Public Lab Wiki documentation

infrared garden experiment

1 | 15 | | #11509

This is one of a series of guides for collaborative environmental research and advocacy projects. This guide explains when it would be useful to set up an Infrared Garden Experiment, and how you would do it. An infrared photograph of the same type of plants growing side by side can reveal unseen differences in plant health. Possible causes vary widely, but could include differences in cultivation methods, drainage patterns, soil chemicals, among others.

This poster shows how an infragram camera can be used to take a picture of the same type of plants side by side to reveal which are photosynthesizing more:


Planning this event

Most importantly: set up your garden plantings so that you can photograph your two types of cultivation methods on the same type of plant with a single photo. See the illustration above^^

Do a bit of background exploration into the basics of infrared photography:

  • Read about infrared cameras, watch a fun video and connect to the community email list here:
  • Consider if your question can be answered by this type of investigation:
    • Are you testing different cultivation methods with a single kind of plant?
    • Want to find out as early in the season as possible if your plants are thriving evenly?
    • If you are asking a question about plant health, then, yes, this experiment is for you! Continue reading... :)

Materials to gather:

  • Make, borrow, or purchase an infragram camera. There are two types:
    • a hand-modified camera with blue or red filter inside (ask which one it is!)
    • a factory-modified "Point-&-Shoot" with red filter inside


  • Depending on what kind of filter is inside your Infragram, print out a matching red or blue square from these color squares below or from this note:



Materials that you need to bring out to the site you wish to photograph:

  • the infragram camera
  • SD card that fits the camera
  • charged battery / batteries
  • The appropriate red or blue piece of paper that matches the color filter inside your camera

Materials that you need to have back inside:

  • internet connection
  • computer that can read the picture off your SD card, or a card reader. If you're using a Point-&-Shoot, make sure you have the card holder that the little SD card can fit into
  • if using the Point & Shoot, have the miniUSB-to-USB cable that came with it

Activity 1: setting up your camera to take high quality images

PLEASE NOTE: This activity is different depending on if you have a hand-modified camera or a factory-made Point-&-Shoot

To white balance your hand-modified Infragram camera, follow the steps in this video: Light conditions dictate everything, so do this step outside in the same light conditions as the plants you want to photograph (i.e., don't stand in the shade if you want to photograph plants in the sun):

Once you've set the white balance, choose a good vantage point and take a picture or five.

To white balance your factory-made Infragram Point and Shoot. Conveniently, this camera should have arrived already white balanced, otherwise check out the information here:, and email the list with any questions. Go ahead and take some pictures!

Picture of Infragram Point and Shoot:


Success! You've completed this activity. Time for a refreshing beverage!

Activity 2:

This activity will walk you through uploading your pictures to the online site for processing, and will assist you in understanding what the finished image reveals about the health of your plants.

  • If you are using a Point-&-Shoot, click the little SD card out of the slot on the back, maybe with your fingernail. Then put the little card into the card holder that came with your camera.



  • For all Infragrams: put the SD card (or card holder) in your computer and use a program of your choice to review the pictures and select one to try first for processing.
  • In a web browser, navigate to (requires internet connection)
  • Click the "Begin Now >>" button


  • In the Infragram sandbox, click the button to upload the image:


  • a popup window will prompt you to select a preset. Choose the one that matches the type of camera you have:


Once you've gone through all these steps, taking the actual picture of your crops growing side-by-side is straightforward! To process the photo, refer to for what to do with the data.