the hidden tree

Photography mostly deals with things we can see. An object reflects light which is then projected on our retina and after a lot of complicated business with small electrical charges through nerves, neurons and so on, this all translates into an image of the object. The same goes for a digital sensor with even more complex electrical stuff.  However, we (unlike a digital sensor…I’ll get to that later) don’t get the whole picture.

Our retinas are only able to catch or “see” the visible part of the spectrum which is reflected from the object. There’s also a small invisible part which is known as the infrared spectrum. Now, in case you’re thinking about action movie scenes with very blurry yet colorful pictures which somehow solve the whole mystery around which the movie revolves…you’re thinking of the wrong kind of infrared.  If you’re utterly lost while thinking, bear with me because there’s a nice picture coming up…

The infrared that solves mysteries in movies is known as “far infrared” and, when looked at with the right kind of equipment, produces so called thermal images. The one I’m talking about is called “near infrared”. It has nothing to do with thermal stuff, hardly ever solves any mysteries, can remotely control your television set and most importantly, produces pretty pictures…

To do this you’ll need a digital camera and a special infrared filter. The filter blocks all the light from the visible spectrum and the only light that goes through is the near infrared (the filter, as a result of our eyes not being able to see infrared light, looks almost black). This light then falls onto the sensor and even though camera manufacturers try to prevent their sensors responding to infrared light (mainly because it has a negative effect on the resolution), they are able to register it. Of course, there’s also the part of the photographer who has to fiddle around a lot with camera settings and his sense of patience….but, in the end, it all results in a pleasing picture which reveals a hidden part of our world.

Infrared tree

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