June was a very busy month, especially for infrared work. Our English summer is in full flight and for once it’s wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. That may not be to everyone’s taste for landscape photography but for those who have invested in Infrared capability like I have then there are no better conditions. Although June was a key month for rolling fields of things like poppies there probably wasn’t a better time to produce some high impact black and white images with the right approach.

It’s probably no accident therefore that the photograph I’ve picked for June is one from my recent trip to North Devon during a particularly hot and dry spell. My selected photograph for June is the aptly titled Sun Worship and is part of The Edge Of Light series I put together from the trip:

Sun Worship

Sun Worship

What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?

‘Seeing’ in Infrared isn’t always the easiest thing but when I saw this tree line from one of the ‘B’ roads I was driving along somewhere in the middle of Exmoor I knew immediately it was going to make a strong image. Infrared photography is really no different to conventional full colour landscape photography but many seem to forget simple rules which often makes their images look flat. In my view the key is to position yourself to ensure your light source creates shadow one way or another, because it’s shadow that creates depth and three dimensional shapes. In this case, although the sun was very high in the sky, I made sure that I stood where the shadows were falling to ensure those wonderful dynamic contrasts in the scene really came out.

There are several elements which make this a compelling photograph for me;

  • The light for me is perfect on the lead tree creating a nice bright point of interest across the top of canopy in the trees which draws the eye immediately into the frame.
  • Wispy high level cloud ensured the sky wasn’t completely black and breaks up what could have been a very boring part of the frame.
  • The trunks of the trees have plenty of sky behind them allowing their beautiful crooked shapes to really stand out – it’s a big part of what really makes the contrasts work in this one.
  • Ensuring that there was an appropriate amount of space at the top of the frame allowing the lead tree to breath was essential to allow it to really stand out in the composition.
  • An obvious vanishing point creating perspective from front to back in the tree line – this is achieved by getting in really close and using a wide angle; in this case I used the spectacular Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 at 19mm.
  • The barbed wire fence creates nice additional foreground detail and anchors the bottom left hand corner perfectly. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the corners of your pictures.
  • Lastly, the long dry grasses really soften the feel of the whole photograph which in many ways reflect the cloud structures in the top half. It hopefully emits the feel of the location at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular part of my time on Exmoor.
The Technical Setup
  • Taken with a 720nm infrared converted Nikon D800
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 19mm
  • f/11, ISO100, 1/60 in full sun
  • Tripod, cable release
  • Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
  • Converted to black & white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
  • Finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS6

All in all I thought this was a great representative image from the summer so far and hope this might encourage one or two to pursue the possibilities of infrared. I for one love the creative edge it allows, especially with black and white.