From a recent trip west, a look at some of the black and white infrared photographs.
A look at some of the black and white infrared images coming out of digital processing. Images are from the recent road trip along Route 66, time in New Mexico and back through Mississippi
My friend Geoff Livingston, who was featured here in a photography showcase, has a podcast (also available as video) called the “Show me podcast” where he chats with folks about iconic photos and why they work (or not).
We caught up to talk about Robert Frank’s book, The Americans. And then we talked about the Roadside America project, Infrared photography and some of the thoughts behind PhotoNexus (at the 27 minute point) which I am organizing in Santa Fe, July 26 & 27.
Hope you can find the time to check out the podcast…and yes, a saxophone walks through it.
A little photo compilation from ArtExpo New York including the new aluminum prints, the booth and the photography friends
Time magazine recently published an issue reflecting on how art is at the heart of optimism.
“Art calls to the optimism within us and beckons us to breathe…To meet us where we are and to invite us in – to think, to feel, to wonder, to dream, to debate, to laugh, to resist, to roam, to imagine. Art is worthy of our interrogation”
For 41 years and counting, Artexpo New York has changed how people buy and sell art. This year, Artexpo New York champions the transformative power of art with the powerful theme of “Transform.” Art challenges the status quo, changes our perceptions, and pushes us to see ourselves and others from a new perspective. Through its power, art transforms.
ArtExpo New York is an ideal opportunity to wander and enjoy more than 1,000 established and emerging artists, galleries, and art publishers. Running from April 5-7, 2019 (with a special trades day on April 4th for galleries, designers and other trades in the art market), this annual curated show brings the biggest industry buyers and collectors together with artists and 35,000+ attendees. It is a chance to see the newest, brightest faces of the art world and to purchase works from exhibitors in person.
Here is a link to ArtExpo NYC “discoveries” collection which features great options at $5,000 or less and is among the favorite picks from ArtExpo NYC. Here are some of my items selected for the Discovery Collection and you can also see a set on Flickr.
New Dye-Sublimation Aluminum Prints: In addition to exhibiting these photos, I am excited to be working with BlazingEditions and trying something new beyond my own small batch limited edition archival prints on paper. For ArtExpo NewYork, I am going to also show the two images below in a larger format (the cactus will be 30”x 40”) printed on aluminum. Here is an explanation from Blazing Editions:
“Sublimation onto metal is a new, cutting edge, way to reproduce an image. Sublimation itself is the process of going from a solid to a gas, back to a solid – skipping the liquid state.
The image is first printed onto a transfer paper and then is adhered to pretreated aluminum (other substrates such as tile, wood, or glass are also available).
The aluminum and transfer paper are placed into a custom heat press, which is heated to temperatures exceeding 380 degrees Fahrenheit. While being subjected to extreme heat and pressure, the dyes from the transfer paper turn into a gas, are pressed into the surface of the metal, and then solidify into the treated aluminum. As the dyes cool they are permanently infused beneath the surface of the metal substrate.”
The black and white infrared image is printed on clear gloss aluminum. It not only “pops” because of the glossy metal surface but also has a sort of 3-dimensional feel to it. The image “changes” as you walk around it going from a flat gray photo negative appearance to the popping 3-dimensional infrared image (this is influenced by the light reflecting off the aluminum).
I am both excited by this new print format and how it impacts the image, as well as a little nervous since the infrared image on clear gloss is a bit “out there” as it changes with the light.
Art Talks: In addition to exhibiting new works at ArtExpo NYC, I will also be participating in the Art Talks Topics & Trends Education Program where I will be discussing aspects of my art, inspiration and career as an artist.
Worth Noting the AIPAD show: At the same time as ArtexpoNewyork (and just up the street at Pier 94) is the Annual Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) 39th edition of The Photography Show. Nearly 100 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries will present a range of museum-quality work including contemporary, modern, and 19th century photographs, photo-based art, video, and new media. When I lived in NYC, I enjoyed this show every year. Check it out too if you can.
If you are in New York, please drop by and say hi
The Infrared Image: what makes infrared interesting are the dream like qualities achieved because of the high contrast blacks and whites, such as the deep black sky and water and bright white foliage and clouds as they reflect the Infrared light. In color infrared the false colors result in a equally surreal and dreamy effect.
What is Infrared: People often ask about Infrared photography starting with a question that relates infrared to night-seeing goggles one sees the military using. In fact, infrared photography and night vision goggles have little in common. In infrared photography, the film or image sensor is sensitive to infrared light. In the case of photography, that infrared light is part of the spectrum referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. On the other hand, night vision goggles use image enhancement technology to collect all the available light, including infrared light, and amplify it so that you can easily see what’s going on in the dark.
Technical considerations for IR Photography: what makes infrared photography both interesting and challenging is that the near infrared light wavelengths (about 700nm to 900nm) are invisible to the eye, meaning that they are also invisible to the camera light meter. This also impacts focus and the image composition. Without practice you can never be sure how the image is going to come out in terms exposure. This also can impact the elements of the composition itself because how the elements of the composition interact with Infrared light on any particular day can be a tad unpredictable. In using Infrared film, it required bracketing every shot and with practice both the exposure and image composition become more predictable. Also worth noting that that sometimes the film negatives are going to be a little thin and require additional dark room attention.
