March 09, 2003
So last night at the show I had yet another brilliant idea that, it turns out, has already been done. Numerous people were taking photos during the show and the flashes were annoying me (and, no doubt, the performers as well). Considering how sensitive digital cameras are to infrared light, I wondered why nobody makes infrared flashes, or at least IR-passing filters for normal flashes. With an IR flash you could snap away without bothering everyone and still get decent photos. I'm not a big fan of flash photography myself, but last night the stage lights were too dark for even the great T-Max 3200 and my f/1.4 50mm lens.
A simpler (and cheaper) solution would be an infrared light that you leave on -- this wouldn't require flash synchronization (something my digital camera lacks) and you can make it out of inexpensive IR LEDs. I've done a little research on the web and those that have tried Sony's Nightshot IR lamps have found that they don't work very well with still cameras for some reason. Still, I plan to order a few LEDs from Newark this week for some testing.
So the flash/lamp idea is still in the works, but in the meantime I've learned that a couple layers of unexposed but developed E6 film makes a decent IR-pass filter (passes infrared light but blocks visible light). Last summer I got a roll of E6 developed that I apparently never used -- they returned the developed film but didn't mount any of the frames. Good thing I'm a pack rat.
Below are two photos, one without and one with this filter.