GEEK ALERT!: Another camera mod that will probably have minimal interest for most of you, but I’m posting it up because I think it’s cool, and because I think you need to know.

The other day I happened to be listening to a podcast that mentioned in passing that over-exposed, processed colour negative film is mostly opaque to all visible light, but readily transmits infrared. The over-exposed bit of the neg looks ‘black’ on the neg strip. It’s actually a very deep blue to the naked eye if you hold it up to a strong light:

A bit of exposed neg

Translating: the ‘blue’ bit in the negative above allows infrared light to pass through. “Well, what the hell use is that, Rev!” I can hear you say. “Our eyes can’t see into the infrared!”

Aha! Your eyes can’t, Faithful Acowlyte, but maybe your digital camera can… To check, find a TV remote and press any button on it while pointing it at the camera lens. If the display allows you to see a light blinking on the end of the remote, then the camera’s chip sees infrared. This means (I can see you’re ahead of me now) that you can record infrared images!

Why would you want to do that? Because it’s pretty and mysterious! Isn’t that reason aplenty!? Just clip a piece of the end of an old neg, tape it over your camera lens and Bob’s yer uncle! The film knocks the exposure way down so for best results, set your camera ISO on its lowest setting and use a tripod and a longer exposure. If your camera is a Canon point-and-shoot, you may be able to hack the firmware to get exposure times of up to sixty seconds.

Now, for some striking results, go photograph some vegetation. Here’s a lily in my backyard. The leaves are actually a deep rich green, but because plants reflect so much infrared light (they can’t use it for photosynthesis) their foliage appears red, and sometimes even almost white.

An Infrared picture of a lily

Now. How to record ultraviolet…?

Cow Cool Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