Artist Spotlight: John Custodio

In Black and White Photography, Photo Print Collector, Photographer on March 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm


“Crown Point”

One of the more notable masters of photography was Minor White. Our earliest introduction was to a folio of his New England barn photographs that underlined his “spiritual” approach to image making. What lent a special aura to this work was the use of infrared film.

A new generation, now using digital tools, has come on the scene. An artist with a great talent using IR imagery is John Custodio.

We asked John to comment on his work in this area:

1. What are you trying to accomplish with your IR images?

To give the viewer a different viewpoint as seen through the infrared spectrum.

2. IR photographs have a long, varied history but many tend to have a "flatter" appearance than normal Black and White. How do you achieve your range and depth of tonality?

Since all my "darkroom" work is in Photoshop, I have complete control of how the image looks, so I can adjust contrast both globally and locally. Also, many of my IR images rely on the "false color" effect exhibited by digital sensors exposed to IR. I’m not working with a totally neutral grayscale, but with a toned palette that ranges from blue-yellow to red-magenta (depending on how I convert the raw file in the raw converter). 

3. What attracts you to “Black and White” as a medium for expression?

Its graphic quality and simplicity. But my current work is divided into 3 categories – Full color: If the color in an image is what defines it; Black and White: Again for its graphic quality and simplicity or If color would be uninteresting or a distraction; and most of my IR work: Neither full color nor black and white (a toned palette as described above).

4. Any specific technical tactics you employ that are keys to success in any of your images?

I would say the entire process I use in Photoshop. But specifically, how the file is converted in the raw converter determines the color palette of the final image. Also I use diffusion a lot, it softens hard edges and gives the image an ethereal glow.

5. You converted a Canon 5D to IR?  … an "expensive" camera. What was your thought process on taking that path?

Since a good portion of what I shoot is infrared, and since I usually like to print up to 16×20, I didn’t want to use a lesser quality camera, the 5D being a full-frame 12.8 megapixel camera.

Please see John’s gallery at: John Custodio

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