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Instagram lets you slap on every kind of image-altering filter you can imagine to your photos. But the golden filter you could be looking for isn’t available in the photo-sharing app. An experiment by Jon Simonassi, a Toronto-based cinematographer, revealed that applying an infrared filter gets rid of blemishes, freckles and scars. “Infrared doesn’t show skin abnormalities, like freckles, and gives a porcelain doll-like effect,” explained Simonassi. The results speak for themselves:

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Photo Credit: Jon Simonassi

This is a huge breakthrough for selfie lovers around the world. Most people try to hide their inconsistent skin features using low-grade editing tools. Such apps give individuals the ability to blur out parts of an image, making the skin appear smoother. But it also makes the photo look strange, fuzzy and fake. Like nose jobs, they’re incredibly easy to spot on social media.

Using Infrared Filters for Selfies

Going back to Simo’s study, the exact filter he used to accomplish the aura-like effect was a 720nm IR filter. Shooting with a modified Panasonic GH2 (without an infrared sensor), the artist applied a blue light attachment to block elements he did not want in the image. Simo employed this method to get a direct comparison for the experiment. To replicate this, you could try using the same IR filter on your photos. Don’t forget to use a high-resolution DSLR for the shots.

“There are two types of infrared filters, ones that block IR light while passing visible light and ones that block visible light while passing infrared light. The IR blocking filters are often used in digital video & still cameras that use CCD or CMOS sensors to prevent unwanted IR light from reaching the sensor, which is sensitive to near infrared,” mentioned a Life Pixel IR expert. “In infrared photography we want the opposite, to block visible light and only passing infrared light.”

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UV: Doing the Opposite

Beauty can also be found at the other end of the spectrum. There’s something about aesthetically exposing the flaws of individuals that removes all pretentiousness from an image. If you’re planning on taking this route, try using ultraviolet photography.

Compared to infrared, UV highlights everything you want to hide. If you’re into extreme realism, the results are incredibly satisfying. Thomas Leveritt, a digital photographer who specializes in modern imaging practices, recently used this technique during a project with Nivea Sun.

You can also use the shooting method to get a better idea of the condition of your skin. The majority of UV freckles on your face are non-visible under everyday lighting. It’s only when they turn dark that they become distinctly noticeable. But when skin pigments arrive at this phase, it’s too late. The affected area has reached its threshold for UV rays, causing the collagen under the surface to turn dark.

Applying infrared or ultraviolet filters guarantee unique photos that can’t be replicated with a social media app. Now it’s your turn to do your own experiments using the two photography techniques. Your selfies will never be the same!

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