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Infrared Photography Feature: Tony Sweet


My Life in Infrared


As a child, before knowing what photography was, I saw an infrared cover image on an old Life magazine. I don’t recall the image, but do recall and never forgot the indelible mark it made on my imagination.

I was just blown away and that was about the end of it for a while.

Fast forward 25 years.

I became an aspiring photographer (film) and began teaching location workshops. On one of the workshops, I was teaching with my mentor, Pat Ohara. Pat shot film infrared with hand coloring. It was an incredible look. I asked Pat about infrared. All that I remember is that Pat said that it was a lot of bracketing because the process using film was a bit unpredictable.

The process of film infrared was quite laborious and highly sensitive to any light, meaning that even the darkroom light would expose the film. What was needed was a changing bag, where we would put our hands into a dark bag and thread film onto a spool and into a light tight processing tank, all done blind. That went on for a few years until the advent of digital photography. When I migrated from film to digital, infrared conversions didn’t exist.

As soon as I could, I had my D200 converted to 720nm. Digital infrared was instantly easier than film, more predictable, no light leak issues, and able to further be altered and interpreted in software. Kolarivision is highly recommended for infrared conversions.

Today, I carry a color and an infrared converted camera, and shoot 50% IR and 50% color, depending on the location. For example, when we are In Charleston in the spring, I’ll shoot 90% infrared. The early spring greens are a prime infrared subject.

Ansel Adams said, “Color is about color. B&W is about everything else.”

To paraphrase Ansel Adams, “If the subject is not about color, I’ll shoot infrared.”



D200, 720nm conversion

Great Smoky Mountains, TN

Low side light w/ light fog


D800, 720nm conversion

Great Smoky Mountains, TN

Bright overcast. Glow added to highlights.


D800, 720nm conversion

Whidbey Island, WA

Front light, wispy clouds



D800, 720nm conversion

Badlands, SD

Enhanced cloud detail in infrared


D300, 590nm conversion

Badlands, SD

Use of digital grads and radial filters


D300, 590nm conversion

Badlands, SD

Enhanced cloud detail in infrared


D200, 720nm conversion

Great Sand Dunes, CO

After a very wet spring. Angular light


D800, 720nm conversion

Maryland horse country

Waiting for the right spacing in the shadow lines

Low angle sun


D300, 590nm conversion

Cape Cod, MA

Moderate overcast



D800, 720nm conversion

Botany Bay, SC

2 minute exposure


D800, 720nm conversion

East Bay Street

Spring in Charleston = outstanding infrared


D800, 720nm, infrared conversion

Abandoned farm

Blue sky + white puffy clouds = Great for infrared


D800, 720nm conversion

Angel Oak

Charleston, SC


D800, 720nm conversion


Alternating dark/ light tonalities


D800, 720nm conversion

Colfax, WA

Low angle light



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8 thoughts on “Infrared Photography Feature: Tony Sweet

  1. I love your work! I fooled around with infrared (film) a decade or so ago…gave it up cause it was such a pain. Seriously recondering that decision.

    Thanks for your time,
    Robb Hindle

    1. It’s much easier now, Robb….muuuuuch easier!
      Definitely reconsider.


  2. Tony – Your work is so beautiful, skilled and soulful. And Infrared transports your work and us to another dimension capturing the unseen mystical energy of everything. You have a special gift and you love sharing it with us. Bravo.

    1. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments, Linda.

  3. Tony–we miss you and your better half here on Saint Simons Island. You are EVER the teacher. Thanks for being in our lives. Duke Smith

    1. Thanks much, Duke. I greatly appreciate the kind comments. We hope to get by there this year. Be well.

    2. Hey Duke! We look forward to getting back there soon! Thanks, man!

  4. If I’m not mistaken, the Maryland horse country shot is in Worthington Valley near Sagamore Farms. I shot something in the same vicinity with my 665 converted Nikon D7100 using a converted 180/3.4 Apo-Telyt with spectacular results. Wish I could post it here but it doesn’t seem possible in this box.

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