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.


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.



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.


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.


“I am..” a series about a feeling.

I published a preview on my facebook page about this series as I like to do to find out what people think. It didn’t take long to have people miss understand what the images were saying at all.  Some took it as I was just my condition while others just could not understand the concept at all. This is normal and I am glad people are talking about the image. That means I am doing my job.


For those interested in why this series has come about in my mind please read the Medical Criminals post on this blog and for those who are interested in the things I hope to achieve in this series strap yourselves in and enjoy the next instalment in my mind.

This series has been a full on process for something I was hoping would be a smaller project. I was originally planning on doing it as close to accurate as I could to real life.

Lesson one was learned right here. Just because it is accurate does not mean you will create an effective image. For example the board is not held by the person in the photo but is off to the side. While this is accurate information it creates a sense of space from the subject and I didn’t want that at all. I want the disability to ‘own’ the person so this needed to be changed.


Lesson two was a close second. It is much easier to connect with models than with real sufferers. I wanted this series to be made up of people who suffer the illness mentioned and a lot of the time these people are not comfortable doing this kind of project until they have seen all the information and proof pictures for such a series. They take care due to the subject but the effect is so much more powerful with a diverse range. Oh and for the record kids can be interesting to work with but having treats or toys for them to play with after the shoot help lots.

Lesson three came in post production of the pilot image. I started editing and then realised that my polished format on the last series should not carry over to this series. I mean how often do you see a flawless prison photo? There is always slight washed out or slight dark photo, there is often little consistency in the type of people in the images and lets face it if the people pictured were perfect they would never have been caught. So how can I show this in my images? How about a botch image? The lines are not straight or measured properly, they don’t match, the illness name has been added in post production and done clearly so you can see the lack of truthfulness in each image.


The series is not about the truth or about what outsiders see looking at a person with one of these illnesses. This series is about how a sufferer can feel about their illness. I do know not all of us fighting invisible illnesses think we are seen like this however I do know some of us at times do.

I am risking doing negative things to my artistic merit doing these things in lesson three but I believe that these changes for this particular series increase the message I am trying to send. Any artist could do these things yes but tell me what other artist has already?

Product tables and reflections

That amazing time of year! The time we all hold our breath and hope the tax man likes us enough to give us enough tax back for what ever it is we want at the time.  For me this was some new equipment and what do you know I was lucky this year. So after a little looking and a lot of planning I had enough to splurge on a new set of lights. In combination with my new product table that had been given to me for an early birthday and Christmas present.

My son has been asking me for a shoot with his skull money box for a while now and I had told him sure, when I get the new table we can. But alas I had miss read the description of my table and it was a non-reflective table. ( a little part of me had dead when I realized) But this could be fixed. A trip to Imageplastics in Padstow NSW set my happily on my way again.

It felt like a lifetime ago that I had been working with a product table and had forgotten something. The first photo I took was lacking the reflection, the second not much better and the third too. What on earth was I doing wrong? I had my light set up under the table and it had a low intensity too but I just could not get a good reflection like I did as a student.


It took a good few minuets to think back long and hard about it until it dawned on me. We were using two lights not one when I was a student. One from the back and one from the bottom. Maybe it was the back light that caused the reflection so clear. Well worth a try if i am to deliver on my promise to my son I thought. So moving the light and keeping an eye on the time for being a mum I worked on my reflection dilemmas. Light had always seemed to fall into place for me so I was to say the least a little flustered at myself for not getting it within the first few shots. Then taking the next shot showed me a miracle. The reflection was much stronger now.


So light manipulation is not just a throw here and laugh a bit. The angle and intensity is so important even for a simple little shot like this flower. I had a reflector underneath the table at one point too but found that the more intense light underneath the table was making the reflection less pronounced so took it away. The light underneath the table works against getting a nice reflection on the table. It’s all about the back light not the under light. This valued realization needs to be stored some place more than just my mind and so I hope now it will help you too.


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.