Unseen Light Learning Curve.

Infrared (IR) images have been something I have been working towards for a little while now. This time last year I set myself a goal to own and know how to use an IR camera. That dream is now a reality but it has come at a cost.

Combined-comparison-webI fell in love with the image capability IR can give with a cheap IR filter. I had to have my own real IR camera. Not only Is it harder to find a camera with IR capability but you also need to learn through trial and error how to control such a camera. You would think that knowing how to use a normal camera in your sleep would be enough but the truth of the matter is it’s much more complex than that.

Problem one was once I had bought a camera I wanted converted I needed to get it done. There is a couple of places that are highly recommended like LifePixel (now Kolari Vision) but they are over in America and for an Australian artist the cost can be hard to cover.

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So next would be an Australian company. If you are a little fussy with how far you are willing to send your camera from you then this could also be a tricky one. The only store I have found that is highly recommended in Aus is Camera Clinic down in Collingwood Victoria. The only other options you have are those small dodgy ones over on Ebay who are cheaper.

So you cringe a little at ether forking out more for a recommended conversion house or getting it done cheaper through ebay and hoping you don’t pick a bad egg.

IMG_0047Next you have to choose what type of conversion you want. See there is not just one standard conversion for IR like there is for Ultraviolet and normal visible light. Questions you need to be able to answer are things like, what conversion do you want? The answers to this depend on your own likes. I found Kolari Vision has a great write up on the types. I don’t like the weird color you gain from the likes of false color or lower nanometers (NM) and so I went with a “Deep Black and White Filter” that is an 830nm filter.

Now the hype hits you. All you have left is to wait for your new camera. You start looking on the web at all the amazing images people have taken with your chosen filter. you get the camera back home, take it out on the first ideal day and BAM your dreams are shot down. Maybe you can’t get exposure right, or maybe it’s blurry, or heaven forbid you can’t find something great to shoot.

This is where I was at about six months ago. New camera in hand and I just had to plunder through with trial and error. I was prepared for this to some extent but it was like you had turned up to do a course on your camera and the teachers didn’t know what to do. This thrilled me but I found I had to sink a lot of hours into the camera before I could just take it out and shoot what I wanted quickly.

 

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Visible Veins, Zombie eyes, slight see through top

I broke it down into parts. 1) Green is my new white so that must be exposed correctly. 2) Sky is supposed to be black or mostly black. 3) Skin is supposed to be white not grey or with veins visible. 4) Hotspots, dead looking eyes (Zombie Eyes) and overly soft edges are not good 5) Editing is harder and takes more time 6) Clothing does not mean you are covered in the final picture.

The next six months I learnt how to control the outcome of my images. After many hours, notes, failed images and tears I got a feel for what I needed to do. I am sure my husband hates the fact I got my IR camera. I have had it all about that camera since I got it. There is no real one way to use these cameras. They are so unique and even how one camera interacts with the same lens at different aperture and stuff your whole image. If there was ever a camera you needed 10,000 hours on to master I would have to say this is it.

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I am far from a master at this point in time but I am also well on my way to mastering the camera I have fallen in love with as well.

 

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Medical Criminals

This post is a part of the upcoming “I am… ” Series by myself.

I am a massive fan of Lie To Me. I watch them on a regular basis and love picking the emotions the actors are challenged with portraying in a microsecond. I sometimes wish my mind would just settle on this one thing but alas I am not one of those kind of people. My brain starts drawing connections to my own life. Small at first, after all who normally finds things in common with criminals? The pain caused is kind of like the pain I feel from my own medical ailments, people who they don’t mean to hurt get hurt, the lack of ‘normal’ emotion in their faces due to concentration and these are just the start.

 

Wow looking at these things I don’t feel much different to a criminal. But wait, I am not in jail or waiting on a criminal charge so why do I feel like this? There is a very simple answer here. I feel like this because I am disabled. Not in a chair like a paraplegic or even visible like a missing limb, no. My disability is invisible so this means I am quite often seen as average. I could, for every thought, be replaced by those people in the crime shows. Replace the people the criminal minds hurt with friends and family then replace the detectives and policemen with a range of medical staff designed to help me. After all a diagnosis is almost the same as incarceration. That board with their number and name is just the same as our diagnosis label. The only difference is we are not shown the way to others like us or given meals close to us. We are not put on a register that other people can see or publicised by the papers. We are just given this label and left to flounder around in hope we will find our feet.

