2022 Retrospective: Infrared Art and Architecture #8

February 6, 2023  |  La Crosse, Wisconsin

Pettibone Beach House: Closed for Winter. La Crosse, Wisconsin. December 2022

Category: Infrared Art and Architecture

Pettibone Beach House: Closed for Winter

The Subject

Situated on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin, this Spanish mission style structure has welcomed many generations of swimmers and sun bathers to Pettibone Beach on Barron Island. The building was constructed in 1926, and while it has been remodeled over the years, it retains architectural details in keeping with the original motif.

The Composition

This scene is from a chilly December day when there was plenty of ice forming on the river, but little snow on the ground. The cold unlit interior registers as dark in infrared, and that seems appropriate given it had not had a warm body walking the interior for quite a few weeks. The roofline makes a nice border separating the fairly plain overcast sky from the textured exterior of the beach house.

I have photographed this building in all seasons and from all angles - including moody night time winter drone shots from the middle of the river. Most of my images show the structure as a whole. This composition is more intimate and a bit stark. It is taken from a familiar and accessible angle. I decided to use a flexible lens hood to deliberately create a dramatic vignette. I originally thought the hood a nuisance since it was visible when shooting at certain focal lengths, but came to appreciate the interest it can add to an infrared image. In this case it helps to convey the feel of that cold day on a deserted beach.

Creating the Image

To create this image I combined three exposure bracketed shots into one HDR (high dynamic range) image in Lightroom (see images above) then did some minor noise reduction using Topaz AI tools. Power lines were removed in Photoshop. Conversion to black and white, basic adjustments and some masking were done in Lightroom.

The blue coloring in the border around the rightmost image is part of my Lightroom workflow. When I process a group of images into an HDR or panoramic image, I like to identify the new composite image in this way as it helps me filter images when in Library view. Using the Grid view and its filters I can easily see the group of images I used to create the composite and isolate them for further processing/reprocessing in external tools. While this is a trivial example, I find that it really helps when working with larger sets of images or when I have a variety of smaller sets taken from similar angles.

Infrared Image Capture and Processing: High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Infrared Light

I find that HDR processing works quite well for infrared images. I do not use the 'auto HDR' features of my camera to create infrared HDR images, preferring to created sets of bracketed shots using various apertures and shutter speeds. This allows me to leverage the capabilities of far more precise image processing and masking tools like Lightroom or PTgui.