The Hoya R72 Infrared Filter Revisited
Amazingly, the weather (temps) have improved and moved from the mid 20’s to the high 50’s here in Pawleys Island, SC. BUT along with the increase in temperature comes rain!
Yesterday I had decided that I wanted to go out and shoot for a while before I went to the gallery for the day. Thinking about the dark stormy skies and the heavy rain I decided to go with Hoya’s R72 720nm Infrared filter for a variety of reasons. They are:
- The ability to see through the haze and rain.
- The ability to get detail in an otherwise gray sky.
- Dramatic B&W Infrared images.
- Decent exposure sensitivity for hand held shooting in stormy conditions.
While we have discussed some of these capabilities of a 720nm filter in past posts, let’s do a fast review of them!
Infrared, especially true Infrared (720nm and up) has the ability to see further through haze and clouds. It is for this reason that the R72 (or any other 720nm filter) is a wise choice for stormy days or skies that are a flat gray. The image to the left is a good example of this. The sky was totally overcast and a solid gray in tonality. Yet with a 720nm filter the camera was able to see through the gray into the underlying cloud structure which gave this image a very pleasant quality that the human eye could not see at the time!
Good skies as in those with broken cloud structures can be enhanced by using a 720nm filter. You will get a more intense contrasty image that just screams mood! When it is stormy and dark outside I always choose the 720nm. If you see a bad storm grab one real fast and you will see what I mean! The clouds can actually become the main subject in this dance of light! It did not take me long to realize that stormy days generate very moody images that are very popular!
Here is another couple of examples of where storm clouds can move an everyday image into the realm of world class images!
First an image of your normal run down barn on a dirt farm road. The barn by itself is a great Infrared Subject but when you combine it with storm clouds and a 720nm filter to see into the clouds you get an image that is beyond belief!
Another example is this image of an marshy area on the Waccamaw River in Pawleys Island. It was misting just before the main rain arrived, the sky was totally gray but with the addition of a 720nm filter the sky almost becomes the central subject in a very moody image!
Yesterday, it was raining very heavy and the sky was just solid gray. In fact the rain was so heavy that even with the 720nm filter the water kept me from getting structure in the sky. So I decided to build an image showing the background fading away into the rain. You cannot really tell if it is rain or fog but it doesn’t really matter, the mood is the same. What is striking about this is the apparent mist in the air while the sky shows up as stark white. I actually like the old time feeling that this image creates! If I had not decided upon a 720nm filter this image would not have been possible.
Even though it was really dark outside yesterday I was able to shoot hand held with the R72 filter. This was mounted on my Olympus MZ 14-150mm lens at about 100mm using my Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum camera system. I was not able to get out of the car due to the heavy rain so I shot out of the window hand held! This is one of the powerful reasons that the R72 is such a good filter. You still have enough sensor sensitivity to shoot like this! This last image is of a set of boat houses on the salt marsh in Pawleys Island. There is good contrast and detail in it even though it was taken in a very heavy rain! The only real hint of the rain is the surface of the water. As an Infrared Photographer what more could you ask for?
Now, can you see why having a Hoya R72 in your camera tool box is a good idea? As in all things filter related, the darker the filter the more expensive it is. The R72 is no different in this. You can find one in 58mm for about $90. There are other filter companies out there with the same basic filter like the B+W 092. Bus as much as I like the B+W filter line I have to tell you that the R72 just gives better results!
What do you think?