Thursday, 16 April 2015

More on Ed Thompson 'Unseen'

I made it over to Bethnal Green yesterday to see Ed Thompson's 'Unseen' exhibition and, as I expected, found the images fascinating. There are only two days left but I do recommend that you get over to the Four Corners Gallery if you can. Ed very kindly gave me a print, and we chatted. I was impressed that he made such good use of this difficult film stock ... even more so since he found that he didn't need to bracket.

One thing that struck me was the silvery skin tone in the Vein series. I've been trying to figure out what might cause it: the illumination was flash and the images are almost always straight what was recorded on the film. I'll leave you with my favourite out of the Vein shots and a final note that Ed plans a book sometime soon. Details yet to be announced.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ed Thompson 'Unseen' infrared photos in London

Documentary photographer and lecturer Ed Thompson has started an exhibition of colour infrared photographs at Four Corners Gallery in east London. It's called The Unseen and is a compendium of medium format Aerochrome shots taken for several earlier projects.

The photographs cover landscapes, medical imagery and aerial photography, in some cases echoing the original intended usage for the film, which was better known in its Infrared Ektachrome incarnation.

The exhibition runs until April 18th.

Like Richard Mosse, Ed Thompson's use of medium format Aerochrome film is a dying gasp for the medium. I doubt if there's much stock left now, and although it is possible to mimic the film's effect with a digital camera, the results (at least by me) are nowhere near as dramatic as 'the real thing'.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Thermal Eclipse

Many thanks to Dr Chris Lavers of the University of Plymouth for sending over unusual views of last week's partial solar eclipse. Here's an example ...

This was taken in the south west of England with a FLIR 320 by 240 pixel E320 thermal imaging camera. This camera covers a range of 7.5 to 13 µm, which includes a substantial atmospheric window around 10 µm.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Four Simon Marsden prints for auction at Sotheby's

Prints of four of the late Sir Simon Marsden's infrared photographs are included in Sotheby's 2015 Made in Britain auction. This takes place on the morning of March 25th.

Simon Marsden: Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

The four, in two lots, are his famous shot of Moydrum Castle in Ireland, as shown in the Infrared 100 exhibition in 2010, together with an atmospheric view of Dunnottar Castle in Scotland (above) and shots of Whitby Abbey and a gargoyle at Toddington Manor in Gloucestershire. Estimates for the two lots are both between £1,500 and £2,500.

In the same auction last year there was a lot of four of his prints, which exceeded their top estimate to fetch £4,375.

Like Minor White, Ansel Adams and others, Simon saw the print as (to quote Adams) 'the performance' where the negative is 'the score'. This places a great importance on the printing process, especially when the photographer does the printing (as did Simon). Whether this analogy means that no-one else can legitimately print a photographer's negatives is a difficult point, since following the musical theme it would mean that we should discount Sir John Eliot Gardiner's performances of a Beethoven symphony simply because only Beethoven himself could conduct it (other great conductors are available). But I'm just being devil's advocate ... sadly Simon will print no more and this is a chance to own the authentic manifestation of his vision. There are very few prints of Simon's work around and it's likely that there will be no more prints made. Plus, I am always delighted when people take artistic infrared photography seriously.


Lot 107, Moydrum and Castles, sold for £1750 while, sadly, the other lot didn't sell.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Infrared and tissue penetration

A recent article in New Scientist caught my eye. My drug-filled nanospheres heal at the speed of light reports work by a team led by Professor Adah Almutairi at the University of California, San Diego.

Her work explains that by making use of near infrared's ability to penetrate skin and tissue, it is possible to use a laser of the appropriate wavelength to trigger a polymer nanotube to break down and, if it's carrying a drug, to release it. Since the light can be tightly targeted it would be possible to therefore tightly target a release site for the drug. There are other mechanisms for triggering release, such as the temperature of inflammation or even sunlight on the skin. This latter has the neat prospect of a sunscreen that activates when you get into the sun.

While the NS article is very recent, I found a paper from 2011 by Almutairi's team that explains the concept:

Low Power, Biologically Benign NIR Light Triggers Polymer Disassembly Fomina et al
Macromolecules, 2011, 44 (21), pp 8590–8597

You can see the abstract or buy the paper from ACS Publications.

One interesting thing, for me, is the statement at the top of the abstract that "Near infrared (NIR) irradiation can penetrate up to 10cm deep into tissues". Admittedly, from a photographic point of view you need to remember that the IR has to penetrate the tissue and then get back out again, but I believe the figure of 'a few millimetres' has been a good rule of thumb for years. A figure of between one and two cm has been cited from a paper by Gao et al, In vivo cancer targeting and imaging with semiconductor quantum dots from 2004.

So I decided to see what Lou Gibson had to say on the matter in his third edition of Clark 'Photography by Infrared' in 1978. He quotes Balderry and Ewald, in a 1924 paper called 'Life Energy in Theraputics' as saying that sunlight can penetrate up to 25 cm into the body. So that 10cm seems quite reasonable.

Photographically, however, a near infrared photograph will often show veins under the skin, and will almost always give people a 5-o'clock shadow (even some women). This is also, as I've pointed out before, the cause of the alabaster look you can see in infrared portraits. I'll leave you with this image of Jude (a lady with whom I used to work) demonstrating the infrared look, with the added 'bonus' of 35mm infrared film grain.