Current Issue #488

Bringing Australian landscapes to light in infrared

Bringing Australian landscapes to light in infrared

The Red Earth photography project aims to shed new light on sun-drenched Australian landscapes with a photo series shot on Aerochrome Infrared Film.

“Australia has a wide variety of different landscapes and what I’m looking to capture is an aspect of the landscape that we can’t see,” says Bryce Kraehenbuehl, director of the Red Earth photography project. “I think in a world flooded by images it’s important to look at our natural environment and world in a different way to reflect on what we can’t perceive.”

Kraehenbuehl says that the Australian landscape hasn’t yet been captured on the now-out-of-production Aerochrome film stock, which is unique for its ability to vividly interpret infrared light on film.

“There have been a few people that have created a small body of work but overall it’s something that hasn’t really been done here,” he says. “I think therefore it’s important to capture our own country in this way.”

Australians’ relationship to the country’s landscape is a key focus of Kraehenbuehl’s work with Red Earth. While some are intimately connected to the land, others might disregard the remarkable landscapes around them.

“I think what I would like people to get out of it is to realise there’s a whole other world right in front of us we can’t see,” he says. “Australians can forget the variety of landscapes we have so I’d also hope by seeing these images it might get people out to some of Australia’s landscapes.”

Kraehenbuehl aims to travel through landscapes as diverse as the Northern Territory’s deserts and New South Wales’ Blue Mountains to produce 10 high quality prints by the end of his project, which will be accompanied by soundscapes from sound designer Ben Golotta.

“The aim is to pair the sound and vision, allowing for a more immersive exhibition,” Kraehenbuehl says.

Photos taken on Aerochrome film assume an otherworldly look unique in the niche of infrared photography, as Kraehenbuehl’s initial work in South Australia shows.

“In general, people may have seen black and white infrared photography or colour infrared images which generally have an extremely muted colour scheme,” Kraehenbuehl says. “Aerochrome, on the other hand, produces vibrant images with trees and other foliage transforming into crimson reds.”

Delving into the technicalities of the film, Kraehenbuehl explains that the colour sensitive layers of the film record light differently to typical stock, with infrared light displaying as red, green light as blue, and red light as green.

The implications for this colour switching on landscape photography are obvious, with trees, shrubs and grass standing out in blood red tones, but humans and animals are known to shift colour too, with skin tones changing under the lens.

“Portraiture using this film can be quite strange as people’s skin colour changes quite dramatically,” Kraehenbuehl says. “It seems to come down to different complexions as people with whiter coloured skin, depending on the filter, come out with pale blue to yellow skin while the colour of darker complexions remains quite similar.”

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