Infrared trail cameras have increased in popularity with the reduction in their price. Cameras that can sense motion and take photographs of whatever wildlife or other action trips their motion sensor can be purchase for less than a hundred dollars. While the price of these cameras is appealing and the underlying technology can do amazing things, cameras at this price are not especially sophisticated or high quality, the way some of the modern digital SLR cameras are. This may be part of the problem. If an infrared digital image is completely white, it's been overexposed.
The direct cause of overexposure is unclear. But, with digital images, regardless of the type of light or light source, overexposure is the opposite as film. Film is an interim step, which reverses the overexposure effect. If black-and-white film, for example, becomes overexposed, the lighter spots in the image show up extremely dark on the developed film. This is, of course, why they're called negatives. Then, when developed onto photo paper, the process is reversed. The lighter spots show up excessively light, looking like a whiteout. The dark areas tend to be excessively dark.
No Light Variation
If, however, you have an overexposed black-and-white film image and the image itself has little variation in contrast from its lightest to darkest, the film would be mostly black and the photograph would be mostly white. If there is very little contrast and the image is overexposed enough, the final image will be a complete whiteout.
With digital exposures, like trail cameras, there is no interim step. A whiteout image is an image that is extremely overexposed and probably has little contrast, which is consistent with a nighttime image. The direct cause of whiteout infrared photos is overexposure. The indirect causes, however, may vary from camera to camera, image to image and with varied conditions.
A hallmark of these cameras is that they are automated. The timing, lighting and everything else about the photograph is automated. The indirect causes of a whiteout picture is whatever caused the overexposure. Those causes may include inconsistent sensors. It may be due to cold weather, which could make the shutter stick or make the infrared sensor malfunction. One of the camera's automated functions malfunctioned, resulting in overexposure.
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