After taking a NIR camera to the local night time CQB club, it was noticed that some of the all black SWAT style uniforms would show up as bright white under Near Infra Red. providing a high contrast to parts of the uniform that retained the black colour. The area has very low levels of visible light and these photographs are captures of a NIR camera and IR lamp at 810nm

The human eye is sensitive light in the range 400nm (blue) to appx 750nm (red). Over 750nm is usually considered Infra Red - this is derived from the Latin 'infra' or 'below' to give the meaning 'below red'

Near Infrared is considered to be 750nm-1400nm and is invisible to the human eye. The 'light' from such a source is absorbed and reflected in the same way normal visible light is. Generally speaking a surface that absorbs IR will appear black on a NIR camera and surfaces that reflect NIR will appear white.

Due to the difference in frequency between infra red and visible light, some surface or materials will appear to be a different colour when viewed under IR. It is very noticeable with blacks and some materials will even become transparent under IR. One example of transparency is with 2 layers of exposed and developed photographic film - dark brown and opaque under normal light it becomes clear transparent under NIR.



As seen in these two photographs, the contrast between the the blacks is obvious. Not a disadvantage if you where seeking cover near or against a concrete wall while wearing black that shows up white under NIR. This would be a definite disadvantage if you where hiding in a dark corner or had mixed IR signature equipment as in these photographs.


Compare the photographs of the DPM camouflage suit under NIR - this particular uniform is a genuine Army issue suit and it retains its disruptive pattern under NIR

More photographs of genuine DPM as opposed to cheap non military DPM products. The contrast with the black body armour makes the subject stand out at a great distance. At the same distance with the same illumination the genuine DPM camouflage absorbs a great deal of the IR and still retains its disruptive pattern. The reflection from the subjects eyes show how much NIR is hitting the subject

Exposed and developed 35mm film is transparent under NIR. It can also be used as a poor quality filter to let through IR and block normal visible light.

This type of filter has been used to lower the exposure on Nightshot cameras that have been Factory set to over expose in daylight. This is because some clothing becomes transparent in bright sunlight when viewed in NIR

A surprising number of other materials become clear transparent under NIR

NIR and IR are employed by various security systems to aid identification and observation.

The UK has the most police CCTV surveillance cameras per capita than any other country, don't try to hide behind dark sunglasses!

Would they really use IR cameras?


Military Style Materials and Equipment Viewed under Visible Light & NIR

The following photographs compare various DPM materials and Armed Forces equipment in Visible and Near IR.

It has been found that most genuine military clothing and equipment does not change its properties when viewed in NIR, whereas the cheaper and 'made for Airsoft" clothing and equipment is unpredictable.

As more night vision equipment becomes available and older generation scopes are sold off at a reduced price, they will become a common tool used on Airsoft night games. It will be a great disadvantage for the person who's uniform glows white when they are using dark cover. The same for the person who stands against a concrete wall wearing clothing that appears black in NIR. Choice of cover will have to be taken with the knowledge of your IR visibility. The easy way is for the clothing and equipment to have the same properties in visible and IR light.

Thermal imaging sights and cameras are a different ball game - Camouflage under FLIR is difficult but not impossible to achieve but as usual for every measure there is a counter measure. A simple method to hide from 4th Generation night vision scopes is the high end "Space Blankets" - not the paper thin marathon finish sheets. Once the heat signature is reduced normal camouflage techniques are used to provide the advantages required. - not too much on this for obvious reasons.

Normal Army issue DPM combat jacket issued 1982-1990. The jacket retains some disruptive pattern under NIR

The difference in black dye is noticeable on the sewn name tag - it is almost a complete shade reversal under NIR

This is a store bought "Army" jacket that does not retain any pattern under NIR

The black dye used reflects NIR showing up white when viewed

Army Desert Night Camouflage - designed to confuse 1st & 2nd generation night vision devices. Tests carried out while on tour revealed that it is not effective, in fact it draws attention to the wearer - it is only useful in near dark conditions when view with the naked eye.
A very old faded pair of Army issue combat trousers. This shows that the garment still retains some of the pattern under NIR
Camo netting - pattern is not visible under NIR and has a glassy sheen that would be very revealing when viewed with NIR equipment

The black helmet liners - dayglow white when viewed in NIR

The synthetic material reflects IR very well

Non military issue holster and belt, a gray colour that gives a contrast to the black parts of the webbing

Black anodizing seems to reflect NIR

I have yet to find a black anodized item that shows black in IR

Black powder coat and black paint remains black.

As can be seen in the captures, the red dot sight on the Airsoft MP5 is almost mirror like when viewed under NIR

See the Daylight Camouflage Page for More Info

daycam daycam2

An ongoing project to find a simple effective camouflage technique to suit the range and speed of airsoft and paintball skirmish games. The intention of the camouflage is to buy you enought time to get the first shot off and then move, not to remain undetected scout/sniper style.


Normal Spectrum and Near Infra Red comparisons