Testing The Infrared Illuminator At Night

Back last fall I picked up a little Sima Infrared Illuminator. The big plan was to use it over the winter doing some still life images with things like plants and vegetables. Well, that didn’t happen. Here is the only shot I did of an onion. After that, sadly, the little light got tucked away into one of the gear cabinets.

What is this ?

In the spirit of getting our asses off the couch, we went out the other night to do at least a little bit of brief infrared night testing. The plan was to try some simple closeups to test the beam spread of the light and to see how far we could push things handheld. The results are promising. Above is a bunch of marigolds. Panasonic G10 converted camera, Hoya R72 filter, ISO 400, 1/40, f/5.6 at 42mm on the m4/3 camera. The little light was mounted on the hotshoe. The results are not too bad. As you can see the light does cast a shadow. It’s not at all annoying. I ‘shopped on a subtle vignette to finish off the image.

bush_IR_night

Here’s another image I liked out of the test batch. The light was taken off the hotshoe and held left at about 5 feet. No photoshopping here – the falloff you see at the bottom left is how it came out of the camera. ISO 400, 1/3 sec, f/3.5, 14mm. Sometimes I get very lucky on handled shots. The image is still nice and sharp. I really like that right side falloff – it’s just what I was hoping for.

So what’s the takeaway here?

Now I know what I can get away with using just the little light and no tripod. The light may also have possibilities as a small fill light for added interest in daylight shots when there is a lot of cloud cover. It will be worth throwing this little thing into the infrared bag.

I did do some interior testing with the Sima as well and the results were encouraging. The little light may give me just enough of that needed boost I need with some infrared interiors. I have been really pushing things to the edge with some interior available light exposures so I need all the help I can get.

So what’s next?

Some outdoor night time testing using a hotshoe flash. A standard flash unit does throw a lot of IR light – you don’t need anything special or any additional filters. I’m thinking some outdoor night portraits here with the portrait subject near a small tree using two flash units – one for the person and one for the tree. Will it work? It will take some exposure finagling but I think it’s worth trying. It’s just a matter of controlling the lights so you get the results you want.