Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life in Infrared

One of the biggest and most important rules of photography, and one I have talked about here before, is that photography should be fun. If you stop having fun, then it's time to reassess what your real goal is. For instance, when I realized that entering photo contests made me unhappy and frustrated, I stopped entering them. I began to see that these contests caused me to stop photographing the subjects I enjoyed, the things I wanted most to remember. Instead I was always concentrating on what would win.

I find insects incredibly fascinating. I could sit and watch bees buzz on flowers for hours. When I plant my flowerbeds, I look for plants that draw insects - the more the better.

A Visitor In My Garden

A Visitor In My Garden

And snakes are really cool creatures. I respect them, but I also protect them. They are part of the natural cycle and serve a purpose. You'll never see me kill a snake or watch you do it silently.

Rat Snakes (captive)

Rat Snakes

So what do insects and snakes have to do with infrared photography? Ah, but here's my point. Infrared photography is FUN. Just as watching bees buzz or finding a snake crawling in my garden would really make me happy, so does infrared photography.

I am certainly not the expert on how to take infrared and can only speak from my own experience. But the basic rules for infrared follow the rules for good black and white images. Infrared photography is all about contrasting light, shapes, and textures. The lack of color in the image means there has to be something else that draws the eye.

I find it best to include solid objects. Architecture, trees, and fences are good subjects. Infrared light always turns foliage white, so too much foliage will create a lack of depth in the image.

Plantation House

Plantation House


Oak Hammock, Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Florida


Oak Hammock, Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Florida


Water and skies also make great subjects. This is because, like buildings and trees, they turn black. The contrast between dark and light is really what makes infrared so appealing to me. In some ways it makes my color photographs better by forcing me to concentrate on the exposure and composition.

Docks, Lake Kissimmee

Docks, Lake Kissimmee, Florida


So, okay, you don't like bugs and you hate snakes. Maybe infrared doesn't appeal to you either. Then go out and find what does! Each of us has a unique vision. What my photographs speak of will not match what yours do.

Go make your own photographs and above all make them FUN!

* For my infrared photographs I use a Hoya R72 circular filter and always a tripod.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.


1 comment:

Tracy Ruckman said...

Stunning, breathtaking photos, Suzanne. Wow. You are my hero!

You are exactly right about shooting when it's fun. Since I got my big DSLR camera, taking pictures is more of an ordeal than it is fun, so I've put it up for sale, and will buy a smaller digital to replace it. I miss the spontaneity of it, and can get some decent shots even with the smaller camera.