Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Remarkable Color IR Photographs

An important exercise for me as a photographer is to critically review the work of other artists. This examination helps me to determine what I like about their work so that I can incorporate some of those elements into my photos.  Trying to recreate these “pearls” is a learning process that improves my skills and helps me to grow as a photographer. I don’t slavishly reproduce the style of any photographer. My photographs have many influences but my style is unique.

Examining the work of others is especially important for color infrared photography because color IR requires more post-processing than visible light photographs. As you might expect, lighting, composition, sharpness, contrast, and tone are just as important for color IR as they are for visible light images. The additional element – the secret ingredient - is the post-processing.  This examination helps define my preferences as an artist and it shows me what is possible during post-processing. Some of these possibilities will fit my esthetic and workflow, some will not.
Fierce Defender. by Etownbeatdown
Fierce Defender by Justin Piercy
So with that introduction, I would like to introduce five remarkable color infrared photographs. The first photo is "Fierce Defender" by Justin Piercy. I love the composition of this photograph with the fence line leading your eye to the horizon. The diagonal cloud formations give an otherwise normal "vanishing point" scene a sense of tension and angular movement. The sharply focused post and chain in the foreground and the broken post provide visual interest. The colors are great. This type of coloration is often achieved when using a 720 nm IR filter and an accurate white balance.

"Sunset on Golden Pond" by KellyShipp
Sunset on Golden Pond by Kelly Shipp
Continuing with the red theme, we have the "Sunset on Golden Pond" by Kelly Shipp.This photo also appears to be taken with a 720 nm IR filter but this image features the more traditional white foliage. I really like the sunset behind the cabin and tree. The lighter band of sky accents the silhouette of the cabin. The light gradient on the pond and the darker land above create a wedge that draws my eye from left to right, toward the little puffy clouds. The curved shoreline at the far end of the pond nicely frames the cloud reflections. The tone and composition of this deceptively simple photograph are great.

Top Speed (Infrared) by 2121studio
Top Speed (Infrared) by
Not all infrared photographs are landscapes and I wanted to review this one, "Top Speed (Infrared)" by Ali Shamsul Bahar of  This photo was taken in Negara, Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia. I love the lighting in this photograph and the sense of movement. This photo is a challenge for me because I don't quite know how it was captured. The animals and the wheels of the cart are in motion but the driver and the cart are sharp and motionless. Is this just great panning technique with a slower shutter speed? Maybe an off-camera flash with rear-curtain eposure? Could this be a composite image where the motionless driver is overlaid onto the moving cart? Whatever the technique, this is a stunning photograph in my estimation. 

Enchanted forest by David.Keochkerian 
Enchanted forest by David Keochkerian
The next remarkable color IR photograph is "Enchanted forest" by David Keochkerian. This is a lovely forest and water scene that also contains a woman with an umbrella. Can you find her? The image appears to be captured using a 590 nm IR filter and a channel swap was employed during post-processing. This approach produces blue skies and enhances the golden colors.The reflections are beautiful and the lighter trees downstream are framed by the arch of the trees. The arch and the brightness draw your eye into the photograph. I am not fond of the large dark branch in the upper left corner but this is still a lovely photograph.

Framed Reflection by McSnowHammer
Framed Reflection by Mattias Hammar
The final image, "Framed Reflection" comes from Sweden.The photographer is Mattias Hammar. This image appears to be captured with a 720 nm filter. Channel swap with color adjustments were problably employed to achieve the blue sky and the pink foliage. I really like the colors, the reflections, and the contrasts. The framing of this image is outstanding because it enhances rather than detracts from the far trees and the reflection. The black water is very nice. Black water occurs when you get reflections from a cloudless sky.  (A cloudless infrared sky is black.) This is a stunning photograph! The only thing I would do differently would be to remove the white leaf floating on the water just below the red tree reflections.

This is how I review images. Your methods will certainly be different.  I hesitated to include critical comments in this blog because I mean no disrespect to the photographers. These photos were featured because I thought they were outstanding.  I hope you do too.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hey Dan! Just wanted to say thanks for the kind words and using my photo on your blog much appreciated. I wish I would have knew about this earlier haha.

    -Justin Piercy.

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