling is that I normally have dark brown eyes. In infrared, the brown disappears. The other thing that really stands out is the pupils. I’m not sure what exactly the light properties are that do that. Maybe it’s just that with brown eye color, the pupils just don’t normally stand out the way they might were the eyes blue or a lighter color. However, the black seems to be really black here. Disturbingly so. On the plus side, infrared does wonderful things for skin tones.

This image was taken with a Fujifilm IS Pro. This is a Nikon D200 that has been taken by Fuji for modification and rebadged. They have replaces the hot mirror with glass that is transparent to infrared and ultraviolet. I have a Polaroid 720nm IR-pass filter, which only allows wavelengths above 720nm to pass. The camera is very sensitive to IR; this image is handheld and lit with a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight with a diffuser. A normal camera with an infrared filter on it cannot be handheld; it needs a much longer exposure. It’s actually over-exposed here; but, I like how it emphasizes the eyes, so I kept it.

I am holding the camera at arms length. I held the camera so that I could see my own face in the reflection of the filter. The camera does not focus well with the IR filter on it. I wanted the eyes to be in focus. I manually fixed the focus of the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 60mm F/2.8 AF at 1.5 feet. Then I simply fired off a series of shots, moving the camera slightly back and forth, then picked the result with the best focus.

I shot in RAW, then imported into Gimp. (Aperture will not recognize Fuji’s RAW format from the IS Pro.) I played around a bit with white balance and saturation, then exported-import into Aperture as a TIFF for final editing and cataloging. I decided to go with black and white rather than false-color; for false color it’s best to shoot in RAW so one has more latitude to adjust the white balance, a critical factor in getting usable IR shots. In camera, I leave the white balance set to a user-generated green-grass-on-a-sunny-day-in-IR so that my camera previews look closer to what I’m going to end up with after post-processing.

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