Infrared Photography Helps Students Understand Satellite Images

Posted on October 26th, 2009 by

Geography students sometimes struggle to understand infrared images which are increasingly used in satellite imagery. Mark Bjelland has a Sony cybershot camera modified for infrared photography and took the pictures shown here on September day. Digital cameras are sensitive to near infrared and come equipped with a hot mirror to remove the infrared. It was converted for IR use by removing the hot mirror and adding a filter that only allows 50% of the visible light to enter. Vegetation appears bright white in infrared photos because actively growing plants are highly reflective of near infrared radiation.

Infrared photograph of Old Main at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Infrared photograph of Old Main at Gustavus Adolphus College.



  1. Joe Lencioni says:

    Near infrared photography can produce some really dramatic results. I’ve been considering getting a camera to modify for a while.

    Although they may not be great for your purposes, Mark, there are a bunch of interesting infrared photos up on Flickr.

  2. James Crowland says:

    Wow! this reminds me of a photo I saw a while back. Using infrared to photograph vistas at night….the effect is awesome -like night-vision but with a difference. there are sooo many stars up there and the details it picks out in the landscape are very strange! I can remember the exact site I visited but I remember “googling” night-vision pictures (or similar!). Anyhow, nice picture! Thanks