My most difficult shot
An infrared panoramic shot has its challenges in the best of conditions, but try capturing a dynamic waterfall environment where the relentless moisture drenches your long-exposures!
In traveling to South America, Iguacu Falls was at the top of my list. With 275 waterfalls, the vast reserve that spans the Brazil-Argentina border, presents some stunning scenery. The moist atmosphere expels an array of rainbows from all types of angles, but the constant mist presents a very challenging photographic environment.
With the turbulent water quite brown and murky, I wanted a perspective that manipulated this reality to make the falls a little more pure.
Infrared photography was introduced to me through Apex photography, who came and did a talk at my local camera club at the time (Donside camera club), who inspired me to try out the format and loved it.
This was my first infrared capture at home in Aberdeenshire, a long journey of learning that brought me to Iguacu falls with an infrared filter!
In adding an infrared filter onto a micro-four thirds set-up to take to Iguacu for long-exposure photography could be seen as naïve, but sometimes you have to go with your gut!
What is important in being immersed in a landscape that is so spectacular, you can't let it overcome you. I had a vision for a composition, a journey of a waterfall, but it took a few attempts to find the right one.
I did become a little absorbed in a panorama theme, trying to capture as much as I could, but to give me options in terms of cropping and creating a composition in post production - I wouldn't normally shoot great panoramas in the worry of not securing a fitting composition, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to make the most of.
A second attempt at finding the composition, where the distortion wasn't an issue but the main subject was lost, I was perched a little too far from the fall.
In adding an infrared filter to capture Iguacu falls may have been naïve,
but sometimes you have to go with your gut!
On the Argentinian side - looking over to the Brazilian land in the far background, it was the Argentina trail that allowed me to capture the most difficult shot of my career. In emphasising long exposure, high-dynamic-range with a triple shot in a 16-shot panorama view, this 30minute capture was an extreme challenge that I learnt a lot from, but one that was self-inflicted with the choice in style.
I feel it paid off and I wouldn't have changed the day for anything. With the support of my partner, we stayed at many spots across the reserve trying to capture the vision, and what I came out with was a very unique perspective and capture of Iguacu falls, that I believe no-other photographer would dare to imagine capturing!
Another tricky shot taken from a jetty platform which wasn't the most stable for tripods and long-exposure, not to mention the prime position for spray.
On paper this is may have been the worst combination for long-exposure infrared to try in a moist environment. Iguacu falls encouraged wiping the lens, plenty of cloud-cover, plenty of tourists and unstable ground - the exact opposite to what you need for this kind of shot. But sometimes you have to go with your gut! I
If you feel your unique vision is worth it, as a photographer it is your duty to try, and with experience, trial and error you will make better choices to making the process as smooth as possible. On paper this shouldn't have worked, but I hope you can agree the end result was worth it (not to mention what I learnt on the way).
PS - if this has inspired you to capture infrared, do make it easy for yourself, choose a simple subject, a dry and tripod-friendly environment and practice, practice, practice before tackling such a challenging subject!
An infrared vision, a formidable subject and an inspired gut-feeling.