A need to create is usually the motivating force which drives the photographer to excel in his artistic efforts. In order to achieve this objective, the necessary technical skills need to be mastered. In addition, the initiative towards the creative process must be fulfilled. In its simplest form of "find, see, snap, and process", the picture-taking experience can result in a work of art, or an ordinary run-of-the-mill photo.
We see things in color, falling under the genre of "the visible spectrum". Black-and-white photography is abstracted, for it does not present the image the way it is viewed under natural conditions. Infrared black-and-white becomes even more abstracted since infrared waves are beyond the normal viewing spectrum. What is captured on film can only be viewed by the human eye through the processed print that was made from the infrared negative.
Black-and-white photography and in particular, infrared black-and-white can be beneficial in approaching fine art photography because of the various characteristics that are inhrent in its images. The dramatic and ethereal effects achieved with infrared create an aura that is not found in conventional photography. Using a creative and sensitive treatment, the photographer can use these effects and transform a typical subject into one that removes the barrier of reality from the viewer. The very nature of evoking a subjective impression rather than objective reality tends to intimate an approach to impressionism.
A brief look at some infrared characteristics will illustrate how the impressionistic effect can be achieved: grass appears light almost as though covered by snow; distant scenes are detailed with remarkable clarity; clouds and snow are white and a blue sky will appear totally or almost totally black. The broader the leaf of a plant or tree, the lighter it will appear. Deciduous trees apear light; coniferous trees darker. White objects and skin tones emit a glow creating a ghost-like ethereal effect. Portraits look somewhat chalky. There is considerable grain in the photo, and the picture is not as sharp as panchromatic photos. That is the paradox: on one hand there is very defined detail, yet the coarseness of grain tends to reduce sharpness.
Various shades of light affect the characteristics of infrared in subtle way. These subtleties, when handled properly, can be the determinig factor in the success of a photo.