This Photography Series Shows You the Icelandic Colours You Didn’t See

Do you ever wish you could choose your own colours for your landscapes? Bradley G Munkowitz, the San Francisco-based visual designer and artist who doesn’t let pre-determined conditions hold him back, went on a landscape photography trip to Iceland with the PhoGølscollective’s Jake Sargeant and James Heredia. The images Bradley created formed his project InfraMunk vs Iceland.


Using a FujiFilm X-T2 IR, some LifePixel Super-Colour Infrared Filters and some vintage Nikon lenses, and focusing on ways in which he could produce interesting in-camera results, Bradley found a way to present Iceland’s beautiful scenery in a completely new light.

Bradley’s version of Iceland is a mixture of mostly red and pink grass and moss and dark rock. Not only is the viewer met with a striking array of textures, but nature itself becomes a psychedelic experience.
Last time we met up with Bradley, he was an alchemist making short films. This time we sat down with the creative as a photographer to get his take on InfraMunk vs Iceland.

THE PLUS: How did you shoot the images?
Bradley G Munkowitz:
I shot the images from both the ground and the air – the latter being a doorless helicopter that we used to explore the south-eastern reaches of the island for about 90 minutes. Infrared photography I’ve found only works well when you’re somewhat close to the subject and the sensor can be saturated in the IR spectrum, so out of the helicopter I was using a 120mm Telephoto to get as close to the subject matter as possible.


TP: Why did you use filters to change the colours? Do you like altering reality?
With infrared photography, you need to isolate the spectrum of IR Light reaching the sensor. This means using a filter to restrict what spectrum of light the camera sees. So to start, you need a camera that sees the full-spectrum of light – ultra-violet, the visible and infrared spectrums. Then I use a LifePixel SuperColor filter that limits the light the camera sees, specifically 700nm and higher. This then returns an image that is very magenta – and you tweak the white balance to capture as much contrast as possible between the tones. Then from there you have an image that can be graded to render something punchy, saturated and full of interesting contrast. The palette of IR photography is very limited, so it forces you to compose shots differently than you would with standard photography.


TP: Do you enjoy hiking?
Yes very much. Sometimes my best ideas come while hiking around the beautiful redwood forests in Northern California – that clean, pure oxygen to the brain always helps get the creative juices flowin’. Being a California resident for 24 years, it’s impossible to not enjoy the boundless natural beauty of the state – it was a huge inspiration behind starting to explore this world of infrared photography.

TP: What was the idea behind the series?
Well, I love the concept of seeing the unseen – and that’s what infrared photography enables you to do – to capture an observation in an entirely new light. There’s something beautiful about the somewhat haunting vibe of the imagery – they feel almost lost in space – submerged in some alien world that feels foreign. To me, it’s a new interpretation of the familiar, and for me as a designer, that’s a fun thing to explore.


TP: How did it strike you, seeing Iceland in the summer?
Iceland is one of my favourite places on earth – it’s so diverse geographically, with volcanoes, mountains, geysers, craters, fjords, glaciers, black sand and epic lava rocks. We spent 10 days there, visiting about 12 epic sites to photograph including the helicopter ride. It was too much fun and very inspiring – we have a little photography group called PhoGøls and we travel the world in search of the epic sites, it’s an expensive hobby, but so fun for all of us.

TP: What attracts you to the psychedelic?
Haha great question. For me, the psychedelic means a few things. The first would be it’s a method to deep dive into the subconscious, a realm that we can’t really control or directly influence. It’s fun to explore the psyche and uncover new, intriguing concepts about yourself – revealing your deepest sensibilities which then translate beautifully into the art you make. Second, I love the palettes, the movement of the distorted shapes, the geometries, and also the meaning of it all. I deeply respect the world of psychedelics and the art scene it produces – it’s actually very educated and deeply meaningful – there’s so much exploration involved, and it takes a certain brave type to initiate into that world.


TP: Are you a lover of nature or do you prefer the city?
I prefer a city that offers both – because I work very hard and stay involved in the design community, I find myself fitting into the diversity and intensity of design industry in large cities. That being said, I also deeply love nature, so a city like San Francisco or Portland – or even London for that matter – are immersed in such beautiful nature that you never really feel like you’re too displaced from nature when living in these types of cities.

TP: What’s experimentation about for you?
Experimentation is making yourself uncomfortable, it’s venturing outside the norm to discover new techniques and approaches. Similar to the process of psychedelics, it forces you to merge your various concepts of originality – to fully study the unexpected. I’m constantly in search of the new setup, and collaborate to discover them.


TP: Where are you going for your next photography series?
For the next big trip, we’re heading to two islands of Hawaii – the big island to shoot lava flows and volcanos, and then Kauai to shoot epic green mountains and the seaside. I’m planning a lot of macro, infrared and medium format, actually bringing three camera bodies down for it. We’re gonna shoot by helicopter and by boat – really hoping to find the lava flows into the ocean – hope we get lucky and discover some of that. Like I said, it’s a very expensive hobby, but a really inspiring one, and I’m learning a ton of new things so it’s all worth it.