Photographers used to be like that. Strap 100 pounds of tripod and large format camera on your back, find a composition that appeals to you, set up the tripod, load the sheet – yes, sheet — of film, dig out the focusing loupe, move the tripod a bit, take a light reading, adjust the focus again, set the aperture, open the shutter for several seconds to several minutes — all to realize that you forgot to remove the black slide and nothing was exposed. Start over again.
Now, everyone and his talking parrot with a $150 digicam snaps and moves on. It’s nothing.
I can be the same way. I’ll shoot dozens of shots to get the one I wanted. If I slowed down, I might only need three shots.
To slow down means to think through every step. To slow down means to envision the image before it’s exposed. To slow down means to make fewer mistakes.
All art benefits from a more leisurely pace. Infrared photography absolutely demands it. Infrared is a spectrum of light beyond that seen by the human eye. Because chlorophyll in plants reflects that spectrum, an infrared capture on film or a special digital sensor gives haunting look to plants, leaves and grass. The effect is ethereal.
When shooting infrared, a infrared-blocking filter is used in front of the lens. It blocks out almost all the visible light, which is the point, of course. The infrared spectrum remains. But that means that composing and focusing takes extra time — remove the filter, set up the shot, replace the filter, expose the image.
The exposure times are long, which can add to the mysterious appearance of the image — flowing water, moving people, fluttering leaves are blurred in the 5 to 30 second exposures. Of course, long exposures require a tripod.
A tripod forces a photographer to slow down. To think. To be deliberate.
Infrared photography has the added advantage of pushing the artist’s eye beyond what can be seen and back into a realm of imagination.