Weather here has been what passes in Wisconsin as a heat wave, with the usual warnings about high heat indices and drinking enough water. When the humidity builds and the sun shines freely it means just one thing to me – infrared and clouds!
All that water vapor rising from the ground to hit the cooler air up high makes for wonderful big puffy cloud days. Combined with all the full foliage, the still air and bright light, infrared is the tool of choice for strongly contrasting and dramatic images.
Think of the first photographer who took out a film traditionally used for more utilitarian purposes, made some landscape images on a sunny day, and then processed them just to see what came out. What a great surprise that must have been, to see what’s around through a different set of eyes. And then to offer the world an expansion of photography tools to enable us to see the world in an alternate fashion.
Some may argue that digital is not the same, that “real” infrared film is only sensitive to those wavelengths whereas the sensor is sensitive to a wider band but has the greens and blues filtered out. My approach is not that of a purist. I’m looking for interesting, novel and unique images that are recognizable as infrared and give the high contrast and detail I’m fond of portraying. I will use infrared film at times, but not that much. It’s more fun to process a digital image to make it appear just the right way rather than “guessing” how to expose the film and then waiting to see if it was correct.
What’s surprising is you can’t always tell how the luminosity will appear. In the picture above all the leaves on the trees are green, as is the surface of the tennis court. Yet the trees all appear to be different tones, and the court surface is darker than most. Funny – we see green but in the infrared there are a myriad of shades of which we aren’t aware.
Again, except for the sky, clouds, tree trunks and service lines on the court, everything in this picture is green. For infrared, not all greens are created equal. Ain’t that cool!?