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Why Painting With Darkness?

Gravestone and ivy

Normal cameras work with the same sort of light that humans can see. The camera manufacturer goes to great lengths to make sure that what ends up on the sensor to make the image is 'visible light'. In other words, the sort of light we see all the time in our everyday lives.

The pictures on this site aren't taken with visible light, they use light in the 'near-infrared' part of the spectrum. For brevity let's call that IR. Humans can't see that at all, and normally cameras don't see that either.

So how can we use IR to make images using a camera?

For the cameras I use I have made certain internal modifications so that the digital sensor sees only IR while all visible light is blocked.

After conversion the only light reaching the sensor is IR. This means that there is no actual colour to the resulting image, the end result is monochrome. Foliage and grass are highly reflective in IR so they come out brightly, while skies we see as blue contain almost no IR so they come out very dark indeed. Clouds reflect IR, so they are very bright compared to the dark sky.

The effect suits some types of image much more than others. It isn't something that you'd use for pictures of the kids, but for the more mysterious world of graveyards and old memorials it works very well. It is often called 'dream-like' or 'surreal'.

For me it is simply a mechanism to capture the images that appeal to me - the 'feel' of such places. The images are recorded only with light that humans can't see. Thus 'painting with darkness' came about.