Greetings infrared photography freaks!
As you may know, most infrared photos focus on nature subjects as living things emit the highest amount of IR light. Up until now I’ve played it safe and stuck to the conventional infrared landscapes and tree photos from local parks.
Then about three weeks back I had a vision of what would be a sweet IR street photography opportunity while riding to Les Sisters restaurant for some killer soul food. My best friend and I were rolling past the railroad tracks on Devonshire and I saw palm trees reflected off a nearby office building. The next day I headed back to that spot for an afternoon IR photo experiment.
Chatsworth Infrared Street Photography Gallery
Note: All photos below were taken with my 720nm IR converted Lumix DMC-ZS35 and post processed in Photoshop with channel swapping and hue/saturation or minor exposure adjustments unless stated otherwise.
When I woke up that Sunday morning, I felt excited to see partly cloudy skies. My recent photo adventures featured empty skies thanks to the Santa Ana winds that occur every fall in the San Fernando Valley. Since clouds enhance drama in IR photos by adding contrast to the sky, I sensed I’d have a productive day.
I took the scenic route to Devonshire street via the Brown’s Creek Bike Path that runs parallel to the Chatsworth Metro Station. I made sure to set my custom white balance by focusing on a sunlit bush before I started snapping.
I’ve always admired the palm trees that form a line across the station by the sidewalk. I stopped to capture the scene of the grungy bike path on one side and beautiful palms on the other.
I stopped again to focus on the view of the station from afar. I liked the way the Orange Line buses were positioned with layers of palms in front and the hills in the background. I took a few photos before a couple appeared enjoying a leisurely afternoon walk. If you look closely, you’ll see their figures strolling by the parked buses in this shot.
From there I biked up to the office building on Devonshire by the railroad tracks. The reflections of the palms weren’t quite as clear as I anticipated and I struggled to bring my previous vision to life. I had hoped the parking lot would be empty on a Sunday, but there were a handful of cars that posed a challenge as far as getting a clean shot. The intro and the photo above represent the best images IMO, although I may revisit this concept again on a summer day.
I turned back to the metro station where I figured I’d find more shots waiting to be taken. I thought about the history of the Old Pacific Railroad and wondered how the Chatsworth station seemed to train travelers over a century ago. Although the present day depot is located a few blocks from the original site built in the 1890s, the station retains that old western vibe in my mind. In that spirit, I took the photo above as a visual representation of quintessential Chatsworth with the palm trees framing the station sign. I think it would work as a funky tourism postcard of sorts.
Naturally I couldn’t resist the striking lines of the railroad tracks that always create awesome vanishing points. I stepped down onto the tracks, which is something you should never do unless you’re prepared to run at the slightest sound of an approaching train. I crouched down with my camera almost touching the tracks to get proper perspective. I added the monochrome IR color in Photoshop to bring out the classic western movie look.
I saw that the palm trees got cut off from the shot in the viewfinder, and stood up to get more of the foliage in the composition. I ended up shooting in portrait orientation just a tad off center to include the palm branches on the left.
I hope these photos inspire you to explore infrared street photography. I will definitely be branching out my IR subjects in the future. Until next time, stay shooting!