Step into Lucia Bucklin’s landscapes and you are transported to another plane—one that combines Salvador Dali’s surrealism with the tranquility of heaven. As you wander within the image, you wait for transcendent music to sound. Still, you’re not quite sure what is lurking behind the white-leaved tree branches. It is this precisely this sensation that attracts clients to her ethereal infrared landscapes.
“Infrared film is a complicated medium to work with,” she explains. “You’re shooting with a red #25 filter and need to visualize your image. Sometimes photos I think will be amazing only turn out average when processed; sometimes shots I took to finish a roll turn out amazing.”
Bucklin says galleries consider infrared images made with film more of a fine art than those captured digitally. This leads to her number one concern—rumors that Kodak infrared film will be phased out— so she hordes rolls of the film, just in case. At $11.99 a roll, and $15 a roll for developing, the film is expensive, which explains why many photographers shoot infrared digitally or attempt the effect in Photoshop.
But infrared’s complexity was part of its original appeal to Bucklin. “I liked that it was challenging and that not many professionals were doing it,” she recalls. After years of practice she is able to tell her professional lab, which processes all her film, the time and temperature specs for processing.
“The first few times were tense, waiting for the results. But below-par results taught me how to adjust the camera to control the effects better.”
The Infrared Attraction
Bucklin’s love of things infrared began when she went back to school for journalism and took a course in alternative photography.
“There are so many ways of looking at things with infrared. It involves a different kind of reality—capturing things we can’t see. I just fell in love with it,” says Bucklin.
Whether it’s a feeling of nostalgia, spirituality, dreams of a simpler life, or appreciation of nature’s beauty that draws clients to Bucklin’s images, most find out about her work through gallery shows and exhibitions. Occasionally, articles in a local newspaper will trigger sales.
“A New York client, Bob Kuperman, called me and said he loved the photo that a local paper ran with my feature and wanted to purchase it,” she says. That photo was Dream’s Ascent.
The former Canadian head hunter-turned photographer lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, draws her inspiration from her Greenwich, Connecticut, environs. Each day, after sending her five children off to school, she travels around the countryside, venturing into the nearby towns of Bedford Hills, Armonk, Darien, New Canaan, and Katonah.
“I have no particular location in mind,” she says of the trips. “I take many of my photos in Westchester County, New York, and Fairfield County, Connecticut. I’m drawn to old buildings, barns, landscapes, and animals, especially horses. You never know what you’ll find.”
Among her discoveries: a 200-year-old chapel in the woods (p. 25, left) and an old barn with horses roaming around the surrounding field.
Bucklin takes great pride in capturing once-in-a-lifetime “golden moments” and “visual images to the past.” Todd’s Point, a body of water near her home, provides her with many dreamlike shots. One of her favorite images is that of an elderly couple sitting contently by the water’s edge, gazing at the sailboats on the horizon (p. 25, bottom).
The softening effect and tenderness of infrared further enhanced the romance of the shot. “It reminded me of growing old with the one you love,” says Bucklin.