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Underground - infrared flash and street photography

Infrared
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#1 DonPilou

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 18:01

Good evening,
During the last 3 months, I have realized a new photographic project in infrared based on the use of a 850nm flash. This way, I shot people on the Parisian subway like if this place was totally dark.

Thought as a succession of scenes of life in the darkness, this project presents dark and undefined environments where circulate human beings absorbed by their daily lives.

The main purpose of this series is the illustration of an imperceptible underground life, where the artificial light of the urban environment is absent. Only the photographer's flash reveals the scenes unfolding in front of him, giving a claustrophobic and worrying character to the moments captured. In the subway, a parallel can be made between the subjects going to work and miners moving in dark underground hoses with no visible purpose. The attitudes of the characters alternate between moving in endless corridors, searching for invisible routes or using stairs leading to unknown levels.

Here are 5 pictures of this project:

Attached Image: Projet_underground_BD (1).jpg


Attached Image: Projet_underground_BD (5).jpg


Attached Image: Projet_underground_BD (9).jpg


Attached Image: Projet_underground_BD (17).jpg


Attached Image: Projet_underground_BD (22).jpg



#2 OlDoinyo

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 19:45

I like the idea. I guess there is little or no ambient IR in these locations, which helps create the effect. I wonder if this would work in UV.

#3 Andy Perrin

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 19:50

It would probably be a bad idea to try this in summer! You might get a quasi-pornographic effect.

#4 Andrea B.

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 21:10

Are you using an 850-led torch? Or an 850-filtered flash? Just curious.
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#5 DonPilou

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 10:10

View PostOlDoinyo, on 11 December 2017 - 19:45, said:

I like the idea. I guess there is little or no ambient IR in these locations, which helps create the effect. I wonder if this would work in UV.
Thanks! The first time I wanted to test "invisible" flash light, I used a stack of filters at 340nm in front of my speedlight. The problem with UV light is the emission of fluorescent light by the clothes of people, which is not the bast way to use flash light without being seen ;)

View PostAndy Perrin, on 11 December 2017 - 19:50, said:

It would probably be a bad idea to try this in summer! You might get a quasi-pornographic effect.
Indeed, and as I do not want to appear like a perv' this is why I am doing this project in winter :D

View PostAndrea B., on 11 December 2017 - 21:10, said:

Are you using an 850-led torch? Or an 850-filtered flash? Just curious.
Yes this is a 850nm filtered flash with a 850nm filter in front of my lens too, to avoid impact of the light in the subway.

#6 bobfriedman

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:52

i have an RG830 filter (Shane made for me) which fits Nikon SB-800 speedlights.. i have since given the SB-800's i had away... does anyone want the filter?...

Edited by bobfriedman, 12 December 2017 - 11:53.


#7 nfoto

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:56

I wouldn't mind Bob ... using an SB-800 quite frequently for ordinary visible-light photography.

As a side note, earlier I've done a lot of IR photography using my SB-14 + SW-5IR filter in front of it. To complete the set up, adding the B+w 093 filter over my 28/3.5 Nikkor lens. People in general don't respond to the flash going off, but I have had more than one person commenting on my "forgetting to take the lens cap off" :D

#8 bobfriedman

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 13:18

View Postnfoto, on 12 December 2017 - 11:56, said:

I wouldn't mind Bob ... using an SB-800 quite frequently for ordinary visible-light photography.

Sure. I am work now. But need to look for it when I get home. I only ask shipping costs. Pls PM address to get estimate.

#9 Mark

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 23:53

@Don: While I appreciate good street photography (which commonly includes 'people' in the scenes), I might caution against such clandestine photos, as many people tend to have strong reaction against having their photo taken - especially without notice/consent (I've even witnessed quite violent reactions). Personally, I make it a point not to take anyone's photo without being completely up-front about it. Maybe Parisians on the whole don't mind? (I've never been to Paris). Also, for myself, I tend to find it to be an affront should someone take my photo without consent - especially if it is attempted in secret. At least here in the states, it is well within the provisions of law to photograph almost anything which can be seen in public - including people; but it doesn't necessarily mean it is right/okay to do so. This is my opinion only, I understand - perhaps you/others may sway my long standing on this? Perhaps I live in a place where people are just up-tight? I'd like to know how such photos would be received by different people around the world.

#10 DonPilou

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 11:33

Well, Mark... First of all, I do not know what "good street photography" represents to you. After having read your comment, I think this includes only pictures of people aware that they are taken in photo. For me, this kind of work is not street photography but portraits of people in the street.

What most of people consider as good street photography is showed by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Frank or Willy Ronis. They are not good because they are famous, but famous because they are good, they were able to capture unique life scenes of people acting by their own way, without posing in front of a camera. This is this spontaneity and this ability to capture real scenes of life that make, for me, good street photography.

