Beginning in the early spring through the summer, I shoot infrared (film and digital), and I’m reminded of a past assignment.
A few years ago, I was in NYC to photograph icons for a Japanese stock agency.
I haven’t done a lot of that sort of work in my career. So, needless to say, I was pretty stoked about it. My agent was with me for “protection,” and to keep an eye on my gear while shooting in the street, and in Times Square.
I’ve been to NYC quite a bit in my past life as a jazz musician, so I knew the fast and exciting pace.
I was waiting to see the weather before deciding which film to use, because I really wanted to shoot infrared. A deep blue sky is workable, but can be bland after a while. Overcast would work out ok, if there were detail in the clouds. But, what I was hoping for was a blue sky with white puffy clouds, a perfect infrared day. And we were lucky.
I’m always asked about what infrared filter to use. The two basic choices are a red filter and an opaque filter. The red filter is a deep red 25A filter. The opaque filter is just that, opaque. You can’t see through it. It records only infrared and creates a deep silver glow in the image, depending on how you develop it (I used infrared film here). Digital infrared can look great also. Ben Wilmore’s book, How to Wow, has a great example of digital “faux” infrared. The 25A can be used along with a polarizer to darken the sky, which really “pops out” puffy white clouds! I use the Singh Ray I-ray filter for film infrared and a Harrison and Harrison opaque filter specifically made for the Fuji S2 sensor, which I have dedicated to infrared.
The image here was shot almost one year, to the day, before 9-11. The light and sky conditions were perfect for infrared. In order to avoid lens flare, I repositioned myself to merge the sun behind the left tower. After shooting the ordinary shots and getting that out of my system, I began to look up through different things in the plaza. Every so often, we’ll look through the finder and it’s like getting hit by a bolt of lightning. When I saw this image in the finder, I got very excited and shot from this location, fine tuning compositions for a while using color transparency film and infrared. When I got the film back the color images were pretty bland, but the b+w infrared had a wonderful glow and seemed to really capture the moment.
I couldn’t have imagined the state of these building one year later, but whenever I think back to making this image, I feel fortunate to have been there to record it!