Creating Emotional Image Depth

Using Infrared Photography To Create Emotional Impact


Help Me I Am LOST (In These Images)


An emotional impact generated from viewing a finely crafted image is what all photographers strive for in their creative hearts.  But this deep. personal  effect from viewing is a very rare thing to achieve.  I have been a fine art photographer for 45 years now  and I doubt that I have a thousand images in my extensive library that actually can do this.  Not that it is the fault (at least all) of the images themselves, but the impact upon us is flavored in a large way by our life experiences, values and many other things that affect the viewer!

All that we can do as the artistic creator of the image is to plan and pre-visualize the image we wish to create.  Think of it with the viewers emotional reaction in mind.  Then MAKE it happen to the best of our ability.  If you are just starting out in photography then you will grow and acquire the technical photographic skills and then the artistic abilities.  These will not come to you just because you have the latest and greatest camera that a loved one gave you as a gift, then told you to go out and create…

#1 Using Light & Shadows To Create Contrasts

This is the real test of our art, not camera control, exposure and all of the other technical things that make up our craft.  While these things are indeed an important part of the skill set that makes us a good photographer, they are just tools…  The real magic comes in other areas, composition, use of light through contrasts  and placement.  Using simple things like color and contrasts to tell a story while drawing your viewer into your image!  The other technical things just make us technicians. I want more than that, I want to be the perfect artist.  I want to be consumed by my own images first then others will follow.


#2 B&W or Color, It Just DOESN'T Matter

Like I said, I have been doing this for a LONG time.  I am practiced, I know exposure, camera control, lens effects, how to create a sharp or blurred image, filter use, how to use flash or lots of flashes.  But, what has made me successful are my artistic skills.  These skills have taken me all of my life to learn and sharply hone to personal perfection.  What is perfect for me might not be perfect for you!

There are lots of ways to accomplish this emotional impact and my ways might not all work as good for you!  Still, I think that they could at least help.  So I will humbly try to give you a glimpse into how I look at things from the artistic side rather than from the technical.

Look at image #1 above.  This was take in Greece in January 2011.  As I walked into the ruins (after a totally amazing  week of photography) of this palace, I was amazed by how the scenery impacted me emotionally.  This was my first hint that this would be a good place to create art.  The sky was bright blue with moody clouds that created too much contrast, too much dynamic range for color work so I knew that color was out and that to create truly emotional images I would need to move to Infrared.  For the purposes of this post I do not care about the technical data necessary to make this image.  I want to share the artistic inspiration that I used to create this emotionally stimulating art.

So, I walked into the palace, through the Lions Gate and looked down upon the landscape as the image opened up before me.  I took in the bright light in the foreground and on the background hills. I saw the dark marble blocks with contrasty dark spaces between them.  I saw the green grasses that I knew would turn a soft shade of gold in Infrared.   The contrast of the gold against the blues took by breath  away.  I was mesmerized by the image opening up in my minds eye.  This all happened before I even got my camera out of my pack!  I moved back and forth, forward and backward.  I looked for the perfect angle and composition that would give the most overall contrast between the image elements, both implied as well as physical.  Bright sunlit hills, dark marble blocks, black spaces, light gray blocks and the sky with its contrast between the moody clouds and blue.   The contrast between the palace ruins and the fields beyond, EVERYTHING that I needed was here.  And guess what?  I realized that for this one perfect image that I didn’t need Faux Color or B&W because with the contrasts in light, foreground/background, clouds/sky, ruins/fields it just wouldn’t matter, in fact to me standing there I KNEW that both modes would work perfectly (look also at image #2)!  I looked out on this scene  and knew, planned and then MADE IT HAPPEN using the technical skill of exposure physics and focus control, lens and filter selection and DOF.  But, the camera was only my brush and I used this artistic tool to paint the image that I saw in my emotionally crazed mind onto the camera.


Not simple or easy, but the process has become second nature over the years,  like I said the technical details are important or else you could not use your tool, but I created the art in my mind then used the tool to make it happen.

This ability to visualize the artistic and emotional imagery is a product my my own artistic growth over my lifetime.  Will it take you 45 years to get here?  I sure hope not!  I am after all a hard headed emotionally stunted human male and didn’t arrive at this state of artistic nirvana until late in life.  I guarantee you that there is more hope for you!

Here are a few more images that move me in ways that words just cannot describe.  I am drawn into these images and once seen cannot be separated from who I am.

I am a changed person…..  I hope you are also.


Contrasts, Sky/Clouds - Green/Gold - High/Low - Big Blocks/Small Blocks - Climbing Up Into The Image

Contrasts, Dark/Light, Clouds/Sky, Foregound/Background... I Can Walk Into This Image

Contrasts, Sky/Water, Dark Storm/Bright Forground, I Am LOST In This Image! Can You Smell The Rain? Hear The Wind?

Contrasts, Color/B&W, Reds/Golds/Blues, OH THE CONTRASTS! Do These Stairs Lead To Heaven?


Contrasts, The Walkway Leading In, Sun/Shade, Blue/Gray, Sky/Clouds, Reds/Golds What More Could You Want? Lets Go For A Walk In The Olive Groves!


OK and a LARGE version of the example image..


Contrast and Depth Is Everything...

What do YOU think of this ARTISTIC vision?  The Planning, the Visualization?  Please, give your thoughts and some feedback on all of this!

NOTE:  I know that you have seen most of these images here in older posts.  I picked them for inclusion here due to the fact that they show specific image qualities rather than locations!


2 comments on “Creating Emotional Image Depth

  1. Quite dramatic and extreamely well done. Many thanks for sharing and inspiring me to start visualizing in IR / B&W.

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