Monday, 2 December 2019

James Jarché and early infrared photography

The legendary press photographer, James Jarché (coincidentally the grandfather of the Suchet brothers), was also a pioneer of infrared photography ... or infra-red as it was denoted in those days.

He tells in his memoirs that in 1932 ...
... the Editor of the Daily Herald, Mr Spooner, suggested that I should try to get a picture of an audience in a theatre, during the showing of a film, when the whole house was in darkness. [...] So I went one evening to the Carlton Theatre in the Haymarket, during the performance of 'The Sign of the Cross, to see what could be done. Mr.Short, an expert from the Ilford Photographic Plate Paper and Film Manufacturers, came with me. By a priwous arrangement with the management of the theatre, six infra-red lamps had been fitted to the balcony. [...] Hidden by the darkness, and wthout attracting any one’s attention, I shot an audience I could not see, giving nine seconds' exposure. That is less than is required to take a phbtograph in a lighted room. [...] I made several experiments that evening with different exposures, varying from six seconds to ten seconds. I was very doubtful whether they would be successful, but when I developed the plate, they were as clear and sharp as though the shots had been taken in broad daylight.
He also describes using the heat of a hot clothes iron to take an infrared image in his darkroom, with an exposure of an hour, and being asked by Ilford to photograph the plate manufacturing process (in the dark).

Some of his photos are held in the Getty collection, which you can find with this search.

He also mentions an infrared photograph of the 1932 Armistice Day commemoration at the cenotaph in London, which was taken (but not by him) using an infrared plate because of the poor weather. The image appeared in the Manchester Guardian on November 12th that year.

Jarchés autobiography, titled 'People I have Shot' is available on the internet archive, which claims that it is out of copyright. That may be the case in the USA but since he died in 1965 it will still be in copyright in the UK.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Blue Mountains in Infrared

Photographer Steven Saphore has used his modified DSLR to take some nice shots of the Blue Mountains national park in New South Wales, Australia. A set of the images has appeared in the Guardian newspaper. The photographs are faux-colour but Stephen has applied the colour subtly, which makes for an interesting variation.

The description of the technique is slightly misleading, in that it implies that the whiteness of the foliage is due to chlorophyll being reflective at these wavelengths, whereas it's the chlorophyl itself being transparent and letting 'light' bounce around in the plant cells. But that's a nit-pick ... the photos are the important thing.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Solar panels and 'reflective' grass

I was interested to read in today's Guardian that BP are researching the most reflective kinds of grass to plant underneath solar panels; panels that pick up on top and underneath. The story points out that "bifacial panels can increase electricity output by almost 15% – but this can be much higher if the ground beneath the panel is particularly reflective".

Although the story doesn't mention it, regular readers and fans of infrared photography will know that grass (as well as other foliage) strongly reflects near-infrared light due to the retro-reflective effect of those wavelengths travelling through plant cells. Chlorophyl is transparent to near-infrared radiation. The effect is the same one that makes snow appear white, which is why infrared photos and snowy scenes can be confused.

The Solarquotes blog in 2017 looked at the proportion of solar radiation that a solar panel can exploit. Their context was about UV but if you scroll down the page you'll see a diagram that shows that a silicon solar panel will make use of radiation between 400 and 1100 nanometres. Since visible light extends from about 400 nm to about 650 nm you can see that including near-infrared more than doubles the available energy bandwidth.


All this makes planting grass underneath bi-directional solar cells a logical thing to do. That reflective grass is not just fun for infrared photography then ... or grazing!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Infrared astronomy faces a gap

In late 2016 I noted that the James Web infrared space telescope was two years away (in this post) but it now seems that the launch has been pushed back to March 2021 at the earliest. This delay means that there will be a gap in infrared observation capabilities, as the Spitzer is set to cease operation over a year before that.

More information on this can be found on the Scientific American web site.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Photocrowd IR competition

Occasionally photo communities ask for, and sometimes rate, infrared photographs. DP Review have done it in the past and I selected one of their winners for the 2010 Infrared 100 exhibition.

Just launched is one for Photocrowd. If you're a member, or want to join, you can submit photos and rate others. In this case the contest finishes on the 28th. Anyone can view the entries. The ones so far include some interesting ones as well as some strange ones, some of which are (IMHO) not even infrared images! But worth a peruse.

Go to www.photocrowd.com/photo-competitions/infrared-1-technique-photo-contest-5980/.