Infrared Film: I began shooting the famous and wonderful Kodak High Speed Infrared (HIE) Black and White film (sadly, now discontinued). It featured a beautiful halation effect and glow, largely because of the absence of an anti-halation layer on the back side of Kodak HIE film. The film was susceptible to scratching in post production so negatives had to be handled carefully. The film was was also a tad grainy. It required loading and unloading the film in complete darkness. A piece of black electrical tape over the little film window in the back of the camera to prevent even a tad of light leaking into the camera which would ruin the film. I pushed the film to asa 1500 and used a deep red filter. Today, Rollei, Efke and Maco and Ilford sell Infrared film. The emulsions do not quite match the Kodak HIE film. If you want more detailed pointers for shooting infrared film check out this link to an Infrared Photography simple guide.
The Digital Era and Infrared
With the advent of the digital era and digital cameras came several issues for infrared photographs.
1. First, digital cameras manufacturers had to completely filter out infrared light because it caused a lot of noise. Therefore camera sensors had no capacity to access infrared light.
2. Second, to get around the camera sensor issue, you could use an infrared filter on the lens. However, given its opacity, you must focus before not focus or see through. Therefore, you had to set up the shot on a tripod, then screw on the filter and then take a significantly long exposure. That limited my desire to walk around and shoot from the hand.
3. Third, Lightroom and Photoshop had some work arounds (for example color channel swaps and/or infrared filters or actions). I thought they all did a poor job of approximating what I could get on film.
The Infrared Camera Conversion: So I was late to the digital until I found LifePixel. They, and now another company,Kolarivision, will convert the sensors in a digital camera, so that the camera can record the infrared light as opposed to having it all blocked out. Both companies offer several different kinds of infrared filters attuned to different colors and infrared wavelengths, as you can see here:
I was excited to begin the new digital infrared adventure when I got my digital camera converted by LifePixel. This did more closely approximate film. I no longer needed to load and unload in darkness. I could shoot on the go and in hand-held mode rather than setting up a tripod with a very opaque filter. I could see the image and histogram immediately after taking one shot and adjust accordingly, rather than wait and wonder how the film had reacted that day to my exposure guesses. I could process and print my own work.
I’m currently in the process of selecting a new camera and conversion to keep moving forward…as you can see the choices are plentiful so working through some of those technical decisions
For Photographers: If you go the converted camera camera route, understand that converted camera can only shoot infrared. Digital infrared photos also require paying careful attention to white balance. Some lenses are better than others for focusing. I also find that the digital darkroom processing works best with a unique camera profile. You might also find these resources helpful
This is just a quick overview. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have other questions or want additional details.
a weekend trip with my good friend and fellow photographer, Geoff Livingston, hiking to McAfee Knob and then doing a little shooting along the Blue Ridge Parkway
In the onslaught of our busy lives – our work, the news, the everyday chores, responsibilities to family and friends, driving from here to there or sitting in traffic, the alerts on our phones – all of these are fragments are part of building a family, career and to get ahead. People are busy, keeping in touch and moving forward to build and live a life. It can be a world of worries, of fast-paced activities, successes and failures. Life is often busily routine and complex.
But for people/humans, being alive also includes the mystery of emotion, whether that be anger or frustration, or those peaceful reflective times and moments of beauty. Those quiet opportunities of pensive thought touch our hearts in strange and magical ways. Those times our being is touched and we reflect, even for a passing moment, as we see and feel the quest for meaning and beauty in our lives.
A gorgeous sunset or sunrise, a memory of some event, thing or person, an expansive landscape or a specific place can bring to the forefront moments that are opportunities where we find ourselves pausing to reflect on an aspect of beauty and wonderment in our lives — a moment that evokes emotion and reaches beyond our day-to-day activities to touch our souls and being.
While it is common to base notions of photographic art on capturing that “decisive moment”, BinhammerPhotographs makes and thinks about the photograph as a means of creative expression that is more than just a moment. The image is composed in a manner that turns the familiar into something more. The things we often take for granted have the potential to become a dream and a place where the mind may venture – a journey. The captured moment of reality becomes a place to explore, a path to realization, a spot of quiet solitude, rather than just a specific time and locale. It is that moment of beauty.
Making photographs in black & white with infrared light captures a part of the light spectrum humans cannot see, resulting in different textures and dynamic tones. These effects beg the question: “what is reality?” Infrared photography reveals the unseen and defeats assumptions about the “reality” in a photograph thus requiring the viewer to respond differently to the image. The infrared image presents a dreamy and new perspective of the known world, creating a new place to visit or imagine.
For some time, BinhammerPhotographs has existed, mostly known to a few private collectors and friends who were interested in keeping track and occasionally purchasing prints. Having recently been selected to show work at Art Santa Fe, it was time for a “launch” and do-over for BinhammerPhotographs, as a website and as a business.
Here is a bit of a back story.
From film to digital, I was originally disappointed in the “digital capabilities” to achieve anything that approximated black and white infrared film. Then I found the camera conversion process and with time, patience, and practice, I now not only shoot photographs but do my own digital darkroom processing and printing, something in the film days I relied on third parties for. Over time I will talk about more details about that journey and tips and tricks today. But for now, that’s how we got here.
But more than my personal journey into photography, I love photography and am intrigued, enthralled and passionate about photography as an art form. My own mini-art collection is made up of photography from a mentor and friend, Jennifer Dickson. I read vociferously about “photographic considerations”—things like John Szarkowski’s “The Photographer’s Eye” and Stephen Shore’s “The Nature of Photographs” or in this video where Stephen Shore talks about what it really takes inside a photographer to make great pictures (just following the 28-minute point). I have read (twice anyway), “Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans” by Sarah Greenough and Robert Frank….you get the drift.
Whether you visit the galleries here and buy a print; whether you simply gander for a visual feast; whether you are a professional collector or someone new to photography as art and want to explore some of the resources I have put together…Welcome to BinhammerPhotographs.