I've had an ambivalent relationship to infrared black and white photos for the duration of my photographic career. Back in the 1970s, the look of Kodak High Speed Infrared film became almost an art school trope. Anything you pointed the stuff at became interesting. The stuff was everywhere. As a rule, it's a good idea to avoid techniques that easily make interesting images without a corresponding deep intention behind the choice.
Nonetheless, I dabbled frequently through the decades, and worked to master a more subtle approach to the look. With film receding in my rear view mirror, I had pretty much abandoned black and white imagery and the occasional foray into infrared.
Browsing one night last month, I came across Ctein's TOP column about converting a digital camera to infrared. Camera sensors are natively sensitive to IR light. They have a filter to block it. Remove it, and you have an IR sensitive camera.
I followed this wormhole a ways, and next day I sent one of my old 5D bodies to Lifepixel.
Yesterday it came back. It's probably all you're going to see on Today I Saw for awhile as I plumb what's possible. One of the things that's possible is that I can now take IR video. I have a project I'm working on right now that this will be perfect for.
What I've noticed so far:
I'm now in the "cool, this looks weird!" phase. I intend to wallow in this, "instant art, no muss, no fuss" mode until I purge it from my system. Then I can start seeing what else is there.
It actually encourages a more thoughtful, slower working method. The best way to craft these is to use Live View mode. It displays the image in all its weirdness, which helps with composition, and you can enlarge the image to focus it (the IR focus point is different than for visible light, so if I just used the viewfinder I'd be taking out of focus pictures). It means I work on a tripod, with a loupe. Slows me down.
IR is completely an artifact of the technology. As such, I suspect I might feel freer about subsequent manipulations of the image than I currently allow myself. One time a curator chided me for an overly respectful treatment of the tonal range in my work. Who knows if this will change that.
I've been feeling for awhile that I wanted something to shake up my personal shooting. Even if this is an artificial, super weird look and can get pretty dreadful pretty fast, perhaps it will lead me to whatever is going to come next.