Friday, 29 January 2010

Infrared 100 on the BBC

The Viewfinder blog on the BBC web site features infrared photography today, with a copious quote from me. This, coupled with a recent press release from FLIR, should help raise awareness of the centenary and the technique. (It was even featured on the front page of the BBC News web site for a short while.)

The top of the page shows the double-page spread from the Illustrated London News in 1911 that was published to coincide with Wood's lecture at the Royal Institution and his appearance in the RPS 1911 exhibition. Besides a Kodak HIE shot of mine there is a great colour infrared image of Bob Dylan, taken in 1968 by Elliott Landy.

One interesting thing: Phil Coomes, who authors the blog, also includes an infrared photo of a space shuttle taking off. When you look closely you can see what appears to be the notorious infrared hot-spot right in the centre. This hot-spot is something that appears in digital infrared photographs, not film, and is 'best' seen with the lens stopped down and with something bright towards the centre of the shot. Not all lens/sensor combinations suffer from it, but most do. I have not seen any scientific analysis of the cause of this but it is a bane of digital infrared photography. 2010 must be the year that the hot spot is vanquished!


  1. I am an infra red photographer, see my website

    Last year my shot of Greenwich Park won a 'commended' award in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2008.

    More info at

    Mike Curry

  2. Congrats on the article. I had never really heard much about infra red used for photography before, but I'm interested in find out more now.

  3. Congratulations on the article. It was my understanding that hot spots are caused by the infrared light bouncing around inside the camera- bouncing off the filter over the sensor and back up to the back elememt of the lens and once again back down to the censor where it shows up as more light (brighter) in the image. Newer lenses with more coatings actually seem to cause even more light to reflect (they control light passing through the lens in both directions- bouncing excess light away on the front of the lens too). So I have read someplace anyways.

  4. The mystery to me is the role of the sensor in this process. I have no evidence that it happens with film, even with the same lenses, so the camera does 'cause' it in some way. Yet some lenses have it and some don't.

    Also, the hot spot happens both with and without an infrared blocking filter (I found it on the IS-1 for example). This means that the filter itself isn't the prime cause but also suggests that the sensor isn't either, as hardly any infrared reaches the sensor if a blocking filter is in place and any that did bounce off it would be re-attenuated on the way back.