Photographing Shrewsbury in infrared is an accidental project I’ve almost stumbled into. I had an unloved Canon 550 D lying around in the studio and decided to have it converted with an infrared filter. A few photographs later I realised two things. Firstly what a great camera the 550D was and secondly how much fun infrared photography was going to be!
I’m lucky enough to live near the Quarry, so the infrared camera quickly became part of my daily exercise, accompanying me everywhere. The thing to think about when choosing an infrared filter is whether you will want to shoot in colour, black and white or both. I chose the 720nm filter because it lets some light from the visible spectrum in, so there is some colour in the images, it is this that helps me get a decent amount of colour rendered in the photographs I have taken of the Quarry, Frankwell and Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury in Infrared
By comparison with “Shrewsbury in infrared”, the Andalucia in Infrared project that I started a couple of months ago and intend to complete in September was photographed in much stronger light, very high contrast straight out of the camera. The light in the UK is more subtle, which shows in the art produced by both countries. Subtle can turn into dreary in a nanosecond if you’re not careful!.
In infrared photography, colour seems to work really well when there is a landscape with features that can be separated easily from the sky. Black and White infrared is fantastic for architecture. I haven’t got too involved yet with faux colour, except for a few photographs that really demanded something very different.
Why Infrared Photography?
A lot of people really don’t like infrared photography. In the wilder margins of faux colour it can be very ‘in your face’ and that kind of treatment, like HDR, tends to elicit a very subjective reaction in people. I see it differently. If I wanted to take record shots of landscapes, I’d do exactly that. There are hundreds if not thousands of pictures recording the Shropshire landscape. We’ve seen Shrewsbury in colour, Shrewsbury in Black and White, why not Shrewsbury in infrared?
There are some excellent landscape photographers working in and around Shropshire, they work hard, get up early and go to bed late,,. some produce work that transcends their subject. That is what every photographer should be aiming to achieve.
The key to infrared photography is that it pulls another quality out of the subject. It is literally on a different wavelength! A converted infrared camera’s sensor barely receives any light in the visible spectrum so what we see in the photographs is there, but we can’t see it with the naked eye. This is something that really interests me because my commercial photography is mostly concerned with representational images. I shoot architecture, food and products. I do a lot of photo manipulation in photoshop, but what I endeavour to portray is the quality that will help sell the product, building, holiday or restaurant.
Infrared gives me an opportunity to kick over the traces of representational photography and experiment with light in a completely different context. Because the starting position is light years away from being even vaguely representational, it can go anywhere without hindrance or inhibition. The challenge is to come back with something that elicits a positive response and not a negative one. It really isn’t any different from black and white photography, neither exist in the real world, both represent creative possibilities that photographers thrive on.
Shrewsbury in infrared is a start. I’ll add to this project in the coming months, but next month I’m off to Granada for a different take on a familiar, even iconic city.
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