Any job is possible if you have the right tools. Sometimes those tools are referred to as toys, but I prefer to call them what they are.
I have been toying with infrared photography since the early 1980s. Then, the tool was Kodak HIE roll film loaded into my Canon AE-1 camera with a dark red filter slapped on the front of the 50mm stock lens. HIE was difficult to handle: you had to keep it refrigerated, then load it into the camera in total darkness as light leaks into the canister were common. Even the heat from your hands could fog the film.
Many photographers felt that infrared was too gimmicky to be taken seriously. But I always loved it: green vegetation appeared snowy white; blue skies turned dark as night while clouds glowed in a mysterious, spiritual way. And if you overexposed it (which I loved to do), everything had a glowing aura around it which added to its spiritual quality. The grain, too, was magnificent, huge and sharp.
I took several rolls of HIE with me on my first trip to Germany in 2004, shooting "Theologians Under Hitler." Some of those images appear in the film and on the DVD jacket.
With the conversion to digital photography, this all became difficult once again. However, some enterprising photographers figured out how to hack a normal camera, which is made in such a way as to prevent any practical method of obtaining infrared-only photographs. The folks at lifepixel.com found that by removing a digital camera's infrared-blocking sensor covering and replacing it with one that blocks every other color, you could once again obtain the kind of photos possible only with Kodak HIE.
There's a bit of a difference, though. Yes, the clouds appear magical, and foliage comes out snowy white, but the beautiful glow and grain have to be added in post-production. That feels disingenuous to me, as the goal with any new artistic tool would be to learn its own unique qualities and abilities. Digital infrared, then, holds its own possibilities, distinct from methods used in the past.
The photo above is one of my first attempts at using this new tool, or toy, of mine: my old Canon T2i Rebel converted to infrared-only. Taken on a stroll on Capitol Hill, I took advantage of a wide-angle lens, good cloud cover, and a reflecting pond I had never noticed before. The image was converted to black and white using Nik Software's Silver EFX Pro, and the image was finished in Photoshop by adding a bit of Unsharp Mask.
No comments posted.