Mountains Shot in Infrared Look Haunting as All Get-Out
Andy Lee’s otherworldly landscapes bathe some of the Earth’s grandest peaks in an unearthly light, one invisible to the naked eye yet beautiful just the same.
Lee shoots in infrared, a tricky technique that requires specialized gear. Simply put, infrared light is electromagnetic radiation just beyond the visible spectrum. It’s used a lot in medical and industrial applications, and in astronomy of course. You can buy sophisticated cameras to capture far-infrared waves for stuff like thermal imaging and astronomy, or get away with using a smartphone with the right attachments. But the typical DSLR can be modified by removing the infrared blocking filter and adding an infrared filter to capture near-infrared light. That’s what Lee did to his Nikon D800.
He started experimenting with infrared photography 10 years ago because he thought it might make his digital photos “grittier.” After some hit-or-miss success, Lee’s honed his technique but there are still challenges. Shooting in direct light can create crazy lens flares for example. And reviewing photos on his camera is only so helpful because they are washed in red. Often, Lee’s not certain what the final photo will look like until he processes it. “I love the ability to shoot the picture and not know what I’m going to get when I get back,” he says.
It’s when Lee gets home and launches Photoshop that the magic happens. Sometimes he’ll convert the photo to black and white, which makes for a dramatic image. Other times he’ll swap the red and blue channels, then play with the levels, giving the photo a moody teal hue. Whatever tricks he uses, the resulting images are dark, textured and contrasty. They capture the landscape he saw, even as they transform it. “With infrared you see the world in a slightly different way,” he says.
Lee’s photographed mountains and cliffs in Wales, Italy, Morocco, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and, most recently, Chile. He spent two weeks exploring Patagonia in November. Most of his time was spent in Torres del Paine National Park, Puntas Arenas, and Puerto Natales, where near-perfect conditions—amazing light, mild temperatures and rapidly changing formations—made shooting a joy. “You could stand in one spot and within 10 minutes it could totally change and transform,” he says. “It’s just breathtaking.”
The photographer typically set off at 8 am and spent as many as 14 hours driving down dirt roads, hiking up mountains and taking in the scenery. It was off season, so he didn’t fighting tourists for prime locations. Of all the places he’s photographed, Patagonia was perfectly suited to his style. “Chile and infrared photography is a match made in heaven,” Lee says, “It’s a photographer’s dream, really.”
Visit link –