National Park Photography Expedition Retrospective – Part 2

In 2021, many of our NPPE Alumni created expression-filled photography that attracted the attention of art professionals and collectors. The NPPE staff decided to shout out their achievements with several retrospective groups to inspire other National Park Photography Expedition Alumni, future Alumni, and creative photographers everywhere.  Without their personal aesthetics, their computers and cameras would be mindless machines producing effects without substance, forms minus relevance, and narration without meaning. For all of them, their art photography fills a large part of their lives and the lives of those who appreciate their work.   

Infrared - Color Without Color

Over the last few decades, it seems TV and movies have taken on a sheen of cool blue or gray that washes over things. This tends to mute colors providing an overall veneer of serious business. Katie Stebbins a film reviewer calls this intangible sludge. Not to be outdone Adobe has provided us with a vast number of presets in Lightroom and Camera Raw as well as powerful color grading tools in addition to the traditional HSL panels.

In 2021 two NPPE alumni explored the art of color expression through advanced infrared capture and post-processing techniques.   In this session of the 2021 retrospect, we share some of their work and we are excited about their future directions and advancements in 2022.

Art Photographer Bill Chatwell—

Bill began working with NPPE in a First Horizon Workshop and then began attending Masterclass Workshops. He is also a member of our advanced post-production program and in 2021 began an in-depth exploration of infrared as a new form of landscape art photography. He chose the Sony APSC crop system, a6500, with a modified sensor for infrared light at 590 nanometers allowing him to explore an expressive color palette.  This camera and lenses are small and great for daylight hiking and daylight is prime time for IR.

Bill is exploring a color pallet that reduces color without reducing saturation which eliminates color latency between warm and cool interpretations and often results in a personal tritone pallet of slate blue, white, and accents. Well Done!

“I picked up my first camera in 1969 while in Vietnam and instantly fell in love with photography. I took courses and did some photography during my working years. Photography became my focus after retiring in 2009. Since working with NPPE my photography has grown tremendously. I’ve had a photograph published in a LensWork book entitled “Our Magnificent Planet 2020’. 

Over the last couple of years, I have added Infrared photography as an additional focus in my work. My initial IR work was with Infrared B&W and most recently with color 590nm Infrared. It is both challenging and allows a high level of creativity and exploration. Both photographing with color Infrared and post-processing to turn the image into art is my 2022 challenge”.

Art Photographer Ian Muirhead—

Ian began his NPPE studies with the Olympic National Park Masterclass and then flew in from Australia to attend others. The Covid 19, Delta, and Omicron variants ended travel between Australia and the US but that did not stop Ian from shooting when breaks in the Australian lockdowns permitted.

Ian eliminates color in many of his projects with a specially equipped camera for infrared and works with traditional black and white captures— except they are not black and white. They are thermal captures that reduce the grayscale to essential tones. Working within this limited range is compliments his minimalism style which focuses on “less is more.” Ian’s work casts aside all the unnecessary components and the vacancy and bareness of the space shown enables the audience to imagine their own interpretation and comprehension of the scene.

Infrared capture and post-processing accentuate space and time in minimalism.

Few lone trees on a hillside escape a second glance from Ian Muirhead, a landscape & bird photographer from Australia. He finds the simple minimalist compositions possible with this type of subject invite a longer, more contemplative, and relaxed interpretation. Harmony, pattern, form, and balance are characteristics that describe much of his work.  

Ian has developed a passion for infrared photography, working at longer wavelengths where reproduction is essentially monochromatic. In this realm, a scene may appear almost indistinguishable from that represented in a conventional black and white image but contain subtle differences which can activate the subconscious “Why”. At the other extreme, snow-white trees against jet-black skies or the addition of selective colours to create mood or impact challenge the perception of normal.  In this sense, Ian believes the infrared image has a strong capacity to engage the viewer.

Until recently Ian’s photographic endeavours have been focused on creating impactful photos within the camera. However, through NPPE workshops and training he has developed broad post-processing skills required to strengthen the emotive reaction. Apart from the occasional ad hoc magazine or news article his images have been shared via personal contact and social media (primarily 500px.com/ianjmuirhead). Identifying this as a limitation Ian intends to undertake skills development commencing 2022 with the goal of producing landscape art portfolios of exhibition quality.

About Author

Bob Killen is a nationally recognized Fine Art Photographer, Landscape Photography instructor, and artist. He is the Director of the National Park Photography Expeditions, President of the Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, a National Park Service Friends Group, a national speaker on landscape photography and an Adobe Certified Instructor. His thematic work explores Western Americana landscapes with a focus on man’s obsession to abandon structures, places, and things across a shared American landscape. His work is owned by collectors in 20 countries.

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