The “Blue Shift Infrared” project was one of those that I felt I could only touch on while I was a full time wedding photographer due to the fact that some of the content wasn’t as tame shall we say as what is normally seen.
The project was the primary personal project back in 2012, over a dozen shoots and the final collection is well over 100 images, this is one that will be printed in book format at some point – even if it’s just for my bookcase.
It started when I had one of my backup digital camera bodies converted to full time infrared, I had always adored B&W infrared photos and thought it would be interesting to use at some weddings for really dramatic scenic shots of the venue. For several months this is all it was used for, but it was enough to have a home in the camera bag.
What is an infrared camera? No it doesn’t see in the dark. It’s a camera that has had the normal protective IR blocking glass in front of the sensor removed and replaced with a custom cut infrared filter, it pretty much blocks all visible light and only lights light pass in the upper IR wavelengths. So what it’s capturing is how different things reflect infrared light. This is why green grass will go white while pine trees stay dark. They are both green, but grass reflects IR light and pine needles absorb it.
While doing a few model portfolio shoots at the studio I pulled it out of the bag, made some custom adjustments to the white balance setting, and decided to see what would come out of the camera using the studio strobes.
The infrared in studio with the lights and custom white balance created striking results – these are pretty much straight out of the camera – shot as JPG’s, a little photoshop to clean up the backgrounds and contrast adjustments – but that was pretty much it.
The first things I noticed is how fabric reacted – most things came out a range of white, blue white, dark blue or black. But guessing which would reflect in which way is a challenge – I’ve seen dark fabrics, even black show up white or light blue with the infrared camera. To find fabric drapes to this project I had to take the camera into the fabric store to look at it’s IR reflective properties.
Second what the way it captured skin – almost alabaster in it’s tone and beauty. Often you can even see faint blue lines – veins beneath the surface of the skin. In addition regardless of racial skin tones, we mostly all reflect infrared light at the same levels so it’s not easy to tell from the images who’s a pasty white caucasian and who isn’t.
Another discovery was the fact that tattoo’s for the most part totally absorb light in the infrared spectrum going very deep black, although certain shades of ink will show up bright blue.
So this is largely shut down – without the studio I’ve never be able to recreate the exact look again. I am thinking of experimenting with the infrared camera out doors and using the studio strobe on a battery pack. I’ll likely try and test shoot or two this fall and make plans for something more formal next year.
The blog only shows the PG rated images, there are a few R rated as well in the collection which can be viewed in it’s entirety here: http://www.mh-underground.com/p296788637