Inviisble Light: The World in Infrared

Artist Statement Verve Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

Invisible Light: The World in Infrared
Nevada Wier

Our visual familiarity is limited to the colors of visible light. Beyond what our eyes can see is the iridescent world of the infrared (IR) spectrum. Six years ago I began exploring the challenge of making the invisible visible: photographing unusual places using the unusual, haunting light of infrared. The resulting photographs are truly travel images in a different light.

In the 1930s Kodak developed emulsions that were sensitive to infrared light. Black-and-white infrared film was the popular choice. With the advent of digital cameras, recording infrared light expanded with creative possibilities. Digital cameras are so sensitive to infrared light that manufacturers have to place a filter in front of the sensor to block infrared light from spoiling regular photographs. By removing this filter and replacing it with one that blocks most of the visible light, the photographer is able to record near-infrared light with a bit of visible, deep red light. The result is a surreal image with a bit of color, usually shades of blues and amber with occasional magenta.

It is often difficult to predict the colors that emerge from infrared photography as they are determined by the reflection and absorption of the light and the differences in temperature between an object and its environment. Skin tones are usually pale and unblemished; eye color changes; foliage becomes white and iridescent, and sometimes one is able to see details under fabrics that are unseen in visible light.

Photographing with IR light has different complications from using visible light. The sun is the primary source of infrared light; thus the best infrared photographs tend to be captured in direct sunlight or bright, open shade. IR light has a longer wavelength, coming into focus at a different point than visible light, so its difficult to predict exactly where the focal point will be in an image. As with all my images, I crop sparingly and never change any content. Yet processing and printing an infrared image requires a deft understanding of technology in order to bring forth the subtle colors within.

My images explore my favorite subjects of tribal culture and less frequented lands but served up in unseen light. What is invisible becomes art - revealed.

Return to Thumbnails Page