Intersection: Claude Dagenais

September 23-October 31

Opening September 23 6pm-9pm | Artist demos and talks September 24

Intersection is a four-person photographic exhibition with two artists from Ontario and two from Quebec. This bringing together of artists from the two provinces aims to expose each artist to a new photographic community.

Ginette Clément | Claude Dagenais | Raul Rincon | Philip Jessup

Claude Dagenais

Falsa Natura

Life is a short burst of magnificent colours


Where are you from and who or what are your influences

I’m from Sutton in Quebec’s Eastern Township. For a brief moment, Sutton was the most artistic town in Quebec and the fifth most artistic in Canada. For good or bad, I’m surrounded by artists that are influencing me every day.

Other than that, I have many influences, starting with the music group The Art of Noise. Their use of technology to hijack their surroundings by sampling it and transforming it in something completely different is a persistent influence in the Falsa Natura series.

Many other artists, whether they are a painter, photographer even a writer or coder had an influence on my production. I’m thinking of people like Douglas Coupland, Liz Davidson from Sutton, Jean-François Bérubé from Montreal & Robert Mapplethorpe with his Flora series.


Can you explain the infrared process

Life is a short burst of magnificent colours.

The colour infrared image that I create is at the heart of the Falsa Natura series.

Infrared photography shows us a universe that is invisible to the human naked eye. The visible wavelength spectrum ranges from about 380 nm (blue) to 780 nm (red) while infrared for colour infrared photography ranges from about 700 nm to about 900 nm (the total infrared range is about 700 nm to 1,000,000 nm or 1 mm). Infrared gives us false colours known as the “Wood Effect” caused by foliage strongly reflecting light in the near-infrared spectrum, similar to the way snow reflects the visible light spectrum. Chlorophyll also contributes marginally by producing a fluorescence effect. The physicist Robert W. Wood who pioneered this technology produced his first infrared images in 1910. It was discovered that materials other than foliage did not reflect light in the same way. This eventually led to these films being used by militaries to spy on their enemies during World War II. The invisible camouflage became visible to the naked eye with an infrared-sensitive film.

Similarly, dead or diseased vegetation reflects infrared light differently than healthy vegetation. Once captured with infrared-sensitive film, these differences become clear. The potential benefits of this technology became obvious to the agricultural industry since interventions could now be made in the fields before diseases became widespread.

Note that colour infrared-sensitive films doesn’t capture far infrared wavelengths that are used for thermal imaging.

How do you get the vibrant colours in your images

“The amount of infrared reflectance present at any given time will affect the final colour rendition.”

Kodak Documentation

First let’s answer how we are NOT getting the vibrant colours: By using an image editing software.

The colours are present on the film when developed if we did our job correctly to start with. If not then the film cannot be saved, even with the best software.

Here are a few key factors that we are taking into account and how we deal with them.

The sun radiates infrared light constantly, a lot of it. The more the light is filtered by the earth atmosphere, the more clouds we have, the more pollution, the less infrared we have. So contrary to our normal work schedule, we create infrared images when the sun is at near its peak on a clear day in places not as affected by pollution.

The film has an exposure latitude that is limited to ± 1⁄2 stop and most people like, expert Dean Bennici, will say that the film has no absolute film speed rating. It gives little space for the error and no definite starting point! The infrared light quality change depending on the month of the year, the time of day, the cloud coverage and of the pollution among other things. So we create every image while bracketing around what we think is the right exposure.

We use filters, mostly #12 Wratten yellow filters to eliminate unwanted light.

Modern film cameras have IR sensors that will fog colour infrared films. So we use cameras that won’t fog our film: we use a well-tapped Holga and a Canon AE-1 old enough not to have an IR sensor.

We manipulate the film carefully: Any light will fog the film, so the cameras are loaded and unloaded in total darkness, the film canisters are tapped and instructions given to a trustworthy laboratory.

We get the film developed using the E-6 process which means higher contrast and more saturated in colour. We have played around and had film developed cross-processed with the C-41 process with interesting but very different results.

The chemical composition of the subject including the amount of chlorophyl in the plants will change completely the colours that will be displayed on the film. (see the infrared process)

And for the final touch we also get most of the images printed with a Lambda printer on Kodak Professional Endura Premier Metallic Paper.


Your work has a lot of negative space, is that intentional and important to your work?

My work as a professional photographer is to create images that will convey a very specific feeling or message dictated by my clients. To achieve this I often have to simplify the images and remove any element that can disturb the communication of said feeling or message. I will also modify my image so that the observer will find them aesthetically pleasing so that they are attracted to it.

To do this I normally have access to several tools and techniques. It involves mathematics, software, equipment, amongst other things. For the production of the images in the Falsa Natura series I’ve voluntarily restricted my usage of many these. The infrared series is created with film cameras that have limited capabilities (a Holga and a Canon AE-1), non-sophisticated lens and it is not reworked with an editing software for any other reason than to remove dust or scratches on the film and prepare the film to be printed. Everything that you see has been created in the chamber with the observer in mind.

On most of the images you will see the border of the film since they are not cropped. The image you see is what I initially saw and wanted to capture. Look where the focal point of the image is. Look at the balance.

The usage of negative space and controlled blur are just other techniques that are used directly in the chamber to help to focus the observer attention on the real message of the image.



Claude Dagenais studied physics and photography. He holds a bachelors degree in computer science and an MBA from McGill University. He is a professional photographer and artist, a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC). He lives and work in the middle of the majestic landscape of the Sutton Mountain Range with Manon Gélinas. Falsa Natura, represents the intersection of his knowledge with the nature that surrounds him. It is also probably the manifestation of his false nature. For the last ten years his work has been exhibited at several galleries including Art Mûr and Art Sutton.


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