Friday, February 28, 2014

Interview With Photographer Kathy Cavallaro

My featured guest today is Midwest photographer Kathy Cavallaro. As you can see from the photos on this page, Kathy’s color IR landscapes are gorgeous. I first saw Kathy’s IR work in the Infrared and Ultraviolet forum of the Nikonians website.

DW: Kathy, welcome to the photoblog! How long have you been taking infrared photos?

KC: Thank you Dan for the opportunity to talk about my IR photography. I first became interested in infrared photography in early 2010 after finding a few images online that peaked my interest.  I started with an IR720 filter, not wanting to make the investment in a converted camera if I didn't enjoy the results.  The results were intriguing but it was difficult to get the results I wanted having to focus first, then apply the filter.  Also, the long shutter speeds with the filter made it difficult to obtain sharp photos.  I found I enjoyed IR photography enough to make the investment in having a camera converted.  Shortly after having my camera converted, I enrolled in Deb Sandidge's course on IR photography.  This was so helpful in every way from composition, to final processing techniques. 

DW: Which camera and lens combination do you use most often? 

KC:  I only have one IR body at the moment. It's a Nikon D200 converted with the super color filter (590nm). I chose the super color after many discussions with LifePixel. I didn't think I'd shoot many standard IR, and if I found the need, I could convert the Super Color easily to a more traditional Black and White with software. The camera was calibrated for a 18-55 lens, but have found the best results with the 18-200 VR lens. 

Marco Island, FL - (c) Kathy Cavallaro
DW:   Let’s take a look at the Marco Island photograph. I love this photo! What was your goal when you took it? 

KC:  With the Marco Island image my main goal was to frame the pool with the palm trees. I was lucky with the clouds. The wonderful thing with IR photography is that you can capture an interesting image at midday, when the light would not be very conducive to taking a regular image.

DW: Your Nikon D200 does not have LiveView but your photos are very sharp, even at longer focal lengths. Do you use any special focusing technique to make everything sharp?

KC: I use the hyperfocal technique, and focus about 1/3 of the way into the frame. This works well for me with all my cameras.

Buckingham Fountain, Chicago - (c) Kathy Cavallaro
DW: The next featured photo shows the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago. Can you tell us anything about this image?

KC:  I was so excited to take my IR camera to Chicago. It's an infrared paradise! I shot the fountain from every angle, it's a wonderful subject.

DW: You always seem to get the sky blue and the clouds white and/or natural-looking in your IR photographs. This really makes the IR coloration stand out. The clouds in my photos often have a blue cast after the channel swap. Can you tell us how you create this type of sky? 

KC:  After I put the image through the channel swap, if the image has a color cast, I'll run it through camera raw and play with the white balance. Sometimes I'll need to use a mask to work on the clouds with Hue/Saturation in Photoshop.

Charleston SC Pier - (c) Kathy Cavallaro
DW: The sky in your "Under the Pier" photo has is totally unexpected and the image does not scream INFRARED! Can you tell us something about this photo?

KC:  I was surprised by the results of that image as well. It was taken in early morning with the sun low in the sky, and slightly underexposed. I was inspired by framing the scene with the different angles of the pier. I was lucky to have a few wispy clouds and the two joggers entering the frame worked perfectly. I had hoped to capture more detail on the wood, but decided it may have distracted from the soft feel of the scene. This was processed in the same manner as my other images. This was taken in Charleston, SC.

Charleston SC Beach - (c) Kathy Cavallaro
DW:   With our especially harsh winter weather this year, this final beach scene is especially appealing. What made you use your IR camera rather than a standard camera?

KC: This image was taken in Charleston as well. This highlights the reason I chose the super color filter. I just love how it renders the foliage, helps to make something interesting out of the scrub in the foreground. The single beach chair, the fishermen, and the architecture of the building in the distance were the inspiration for this image. 

DW: Kathy, this has been great. Do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share?

KC: Thank you Dan for giving me the opportunity to share some of my photographs. For me Infrared photography always has an element of surprise. I'm never quite sure how the final image will look before running it through the channel swap. I find that aspect very enjoyable and exciting.

DW: Kathy, thank you for taking the time to share your infrared photo experiences. Your photos are inspirational.

You can find more of Kathy Cavallaro’s photographs at  


  1. Dan and Cathy - thanks for the great discussion. It's great to hear about your techniques and see the images you are creating.

    1. Thanks Eric. It is a great learning opportunity for me. IIt has been a pleasure working with all of these photographers and I am grateful for the time and effort they invested in this project.