Light, the essence of photography, has a wide spectrum. Yet we photograph with a small, narrow sliver of this spectrum that we call the visible light. Photographs captured using the normally invisible part of the spectrum present us with views that offer distinctly different characteristics.
The infrared light spectrum has been captured on film for many years and more recently on digital sensors. Although the photographed segment of the infrared spectrum is still a narrow sliver, it yields dramatically different rendering of the world either in false colors or more commonly in black and white. IR photography requires a different way of seeing, a different sensibility since the results are surprisingly different from what we see and are quite dramatic in their own right.
Using a camera converted to record the IR spectrum, I have taken many photographs, landscapes, objects, people, etc. But the most satisfying results came when I took hundreds of such photographs from the window seat of airplanes as I flew between Providence and Salt Lake City in the last few years. I call them Earthscapes as they are too grand to be just landscape photographs. The IR spectrum sensitivity cuts through much of the haze and responds to the light below in unexpected ways. Results are at once awe-inspiring and yet abstract, amazing in detail yet anonymous. They can be screaming and be meditative at the same time. They invite close inspection as every minute detail we see may be as large as a farm field in reality.
The photographs have no titles, I want them to stand on their own and I want them to remain anonymous places as they are. Although a quick look at these images may be satisfying, a more contemplative, meditative look will likely offer greater satisfaction as the images may unfold their many layers.
These are aerial photographs. That becomes quickly obvious. I would like to invite you to seek out “what else they are” to paraphrase Minor White.
About 60+ photographs from this series are published in LensWork Extended Edition, November-December 2011, issue #97.
This is the first group of photographs in the series “IR Earthscapes” and is subtitled “Topography” as the photographs essentially present the natural terrain and topography as recorded in infrared light. Although in some of the photographs there may be small roads or other signs of the hand of man, they remain mostly the natural topography of the scene.
Clouds & Shadows
Shadows, especially those cast by the clouds are even more ethereal, almost surreal.
Clouds are one of the most transient entities. They are in a constant state of change and are in a constant state of motion. These attributes make them elusive, ethereal, and unique to photograph. We rarely look up to see the clouds, yet when in flight they are almost unavoidable from the window seat. Looking down at or through the clouds provides a very different experience compared to seeing them in the sky above us every day.
Shadows, especially those cast by the clouds are even more ethereal, almost surreal. They follow the light and the cloud that separates them from it, always being there, yet never becoming something on their own, forever changing.
This section contains clouds, cloud formations, peeking through them, and their inseparable shadows cast on the ground.
Hand of Man
Humans have been scratching the face of the earth for millennia. These signs are a testament to both human creativity and the capacity for destruction.
The following section features photographs mainly focusing on the marks made by humans on the natural terrain. From the air, lines, drawn by roads; land, peppered by houses, fields covered in measured scales with trees create visions that are difficult to see or perceive from the ground.