About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Infrared Season



It’s summer!  Great! The days are balmy, which is just a nicer way of saying hot and humid.  The Black Flies have been replaced by voracious Mosquitoes, and, if you want to see the sunrise, you must drag yourself out of bed at 4:30 AM.  It is wonderful to see all the green, but the foliage has largely matured to the same monotonous shade for maximal photosynthesis.  BAH HUMBUG?

Chesterfield Gorge
Placing all the whining aside, I do love summer, especially when I think of the alternative of the up-coming cold stark winter.  After all, this is New England, and we New England photographers revel in the opportunities that each season provide.  In summer, we have the busy farms, the spectacular sunsets and, when conditions cooperate, the dramatic Milky Way.   There is always something to shoot and when I get tired of all that warm foliage, I remember that it is the summer green that makes this the best time of year for Infrared Photography.




Infrared Conversion
The Pru in IR 1978
I have shot infrared since my film days in the 1970’s.  Back then, capturing this invisible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum required special film, and developing materials.  It was a lot of work, and therefore, it was a liberation when I converted my old Canon 20D to Infrared.  It is fortunate that I’m a pack-rat and never threw away or eBayed my old cameras. 

 





For more information about Infrared photography and camera conversion, check out my more detailed article from six years ago.  It is important to note that Lifepixel is still doing the conversions on a wide array of cameras and surprisingly the cost is still only $250.  Not a bad price to turn one of you old doorstops into a window on a whole new world of light.




Seeing with Infrared
Stone Arch Bridge, Keene New Hampshire
What do you see with infrared?  To paraphrase my previous article; “Among the most prominent attributes of Infrared images are inky dark skies and the ability to penetrate atmospheric haze. Murky conditions that might be dismal for visual light photography can be clear and sharp in IR (see the comparison shots of Mt. Monadnock from Silver Lake). Undoubtedly the most striking difference, however, is that foliage strongly reflects IR light, transforming green leaves and grass into what may be mistaken for a frosty winter landscape.”


Mount Monadnock Through the Haze
 

Infrared Wall
A few weeks ago, I was shooting the interesting back alleys of Keene New Hampshire, and noticed a building whose back wall was covered with a dense thicket of ivy.  The green carpet was beautiful in full color, but it also made me think about how striking the same scene would appear if shot in Infrared.  This week I broke out my IR 20D and enjoyed shifting to my “Black and White” eye as I looked for strong subjects in the infrared spectrum, including that ivy wall.  


Harrisville, New Hampshire


























 

Like black and white  photography, Infrared requires a focus on patterns of light and dark, and, with IR, the contrasts between light and dark can be even more dramatic, as the frosty white of the foliage is seen against the dark of non-vegetative structures such as tree trunks, buildings, streams, roads, and the cool blue sky.  It is not always possible to be certain how a scene will be rendered in IR, but it is exciting to perform the experiments.






Looking for Contrast
Warm Summer Barn
When I shoot with IR, I am always looking for components that will contrast with the light greenery.  One of my favorite red barns in Keene, New Hampshire offers a good example.  The traditional RBG versions provides a lovely soft impression of a warm New England day.  The same scene in infrared is a much more striking view.  Part of this difference comes from the ability to push the contrast between the white foliage and the dark barn without color changes becoming an issue.

 



Infrared Color
Infrared images do not come from the camera in pure black and white.  Most often converted cameras yield an image which has a strong reddish tint.  
Unedited IR Image, Red Tint





 This tint can be quickly removed by a black and white conversion in Lightroom or Photoshop, but the red color can also be manipulated to create a range of special effects.  Most notably, the image can be processed through Photoshop’s Channel Mixer to create a blue sky by switching to the Red and Blue channels.  The Blue sky can be further isolated and enhance with localized adjustments in Photoshop.

 
Switching Red and Blue Channels
















Shooting in Infrared is another way that modern digital photography has simplified our ability to extend our senses.  It isn’t what we see with our own eyes, but it is just as “real”.  Much like slow motion allows us to see movement in a new way, or long exposures show us a different view of waterfalls, IR opens a way of looking beyond the limitations of our natural senses.  Plus, it is a lot of fun.


Finally, shooting with my old clunky 20D made me appreciate all the changes that have occurred in cameras, over the last few years, to improve the ease and quality of digital photography.  I am confident that, someday, I will be able to switch from RGB to IR photography with press of a button, or better shoot both at the same time.

Infrared photography is a different way of “seeing” that can refresh your eye.  If you have a neglected camera gathering dust in a corner, IR conversion is an easy and inexpensive way breath new life into old gear.  Summer in New England is filled with warm foliage which is blazing with infrared light.  So, go out and capture some of the glow.





You can see more of my Infrared images on my web site’s IR Gallery.

Our check out my earlier article:

Jeffrey Newcomer

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