Infrared Tattoos

Some time ago, my friend Frederick Van had an old Canon EOS 10D converted to an infrared sensor. I have an old 20D I keep meaning to do this to myself; it’s not the most useful thing in the world, but it can certainly be fun to have one for special occasions.

A few years ago when he was setting up a home studio, we got to playing with the infrared camera under studio lights. A friend of ours was in the process of getting a new tattoo, and had just finished the “outline” stage, and volunteered to pose for us. The way the infrared sensor handles skin is just amazing, and under the bright studio lights, the skin took on a translucence that’s (probably, hopefully!) impossible to replicate with just an IR filter (glass or software!).

The original vs the treated images shot on an infrared-converted Canon EOS 10D

The RAW images that came off the camera were red. I started with a white balance off the white shirt, and then adjusted individual RGB levels a bit to play with the overall tonality, and finally since blacks had turned to blue (hair, tattoo lines, etc.), I expanded on that and enhanced the blues a bit more. Entirely processed in Aperture, of course.

Infrared PortraitInfrared Portrait @ May 2008 | Canon EOS 10D (Infrared Sensor) & 85mm ƒ/1.2L II @ ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/60

Infrared TattooInfrared Tattoo @ May 2008 | Canon EOS 10D (Infrared Sensor) & 85mm ƒ/1.2L II @ ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/60