Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Photography purists hate this blog.

At least I think they do. Why, because of Hyperceptivism*.
 (pronounced: HIGH-perceptive-ism)

Hyperceptivism is a new word for a new style and art form movement that may become as big as impressionism was almost 200 years ago. 

Why would they hate this?  I won’t presume to speak for purists entirely.  The consensus on what it means to be a photography purist seems to be that, as a realist, your photograph should be as faithful as possible to what the eye sees.  But... 
Whose eye?  Which film—Kodak Ektar or Portra?  Fujifilm Velvia or Provia? Ilford or Agfa?  Which digital camera color-filter array—RGB or CYMK—Nikon’s or Canon’s?  Single exposure or high-dynamic-range akin to the eye’s exposure range?  Use Kelvin temperature adjustment? Which color white balance? Which monitor calibration method?  Which print process?  

This is all techno-babble for saying, your eye does not mirror the measurable differences in technology. Also, there are significant differences in the eyes and perceptions of individuals, from the near sighted to the color-blind.

Is self-developing black and white film a purist form? For whomthe completely color-blind? 

To those of us who shoot infrared, these questions are at least rhetorical and perhaps even pointless.   Infrared may not be what the eye sees, but it is real; it is physics. It can be considered just as pure as any recording made through the choices of Nikon, Fuji or the printer.

A better question might be, what artistic choices make our shot a photograph versus constructed, digital art?  Where does physics end and Photoshop begin?  I prefer to select filters and search natural phenomena for creating an impression of the scene I photograph, so that I use the least amount of Photoshop. To wit, I develop optical filters to give the effect I desire, and hopefully, very little needs adjusting in software.  Granted, digital cameras provide internal software for white-balance, exposure and contrast processing.  We accept that in the post-film era, as much as we accepted the choices of film and the methods used at the corner or national print lab.

My latest filter development

From one perspective, art photography is at a transition that painters reached between the realism to impressionism or even surrealism eras. Realists objected to Romanticism, since it did not represent reality as observed by the naked eye.  Photography, which could recreate reality as well as the best realist painter, but more quickly affordable, probably in small part pushed painters towards colorful impressionism.

Impressionists studied the dramatic effects of atmosphere and light on a scene, varying the chosen palette to depict fleeting moments and moods in the ephemeral scene.  Art author Lois Fichner wrote: “Through intensive investigation, [impressionists] arrived at awareness of certain visual phenomena. When bathed in sunlight, objects are optically reduced to facets of pure color…shadows are not black or gray but a combination of colors.”

Full Spectrum and Color Infrared photography are undergoing intensive investigation, in becoming aware of how unseen luminescence can be translated through optics, filters and digital sensors into an impression of a surreal experience—the world seen in a new light.  The full spectrum and color infrared photos in this blog used particular filters to create the contrasting colors as presented.  Only down-sizing, auto-luminosity-scale, sharpen-unmask were used in Photoshop for the presentation here.

Painting is more akin to Photoshop—the scene elements can be created from the mind; photography is first an act of discovery and second a palette choice of the light to represent nature. Infrared and UV are an expansion of the light pigments we use to paint our discovered scenes.

Photography of unseen light represents a transition to a sort of "photography impressionism" by translating imperceived light through new filters into moments of emotive beauty that transcends the limitation of our eyes while preserving nature in its basic form.  This is both new media and new subject matter for art. Only one of these is needed for a new art movement.

The full-spectrum/infrared photography medium is accessible by all artists.  Creating new art photography does not require waiting weeks at the most remote or vanguard sites and scenes for that perfect moment.  It refreshes the over-photographed tourist shots everyone captures, and brings a new view on tired places.  

Since this blog is about Next Eyes—the “seeing of unseen light” in our cameras and lives—the trend is clear.  We use modified cameras or specialized optics to channel the unseen into our digital sensors and offer an impression that mirrors our desires, attitudes and emotions.  The sunset photo in this blog used a custom filter (bottom photo) to include and remove (filter away) light from the sky that our eye integrates.  It offers new light and color separation that is more naturally vivid for our perception.  The luminescence is physical, not Photoshop and compares well against the bland sky our limited eye perceives.

Visible (FL WB, HDR in camera)
Proprietary filter, modified camera (Custom WB, HDR in camera)

Infrared photography art progression started in black and white about a century ago, and eventually developed into a single color infrared film in the 1960s at the Kodak labs.  Since the digital era, color infrared and spectral photography art have taken a broader route depending on what filter you use in front of the sensor, to limit which colors the full-spectrum color-filter array receives.  The choice of filter (and output color selection) is as legitimate for color infrared as the choice of color films, black-n-white filters and the color-correcting filters of film days.  After all, these choices revolve around nature—the pick of spectral bands within the full electromagnetic spectrumthe properties of natural light filtered and received.

Consider this my call to fellow artists:  Let's supplant digital Walm-Art with artful phenomena.  The latitude of new technology allows us to showcase hidden nature through physics in ways our natural eyes cannot, but which our Next Eyes reveal to us.

Impressionism was about a fleeting moment or mood.  

This new art movement I am proposing is an art form with both new media types (i.e., energy bands not used for art previously) and new subject matter (i.e., phenomena not seen by the unaided eye or heard by the human ear).  The incarnation I work in reveals invisible nature, using ethereal light—unseen, imperceptive luminescence.  Or with technology hyperceptive luminescence. The new art movement would include art forms capturing natural phenomena that are unseen by the naked eye, but translated using chemistry, physics or any technology into a depiction we can see.  X-ray art, Thermal-imaging art, Nuclear particle bombardment art, Full Spectrum photography and more which are imperceptive but visually translated for us are a new, hyperceptive art form for the 21st century. 

I would call this art form and movement hyperceptivism.

As now defined:  Hyperceptivism is a style or art movement originating with technology that records unseen aspects of subjects through energy, radiance, events or other phenomena, as new art media, and translate this into visual, audible, tactile or other recordings as an interpretation of appreciable art form.

The brown Monarch turns blue, like our brown eyes, when photographed in the infrared.

* the blog was formerly called imperceptivism, but I changed the name to reflect not a lack of perception, but a perception above, or hyper, human sensing.


  1. I really loved this blog and it got me thinking about why I love infrared. There are so many worlds around us, and no one reality. Our ability to capture what we see and share it with others through any of the visual arts is one of the simplest and most powerful way to share that perspective.

    I love Imperceptivism - it captures the idea of this quite well.

    1. Thank you Lita. I appreciate your enthusiasm. I hope we can get word out, as this movement would benefit IR photographers and other Imperceptivists alike.

  2. This rings so true! Photography and photoshop blur the line between traditional photography and digital art. But this so-called Imperceptivism is on a plane different--it's not cut out of whole cloth from the artist's mind, but it is not a replica of what the eye sees. Like David wrote: it is nature and it is real, but it is unseen.

    You might be onto something. Imperceptivism is a new art form and perhaps a real movement.

  3. If anything in this blog stands out, it is that "Infrared and UV are an expansion of the light pigments we use to paint our discovered scenes." A new medium deserves a new movement!

    1. I applaud your sentiment. I would expand though, that this is more than a new medium. It's more than MANY new media (UV, infrared, x-ray, thermal-emission, ultra-high-frequency sound, nuclear particle bombardment art...) It is also a new SUBJECT for art study. There is an unseen world that has not reached the canvas of artists, and won't with our narrow, limited human senses. Technology opened the door to new media (like most art movements using the next media development), but this time it also opened the door to a new set of subjects that heretofore have not been painted, not been composed, not been performed. This is a movement of both new media and new subjects. It deserves a name, and is Imperceptivism not appropriate?