Mountains are already magical places in their own right, but for some photographers, they can even be otherworldly. By unlocking a hidden view through the art of infrared photography, Munich-based Roland Krämer was able to transform alpine scenes into alien worlds.
If you’re into experimental photography and surreal landscapes, “The Coral Mountains Series” makes for an interesting color study.
The months of July and August this year saw Roland road tripping across the various regions of the Alps. Apart from his usual camera, he also brought along a modified camera for infrared photography. After his initial experimentations with this specialized method, he became interested in using what he learned to create uncommon photos of mountainscapes.
Lush greens turned coral slopes
The result is a showcase of the European Alps in a different and colorful light, a sight both familiar and peculiar. Instead of lush greens covering parts of the mountains, the slopes appear to be carpeted with coral red vegetation. To the untrained eye, the photos can be easily dismissed as color manipulations using Photoshop. However, learning about the mechanism that makes this possible in-camera will most likely surprise you.
Roland explains in his earlier infrared set, “The Strange Series,” that it involves creating pictures using light waves that are invisible to us.
“Infrared light (780nm to 1mm) is electromagnetic radiation that has longer wavelengths than those of our visible light (380nm to 720nm). Cameras normally block the infrared wavelengths before they hit the sensor to maximize image quality. With the help of modified cameras (that have the filter removed that blocks the infrared light) it is possible to capture those wavelengths inside the camera. Special infrared filters help with blocking the visible light hitting the sensor to a certain degree.”
Plants and trees take on more vibrant hues compared to buildings and water because of chlorophyll, the green pigment that naturally gives them the hue we’re more familiar with. “It strongly reflects the infrared wavelengths that are invisible to our eyes, resulting in a more vivid color rendition,” Roland further explains.
An alien, parallel world hidden from view
I’ve always been fascinated with the unique, otherworldly imagery created by infrared photography. It’s not only because of the unique results, but also because of the science behind it, as described by Roland. I’m sure I’m not the only one drawn to the idea that infrared photography shows us: How we see the world isn’t the only way there is. It’s like there’s an entirely different world hidden from our view, one that is both strange and familiar at once.
I think this why infrared landscape photography like this featured set catches the eye and tickles the creativity of photographers. It’s easy to re-imagine these places as the strange terrain of some far-flung planet, where the foliage is red and the jagged peaks are smeared with crimson.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Roland take his infrared photography to more striking locations and transform them into alien landscapes!
All photos by Roland Krämer. Used with Creative Commons permission.