No. 47. Changcheng Segments in Infrared

“Changcheng” or “The Great Wall” as seen at Huangyaguan is rated as one of the best, least-crowded places to hike a portion this wonder of the world. In last week’s post, I featured color photos from here. A three-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Tianjin on the coast, the Great Wall even here is not for the faint-hearted, not even in small doses. Steps can be steep and are frighteningly irregular. Still, families with active children and elderly people in reasonably good shape come from all over China and all over the world to partake.

The Great Wall is said to be the world’s longest graveyard with a million workers estimated to have died during construction. Contrary to myth, it cannot be seen from the moon without advanced optics. Also worth consideration is that while it stopped small bands of marauders intruding, the wall did not stop invasions by large-scale armies from over-running the country.

 I’ve chosen a mix of black and white and false-color infrared photos derived from similar original captures. Here are infrared photos shot with a 720 nm filter on a full spectrum camera. The camera is a small specially-adapted point-and-shoot.

There is no color in the infrared spectrum.  Color is really a matter of perception made possible by the receptors in our eyes capable of interpreting a narrow band of visible electromagnetic-radiation we call “color.” For me, a big part of the appeal is the dreamy, otherworldly appearance of infrared photos resulting from the way vegetation fluoresces when photographed in infrared. Healthy vegetation reflects infrared radiation to prevent overheating, other materials absorb it. Color artifacts that pass through shorter wave-length IR filters (590nm, 665nm, and 720nm) can be manipulated to produce eerie false colors. In the raw state, these images have a magenta cast. By swapping the red and blue channels a more pleasing false-color scheme is produced.

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography and Encaustic Art He is an outstanding location photographer, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. But Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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