Battling creative block with the Hoya R72 Infrared filter and a Fuji camera

I know there is no real reason for creative block these days. With all the possible inspiration out there and the amazing Fuji cameras that remove most of my old blocks for picking up a camera, you’d think that I’d always have a creative overflow ready. And of course, I still get creative block. I think we all do.

In those times, I find that a few things help. First is just forcing myself out of the house with a camera in hand. If that’s not enough, I also take the 18mm f/2 with an R72 infrared filter and force myself to shoot and embrace the strange world and imperfections that brings along.

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 6400
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 2000

Infrared is something I’ve always found cool in photography. I’d shoot infrared every once in a while even in the film days, and I was excited to find out that R72 filters matched with digital cameras would work pretty well too.

Of course, you could go the “conversion” route like Jason Hew did in this article or Andrew Gibson did in another one. If you’re REALLY into infrared, a conversion is the way to go. You can shoot with faster shutter speeds and retain some of those surreal infrared coloring, and if you look at the shots taken by those photographers, the images are cleaner and more refined.

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 6400
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/250″ . ISO 12800

However, although I shot with a converted-to-infrared camera before, I still like the R72 option a little better. It puts a bunch of restrictions on me that I actually enjoy, such as:

1 – You need a TON of light when handholding the camera. I almost always handhold the camera, so I use the R72 on bright days. (I often photograph in windy situations, and I need a decent amount of motion stopping power anyway… so why not hand hold?)

2 – Unless you’re using a tripod you’ll have to boost the ISO quite a bit, which adds a ton of grain to these shots. High grain and infrared is a beautiful combination to me.

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/30″ . ISO 12800
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 6400

I sometimes thrive by shooting with restrictions, and the final look of these photographs is also something that speaks to me.

It’s also a way for me to get rid of creative block in a fun and unique way. At the very least, you know you’re going to get something different!

Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/4.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 8000
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/60″ . ISO 2500
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/125″ . ISO 6400
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/2.0 . 1/125″ . ISO 5000
Fuji X-Pro2 . Fuji XF18mmF2 @18mm . f/7.1 . 1/8″ . ISO 2500

"When people ask me where I get my inspiration from, I point to these amazing humans. They have taught me this truth: every story is worth telling. We just need to be brave enough to speak. I’ve been teaching for more than 17 years and I want my students to find their voice just as my family has helped me find mine. I’ve been photographing for just as long, and I believe my photos capture slivers of hope, joy and truth in this world."

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