Infraterra – A Journey Into the Invisible




Infraterra – A Journey Into the Invisible by Mark White (Website | Facebook | Instagram, see also his previous guest post):

Background

Photography originated as a recording medium. It was designed to create a record of what can be seen in the world around us. To create lasting mementos that will exist long after our living memories have faded. It wasn’t long before artists did what artists do: we learned how to use these tools translate what can be seen into what can be felt. We learned to translate images into emotions. We conceptualized meaning in composition, lighting, and presentation. We understood what was and created something more than.

Like many of us, I picked up my first camera in my early teens. Growing up, I often felt like a forgotten boy in a forgotten city. Photography offered me the escapism I needed to maintain sanity. Intentionally searching for beauty in a place that sometimes felt like its very antithesis helped me gain perspective. Maybe this place was more than, too. Maybe if I just looked a bit harder, there were wonders to be found here.


I spent the better part of my grade school years crawling around the patches of grass in my cement town chasing butterflies with my macro lens. This new-to-me world was both so foreign and so familiar at once. In these microcosms, there was a whole world living within our own. It was in these postage-stamp-sized spaces where I found sanctuary. For a time, I lounged in the spiders’ webs and rode on the backs of aphids. It felt a little bit like magic.


Over the years, my fascination with photography’s ability to broaden perspectives and reimagine our world grew only stronger. You might remember my previous guest post where I spent some time creating microcosms of my own. Each of these spaces were created on a glass tabletop entirely out of materials most of us already have in our homes.


These fantasy places offered yet another refuge, for the brief time they existed. There was something poignant about the process of creating these spaces that only existed for a short time.


Within a few days, the clay litter and sugar they were made from began to disintegrate. The whole miniature world began to look like a mirrored dystopian version of their former splendor. As the beauty faded, the whole thing was tossed in the bin, leaving only their memory through the images.


I have always been determined to find ways through photography to bring light to the unseen. It started with illuminating the tiny but complex lives of insects hidden in plain sight, transitioned into creating new worlds of my own, and finally landed on what has become my passion for over a decade: infrared photography.


Infrared spectrum photography represents the perfect balance of uncovering the more than of the world, while remaining present in it. It satiates the need for discovery in a way nothing else has, and the implications are seemingly endless.


The infrared world is our world, only more than. It is always there and everyone and everything lives in it, unknowingly. It is a realm of existence running parallel to our own. Macro taught me that beauty can be found in the most unlikely places, but is often overlooked. Infrared has taught me that wonder and beauty can be found everywhere if you try hard enough to see it. Perhaps we just need to view it in a new light.

Infraterra

The first time I converted a camera to infrared (a Nikon D300), most of the “serious” photographers that I knew at the time scoffed. They thought I was crazy for converting a perfectly good $2k, prosumer-level camera into a “vanity project,” and at the same time depleting any resale value it may have when I was ready to upgrade.


But I had seen the magic, I knew what it felt like. I was determined to change their minds. Digital infrared photography deserved to hold a space in the fine art world. It practically demanded it. At the time, there was no guidebook on infrared photography. No sage who had mastered the craft as a mentor, and no extensive YouTube collection to learn from. I was on my own, and I was okay with that.

Over the next two summers, I drove over 20,000 miles across North America, photographing as many environments as I could manage. The professional goal: to learn everything I could about what to expect out of an infrared image under different environmental and lighting conditions, with the hopes of also creating incredible fine art landscape images. The personal goal: To see parts of the world for the first time, twice.

All photos were taken within moments of each other. Infrared images were taken with a 720nm-converted Nikon D800. Comparison visible images were taken with a standard Nikon D800. Each photo is a 50-photo HDR panorama through a 50mm 1.8G, handheld.


Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming, USA


Peyto Lake, Jasper National Park. Alberta, CA.


Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park. Alberta, CA.

To date, I have driven coast to coast three times in four years for this project. The pandemic restricted working on the series in many ways, and finally, but we’re finally inching toward regaining normalcy again. For me, that means it’s time to hit the ground running!


Wildfires in Glacier National Park. MT, USA

2022 will be another year of exploration and discovery for Infraterra. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll, once again, set out to dozens of destinations across North America. July brings the biggest leg of the project thus far: Iceland!


Athabasca River. Alberta, CA.

Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, and for good reason. The country’s geology is home to active volcanos and stunning glaciers, flanked by towering fjords and black sand beaches. Geothermal hotspots and an estimated 10,000 waterfalls speckle the landscape. A land so peculiar, NASA trained astronauts here to prepare for the Apollo moon mission. From Star Wars to Game of Thrones and Thor: The Dark World, the Icelandic landscape is a favorite go-to for Hollywood when the project calls for an otherworldly setting.


Moraine Lake, Banff National Park. Alberta, CA

There couldn’t be a more fitting setting to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Infraterra. The mystical nature of Iceland, rooted in rich culture and tradition meeting the ethereal aesthetic and science-meets-art nature of Infraterra seems a perfectly modern symbiotic union!

This project began a decade ago through the crowdfunding community, and we’re running full circle with Infraterra x Iceland being our latest successful campaign.

It truly has been a wild ride to make it to this point. I’m looking forward with hopeful eyes and tenacious determination! I’ll be posting regular updates on our travels and the progress of the project throughout the year, so please be sure to follow along across all social media!

The Kickstarter campaign will be running until 7:00 ET April 26, 2022. We’re offering loads of art from the Iceland leg of this project (delivery before the holiday season for most rewards), so please feel free to check it out! Reach out through any social platform or the website with questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you!


If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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