With 15 inches of snow on the ground, and more still hanging in the air, I decided to hit the streets with the FLIR T420 infrared camera. Given the ongoing nature of events, I took the only reasonable course and wrapped a white trash bag around the T420. For as anyone in a Level 1 thermography class will tell you, infrared light passes easily through certain thin plastics. Yet here’s the rub, and I must confess the question escaped me as a student: How exactly is one supposed to use the infrared camera in a trash bag?
One of the hallowed maxims of thermography training is “Always make sure the camera is in focus.” Here the FLIR T420 has a distinct advantage. Autofocus at the push of a button ensures I’ll have a clear picture most of the time. But a picture of what? I can’t see through the trash bag to check what is on the screen. Certain I can beat this, I consider the ubiquitous graphic warnings against such actions, and proceed to wrap the plastic bag around my head, my arm, and the camera. (Kids don’t try this at home.) As I crouch down on the sidewalk to capture the perfect image, it crosses my mind that the greater danger may be my impression on the snow shoveling neighbors. Standing up and extricating my head I look out over the walls of snow, right arm still wrapped in a trash bag. One longtime neighbor ventures a cautious wave.