The Shot: #1
SONY NEX-5R with a 10-18mm f4 OSS at 14mm(20mm in 35mm)
1/160 sec. at f/4 – ISO 200

What's the story behind these images?
Both of these images are from the Alseseca River in Veracruz, Mexico. We had a lot of rain and, as a result, lots of water. Tension was high both days. Hiking in we didn’t even know if it was possible to run the section, and the Silencio waterfall caused unpleasant swims about one third of the time.

You’re employing some interesting techniques and technology to make these images. Can you explain?
After eight years of shooting whitewater I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I did some brainstorming and tried to think of something that hadn’t been seen before. I’ve never liked black and white kayaking images because the whitewater has no texture. One day, I saw some stunning B&W infrared landscape work and looked into adapting it to action sports. As it turns out, it’s well suited to whitewater because the water doesn’t reflect much, if any, infrared light, allowing the texture to show.

There are two ways to shoot IR on a digital camera.
For standard photography, capturing infrared light is not desirable, so the manufacturers put an IR-blocking filter in front of the camera’s sensor. Before 2004, these filters used to vary in strength and efficiency. If you choose certain models from this era (such as a Nikon D70) that have weaker IR filters, you can purchase an external filter for your lens that blocks visible light but allows IR light through. This is the cheapest route, but you can’t shoot action because the in-camera IR-blocking filter is still blocking a lot of light. You’ll always need a tripod and long exposures with this method.

The second method is to send a camera in and have it converted (or do it yourself for the truly gifted). The conversion removes the IR-blocking filter from the camera and replaces it with a visible light-blocking filter. The final exposure values will vary depending on the spectrum the camera is converted to. 590nm is near visible infrared and allows as much light through as a normal camera. 720nm is at the edge of true infrared and allows in about two EV less light. 900nm is deep infrared, allowing zero visible light through but requiring the need of a tripod again. I had my Sony NEX-5R converted to 720nm at LifePixel conversions for $325. Even with a 720nm conversion I was often shooting at high ISO values to freeze action in the notoriously dark jungles of Veracruz, Mexico.


The Shot: #2
SONY NEX-5R with a 10-18mm f4 OSS at 14mm(20mm in 35mm)
1/1000 sec. at f/4 – ISO 1000

What was your post processing like?
I’m able to set my capture mode to black and white in camera and see it through the Electronic View Finder. I set a custom white balance in camera as well. I then convert with Sony’s Image Data Converter and don’t do any post processing. I typically work in Adobe Photoshop, but not for IR work because they don’t support a wide enough white balance gamut unless you create a custom camera profile, a complicated process.

Challenges involved?
There are two classic challenges with IR photography. The first is metering. A dSLR camera is metering off the mirror, which reflects visible light, even if the camera is IR converted. Thus metering is inaccurate and the camera must be shot in manual mode. A dSLR is also auto-focusing off visible light from the mirror, and Infared light focuses at a different point. Infrared photography was more popular in the film era, and that’s why old manual focus lenses have an IR focusing mark. Thankfully with an EVF camera like the Sony NEX series these challenges are not a problem. The camera meters and focuses off the sensor, which is seeing in infrared. With the right camera, the only challenges these days are economic.

What is it about shooting in this style that really excites you?
It started with a desire to do something different. I love seeing B&W from viewfinder to final capture; it makes me rethink everything.

Where can we see your work online?

–Check out MORE PHOTOS from C&K.