Infrared Silence

PhotographerNathan Wirth
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

An infrared study of the silence of light as it illuminates trees standing alone or huddled together on the hillsides of Marin and Sonoma counties in Northern California.


A camera allows one to captures a single, thin slice of whatever one wishes to preserve. And within the folds of any subject, an imperceptible silence resides even resonates-- a silence unheard within the nooks and crannies of the ruffles of noise that blanket the world we live in-- such matters hinting that, camera in hand, we can freeze a glimpse of what we can and cannot immediately witness through the possibilities and limitations of our senses. Similarly, infrared photography permits one to capture a quality of light that lies just outside of our visible perception of the world, one that shines, perhaps, more brightly and intensely than we can experience. These images merge both photographic possibilities and focuses them on the minimalist simplicity of trees-- some standing solitary, others huddled together, all of them bathing in the silence of light. Such compositions, in this day and age of social media, have become ubiquitous-- and perhaps even border on cliché-- but the experience of seeing, really seeing, such moments reveals, again and again, how extraordinary such beauty is as well as how truly human it is to appreciate the simple beauty of the curve of a tree branch, the shapeliness of a tree trunk, and the multiple connections and intersections of a tree’s curved lines. By exploring these qualities of silence and light, which reside just outside the scope of our senses, I seek to illuminate such beauty and remind the viewer of the wonder that such things even are.

About Photographer

Nathan Wirth, a native San Franciscan, is a self learned photographer who uses a variety of techniques-- including long exposure, infrared and intentional camera movement-- to express his unending wonder of the fundamental fact of existence. Wirth, who earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University, brings a deep appreciation of poetry to his explorations of place (especially the sea). Poets such as George Oppen, James Schuyler, Seamus Heaney, Lorine Niedecker, Elizabeth Bishop, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and George Mackay Brown have played a fundamental role in shaping his attention to the things and places that he photographs. Often returning to the same locations many times, Wirth seeks to explore the silence and the sublimity of those places. Wirth makes his living teaching English Composition at City College of San Francisco.