I have always been fascinated by infrared photography. This idea to make visible that part of the light spectrum which is invisible (to our eyes) has always got me. When I was a (geek) teenager, I modified my first digital camera (a Konica Digital Revio KD-220Z) to shoot infrared pictures. My parents yelled at me: it was an expensive camera, the first digital camera we had, with a “big” resolution of 2 Megapixels in a very small sensor (a full-frame digital sensor was not even a dream).
No big changes since then: well, I still shoot infrared; but I now shoot it on film.
Rollei Infrared 400 is one of my favorite films for infrared photography (and not only that): it is a panchromatic film, sensitive to wavelengths up to 820nm (what is called “near-infrared”). This means that you can use it as a regular black and white film (as I do), or (as I also do) you can put an infrared filter to block the visible light (this is why they look black) and capture only the near-infrared light. And this is exactly what this “5 frames” is about.
Infrared filters block a huge part of the light reaching the film, therefore they require exposure compensation. Each filter/film has a unique impact on the exposure. Further some research and some test rolls, I opted for a Heliopan RG715 (88A) on my Leica M3 and Elmar 50mm f/2.8, while using Rollei Infrared 400 at EI 12 on a sunny day: an optimal compromise for what I am looking for.
This gives portraits a unique touch, softer skin tones and dark eyes…
… and a dramatic effect on landscapes, with increased contrast, skies turning out dark (while clouds remain white), black water and bright foliage.
If you are still reading (thanks!) and interested in infrared photography, there are several resources online where you can deepen this matter; focusing can be also a challenge while shooting infrared.
But, I can bet, once you find your personal infrared workflow, it will be hard to go back!
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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