Monday, August 23, 2010

Britannia Road: a comparison in colour and infrared


N.S. Palmer said...

Fascinating video. To my untutored eyes, the colour video is more interesting than the infrared, but that's probably because I don't know what I'm looking at. I thought that hotter areas looked brighter in infrared photography, but that's the extent of my knowledge in the area.

Perhaps you could give us a little explanation of what we're seeing and why?

Thanks for a great post.

Lone Primate said...

Heya, Scott. :) Well, it's true; IR photography's sure not for everyone. For me, it's glorious and beautiful, and I love the way it can looks lush and stark at the same time. The finest compliments I've ever gotten were over IR shots... someone evoked Ansel Adams in reference to one of my IR shots, and another was purchased by Popular Photography. So I'm rather fond of it, me. :)

I understand where you're coming from. I was used to thinking of IR photography as thermography. But that's based on much longer wavelengths than what I'm dealing with... something from around 1000-15000 nm. We see in light from about 300-750 nm. My IR photograph -- most people's -- falls in the middle, around 720-900 nm. The camera I'm using now has filter centred on 850 nm.

What you're seeing, of course, is everything black that absorbs these wavelengths, and white everything that reflects them. Natural fibres and plants tend to strongly reflect these wavelengths, and so in bright light they look gloriously bright in near-IR. Trees look like cotton candy; grass looks like snow. Anyone wearing cotton or other plant-based fibre suddenly looks like someone dressed in Heaven... even clothes that look visibly black come out snow white if they're made of cotton. I find the effect entrancing. And what amazes me is that it's all real. It's a "translation", of course, from IR to visible light... but it's still a reflection of another aspect of the world that's just as real as what we normally see. That also delights the deconstructionist in me; as a certain Roman asked a certain chap from Bethlehem, "What is truth?" :)

Unknown said...

I love your IR photography and Talking Heads, so it's a winning post, that one!
Winking smiley face.