Tuesday, 23 February 2021

RPS On-location infrared workshop in May

The Landscape Group of the Royal Photographic Society have organised a workshop in the south of Suffolk to explore and expand your skills in infrared photography with photographer Justin Minns. The locations include Freston Tower and the banks of the River Stour. It's for up to six people and as of today there are still places available.

Prices are £69 for non-members, £52 for members of the RPS and £42 for members of the RPS Landscape Group.

More info on the RPS web site at rps.org/landscape-magicofinfrared.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Elliott Landy colour infrareds on sale

Elliott Landy, the American photographer, is famous for his images shot at the Woodstock festival and of Bob Dylan and of the Band. He includes infrared photography in his work, and his photo of Dylan was the highlight of my Infrared 100 exhibition in Bath in 2010.

Elliott is holding a sale of some of his colour infrared photographs, running until February 15th. He says:

I consider this body of Infrared Photos to be among my best work from the Sixties. Except for the one of Bob Dylan, people have overlooked these when collecting my work. The prints on sale were shot on Infrared Color Film in the late Sixties except for the ones of Janis Joplin and Richard Manuel in performance which I am including in this group because they share the same visual vibration, or feeling, of the infrareds.

You can find out more on his web site here: www.elliottlandy.com/valentines-day-infrared-print-sale

You'll see that two of the shots, of Janis Joplin and Richard Manuel in performance, are not infrared but have the same vibe. He refers to the film he used as Aero slide film, which is basically the same as the Ektachrome. At the time of these shots I think it was an older formulation which needed a very obscure development process known as E4. I used this version on occasion and had to mail it off to a medical photographers in Harley Street, London, for development. The later E6 version was a lot easier to use and develop.

The photographs on this page are of jazz musician Ornette Coleman and his son, shot in New York in 1969. Though they use the same film, the filter used is different, producing the varied colour effects. To some extent these are unpredictable when you shoot, part of the 'fun' of using that kind of film stock. They are included in the sale. [Photographs are copyright © Elliott Landy used with permission]

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Life in Another Light

 I have mentioned Kolari Vision before. I used their Chrome infrared colour filter during my test shoot of various ways of filtering a digital camera for infrared photography. Yesterday I saw a photo piece in the Guardian about Kolari's competition called Life in Another Light, which includes various infrared categories and has resulted in some really amazing images. The Guardian shows some of the best ones but the Kolari page (although it loads somewhat slowly for me) also gives information about how they were shot ... and has lots more photos.

You should note that not all the photographs use infrared techniques. That isn't really clear in the Guardian but it is clear in the Kolari page.

One thing I think is proved here is that an infrared image should also work artistically as a photograph as many of these would be great even without the otherworldliness of IR.


The Guardian

Kolari Vision

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Laurie Klein: New book and Infrared Photography Course

 The first edition of Laurie and Kyle Klein's book, Infrared Photography: Artistic Techniques for Brilliant Images, came out in 2016 (and was featured here). Now there's a new edition from Amherst Media with extra input from technologist Shelley Vandegrift. I haven't as yet seen the new edition but I like the earlier books so this should be worth consideration.

Info on the book is on this web page.

Laurie and Shelley are also giving a three day "Intensive" course towards the end of September. This will be held using the ubiquitous Zoom running from noon to 1700 (I assume east-coast USA time) and with a course fee of $695. It's aimed at photographers across a range of infrared experience. The middle day will be a practical, where you shoot around your own area with the opportunity for discussion. More info on Laurie's web site.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Weegee and Kubrick: The infrared connection

I have recently been reading Christopher Bonanos' biography of the famous New York photographer Weegee. Weegee's reputation grew in the 1930s as a news photographer covering mostly crime and fires at night. He soon developed a style that transcended standard news pics partly due to his innate sense of a good image, but also his shots of the reaction to events, as much as the events themselves.

One item in Weegee's armoury, besides his police radio and pocketfuls of flashbulbs, was infrared. He picked up on it in the early 1940s, a few years after it become available from companies like Kodak through regular retail channels. Before the mid 1930s, if you wanted to take infrared photographs you had to sensitise the plates (for it was plates) yourself. Now there were plates with a sensitivity beyond 700nm which could survive being retailed and being carried around by a busy photographer.

Bonanos places Weege's first use of IR for publication in April 1942, shooting during a wartime blackout drill. He returned to the medium "again and again" using the phrase "Made with invisible light" and many of his most recognisable shots were made this way. He shot audiences in cinemas, the opera and even a circus. Sometimes by rigging IR flood lights or more often by using flash with special IR-pass coated flash bulbs.

My favourite, entitled Opening Night at the Met was taken on December 3rd 1944 and shows a small group in the audience, including a priest and a lady with opera glasses. Behind them stand two women and a man. He is displaying classic IR 'five o'clock shadow' (caused by IR penetrating the skin slightly ... he was probably clean shaven) and one woman shows another feature of the infrared look, which makes eyes look like dark pools. This may well be Kodak film but it shows little of the usual IR film look with halation. This is simply because it would have been a half-plate negative: the effects are there but more subtle than we got with 35mm film.

I can't directly show you the image but I can link you to it on the Getty site. It's a gem: Opening Night at the Met. They're watching Faust by the way.

Getty have 84 more examples of Weegee's infrared photography. This search will get you there. Alternatively, there are 43 shots online at the International Centre for Photography, where Weegee's archive is held. These include some of him with his infrared kit, ready to shoot, and even disguised as an ice cream seller.

Via the Bonanos book I discovered that not only was Stanley Kubrick an admirer of Weegee (his "last great set of photographs" was shot during the filming of Dr Strangelove) but Kubrick used infrared several time during his earlier career as a photographer. Some examples of his work for Look magazine can be found online, although it's unclear how many were actually published. One striking shot, very reminiscent of Weegee's work, is from a set Kubrick shot for Look in a set titled "Park Benches-Love is Everywhere," from 1946. In it, a young couple are seen disturbed in mid-kiss on a fire escape, looking up at the camera. It has the classic characteristics of an infrared portrait, with dark-pool eyes, and the light pattern tells us it was shot with flash.

You can find the fire-escape photo, along with other Kubrick stills work, in this review of a retrospective exhibition in 2018 called Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick’s Photographs.

There's some interesting information on infrared flash in a blog post by social documentary photographer Daniel D. Teoli Jr, including the kind of bulbs used by Weegee. In case you're wondering, electronic flash guns do give off infrared, so you can filter them for candid photography. Usually, no-one will see the flash unless they are looking at the gun, in which case they'd maybe see a brief dull red light. This would be partly due to the very low sensitivity of our eyes to very deep red going on infrared (0.01% of our green sensitivity at 750 nm according to Allen's astrophysical quantities) and to the tiny amount of deep red that the filter lets through.

Christopher Bonanos' biography of Weegee is called Flash: the Making of Weegee the Famous and is published by Henry Holt. It's a very readable account not only of the man's eccentric life but also, in passing, builds a picture of what it was like as a jobbing news photographer on a crime beat in New York between the 1930s and 1940s in New York. And I am cited twice in the notes.