Mountain Film: Nevada Wier, Still (Infra) Red Hot 

Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer who specializes in remote corners of the globe and the cultures who inhabit them. Because her connection with place and people is so profound, authentic and heartfelt, Wier’s images seem to compress human existence in its wildest and woolliest forms into intimately scaled prints that brim with psychic energy. The work is so evocative, it could be easily be described as theatrical.

Nevada Wier, courtesy of National Geographic

Nevada Wier, courtesy of National Geographic

Wier first came to Mountainfilm in the early 1980s and dreamed of being part of that tight little world that manages to touch the larger world in so many wonderfully meaningful ways.

When I gave my talk in 1996 about the Khirghiz nomads of Western China, it was a great honor.”

India. Orissa.Sakata Villag

India. Orissa. Sakata Village

Wier went on to become a judge for Mountainfilm twice, to the best of her memory, 2003 and 2004, but has not been back since 2005. For her encore, at the 2014 event, Wier’s relatively new color infrared work, images that infuse her subjects with an otherworldly feel, will by on display at Melange throughout the weekend starting Friday, May 23, 3:30 p.m., the opening of Gallery Walk.

A sort of exclamation point on her Melange show, Wier is also scheduled to speak at the historic Sheridan Opera House on Saturday, May 24, at noon. Her subject: a discussion of her passion for documenting the remote corners and cultures of the world with of the art infrared photography.

India. Rajasthan. Puskar Fair. Camel Trader. 2010

India. Rajasthan. Puskar Fair. Camel Trader. 2010

“Our visual familiarity is limited to the colors of visible light,” she explains. “Beyond what our eyes can see is the iridescent world of the infrared (IR) spectrum. Over seven years ago, I began exploring the challenge of making the invisible visible: photographing unusual places using the unusual, haunting light of infrared. The resulting work is truly travel images in a different light.”

Wier explains further:

“In the 1930s, Kodak developed emulsions that were sensitive to infrared light. Black-and-white infrared film was the popular choice. With the advent of digital cameras, recording infrared light expanded with creative possibilities. Digital cameras are so sensitive to infrared light that manufacturers have to place a filter in front of the sensor to block infrared light from spoiling regular photographs. By removing this filter and replacing it with one that blocks most of the visible light, the photographer is able to record near-infrared light with a bit of visible, deep red light. The result is a surreal image with a bit of color, usually shades of blues and amber with occasional magenta. My images explore my favorite subjects of tribal culture and less frequented lands, but served up in unseen light. What is invisible becomes art – revealed.”

On Monday, May 26, Wier participates in a Coffee & Conversations panel: “Want to be a Photographer?

China

China

Wier was born in Dumas, Texas, a place she remembers as flat and desolate. In high school in Washington, D.C. where she grew up, a friend gave her a brochure for Prescott College in Arizona. It featured photos of students rock climbing and studying geology while rafting down the Colorado River. Bingo! Wier never looked back, instead ran full steam ahead into the life of an itinerant photographer, a discipline she embraced in 1974 in which she is entirely self-taught.

Wier is represented by Getty, Corbis, National Geographic Images and Blend. National and international magazine have published her work, among them, National Geographic, GEO, Outside, and National Geographic Traveler. She is a fellow of the Explorer’s Club and a member of the society of Woman Geographers.

To learn more, click the “play” button and eavesdrop on our chat.

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