Infrared photography is simply a means of capturing light at a slightly higher wavelength than light visible to human beings. Said light is reddish, as the name implies, which thus appear very bright in the image, as opposed to blues, which darken precipitously.
Black and white imagery sees the full range of colors, it simply expresses those colors in shades of grey. By restricting all but the infrared spectrum either by a) using infrared sensitive film, or b) placing an infrared filter on the camera lens, or c) applying infrared mapping techniques through post-capture computer software, the artist may achieve a work of intense contrast – the term ‘dreamlike’ is often used. As the reader might image, I prefer the latter of these three options because film or camera filters will set the image in stone, whereas the computer effectively allows the artist to “paint”.
The Internet offers up a number of suggestions for using the computer to create infrared work, and some of these provide for greater flexibility than others. I generally use a number of these effects even in standard black and white work, which I often affectionately call “Noir” because the high contrast mimics many of the noir-labeled films of the 1940’s and 50’s. In this series of works I have pushed this technique to the limit and sometimes beyond (all these works reflect damage incurred in the May 22 Jefferson City, Missouri tornado). The starkness and seeming violent contrast between the light and the dark seems to me especially appropriate to the subject.
Of course, flexibility and the artist’s freedom to ‘paint’ the effect, versus locking the effect in place, may lead to mistakes – the artist may move too far in a particular direction or purists may simply argue that the “true” effect is not achieved. (there is an analogy here to open and fluid democratic societies vs. authoritarian and rigidly enforced social structures, but, as happens so often, I digress). All subjects for future posts.
(NOTE: As stated in my most recent blog, the next few weeks will be devoted to work around my community’s recent tornado damage. Fifteen of these works have been compiled into an artbook, which may be viewed and purchased at Capital Arts in Jefferson City, or purchased on this website in either 10-inchpaperback or signed 12-inch hardcover).
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.