I will admit it. I have shiny-pebble-on-the-beach syndrome. Not ashamed to currently admit that pebble is infrared photography. However, it does not mean that I have forsaken my visible light (color) camera.

I was hoping that shooting in IR (infrared) would help me to “see” shape, lines, and texture better and perhaps improve my color work. Instead of simplifying my creative thought process, my mind is like a rodent on crack with choices: infrared, color, lens, macro…

I set all my cameras to shoot in JPG and RAW (generating two files with every press of the shutter). Media cards are cheap and I have tons of them. Anyone who shoots IR can tell you that RAW infrared files are hideous to determine what you even tried to photograph. Some conversions produce what looks like a film negative. Each IR converted camera produces its own horrible version of a bad acid trip. I know I can’t make heads nor tails of what I just captured.

In the name of instant gratification, I got this brilliant idea but I am sure that all IR shooters eventually figure out: set the Picture Control Menu in your camera to Monochrome so the JPG (and preview JPG) is rendered in black and white when you chimp through your shots on the camera back LCD monitor. What you see on the back of the camera after you capture an IR file is then presented in black and white (as if you ran your RAW file through a third-party software plug-in black and white filter such as NIK Silver Efex Pro, MacPhun Tonality, Topaz Labs BW Effects). End of the bad acid trip when you look at that RAW file.

And yes of course, as with color, you must marry yourself to the histogram when shooting IR. But I digress.

The point is (yes, Virginia, there is one) just because you are madly in love with monochrome images such as black and white or monochrome infrared (what most of your friends will call black and white) don’t stop shooting color.

Yesterday the day’s weather gave flora photographers a gift: high-ceiling overcast clouds. A perfect day to head out to the garden to shoot flowers except the breeze (hey, that is what they make fast shutter speeds and higher ISOs for).

Out I went, packing a rain jacket to guarantee it would not rain and drove south about an hour to haunts from my youth.

I grew up close to what was the third National Historic Park in the US (three locations that became Morristown National Historic Park in 1933). In 1975, the Cross Estate was added to this Park site, a property with a lovely garden.

Over the years I have visited the Cross Estate Garden at different times of the year, usually in late August, to photograph enormous hosta. Once I opened the gate to the garden, it dawned on me that I had never been to the garden when flowers and flowering trees were in bloom. The Cross Estate is a such a well-kept secret that I had the entire place to myself for hours.

The benches face the garden. The raised beds are delineated by red-brick paths. The canopy of the trellis is wisteria that provides a beautiful shaded roof during the summer. This place is a playground for red and grey squirrels and given all the high fencing, white-tailed deer.


(above) Nikon D750 converted to 830nm, Nikkor 35mm f1.8

While the stone walls and columns were terrific infrared subjects, I did shoot more color than I had in a long time. The colors were so intense because of the soft light and I am sure the cooler-than-normal temperatures and lots of rain over the last week. The flower beds were overflowing.


(above) Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-120mm f4

But in the end, I couldn’t help myself. Four color images focus stacked in Photoshop and then converted to black and white in Photoshop with a dash of MacPhun Intensify.

_D811910-912 focus stack-proc-flat-4x4

(above) Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-120mm f4

Just because infrared makes my soul happy (for now), I didn’t throw out baby with the bath water. I still shoot “color” images and sometimes convert them to black and white.