Can You Still Get Infrared Film?
Absolutely! Where would we be without B&H? Our preference is for Ilford SFX 200, 120 size is a unique infrared-sensitized panchromatic black and white negative film. It is sensitive to IR wavelengths up to 820nm and can be used to produce unique halation effects with filtration and by varying the exposure length. It is suitable for working in both daylight and tungsten conditions and is characterized by a fine grain structure, notable sharpness, and high resolving power. Additionally, a good contrast profile offers clear separation between shadow and highlight regions.
How Do You Choose Your Subjects?
We say that we have a meandering interest in America and Americana. Sometimes we have destinations in mind - architectural wonders, literary landmarks or historic sites. Other times, as we drive from show to show and place to place, we take backroads or detours to explore random attractions or landscapes that catch our attention. People we meet at shows are also helpful. Once they see the collection, they often have suggestions for places they would love to see in infrared. We're very gratified that so many people seem to share our eclectic interests and have embraced our collection.
What Time Of Day Do You Do Your Photography?
A lot of people hear infrared and think night photography, but in fact we do all of our work during the day. Heat waves do not refract but light waves do. That's where the magic happens. To get the best effect, we need direct light, so we generally work anytime between an hour or so after sunrise to the hour or so before sunset. We can also shoot in diffused light (stormy weather, fog, etc) but the angle of the light needs to be pretty direct and not oblique.
Do Any Animals See In Infrared?
Snakes are the only animals that even come close to seeing in infrared. However because of a special sensitive membrane, there is overlap between what they 'see' and what they 'sense.'
Are These Images Manipulated?
This question - specifically the use of the word manipulated - doesn't actually apply to our work. Let me explain why. We do FINE ART photography, not PHOTOJOURNALISM. These are very different professions with very little overlap. True, we both use cameras and strive to create powerful images, but that is where the similarities end.
The photojournalist creates compelling images that support or tell stories that are - by definition - factual. They are bound by professional standards and ethics not to compromise the honesty of their visual reporting by 'manipulating' their images. This issue has received a tremendous amount of attention recently, especially after an unprecedented number of photos were disqualified from the 2015 World Press Photo Competition due to excessive or blatant post processing. The New York Times hosted a thought provoking conversation on this subject last February.
These coversations are essential to the evolution of photojournalism, but they have no place in fine art photography. We are first and foremost artists. The stories we tell through our chosen medium are not bound by rules of realism, they are as limitless as our imaginations. Russell and I have chosen a particular technique and process that is inherently surreal. Trees glow with white radiance, grasses look frosty or dream-like. As a personal preference, we try to capture 'real' scenes and let our compositions and process take the lead in 'making the magic.' Having said that, though, we will use every tool and technique at our disposal to bring our vision to fruition. We are passionate about the Impressionists and the Fauves (wild beasts) who followed them. We admire these artists for boldly breaking new ground and pushing the boundaries of their craft. It is their fearless spirit that guides us - not the principles of photojournalism.
Why Do You Do Black And White Infrared?
Russell created a vibrant collection of Gulf coast images, and we admire the work of many talented color photographers, but we share a life-long love of black and white photography. Using black and white photography allows us to focus on tone and texture in an entirely different way. The infrared twist also allows us to give people a new experience with places they've seen many times before. Our favorite compliment is when someone sees a landmark that is as familiar to them as the back of their hand and they say, "Wow! I've never seen it like this!"
Why Don't You Have Any Photos Of Europe?
Our goal is to photograph all 50 states in infrared and create a book that combines these images and with thought-provoking essays that celebrate the beauty and unique character of our country. This is an ambitious project and we are proud of the work that we've already done, but it doesn't leave us anytime to explore Europe - yet!
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