Using a Camera Modified for Infrared on vacation.

Infrared lightInfrared tree  construction IR  Cupola IR  Waterfront IR  Infrared and brick  Marina in IR    Infrared in street  Tower IR  IR light on clock  Flag & Building in IR

When on vacation I always bring along my camera. Actually most of the trips I take are for the purpose of relaxing and making pictures. If I couldn’t bring a camera I would suffer because I would see shots I wanted to take and wouldn’t be able to do it.

I enjoy wandering about with my camera wherever I go and for the short vacation my wife and I took to the coast of Washington state at La Conner.  For this trip I wanted to make a real change from my everyday shooting, and decided to spend each late afternoon making exposures with the well-worn Nikon D100 I had modified many years ago to only “see” infrared light.

Digital camera sensors are as sensitive to infrared light as to visible light. In order to stop infrared light from contaminating images manufacturers placed in front of the sensor what they call “a hot filter” to block the infrared part of the spectrum and still allow the visible light to pass through. My infrared modified D100 has had that filter removed and replaced with a custom filter for infrared only.

The first day we had lodging in the town of La Conner.  I began walking the town in the morning with my Nikon D800e, and then returned in the late afternoon walking the streets and waterfront with my Modified D100 for infrared images.

On the second day, after a leisurely drive sight-seeing unsuccessfully trying to get close to the annual snow geese migration, we went a bit further to some big stores at an outlet mall near Seattle my wife wanted to check out.  Next day we moved about 20 miles down the road to a motel in Anacortes and again I roamed the streets, alleyways, and oceanfront with my infrared camera in a new location.

There is nothing quite like infrared (IR) Photography. Making an image with a modified camera is an exploration.  I like the contrasty tones that I can obtain when I convert the image to black and white. I suppose, like any form of photography, or art, it’s all a matter of taste.

Reflected IR light produces an array of surreal effects. Vegetation appears white or near white. Black surfaces can appear gray or almost white depending on the angle of reflected light. And the sky is my favorite part; it will be black if photographed from the right direction. The bluer the sky, the more the chance there is for a dramatic appearance.

Get everything right and there will be a “crispness” that’s rarely seen in regular photography, with everything looking very different from a normal black and white conversion.

The low-angled, late afternoon coastal light created lots of deep shadows on the buildings and trees, and it was that light and the contrasting effects that I was able to capture.

I like photographing architecture and other human-made structures. Well, actually, I like photographing just about anything. But on a trip when my goal is to photographically discover, or in this case, rediscover a small town or city, I let myself be as creative as possible with the many architectural structures, and a camera that sees only infrared does help. In addition, the colourful coastal architecture is very different from what one finds in the usually very dry, forested interior of British Columbia where I live.

I walked and walked. I photographed and re-photographed. I talked to people I met in the alleyways, along the street, and on the waterfront. My only goal was to capture the way the infrared light touched things and to be back at the motel before dark.

Life Pixel, http://www.lifepixel.com/ writes on their website, “Are you tired of shooting the same stuff everyone else is shooting?  Then be different & shoot infrared instead!”

I don’t think I care whether I’m shooting the same stuff as others, but I sure do like to change how other photographers sees the stuff I do shoot, and infrared works perfectly for that.

Of cours….I am always happy when someone comments. Thanks, John

Visit my website at www.enmanscamera.com

Discovering a Small Town with my Camera

19th century view   Green window    Texaco 1      the boats   control pannel    Red Bricks  Hippies use back door  Phillips 66 twenty five cents a ride

I usually like to have a plan when I go out to photograph a subject. However, this past weekend when my goal was to photographically discover a small town or city like I did in La Conner, Washington, USA, the unusual and unknown becomes the accepted rater than the exception. The experience was one of those rare times when I just wanted to wander about and let the unexpected observations rule the day.

The distance from my lodging at the Wild Iris Inn in La Conner to the waterfront was about six blocks and that photographic stroll took me nearly two hours. I spent another hour photographing the buildings, and the boats moored along the boardwalk, and then approximately another hour roaming the adjacent neighborhood on my way back.

I to like wander, and yes, that’s the word that works best. I mounted a 24-70mm on my new (to me) full-frame sensor camera, stepped out of the room and let the historic, western architecture, and the coastal lighting, determine my path. I wasn’t on any direct course by any intent, and spent a lot of time backtracking when I decided to see how the light affected an interesting door, or window, from a different perspective than I had just photographed it.

I checked out the La Conner on-line gallery and it shows lots of scenics and wide images of street side buildings, but my photographic captures didn’t always show the whole. I chose to photograph those parts that caught my attention; signs, doors, railings, roof supports, or the moulding, and sometimes just the window frame, cornice or decorative lintel, and how the light touched them, was what peaked my interest and filled my the memory card of my camera

La Conner is a coastal town of Washington State and received its current name in 1870 from the owner of the area’s first trading post, J.S. Conner to honor his wife, Louisa Ann Conner.  One of my favorite writers, Tom Robbins, author of such great books as “Even Cowgirls get the Blues”, ”Life with the Woodpecker”, and “Another Roadside Attraction” is supposed to be a long-time resident. Each spring, La Conner attracts thousands of visitors to view the wide array of tulips at the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Here is a humorous note about La Conner: in 2005, the town named the wild turkey as their official Town Bird, however, a debate in 2010 declared the turkeys to be a nuisance and they were removed from the town limits because of “complaints about noise, fecal matter, and ingestion of garden materials”.

This is one that is closer to my heart because it is a story about a dog.  There is a statue of a dog whose name was “Dirty Biter” and he once freely wandered the town. One of his favorite hangouts was an1890’s tavern, where a bar stool was always reserved for him. When he was killed in a dogfight, the heartbroken townspeople named a small park next to his beloved tavern for Dirty Biter and installed a bronze statue of the dog.

I didn’t see any turkeys, or writer Tim Robbins, but I took the time to stop in that tavern before continuing on my photographic stroll and I drank a pint to all of them; Mr. Robbins, the turkeys, poor old Dirty Biter, and of course, the subject of my photographic excursion, the historic town of La Conner.

I always appreciate your comments. Thanks, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com