On my trip to Fuzhou earlier in the year, I started getting annoyed with my camera setup.
Full Spectrum light (Click to see larger format)
I love photographing in infrared and for the past 15 plus years, I have always had a dedicated infrared camera. I cannot imagine my photography without an infrared camera.
When I bought my Fujifilm X-T3 in 2018 soon after its launch, I made a silent promise to myself that I will convert this X-T3 to infrared as soon as the next generation (X-T4) is launched. In my mind, that would have been the ultimate setup, and most likely my last camera upgrade.
But then the X-T4 was launched and I was very disappointed with its ergonomics. (I still need to write about why I will never own a Fujifilm X-T4 camera - but have not had the courage yet...)
After I overcame my disappointment I decided that I still wanted to convert my X-T3 camera to infrared. So I bought a second Fujifilm X-T3 and converted one to infrared.
I was really impressed with the performance of the Fujifilm X-T3 for infrared. But my initial "travel-light" Fujifilm setup slowly became a burden because I now want to carry two cameras always with me.
My infrared photography is not an extra anymore, it is how I photograph.
My guess is that I photograph about 60% in infrared and only 40% in "normal" light. The "normal" light photography is mostly my street photography - and that is also very important to me.
And then it came to me, if I convert my normal X-T3 to full-spectrum, I could buy a hot mirror filter and an infrared filter to fit on the lens, and then carry only one camera.
The conversion was done one day before our trip to Wuxi in July, and I really enjoyed the "liberation" of only having to carry one camera.
For the uninformed, a full spectrum camera is a conversion where you remove the hot-mirror filter that is mounted on the sensor and replace it with a clear piece of (high quality) glass to give the sensor the necessary protection.
Such a camera will be sensitive to UV light, the visible spectrum of light as well as infrared light, as the clear glass is not blocking any light wave lengths.
To photograph normal visible light, you then have to fit a new filter to your lens - one with the same properties as the one you removed from the sensor (the so-called hot mirror filter). And if you want to photograph in infrared, you replace the hot mirror filter with an infrared filter.
This new setup was a bit overwhelming and I only started to explore the possibilities of this conversion after returning from Wuxi.
The past weekend we went to QingYuan (a county in the northwest of the Guangdong province), and it was only here that I started using my new setup to its full potential.
The photo at the top of this page is a full-spectrum photograph, meaning that it recorded both the normal spectrum of light as well as infrared light (UV light are normally blocked by the lenses we use). In infrared photography, green foliage reflects much more infrared light than other objects, and in this photo, the combination of the visible green of the foliage and the infrared reflected light of the foliage resulted in it taking on a light brown to a pink colour - depending on how much of the infrared light was getting reflected by the different types of foliage.
But, on this trip, I also photographed in infrared. I bought a 590nm infrared filter, which is not a pure infrared filter as it also captures visible red light. I find this a very versatile infrared filter as it creates vibrant false colour infrared photos, and it is also very good for black and white landscape photography.
Black and white photo from a 590nm infrared photograph (Click to see larger format)
I also bought an IRChrome filter, which is a very specialised filter as it was created to mimic the Kodak IR Chrome film of the 1970s. It is an amazing filter, and one can easily make the mistake of photographing everything with only this filter.
Every time I photograph with this filter, I am so excited that I just want to share the photo with whoever is nearby.
In fact, after I photographed this scene, I directly downloaded it to my phone and shared it on Facebook. Only at home did I realised how bad this unprocessed photo look. Luckily, the Facebook community keep their negative thoughts to themselves!!!
Below is the post-processed photo I initially shared on Facebook.
IR Chrome photograph taken at QingYuan (Click to see larger format)
The last two days of our QingYuan trip we went to Liannan, an ancient mountain village of the Yao minority group in the northwest of the Guangdong province. We had great views but I also really liked to just walk in the village and take pictures of the locals.
The hot mirror filter came in handy to create very special street photos.
Going Home - An old Yao lady going home at the end of the day (Click to see a larger format)
So, for now, I have a travel-light kit again. I just need to get a better filter holder for my three filters (I see a new leather project coming up...)