So you see we are alike even though we are worlds apart. This leads me to ask however what would people think if medical illnesses, both common and uncommon are displayed like the sufferers see them? Something that should be shut up before it destroys their lives and that of their family.

Bill Henson, a Master.

I relate to Bill Henson’s work maybe a little too well. His work is almost magnetic to my subconscious mind and in being able to reach that could be considered dangerous. My mind was considered a very dark place for a long time and like many artists depression is a well-known friend of mine.  A particular picture of his that I become entranced in is Untitled #27 2007/08 Bill Henson

Bill Henson work

Bill Henson Untitled #27 2007/08

The minimalist approach to a lot of his works is characteristic of a coping technique taught to depressed teenagers. The aim is to teach the patient to see more positive things around them and less negative things. In this exercise you are to take a walk and only allow your eyes to travel between positive things. You simply ignore the negative things around you. Trust me this is not as easy as it seems.

Henson’s work takes the theory from the above mentioned coping technique into the artistic world by concealing the possible negative aspects or undesirable aspects of his pictures in black. The parts revealed are not violent and almost harmonious in their own rights. There is a serene sense of juxtaposition within his pictures. The color schemes used often convince the viewer that a darker sinister thing is brewing in the shadows but his image it’s self is calm and never violent to my knowledge. Quite often this dark color scheme is coupled with an intimate moment between people.

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2007/08

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2007/08

I love the way his images portray almost a painterly quality to them. The stronger and almost primal way the light dances on his subjects is hard to describe but can be likened to chiaroscuro technique used by painters and drawers in the early renaissance period. (14th – 17th centuries)  This technique in crux is simply put to be a small hole made into a piece of paper or cloth to project an upside down picture onto a canvas that the artist would trace the lines and shadows to portray a near life image.

I have dabbled in a lot art based things during school and even outside of school. Up until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my mid 20’s I was very partial to having a pencil and sketch pad close to me.  This is a part of my life that I can’t escape from and nor would I want to.

So how could someone like me be comparing my own images to this great legend? I simply can’t begin to compare my work to the depth Henson places into his but I can become inspired by it and this I do. His lines and minimalist approach is amazing while his clashing emotions leave you coming back for more.  All your mind is doing when you look at his work is looking for the next part of the puzzle. Looking for what your mind thinks it has missed.

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2008/09

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2008/09

So the question is now what did you miss? The answer is most likely nothing at all. But can you be sure? Why not have another look just to be certain?

How many times did you go back to that image?  Three, maybe four? This is what I love about Henson. His way of implying that there is more there if you look again a little deeper.

Inspiration from unlikely places.

Today I was looking on NineMSN and to my surprise there was an article about none other than Beyonce and her new single ‘Partition’ where she proves yet again that she has what it takes to turn heads. Now you may be asking me how this relates to inspiration because a humble woman of my kind would not likely get a chance to shoot for such a wonderful woman as Beyonce. Well your answer would come in probably an unlikely place. I would like to explain that I am not a “Current” music girl, in fact I would much rather listen to the Eagles and Bonjovi but this article interested me so I amused myself and took a peek.

While watching this particular video on youtube (explicit Video) my mind wandered to Bill henson’s work and how the dramatic shadows are almost similar. I know Beyonce did not use Bill Henson’s images for her saucy new routine however I could not help but notice the similarity in lighting positions. The way the light dances along the body, the lack of distracting aspects near the body and keeping it under lit to arouse the mind. (in Beyonce’s case probably more than just the mind) The exploration of light and minimalist positioning entices the mind to find more than the light wants you to see. How a leg can seem like something else or the way a shadow ripples against a curtain can want you to step through into a world that begs you to come in.

In coming weeks I am going to start exploring this low key lighting and style. The drama Bill Henson shows through his images is eery and dark while not violent. Kind of like a storm inside of the viewer. While I love the low key images I think I will probably focus a little more on the lines and less of the darker feelings. I may even employ my inner Beyonce a little to bring forward some saucy images if I can find a willing model with a body suit to give an illusion of the naked body.