In response to American Cathedral, which focused on National Parks and the direct results of a century of American conservationism, Lunachrome turns the lens outward towards unprotected and everyday landscapes. In the same vein as works like Adams' The New West, this project explores the broken everyday relationships between people, resources, and land. Using a novel false color infrared process, plants are rendered in brilliant shades of red while the rest of the scene remains in "true color," grounding the images in reality while creating a sense of otherworldliness.
Infrared also demonstrates the vibrant nature of landscapes many write off as desolate wastelands only useful for resource extraction, creating stunning scenes out of derelict towns surrounded by desert brush. This reflects Cameron's decades of experience living and working in the deserts of the American Southwest, often finding vibrant ecosystems in the most unexpected, inhospitable places.
A final false color infrared image with its IR, green, and blue, black and white components.
While previous generations of photographers relied on film stocks like Kodak Aerochrome or Ektachrome EIR to generate false color infrared images, these products have long since been discontinued. Rather than relying on out of production film, Lunachrome sought to develop an improved process for rendering images with the exotic red foliage of older films while relying entirely on modern stocks. After over six months of research and development, this process allowed unprecedented control over the technical and emotional rendering of images, creating more compelling narratives and allowing total creative freedom.
Shown here, an early example of an experimental roll of Rollei IR 400 shot in Joshua Tree National Park, replete with color accuracy issues, light leaks, and other image artifacts. Each of these issues had to be solved for Lunachrome to succeed.
Considered increasingly obsolete for professional work, traditional large format photography equipment was ideal for meeting Lunachrome's unique challenges. The notoriously unforgiving desert environments of the Southwest are not naturally conducive to high precision photography, while trichrome infrared paradoxically requires extraordinary levels of control for best results. Large format tripods, overbuilt to carry enormous payloads with unmatched stability, allowed for unique perspective control while minimizing movement between the three black and white frames required for each image. Similarly, traditional 4x5 field cameras are renowned for their robustness, and were designed from the ground up to impart unparalleled control over composition and leading lines.
While relying on traditional equipment addressed many of Lunahcrome's environmental challenges, it also created images with incredible depth and detail. Each 4x5 frame records over 500 Megapixels of equivalent resolution, with the final false color infrared images being comprised of over 1.5 Gigapixels of information. As images are meant to be printed, this prepares each frame to tell its story at any size and on any medium, reaping the benefits of digital flexibility and the inherent quality of traditional photography.
At the Fringes
Deep Space, AZ