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Paul Gallagher and Michael Pilkington on seeing the world in another light with infrared photography

Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington
Soft light touches grass and leaves under the shade of ancient and gnarled trees in a field edge tucked away in Kent. (Image credit: Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington)

In Another Light is a project exploring a new way of using infrared photography in the landscape. The resultant book is a portfolio of work from the UK and internationally, and shows the versatility of using infrared in many different weather conditions. We have been using converted Nikon infrared cameras for a decade now and during that time we’ve refined our approach and techniques, creating a unique and diverse collection of images, which we wanted to share with a wider audience.

While visiting an abandoned township on the great plains of Montana, this huge storm cloud began to build. Paul ran down the road to align it with the wonderful line of cottonwoods.  (Image credit: Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington)

There are images from Scotland, China, USA and England, just to name a few places. The first explorations took place in Scotland and the Lake District and, after discovering the vast flexibility of this type of photography, we took our infrared-converted Nikons everywhere we went while we were running our photographic workshops around the world.

Initially our infrared cameras were only used occasionally, but when we discovered that we could produce beautiful shots from rainy conditions, in mist along with stormy weather, we began to use them more and more. The photographs were collected over a period of about six years.

Left: High above the valley floor of Yellow Mountain, China, the only light to shine through the thick fog is infrared. (Image credit: Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington)

In Another Light

The book, In Another Light, developed as time passed. We started to push the boundaries of infrared and began seeing exciting results. At first woodland seemed to be the best subject matter, but this was soon followed by open landscapes and mountainous areas. We have been showing our work in exhibitions, lectures and during workshops. This has always been well received and, in particular, audiences have been surprised by the subtleties of tones that can be achieved. 

In the beginning the initial cameras were very basic – Nikon D70s and D200s. Each time we upgraded our kit to the latest model, we converted the previous camera to infrared. Paul now uses a Nikon D800E for infrared work, while Michael has a D810. 

Far left: Travelling through the steep mountain passes of the Italian Dolomites, the afternoon light changes rapidly, raking along the mountain peaks above. (Image credit: Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington)

Without doubt, the main challenges, when it came to selecting the images for the book, was making sure we did not just select our favourites. Of course, they still made it into the book, but we wanted to show the flexibility of black-and-white infrared, so a good variation was essential to show this new approach. The second challenge was the sequencing of the photographs themselves for the pages of the book. You cannot simply pop them all in there and be done with it; there had to be a sensible flow from one page to the next, like a journey through our discoveries.

In Another  (Image credit: Paul Gallagher & Michael Pilkington)

In Another Light is published by LensPublishing and is available from Aspect2i where you can also find workshops and classes to learn how to take and post-process infrared images. 

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Adam Waring

Editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, Adam is Digital Camera World's man in the know for all things Nikon-related. A veteran of publications such as PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge and photographic technique to DCW. Often found playing with the latest kit from the Big N, his personal set-up is built around the formidable Nikon D850.