Back to the Creative Process for Interpreting Invisible Light.
When I go out to shoot infrared images, what am I looking for? In a perfect world, the sky would be blue and filled with puffy, white clouds; the scene filled with green trees and fields, some water feature and a barn or two with a big, rusty tractor for good measure. Good luck with that. The beauty of infrared though is that many, many (did I say many?) subjects beyond the scenario described above work incredibly well. I am open all the time to exploring all options. Trees are among my favorite subjects in all flavors – color, infrared, monochrome. Their “bones” are alluring in every way. Rural landscapes work for me anytime, and so do seascapes and shrimp boats and architecture of any style. Dramatic skies paired with long exposures in infrared are magical and impactful. Graphic elements, leading lines, curves and objects with great texture and varied tones work well also. The only subject that is not for me is people and portraits. They make intriguing images in infrared, but not for me. I choose not to photograph people, not even in color. I remind myself that photography is my soul feeder. And, not one thing I ever shoot complains about how I make it look. I am good with that.
Regardless of where I am, I’m looking for an interesting subject, something that holds my attention and makes me stop. I’m looking for light that works for and with the subject. I have been doing this long enough to know what will translate well and how to work with it in post processing. Sometimes I can see where I might go with an image, sometimes not. The key for me is to be open to the process, to shoot what moves me and not worry about the next step until I get there. Being present and intentional is valuable.
I get my exposures and compositions “right” in the field to the best of my ability based on the situations. For example, when shooting at 590nm, I am careful to watch the red channel in my histogram and not blow it out. This helps to retain all the color information I might use in the faux color process. I’m also mindful of how I arrange the elements in the frame. I do not and will not adopt the “I’ll fix it in Photoshop” approach when the opportunity is possible to do the fixing in the field. Is every image meticulously arranged and perfectly exposed? No, not always. However, I do strive to end up with the best possible frames to match my vision. I don’t want to get out my boots to wade through the slop of mindless, lazy, hit-and-miss shooting.