APPLICATIONS FOR INFRA-RED PHOTOGRAPHY
Infra-red can be used to image things which are not visible to the naked eye, or to a conventional camera. Infra-red has the ability to penetrate the top layer of skin for instance and can be used to document latent injuries or tattoos which might not be visible or clear otherwise. Infra-red will also penetrate thin layers of paint and can identify damage, or previous repairs to cars, walls and buildings.
Blood vessels, bruising and other phenomena which are just below the skin’s surface can be imaged using infra-red converted cameras.
Near infra-red photography (NIR) using converted SLR cameras which can image in the range 700nm to 1200nm can be used to improve imaging of distant objects as the Doppler Effect will lengthen wavelengths where objects move away from us.
Infra-red converted cameras are now widely used to investigate the health of plants, andÂ are used in experiments to measure plant health. Plants with more chlorophyll (vital in the photosynthesis process where plants derive their energy from light) will reflect more infra-red, and can be easily identified using infra-red converted cameras. By looking at fields or forests, we can see how infra-red response, and therefore plant health is distributed across an area. This allows locations where plants are less healthy to be identified, studied and diagnosed. In large scale agriculture this means locally targeted fertilisers can be used, saving money and reducing pollution.
Due to the fact that plants strongly reflect infra-red when healthy, we can use infra-red converted cameras to identify archaeological sites from the air. Aerial photography has long been useful for this, but infra-red can show subtle changes in the health of plants due to the underlying soil depth or other factors, and highlight anomalies which would not be visible with conventional aerial photography.
Conservation of Art
Our infra-red conversions are in use with many of the world’s foremost institutions in the conservation of paintings and art. As infra-red light is able to penetrate the top layers of paint, it can be used to document under-painting, and identify fakes, or study how an artist went about painting the earlier stages of the image.
Our cameras are now widely used by various BBC departments, including BBC Nature, Springwatch, science documentaries, and all manner of other media institutions for filming in the dark. If you have seen nice crisp black and white ‘night vision’ shots, instead of the old fuzzy green image intensifier shots, then these are likely to be from infra-red converted SLR cameras. With the appropriate infra-red lighting you can film in total darkness without disturbing your subject with dazzling visible lighting.
Many military, intelligence, and police agencies use infra-red converted cameras to gather intelligence in situations where conventional visible light cameras will not work. Just as for nature filming and photography, we can produce “invisible” infra-red LED lighting or specialist flash systems, which when used with infra-red converted cameras can film or photograph in darkness without disturbing the subject. Interestingly, many dark glasses will also become clear in the infra-red spectrum.