My photographic journey began over twenty years ago when I got a weekend job in a camera shop. Having never tried a ‘real camera,’ my boss offered to show me the ropes. He let me borrow a fully manual camera and light meter. I would bring my film in each weekend, and he would have a look and explain the things that I could be doing better. Once I had a good grasp of the fundamentals, he sold me his old Nikon 801s.
When I began taking pictures, I became attracted to the vivid images created with alternative process photography. This was probably because I grew up in the 80s and 90s, surrounded by colourful imagery in my favourite comics and cartoons.
The shop I worked in had a lab, giving me access to discounted chemicals, processing, and used equipment. This meant I could experiment with techniques like cross-processing, redscale, bleach bypass, and infrared film.
My first exposure to Infrared was through the work of Karl Ferris. I was amazed by the psychedelic images he shot for the classic Jimi Hendrix album, ‘Are You Experienced?’. During my college years, I experimented with infrared, along with a variety of alternative processes, but ultimately stopped due to the films gradually getting discontinued and prices spiralling as digital photography became commonplace.
Many years later, I was at the OFFF festival in Barcelona and saw a talk by Bradley G Munkowitz (GMUNK). He showcased some digital infrared images that he had been experimenting with. With my earlier fascination rekindled, I immediately began my search to learn everything I could about shooting digital infrared.
He was shooting with a converted full spectrum Fujifilm X-T2, a camera I also used. Lens hotspots were one of the main challenges, and as before, I had concerns about whether this would quickly become a costly interest. I was happy to discover I already owned a couple of lenses that were excellent performers — the Fujifilm 14mm and 35mm primes. I figured out how to create my own DNG Profiles and decided I would pick up a cheap X-A2 that had already been converted to 590nm, as this was the least expensive way I could experiment with the processing.
I was hooked immediately and began taking my infrared setup everywhere with me. I eventually upgraded it, as I discovered the difficulty of not having a viewfinder in infrared. In the last couple of years, I have started experimenting with different wavelengths, primarily 720nm and 850nm. I have also started working with Ultraviolet Induced Visible Fluorescence (UVIVF) photography.
The reason I love infrared photography so much is that it reminds me of the magic of shooting film. You can’t see the final image on the camera, so you get that feeling of suspense and joy when you start processing and seeing your images reveal themselves.
Peter is a winner of our annual “Life in Another Light” Photo Contest.