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The Dictionary of Film and Digital Photography.


Wood effect.

The bright glow seen from sun-illuminated deciduous trees and other types of plants when photographed using infrared film; an effect named after its discoverer.

Leafy green plant cells have cell walls which reflect infrared energy very efficiently. This is what causes the characteristic white glow on black and white infrared film, an effect first documented in 1910 by IR photography pioneer RW Wood.

The effect does not refer to wood. Neither wood nor bark glow under IR - only tree leaves and grasses do. The effect is also not a result of any infrared energy or heat generated by the plants themselves. Plants do not produce light of any kind, and infrared films do not detect heat patterns. (detection of heat patterns is called thermal imaging) For more information on these and other myths, have a look at my article on infrared photography.

cf. infrared, infrared film, thermal imaging.

Entry last updated 2002-05-09. Term 1315 of 1487.

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