We went for a walk in the RSPB reserve at Fowlmere the other day. There’s not usually much of wildlife interest for the brief visitor at this time of year, but the paths wind through old woodland and I always enjoy how bare winter branches there are reflected in the scattered pools .
I decided to take my full-spectrum converted Olympus E-M10ii fitted with an infrared 720nm filter, and aimed for a vintage, plate-camera feel to the images, with dark tones, peripheral softness and vignetting. Victorian photo emulsions had tonal responses to light that are very different from today’s digital sensors, so I hoped the other-worldly effect of the IR spectrum today might suggest something of that.
Infrared plate and film photography dates from before WWI, and it remained a niche genre, although it was used by some great art photographers such as Minor White in the USA, and false-colour IR film images were commonplace in the swinging 60s (most notably on the cover of Frank Zappa’s album ‘Hot Rats’)
IR monochrome photography is often done at the height of the day in summer, when IR radiation is plentiful and the effects on foliage and sky often startling. I was trying for something much more subtle here.
Ironically, just as we were heading home we had a fine sighting of a Barn Owl hunting at the edge of the trees north of the car park, but I didn’t have a long lens with me, so binoculars had to suffice.