Green foliage, blue skies and bright sunlight are daily staples in southwest Florida, and all three of these elements combine to make strong infrared photographs. While the look of the final image and final print will vary with your processing style, green foliage can read as white, blue skies will go dark, and bright sunlight produces high contrast. If you like black and white prints, these qualities of an infrared photo will deliver greater contrast and drama than traditional film or digital photography.
Here is a recent infrared photograph that I captured at the Naples Botanical Garden on a sunny afternoon and processed to black and white, achieving the contrast I strive for.
Fact or Fiction? In fact, you see the blue lake and the wind blowing the green palms in the soft light of dusk. In January, the blue water, green palms and white puffy clouds are quite agreeable. Yet, the scene is unremarkable in Florida.
But there is another true way to see this same scene in real time. See this scene with infrared light and the palms glow with golden light. The chubby palms emerge from the edge of a very dark lake. And the sky? I see white puffy clouds and a bit of blue sky. It’s a curious combination, but it’s real.
A prominent international journalist was quoted today in the New York Times, saying, “When things go right, it’s boring.” In other words, he remarked to students, when things go wrong, that’s a news story. As a journalist, I completely agree.
As a photographer, the opposite is true. When things go right, the results can be absolutely magical. As many prominent photographers say, the first thing you need to do is “show up.” You never know what weather conditions or wildlife appearances will do to create each day’s photographic opportunities, but if you “show up” in the field often enough, you will be there when things go right, and the results are anything but boring.
Such was the case when I showed up before sunrise for a wildlife bird tour. In addition to many unexpected and unplanned bird sightings, the early morning cloudscape was magical.