Colour or Infrared : Which is better


It is a silly question really, because it all depends, well, on a lot of things. When I went to Tasmania I took the Infrared (IR) camera with me. I wasn’t sure I would use it a lot, but then I discovered that it was great for some subjects. Trees especially, even more so if they are dead. However, there were some other subjects that were a surprise to me.

Some of you said that you wanted to see images in both IR and normal, so for many places I took both cameras and when I took photos with one, I then took them with the other. The lenses weren’t the same, but they do give you an idea of what they both look like.

When we traveling from Coles Bay to Hobart we stopped in a town called Buckland. there was a small church that had been built by convicts in 1846. I did find some history on it from Wikipedia, “the church was constructed as a replica of the church at Cookham Dean in Sussex and is famous for its 14th Century stained glass window. This stunning window is thought to have been originally designed for the Battle Abbey in England and was brought to Buckland by the Reverend F. H. Cox, Rector of the church from 1846-48.” It is on the list of places to visit.

I put up a IR image on Instagram and Facebook, but wanted to wait until I could do the comparison here before posting it. I played with the colour image yesterday, and this is it.


It looks nice, I think, and it really is a gorgeous church. We found the churches there so different with their graveyards in the church grounds. I know it is something that the English do, which is probably why it was done here. However, in the state I live in, the graveyards are rarely, if ever next to a church like this.

I also did an IR image of the church. I wasn’t quite standing in the same place, unfortunately.  I also hand coloured the image to see if I could do it.

I probably didn’t get the stone colour right, but I’m okay with it. The sky happens because of the IR, and I can manipulate it in Photoshop. I haven’t worked out if I can do that in Lightroom yet.

It is interesting how they both turned out. I do like how the IR immediately gives an mood, and I have to do more to colour images. Though with IR you have that eternal winter look, which I don’t mind. Hand colouring them is an interesting idea and I will explore that a lot more. I don’t know how much I will do, but I’ll see how I go.

This is the comparison. I do think it is a good idea to do both to start. It helps you to see when you get back to your computer what works and what doesn’t. I have only had it for a few weeks and at the moment I am still exploring to see what I feel works well. I will do more posts on this. It is a lot of fun using something new and exploring the world with it.

You might be interested in …


    1. Thank you. I think you can get filters to put on your lens, and I’ve tried turning normal shots into IR type images on the computer, but it never quite works the same.

  1. I love the drama and the angle of the second image, but then I love the crispness of the first. I love them both! It’s very hard to pick which one I like more.

    1. That’s okay, I can understand, it has been a common problem. Interesting to see what people thing. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Hi Leanne, looks like your having fun with the IR converted camera. I have done some infrared photography using a Hoya R72 filter on my DSLR’s, My Nikon D100 gives best result as it is reasonably responsive to infrared light. My Nikon D300 is less sensitive to infrared and therefore exposures times are much longer than with the D100. At least with a converted camera you will be able to take infrared photo’s hand held whereas with just the filter on the DSLR I have to use a tripod. Have fun and enjoy your new infrared camera. Regards …. Aubrey

    1. I am Aubrey, I’ve really been enjoying the possibilities with it. I haven’t done it with the filters, though I did buy some infrared film once, but was too scared to use it, haha. I love the freedom of the converted camera, it has been so incredible. Thank you so much Aubrey.

  3. You are spot on about cloudless skies. The right subject framed against one can be quite stunning, especially man-made shapes and/or lines where there is also shadow. The abstract-like result really grabs the viewer’s attention when you cannot distinguish between shadow and sky because they are both black. All this without any fancy pants processing.

    1. Trees can look great too, I was finding some very interesting one to put against it all. I do like the abstract nature of them, so wonderful.

  4. Ii can see you love experimenting with it – and you can use any mood you want when it feels appropriate. I like both, but the bluish tone makes me freeze…soon winter will be here up north.

    1. Yes, I’ve tried it with quite a few things now. I guess because we don’t get really cold winters, it never snows here, I like that look. It will be nice as summer approaches as well. Thank you Leya.

    1. Thank you Robert, I agree, I like what it does to skies. I am really enjoying it, I’m having fun seeing what I can do with it. More experimentation needs to be done, lol.

    2. I think you might be right there Robert, I do love that surprise, it is like long exposures, you just don’t know what will appear until it is done.

  5. I like the second image best because the tree shows and it opens up the edges. The bluish cast makes it ghostly, which I also like.

    1. Yes, that’s true Cornelia, I like the surreal look of the IR, then again, I don’t really know what it is like to live somewhere with snow so it is quite unique for me. Thank you.