I do not think I I show disrespect to the people on my pictures : they are living their own life, I do not hide my camera and there is nothing impacting their image in my pictures. Moreover, the fact that I use an invisible flash avoid real visible flash to pop in their eyes. The concept of consent of being taken in photo in public space is funny, because you are constantly filmed in the subway or in the street, for your "safety".

All of that make that, even if I ear your point of view, for me your opinion is only based on your vision of moral and decency, that I do not share. So it will not impact my work.

#11 Mark

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 12:35

You are right Don, my opinion is 'only' based on my morals and decency, as well as my observations, as I said. I believe this to be right and reasonable (again, an opinion :)). And here I've shared my opinion, openly and honestly. I get the sense you are offended in some way. Since I don't believe online communication is an appropriate or effective forum for conversations of potentially sensitive subject matter as this, I will respect your opinion, and won't engage further. I will say, I do enjoy many of the images you share on this site, and look forward to seeing more.

#12 DonPilou

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 13:57

Of course you are free to give your opinion, this is the concept of a forum, and I share some experiments and projects based on UV and IR photography here to have feedbacks.

I simply did not understand the goal of your comment, in a forum dedicated to technique and photography.

I am always open to give and receive tips and comments that help improving everyone's level and discovering new techniques. Sensitive feelings are welcome too, but I did not find any of these contents in your opinion. I only read a moral judgement of what is decent to shoot or not, and this is why I took it badly.

But as you said, there is no reason to escalate in this type of controversy far away from ultraviolet and infrared photography.

#13 Andrea B.

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 17:29

Street photography has always been controversial. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not there is an "expectation of privacy" when on the street. If the answer to this were 'yes', then we would never have any record of historical events. But where does one draw the line? How do when we can or cannot document the street? I don't think anybody knows. And rules vary by country about what venues are or are not considered private.

It should come as no surprise that in all my years as an Admin on various 'tog forums, I have seen street photography topics "go off the rails" many times. We cannot settle the debate about street photography here, of course. :)

I would like to thank Mark and Pierre-Louis for their respectful discussion. Thank you!!

If anyone else wants to discuss street photography, per se, then I am willing to split the thread to create a discussion topic. But I would prefer not to at the moment. It is a busy time of the year.


Seek what you have in common rather than what divides you.
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#14 nfoto

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 18:12

Street photography is contentious and recently regulation by national law(s) has been implemented in various countries (my own inclusive).

Thus, whatever one's own attitude towards this might be, getting familiarised with the applicable regulations is mandatory. Likewise, following those regulations later.

#15 Hornblende

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 03:41

Those pictures are very nice, I really like how people seems to "float". I want to try now :D
I have a question about using a 850nm LED torche to make this kind of pictures: what would be the safest power output for the lamp? I am not sure if looking straight at a 850nm LED torche is very good for the eyes..

#16 Andy Perrin

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 05:51

I don't think IR is nearly as dangerous as UV is, biologically speaking? It's not ionizing, and can't damage DNA or yellow the lenses of your eyes the way UV can. I know there has been some speculation that it could locally heat the tissue, but I would think you would feel the effects on your face if it was was strong enough to matter. When near IR is absorbed it will simply warm you up. If the light source is a LASER, that is a different matter, because lasers can cause very intense and localized heating. But I doubt any torch we would ordinarily use for photography would matter. Obviously that's more of an opinion than a scientific judgement, but I have tried to look this up in the past and I recall that this is the conclusion I came to.

#17 enricosavazzi

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 17:50

View PostAndy Perrin, on 14 December 2017 - 05:51, said:

I don't think IR is nearly as dangerous as UV is, biologically speaking? It's not ionizing, and can't damage DNA or yellow the lenses of your eyes the way UV can. I know there has been some speculation that it could locally heat the tissue, but I would think you would feel the effects on your face if it was was strong enough to matter. When near IR is absorbed it will simply warm you up. If the light source is a LASER, that is a different matter, because lasers can cause very intense and localized heating. But I doubt any torch we would ordinarily use for photography would matter. Obviously that's more of an opinion than a scientific judgement, but I have tried to look this up in the past and I recall that this is the conclusion I came to.
My conclusion too. I found no indication that NIR could be dangerous in any way, unless so strong that it would cause flash-heating. But it would need to be stronger than very roughly 1,000 Ws and at very close range.
-- Enrico Savazzi

#18 bobfriedman

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 22:07

the speed light gives out plenty of IR. so in normal operation (w/o filter) you are radiating IR + VIS.. otherwise the filter would never work.

#19 Hornblende

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 22:39

Thank you Andy and Enrico :)

#20 DonPilou

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 19:53

The same as you, nightvision cameras and security cameras use near infrared light without hurting people's eyes. As long as my flash is used in places where ambient light is enough, eyes will not be injured. (Before each shooting I start taking a picture of me in a mirror with my IR system ;) )