Sunday 24 March 2024

Ed Thompson Infrared Story

Back in September 2016 I wrote about a colour infrared project by documentary photographer Edward Thompson called The Unseen.

Ed has been building up a YouTube channel called Pictures On My Mind and this includes some explanations of the work he did with some of the last remaining stock of infrared Aerochrome, which was basically the same as infrared Ektachrome EIR.

The latest video outlines at length the shooting he did in Pripyat, Chernobyl, and included in The Unseen. This part of his infrared journey started with finding out that false-colour infrared film was widely used in forestry. The normal red look of healthy foliage would tend towards magenta when the foliage was 'stressed' and it was a good way of determining forest health from a distance.

Alongside the Chernobyl video is another one going into more detail about other parts of the Unseen project, but because it includes some nudes (to demonstrate IR's ability to allow you to see a few millimetres under the skin and to echo demonstration shots published by Kodak) this video is restricted and Ed has had difficuly making the most of his whole channel.

This video passes on a couple of interesting pieces of information about Ed's technique. One is that, certainly until he was totally au fait with the idiosyncratic film, Ed bracketed the shots. I always found this was essential for any infrared film but I have come acress photographers who are able to get it spot on without bracketing. The other is that he says in the video that he used a visually-opaque R72 filter to get the very deep reds that he achieved. Usually you'd use a minus-blue filter (yellow) with EIR. Those reds are mind-blowing!

Each section of The Unseen represents different applications of infrared photography with others including art investigation and restoration and medical imaging. (In fact the third edition of the standard text, Photography by Infrared, was written by Lou Gibson, who was a pioneer of medical photography.)

So I can recommend Ed's YouTube channel and especially The Red Forest of Pripyat Chernobyl. Enjoy!