    2. Leanne, that’s true too, I have been in snow last December in Germany, yet I haven’t done any IR, since my real darkroom times, way back. So actually you have inspired me to try it digitally now. Thank you.

  6. I’m zero help to you because I really like both images for different reasons. I love your handling of the dark and light in the first image and the way the stone of the building glows. But I love that chilly, spectral quality to the second image also.

    1. That’s okay Laura, I can see how they are different and both nice in their own ways. Thank you so much, it sounds to me that you might like the second more, just a little more. lol

  7. I took an IR body to VD Land but didn’t use it. Maybe not so much of use in the snow for the first few weeks.

    If you took shots from an identical position on a tripod, you could combine the normal and the IR, in this case probably selecting by colour for the mask.

    1. I took some photos with it on top of Mt Wellington in the snow, and was surprised how snow looked like snow in the rocks. I was really keen on it.
      The problem with that is that my IR camera is a cropped sensor and my other camera is a full frame, so it isn’t going to work. I don’t think it is that important. I like the hand colouring and I’m sure I will get better. Of course it won’t look like a real image, but I don’t know that that matter.
      Thank you Murray.

    2. Hand colouring is a different method which can clearly have interesting results but you should be able to combine images from different sensor sizes as long as you are using the same lens and aperture. Obviously you’d be cropping the full-sensor one whether you also do that in camera or not.

    3. I hope so, I’m looking forward to experimenting more with it. You probably can, but I don’t know that I am that motivated to do it, lol. I can be a bit lazy.

  8. I really like how the trees and grass turn into a wintry landscape with IR. It’s something very surreal and we don’t get to see it often, not many people shot IR photos. So i find it great for maybe well known places and offer another view. I’m into dark photos and this style so i enjoy this very much 🙂

    1. I agree, I love that too. I think for me because we don’t get that effect here, no snow, it is nice to see what it might look like if it did.That’s great, I like it when people like my dark style. Thank you.

  9. You did a fine job in coloring the IR image. It really doesn’t matter how accurate that is, the image works. As to which is better, I will leave that up to those who judge beauty, in my eye they both are wonderful. The IR, as expected, calls attention to the tree, a bit of a distraction from the church, but that is just my opinion. I think I would like the IR in the more abstract black and white.

    An interesting comparison and option. Thanks.

  10. For me, the choice between shooting with my normal 5D2 and my B&W IR 5D2 depends more often on the light, not the subject. Often I will take both cameras with me on a shoot. Travelling over 5,000km in Iceland last year I shot with both cameras at various times of the day.

    There are some subjects, however, that I just don’t normally bother with shooting in IR. For example, waterfalls or large expanses of flat water.

    That crisp early morning light in the hour or two after sunrise is pure gold as far as B&W IR is concerned, whereas the light before then is the domain of the normal 5D2. The same applies in the late afternoon – IR for fading light and shadows, normal for sunset and after.

    In-between those times it is a mixed bag, depending on the conditions. Some subjects like to attract my IR camera, such as certain types and shapes of trees, clouds, rocks, and buildings, but overriding that attraction is the need for good light, be it direct, ambient, spill, backlit, or reflected. A tree, for example, on a hazy overcast day does not shoot well in B&W IR.

    1. I am still experimenting with the light. I like the images when you get no clouds and I’ve heard during the day is great for IR, and so far I wouldn’t disagree. I haven’t tried too much early morning or late in the day.
      I like how water looks in IR, but I guess it is each to his own, I did shoot a waterfall in Tasmania with it and didn’t mind it at all. Then again, I thought the rainforest was a waste of time with it.
      I’m finding the mixed bag too Peter, it seems to depend on the subject a lot. Somethings I’m loving with it. Thank you for you thoughts on t.

  11. As you depends. The IR looks more ghostly, but maybe this is the point of IR, having the stone almost as the colour version seems to lessen the IR impact. Have you a version without altering the stonework? The IR gives more an impression of moonlight too, with the trees and graves picking up the light. I agree its good to do both versions then with trial and error or gut feeling, choose.

    1. I like how the IR gives it a completely different look. I like the colour in it, but I am a colour person, I suppose. I have got the images with no colour, and I will be posting photos from other places as well. YOu will get a good look at those coloured and those not.
      Thank you Judi.

  12. I have never used infrared but I have seen other photographers work using it and it looks amazing it’s definitely something I would experiment with 🙂 xx

Comments are closed.

Discover more from LEANNE COLE

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading