By Nelson Groom
They might look like they were photoshopped into a candy-coated wonderland, but these photographs of California are actually completely untouched.
Instead, Melbourne photographer Kate Ballis’ stunning images of the iconic settings of Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Spring were taken with an infrared camera.
Though the images may look heavily doctored, the super-saturated colours are in fact the work of the special converted camera, and are otherwise unedited.
Infrared photography involves using a camera filter to block all light but infrared waves, giving the images a psychedelic feel that evokes another world.
Kate, who took the images during a trip to the US this February, said: “I wanted to show something familiar in a new light by candy coating California.
“The photos were taken with a converted infrared camera, which means it’s a spectrum of light that is otherwise invisible to the human eye.
“The look is reminiscent of 1980s MTV aesthetic, while Palm Spring is quite 1950s. It’s a familiar form yet the colour expresses it in a very different way.’
The dusty deserts, poolside resorts and retro houses depicted in the images are given an out-of-this-world look by the technique.
Kate was drawn to the psychedelic and surreal aesthetic because she works in commercial photography, where she is confined to realism.
She said she ordered the customized camera to explore the full spectrum of hidden beauty behind the setting.
The technique is particularly striking because the live plants reflect infrared light, meaning they pop out against the landscape.
Kate said: “My professional work has to be realistic, it’s usually very sharp and straight, so it makes me want to experiment with surrealism.
“Infrared subverts reality, and this work straddles science and magic, providing a glimpse into the unknown by making the unseen, seen.”
Kate said she now plans to take the technique back to the US later this month, before trips to Europe to explore different landscapes.
She said: “Out in the desert, nearly nothing grows. I want to try something very different next time by going deep into a forest and see how this responds to infrared.
“I’m all about storytelling, I like to find a photographic or artistic style that tells the best story.”