I was born in Tucson, grew up in Bisbee, and have been taking photographs of the Sonoran Desert all of my life. The vast majority of my work has focused closely on the botany of the Sonoran Desert. The primary themes reflected in my work are the form, scale, and hue of nature when viewed through the eyes of a denizen: a coyote; perhaps a kit fox. With the advent of digital infrared technologies, I have become deeply fascinated with the forms and textures nature shows us when she is bathed in lightwaves longer than those that we can see with the naked eye. Perhaps a little background would be helpful.
The Infrared Spectrum: Light visible to the human species travels in wavelengths of 400 to 800 nanometers, more or less. Just below this range (smaller wavelengths) is the ‘ultraviolet’; and just above, the ‘infrared’. From 800 to 1100 nm is the ‘near infrared’ and above that (longer wavelengths) the ‘far infrared.’ The filters that I use allow light to be captured in a narrow spectrum between 775 and 925 nm. One of the two most noticeable characteristics of the infrared spectrum is the complete reflection of light by living plant tissue (appearing as a dazzling white). The other is the absence of atmospheric interference: longer wavelengths come through our atmosphere without scattering, and so the sky essentially disappears. This allows us to look directly into outer space – a daunting and perhaps even intimidating concept. Thus, skies appear as a void in shades of dark grey to black, and water surfaces that reflect the sky are just as black.
All of my work is digital. Beginning in 2009, I used Mamayia medium format photographic equipment, including Mamiya 645AFDII and the Mamiya ZD digital back (now the Mamiya DM28) with infrared pass screen, Mamiya lenses, and Schneider Optics’ B+W infrared filters. This constellation of technologies generates files of close to 100 megabytes that can be printed out at dimensions of 350 square inches or more without enlargement. The panoramas tend to average 640 megabytes, and unenlarged widths of four feet or more. [The largest sizes are unavailable through ZenFolio's vendors, and those interested in alternatives to those available on this website should contact me directly.]
(c) Michael F. McNulty