Infrared!

May 21, 2014 at 8:37 am (Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument, fine art photography, Infrared Photography, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )

Cottonwoods along the Green River

Cottonwoods along the Green River

While traveling to my new home at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, I was enamored with the beautiful Midwestern skies with their puffs of white floating on a sea of cerulean.  Those skies lend themselves well to landscape photography, but I’ve been carrying around an infrared filter from my film days and got a hankering to use it.  Those images will be in another post.  Today I’m showing you my most recent images at Dinosaur National Monument.

Steamboat Rock, Echo Park

Steamboat Rock, Echo Park

On my second day of work a group of us park rangers went on a field trip to Echo Park, an absolutely dreamy spot along the Green River.  It’s down a 12-mile gravel road which isn’t recommended for passenger vehicles without high clearance, and RVs and trailers are forbidden.  Nonetheless we encountered two folks with pop-up tent trailers.

Cottonwoods and Steamboat Rock

Cottonwoods and Steamboat Rock

We didn’t stop at the petroglyph site or the Chew Ranch, but the campground environs was as perfect as could be on this warm spring day.  We sat under the Fremont cottonwoods and learned the history of Echo Park versus the Dam, wherein everything within our sight would have been underwater if the Bureau of Reclamation had gotten its way in the 1950s. The threat galvanized the nascent environmental movement and the dam was moved upriver to form the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area.

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Green River

Although Echo Park was saved, the Green River was changed, its natural flow altered, sediments filtered that were needed by native fish, and cold water from the dam’s release from the very bottom of the new lake created unsuitable spawning temperatures.  Plus the accidental and purposeful introduction of non-native sport fish as well as the cheat grass and tamarisk or salt cedar squeezed out the rightful inhabitants of the Green River watershed.  It’s a story repeated far and wide in this country’s remaining wild lands.  We – often in the form of federal oversight – caused the problem.  And now we must mitigate what was unforeseen in the rush to provide irrigation water and jobs, albeit with just a fraction of the funds needed.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which set aside lands to remain in – or recover to – their natural state.  These lands are generally roadless, and machinery even to maintain lands is often forbidden.  It’s ironic that the fight to save Echo Park helped solidify the environmental movement and the passage of the Wilderness Act, yet Dinosaur National Monument’s proposal for this congressional designation of Wilderness has been ignored for more than 35  years due to the strong sentiments in this region against “locking up” lands against development.

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Yet that proposed area is maintained as if it were indeed protected by the Wilderness Act, so that if and when the proposal is legislated, it will be in the state it was when originally petitioned.

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Now for some technical information on photographing infrared images.  It’s really quite easy.  However, you must use a tripod for the best images, which I did not have with me for any of these images.  Even so, the softness combined with the ghostly glow of infrared gives an antique sort of feel to these images.

Plug Hat Butte trail

Plug Hat Butte trail

Living things such as foliage – particularly new spring leaves – emit infrared, which is represented by a surreal luminescence, particularly when in full sun.  The infrared filter is nearly black and screens out most other light rays.  Using a Canon G-11 point-and-shoot, I simply hold the filter over the lens.  I boosted the ISO to 3200 and used a large aperture, but even so the exposures were around 1/8 sec.  That’s why you need a tripod.

The images show up as magenta with my regular settings.  I just convert them in Photoshop to grayscale, then use Auto Contrast.  That’s it!  They look very much like the grainy film infrared images I used to make.

View from Plug Hat Butte

View from Plug Hat Butte

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These photographs can be purchased here

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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2 Comments

  1. Judy Bell said,

    I sure hope Dinosaur treats their RV volunteers better than they did back when I was there in the summer of 08. It is a beautiful area. How were the mosquitoes?

  2. Cindy McIntyre said,

    Hey Judy – I don’t know much about anything yet, but so far no skeeters! They just had 2 feet of snow last week.

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