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The World in Infrared

By Chad Gordon | December 16, 2015

From Derailed Series - Seville, Ohio

I absolutely love what I do. Being a creative director and designer at dRC has fulfilled my desire to create and solve problems and it never gets old. But as some of you may know, I have another creative outlet that I am just as passionate about: Infrared Landscape Photography.

When I am out shooting, I have no deadlines and no one to please but myself. It is uninhibited, pure creativity, inner exploration, and deeply personal. It’s also purely spontaneous. If I’m not busy and the sky is right, I head out to shoot. In a way it is the yin to my design yang. My photography work is a healthy, spiritual release. Yet it is clear that both my design and photography work beneficially impact each other. I take a methodical approach to the technical aspects of photography, same as I would a design project. My photography keeps my mind open while slowing it down so I can see all the possibilities. There are a lot of obvious creative overlaps, like composition, color, scale, and more.

Why landscapes?

I am more inspired by nature’s beauty than anything else; it’s where I find peace. I love to get lost exploring by myself, finding natural treasures at every turn. No phones. No Facebook. No noise! Oddly enough, I don’t think I was really built to be in a city, or even in an office all day.  My photography forces me outside in a way that truly immerses me in nature, as opposed being outside to cut the grass or shovel the drive.

Make fun of the floppy hat all you want, but it saved me from 100+ degree heat!

Why infrared (and what is it)?

Without getting too technical, infrared is a wavelength of light that humans can’t see, but certain film and digital cameras can capture. I fell in love with infrared film in college for its surreal and dreamlike qualities. Today I shoot with modified digital cameras in which the visible light sensors have been replaced with sensors that capture infrared light.

Answers to typical questions I get about infrared:

• The white trees you see in my images are not snow or frost. Most of my images are taken during spring and summer. The effects occur because objects respond differently to infrared light than they do to visible wavelengths: plants and trees reflect far more, making them appear glowing white, while water and skies reflect very little and turn dark.

• It has nothing to do with heat. I am capturing what is called the “near-infrared” spectrum. Thermal Imaging (think military or medical imaging) is captured in the “far-infrared” spectrum.

• I do not add colors to my images. Near-infrared falls close to the visible spectrum on the spectral range chart (see below). Depending on the filter, some visible light is captured along with the infrared light. Therefore, some color is inherent in the images I process. I can bring out those existing colors while processing for the mood I want to achieve, but I don’t “paint” the color in. This is why, instead of the traditional infrared white trees, you will see some color. I’m not looking to capture accurate documentation of nature. I’m looking to capture a mood or a feeling.

IR SPectral Range Chart

• In general, my memory is terrible. But ask me about any one of my images and I can remember where it was, how I was feeling, what was going on in my life at the time and maybe even which way the wind was blowing. I’m not sure why that is, but there is a story behind every image.

• Yes, I do have a special camera. But as with any photographer, it isn’t about the gear. I’ve seen amazing work shot from artists only using an iPhone. It’s about the vision and executing that vision, and I have twenty years of researching, experimenting and honing my infrared photography eye. Here are some examples:

12141651_10154399410762926_3472986391169507937_n Untitled – Classic black and white – Malabar Farms State Park, Ohio

28362_440632262925_3116915_n Afternoon Fireflies – Allardale Park, Ohio

575166_10151528445227926_285978358_n Surreal Harvest – Medina County, Ohio

323092_10150535854577926_347021984_o Weathered Perseverance – Bryce Canyon, Utah

12188212_10154399353877926_4399016811284284470_o Untitled – Malabar Farm State Park, Ohio

1491313_10152511968742926_1568246276_o Buckeye Woods Park, Medina, Ohio

1948227_10152669514757926_589152589_n Forgotten Laughter – Abandoned Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio

12027286_10154233911467926_4495585532632736642_o Untitled – Buckeye Woods Park, Medina, Ohio

76561_10150129262177926_2928574_n From Derailed Series – Seville, Ohio

While I do this for myself, I love to share and, like my design, get great satisfaction creating work that makes others feel good.

To see more of my work you can go to or see more recent work on Facebook or follow me on Instagram @chadgophoto

Thank you, and happy holidays!


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