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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Dr Walter Clark (1899 - 1991)

Clark's first publication on the use of infrared photography appeared in the Journal of the Biological Photographic Association in 1934. He described some of the earliest photography with infrared - landscapes taken in 1924 by the U.S. Army Air Corps - and applications in dermatology and phlebology. He reviewed the sensitization of emulsions for infrared then discussed cameras, lenses and filtration. He briefly mentioned other applications in medicine, forensic science and paleontology, describing infrared photographs of the face and noting that Negro skin appeared to reflect infrared radiation. He also noted that the female breast could be transilluminated when looking for lumps in the breast, and hypothesized that infrared photography would enhance the records produced. He cited examples of lupus being recorded using this technique in Copenhagen and that the photographs distinguished between dead skin and living skin with lupus nodules in it. Clark noted that Caucasian skin appeared chalky, red lips recorded light and that some lines of the face were exaggerated. Clark's 1934 paper was illustrated with examples of a landscape (Figure 15), a macrophotograph of a Fly head (Figure 16) and the human face (Figure 17). He repeated these findings in his later articles in 1937 and 1939 when he wrote a short but informative chapter entitled 'Photography of the infrared' in 1937 and wrote similar articles reviewing the infrared technique in 1939.

Infrared landscape photograph

Figure 15 (above). Infrared landscape photograph.

Infrared macrophotograph of a Fly head

Figure 16 (above). Infrared macrophotograph of a Fly head.

Infrared photograph of the human face

Figure 17 (left). Infrared photograph of the human face.

The definitive work on the photographic recording of infrared radiation called 'photography by infrared' first appeared in 1939 under the pen of Walter Clark. (The second edition came out in 1946, and a third, and completely revised edition was published in 1978 as a magnum opus in the field, this time authored by Lou Gibson).


  • Clark, W., 1934. "Infrared photography," J. Biol. Photogr. Ass. 2 (3):119-129.
  • Clark, W., 1937. "Photography of the Infrared," Am. Ann. Photogr. 51:13-22.
  • Clark, W., 1939. "Photography by ultraviolet and infrared," In: Handbook of Photography, Ed. Henney, K. and Dudley, B., McGraw-Hill. N.Y. USA.
  • Clark, W., 1939. Photography by infrared. Chapman and Hall. London.
  • Gibson, H., 1978. Photography by Infrared. John Wiley. NY. USA.

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