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There are a couple of ways to shoot infrared images and this is the simplest if not the most efficient. Every digital camera has a filter that is designed to prevent infrared light from hitting your sensor. Infrared light, given the right equipment, is just as visible as the light in our ‘normal’ spectrum, just not to the human eye. However, if you can make your camera see this end of the light spectrum then you can really get some ethereal results. Once your camera sees infrared, leaf-covered trees become a glowing white, blue skies become black and lakes take on the appearance of a deep, dark, tar pit.

These pictures were taken on a Nikon D70 – a camera especially well suited to IR – with a IR filter on the lens. This means that you will be taking a long exposure; most of my images were around the 20-30s mark even in bright sunshine, and then converting your shot to black and white. Don’t forget your tripod. Set your aperture, focus your shot without the filter, switch your lens to manual focus, put on your filter, lengthen the exposure time and don’t forget – check your histogram!

When you take the shot you will see a red/pink image on your screen. To turn it into these magical black & whites you need to do some post-production. Nik Silver Efex 2 is ideally suited to the task. I generally use the the Fine Art filter, followed by just a touch of the ColorEfex Glamour Glow. That combination really brings out the other-wordly aspect of IR photography.

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There are some times when, to feel fully creative, one needs to just let go of the norms, open your mind to the great possibilities that are out there and break out into something new. I’ve been reading a lot of work by the Canadian photographer David Duchemin recently, both his blogs and some of his published work, such as the The Vision Driven Photographer. David encourages you to open your mind, to try to reach for the creativity that all of us have to some degree or other. While I don’t feel that I am, or ever could be, the world’s most creative photographer, I do believe that with the technology available to us, everyone’s creativity today can be enhanced to levels that would have been almost impossible only a few years ago.

Whether the audience who sees my work are appreciative or not is a different story. The difficulty with impressionist photography, or Photographic Jazz as I’m thinking of calling it – maybe I could copyright that term? – is that it is, by definition, outside what is considered ‘normal’ photography. It will not win any prizes in the local camera clubs, that’s pretty much a nailed-on certainty, but it is an expression of art, of creativity, and – possibly very luckily – I don’t depend on it to earn my living. But when an idea comes I get a knotted feeling of anticipation in my stomach, I need to plan, to make notes, to think about where I’m going and what I need to do, to visualise what the finished picture could look like.

Heart Lake
Multiple exposure – Wind on Heart Lake

Recently I bought a new Fuji X-E2s mirrorless camera. I love the quality of my DSLRs, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve no plans to trade them in just yet, but the light weight of the Fuji plus the quality of the images from the APS-C sensor frees me to carry this camera everywhere and to have complete confidence that the images are going to be first rate. One of the techniques that had been on my mind for some time is the photo montage, a series of pictures of the same object from slightly different viewpoints, blended together to make a new composite.

With the Fuji in my bag I was able to take it to work so I could take the necessary shots during my lunch hour. No huge weekend plans to be made, no disruption to family life, just a quick trip across the road at lunch, take the shots and then back to the office. So much easier than having to cart the DSLR around. That’s why I’m going to love mirrorless; not just because it’s light, not just because of the image quality but because it frees me to just take pictures, it opens up opportunities to encourage and build that creativity.

Toronto schoolbus
Composite – 700 University Avenue, Toronto

Marilyn Towers
The ‘Marilyn’ towers, Mississauga

Queens Park
Bowl of Light, Queen’s Park, Toronto

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