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  • Kimberly Bell Hambor

History of My Infrared Photography... Film, Filters & Full IR Conversion

"Palm Fronds" Sanibel Island, Florida

I started shooting infrared film back in 1989 on a trip to Saint Augustine with some photography buddies. It was a bit complicated but well worth it. You had to keep the film in total darkness. So you had to carry a changing bag or have access to a totally dark space. None of my research at the time would give me specific directions on what ASA speed to use so it was my instince that I used to expose that film. You also had to shoot with a red filter and adjust the focus distance on your lens to the red dot. I don't even think they have that on lenses today. I was amazed at the ghostly images of a girl in a window and the glowing foliage as it hung from the huge oak trees. I was very happy with the results and I was also hooked. I still shot a lot of Velvia and Kodachrome but much of my work was drifting to the infrared wavelength. The "Chapel by the Sea" image was captured on Infrared Film.

When digital cameras first came out I found out that you could shoot infrared with a special filter. I ordered one the same day. These images were shot with my first digital camera and a filter attached to the lens. The esposures were slow and required a tripod and it was difficult to get any wildlife. I did love how the palm trees would come out blowing in the wind. You can see a gallery of images I shot with the lens attachment here.

"Fishing Pier with Driftwood" Sanibel Island, Florida

I had my first DSL Nikon Camera converted to infrared less than two weeks after I bought it. It was hard to send my brand new D200 away to have to warranty voided but I was so excited to be able to shoot digital infrared without a filter, it was worth it. Unfortunately, my first experience with the conversion was a disaster and took over 6 months to get my camera back and it was full of dust spots under the filter that showed up in every image. I got to know each and every one of them because they would be in the same spot every time and I would have to Photoshop them out.

Actually, none of my conversions have gone very well. I shipped my latest, a brand new Nikon D800 (I was on a waiting list for months to get it when it first came out) off to get converted I received it back broken and that started a long process of getting a new one converted because Nikon would not touch it since it had been converted. They sent it back to me even though I offered to pay to have it fixed. They said I had to get it unconverted for them to even look at it.

To see a gallery of images taken with the Nikon D5000 and Nikon D200, both with infrared conversions, click here.

"This is the Way" Saint Augustine, Florida

As the technology gets better, the artistic possibilities grew exponentially. When I got my Nikon D800 converted to infrared, I had them put a different type of filter in this time. It lets a little bit of the visible spectrum light in, giving an even more interesting effect. You can see a gallery of images taken with this conversion here.

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