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Life in general, is a very inspiring adventure that is way too short to be spent trying to reach pointless trends or external expectations. My inspiration comes much more from our beautiful and surprising world than from my peers and their realizations. Every point of view has its own value, above all in artistic domains such as photography.
My wife and I maintained a long-distance relationship for almost a decade before being able to live together. Visual memories help a lot when meeting someone only once per year, so for us, photography started as something more functional than artistic. It helped soothe this long wait and now remains a mutual passion.
Back in 2014, after decades of focusing struggle with DSLRs, out of curiosity, I decided to get the first standard resolution iteration of the Sony alpha camera series. It was, by far, my best photography gear purchase, particularly for the quality of its electronic viewfinder (EVF). My type of photography (wide angle, landscape, and architecture) doesn’t require eye recognition or subject tracking but only a scene-dependent sense of depth that cannot be coded in an algorithm. This EVF allowed me to dump autofocus for good and to have complete manual control of my camera. Moreover, thanks to the very short flange focal distance and the availability of adapters, using lenses from any era or brand opened huge opportunities.
As I wasn’t interested in producing the same work as others and hadn’t yet considered converting my camera for infrared, I started using special optics while learning more advanced post-processing techniques. Things such as long exposure HDR with a tilt-shift lens are fun for a while but remain very technical, time-consuming, and are thus hardly applicable, for example, when traveling. In my “filter discovery” phase, I bought a Hoya R72 IR filter. Despite not getting very usable results, I started reading more about IR, and a few weeks later, my A7 came back converted with a permanent 590nm filter.
This was the start of another pretty tedious quest: finding a wide-angle lens with no hotspot and homogeneous sharpness across the frame that can be used for landscape and architecture. I’m still impressed by the optical quality of old Olympus Zuiko lenses, considering their size, particularly the 21mm/3.5 and 28mm/3.5. Unfortunately, these antiques didn’t stand the transition to the Sony A7R’s 36mp sensor. I found a temporary solution with the Sony FE 12-24mm/4 which showed good sharpness and a correctible light central hotspot. Still, that lens was not particularly handy for long exposure work due to its bulbous front element.
I’m currently using a Tamron 17-28mm/2.8 on a full spectrum Sony A7R for most of my infrared work, a combination that I consider non-compromising. I particularly appreciate the IR chrome filter for its simplicity and historic value.
As a pathologist, a big part of my work is to characterize modifications of the architecture and cellular morphology of biological tissues. A light microscope is a necessary extension for my eyes to perceive what is otherwise invisible because of its small scale. Similarly, infrared photography explores another partly invisible dimension of light. These experiments help me remember that nothing in life is banal; what matters is how we look at it!
Antoine is a winner of our annual “Life in Another Light” Photo Contest.
2022: First Place – Infrared Photo Essay