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The Light Unseen

Whilst most of us long for those summer months of clear blue skies and bright sunny days, as a photographer they're not ideal conditions for many subjects. The strong harsh light can be unforgiving in portraiture, featureless skies make landscapes unimaginative, and the contrast of light and shade makes woodland photography (a favourite subject of mine) particular challenging.

The question is, therefore, what is a photographer to do when the days turn warmer and brighter?

Well, I always have street photography to keep me going. The strong light and dark shadows which can be a problem in traditional landscape photography, in a city environment actually adds drama and character when doing street photography. Remembering not to over-expose the highlights, the summer months need not be too much of a challenge if you're into this exciting genre.

But recently I have dipped my toe into a new genre of photography (new to me anyway), and that is infrared photography.

As we know infrared light is in the part of the spectrum that is not visible to the human eye, so the images created are of familiar scenes but shown in quite literally unusual light. The effect, if you've not seen it is most evident on green foliage and blue skies. Unedited images turn leaves and grass different shades of purple, whilst the sky turns black.

There's a couple of ways you can approach infrared photography, but I've chosen to buy a digital SLR that's been a adapted to only capture infrared light. Another option is to attached an infrared filter to your existing camera, but this usually means having to take long exposures, as the filter blocks out most of the visible light.

My preference is to convert the "colour" images my infrared camera takes to black and white. You end up with an ethereal looking scene where the grass and foliage is a bright, ghostly white and the sky is a dark and dramatic black. And the beauty of this is that it works best on bright sunny days!


So whilst at the time of writing (January) we don't have much foliage or sunshine I have tried out my purchase and I'm pleased with the results. Bring on the summer!!!!

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