Spring got into full swing during April and I could finally put to good use my 720nm Infrared converted Nikon D800, which I refer to as my D800IR. Infrared light reacts with Chlorophyll, the agent found naturally occurring in foliage, and Spring is a wonderful time of year for a creative difference when the leaves start to show themselves again.

I was very keen to start something of a different project, I’d spent more than a year getting to grips with infrared and I was now ready to use it to full creative advantage. This is where the idea for my Backwater Series came from. I wanted to use the lovely default warm earthy and woody tones recorded in the RAW files from my D800IR to produce some abstract work based around reflections of trees. I used my Nikon 85mm f/1.4G to focus through reflections into water. By using a narrow depth of field and ensuring specular highlights in the frame (generated from leaves and blossom floating on the surface) it all came together as something a bit more unusual than the standard approach to photographing trees or indeed the usual approach for infrared.

I’ve picked out Backwater #8 from this series as my favourite from this month, not least because come year end will ensure that there is something a little more abstract in my photography to show for the year;

Backwater #8

Backwater #8

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

I could have picked out any number of images from this set, it’s refreshing to be really creative without constraints and rules – allowing yourself to let go once in a while to try and make something a bit different really allows your mind to open up with possibilities.

Here are some of the things that I think make this a worthy photograph:

  • First of all, these colours are an absolute magnet for me. These are the default colours you get in an Infrared RAW file after you have manually white balanced against green. The reddish browns work well with trees and to my eye makes for an attractive colour palette.
  • The narrow depth of field softens the foreground objects right down and creates a dream like feel to me. I focussed through the surface of the water to the reflections of the branches in the background ensuring that anything on the surface melted away somewhat.
  • This isn’t a point and shoot composition – although there are a great deal of objects in the frame, this is still arranged so that there is more ‘clutter’ to the top, falling away further below.
  • I love the mix of shadows, sharp features, highlights and more ethereal leaves, creating a galaxy of different things to look at. I don’t find the scene overwhelming, more curious than anything.
  • There is definitely a metallic feel to this photograph too. Silver and gold are both apparent and once mixed with the element of a glassy reflection, it adds another dimension to what are usually matt dark earthy colours.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with the Nikon D800E
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4G
  • f/1.4 ISO200, 1/320 bright sunlight, late afternoon
  • Handheld
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Finished with Color Silver Efex Pro 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS6