When I say alternative photography, I'm not referring to way you pose your subject or frame your scene. I'm talking about the process by which you create a photograph. Photos taken from these alternate forms of photography can not be captured with a conventional unmodified camera, and they each offer their own unique perspective of the world.
Infrared light is a section on the light spectrum that starts right after the visible section of light. We cannot see infrared light. In the past, you had to buy a special infrared film if you wanted to capture infrared images. Today, however, these is a special modification you can do to most digital cameras to enable them to capture infrared light. Most cameras have an infrared filter that blocks the light in that spectrum so that the sensor only captures visible light. With a special modification, this filter can be removed and you can capture the infrared light produced by objects.
There is black and white infrared and color infrared. The black and white offers a look similar to that of regular black and white only the shades of objects will be different. Foliage usually appears more white while the sky appears darker. In color infrared, foliage usually looks pink or magenta while the sky typically exudes a darker blue than normal. This photography has limited practical uses, but it offers a unique perspective on the world.
Pinhole photography is a form of photography that has been around since the 1800's. A pinhole camera is essentially the most basic camera you can make. These is no lens or glass optics, no shutter, no button, no changing aperture or exposure compensation. It is simply a light tight object with a small hole poked into one side. All you need is a piece of film and a scene to shoot. The pinhole lets in light, though slowly. Your shutter speed is simply how long you leave the film exposed to light. The tricky part about pinhole cameras is that you have no aperture control other than the size you decide to make the hole. The smaller the pinhole, the sharper the image, but the longer you exposure will be. The pinhole gives you a infinite depth-of-field so focusing isn't a problem, but your timing is. It can be hard to guess how much time you need to expose a scene, however, you will have much more latitude since so little light is being let in and your shutter speed is so long. Where in a normal camera, the difference between 1/250 and 1/500th of a second can be dramatic, a second or two may only make the slightest difference with your pinhole camera.
Aerial and Underwater
These types of photography are perhaps the most expensive and involved. Both take special equipment and a certain amount of skill to achieve great shots. For aerial photography, there are many different types of rigs that can be used. These vary from heavy-duty kites to small mechanized flying craft. Several calculations must be made in figuring out how to attach the camera to your rig and how much weight it can hold. These rigs will typically not offer the amount of precision you would normally have over a scene. Wind and weather can also affect the way your camera rig moves. The benefit though is a unique perspective that lies in between that of rooftop shot and an airplane shot. This overhead view can give a dramatic look to an otherwise ordinary scene.
Underwater photography also takes special gear, although there are many companies that make underwater housings for all types of cameras. Besides the equipment for your camera, you will also need special equipment for yourself. This may involve something as simple as a snorkel and goggles, or, if you're really dedicated, a scuba tank, wetsuit, and the training to learn how to dive properly. Underwater photography also involves tricky lighting conditions or sometimes no light at all meaning you'll have to rely on strobes to get a good shot of your subject.
Both aerial and underwater photography have their risks. In aerial, you run the risk of gravity destroying your camera, while below the ocean, you risk water ruining it. Both take patience and careful preparation, but the results could be the best images you've ever created.
Written by Spencer Seastrom, Photo by Thomas Reiner