Thursday, 9 February 2012

George Evans - Infrared Photographer

It's time again to profile another club member and their photography so it falls on me to showcase the work of George Evans and his passion for infrared photography. George has been a member of Hoylake Photographic Society for three years taking up photography in 2004 with a Sony F717 bridge camera. Sony have always had a reputation as a company that innovates and the popular Sony F717 fitted that description having a swivel body, preceding the tilt able LCD screens now common on digital cameras. Another unusual feature of the Sony F717 was the "Nightshot" mode which allowed the user to see and shoot in near blackness but it didn't take owners long to realise that if you put an R72 infrared filter on the lens you could take daytime infrared photographs.

Sony F717 at Bodnant Gardens in Wales

The Eden Project in Cornwall
Infrared using the R72 filter blocks all visible light and only allows infrared light of the 720nm wavelength to reach the sensor but still capturing some faint colour in the red and blue channels. Under normal circumstances using the R72 on a digital camera would result in exposures from 1 - 10 seconds on a tripod restricting it's use.

Because "Nightshot" mode took photos at the cameras flash speed of 1/60 sec, owners could take very acceptable infrared photographs hand held using the R72 filter.

Infrared light is invisible to the human eye and reflects off different surfaces in different degrees of brightness resulting in foliage turning white with hard surfaces grey or black. Water doesn't reflect infrared light so is also black. It's quite normal to capture landscapes of black skies with white clouds.

Looe Harbour
In 2005, George upgraded the Sony F717 to his first DSLR the Minolta 5D and so left infrared photography behind in pursuit of more traditional subjects and being self taught has been learning the craft of photography through reading and practise. He went through further camera and lens upgrades to the Sony A700 and now uses the Sony A77, but he couldn't resist the draw of infrared photography and in 2010 had a Sony A200 DSLR permanently converted to the 720nm wavelength of infrared at Advanced Camera Services in the UK.

Ness Gardens Rockery

The conversion of a camera to infrared opened up new possibilities for George and the photograph above of Ness Gardens taken during January 2010 was one of his first images straight from camera with minimal post processing. The ability to shoot hand held with the full functions of the camera, with any f-stop and shutter speed and to use almost any lens opened up a world of creative opportunities for George.

Ness Gardens
Channel swapping has always been a favourite post processing technique for digital infrared photographers. The 720nm wavelength although invisible to the human eye still captures some faint colour in the red and blue channels. Unlike the first photograph of  "Ness Gardens Rockery" which had a beige sky and blue foliage, by channel swapping you can achieve a blue sky and desaturate the red channel to get white foliage as in the photograph above.

Natural History Museum, London
Infrared photography relies on strong sunlight to capture sharp detail and you would normally shoot at midday on a sunny Summer day when the sun were at it's highest.

It's still amazing how much infrared light can be found indoors and the photograph of the Natural History Museum is a prime example.

Taken hand held as soon as the doors were opened in the morning with a Carl Zeiss 16-80mm f3.5-4.5 lens wide open and braced against a pillar, the lack of strong infrared light has resulted in a loss of sharpness but produced an image resembling a pencil drawing.

Likewise, the lack of strong sunlight in Scotland while on holiday in 2011 is the norm but has resulted in a moody image heavy on the mid tones with no clipping of the light and dark areas.

The photograph of Glen Affric below is a good example of shooting infrared under cloudy conditions.

Glen Affric in Scotland

So where does the future lie for George and his infrared photography. Keen to push the boundaries George has plenty of scope for experimentation. A large part of the fun of infrared is the creativity that post processing can add to an image and he's searching for ways to add to the creativity of infrared. Different lenses also give different effects and George has recently added the Samyang 8mm fisheye to his list of lenses and was able to shoot into the early morning sun to capture the photograph below of cottages at St. Bartholomews Church in Thurstaston. Infrared cameras are very prone to flare and can't be used with the sun in front of the camera but the fisheye is very forgiving and allows for this type of shot.

Morning Has Broken
But for all of the scenarios that infrared can be used in to produce a creative shot from macro, indoors, portraiture to weddings, George would probably say that perhaps the most effective infrared photograph is still the straight old fashioned landscape either channel swapped as in the two photographs below taken at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands in Wirral or converted to black and white.

Burton Mere Wetlands
Burton Mere
If you want to see more of George's infrared photographs then why not visit his website at
 George W Evans Photography or come along to one of our club meetings and talk to the photographer himself.

Hoylake Photographic Society has a membership of all abilities and photographic interests. If you're interested in club photography and want to improve your skills or just socialise with people with a common interest in photography then why not visit out website to view our program of events and guest speakers. Club nights are every Friday, 7.30pm - 10 pm at Newton Village Hall, Grange Cross Lane, West Kirby.