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Invisible Light - Infrared ..... 3 sheets to the wind........

I promised last week that I would write about the 4 sheets of Infrared I put through my Intrepid camera last weekend. However, thus far I have to consider the Infrared (IR) start to have been a little bit of a failure. I am working through a number of areas where this failure may have come from and will discuss this here.

Last week I received 7 sheets of Rollei IR 400 from an anonymous benefactor (Dave Whenham) along with the loan of a 720nm filter which is required and after a bit of research set about loading the film into double dark slides. I found the film difficult to handle as it was very thin and flimsy compared to standard sheet films I had previously handled so the loading took a bit longer than usual. Armed then with, the loaded film holders and my Intrepid 4x5 Camera , I set off to a local woodland to see what I could do.


The first shot I made was a familiar one to me at Henllan bridge and was side and backlit by a bright sun .


Having used a pinhole camera almost exclusively for the last few weeks and every time I had time to go out, it was really great to have the Intrepid 5x4 out again and certainly, it provoked some interest with passers by. I had a long discussion with a gentleman named Emrys about photography.....and think I maybe persuaded him to get his medium format camera out of retirement !


The view on the ground glass when you use a view camera is to my mind stunning. Under the dark-cloth it becomes an abstracted frame, a piece of glass illuminated by the ambassadors of reality - the photons !

(The previous sentence is sponsored by - Mr Fabulous)



The view "under the skirts" of the "lady in red "


I made this shot and 3 others in the same general area and was quite pleased with a couple of them ....before I developed them anyway. Certainly with film photography there are a host of things that can go wrong and certainly with this particular batch of film some of them did. I have some thoughts at the end of the blog as to what happened and the mistakes I made along the way ! I will also maybe write the blog soon on what mistakes I have made whilst using a view camera but likely to be a very long one !


So, what was I expecting? Having never used IR sheet film before, but many years ago shot some 35 mm rolls, I was hoping for that classic white foliage and deep contrast that I remember....but it's not really what I ended up with.



Mistakes......I made a few......


I had a choice of 3 developers to use as I had them all to hand. Ilford DDX my go to choice for FP4+ film and the one i know best. I would consider my whole exposure / development system is "attuned" to the way my light meter measures light (who's to say it's "correct" ? - I get "correct" negatives using my lightmeter and then developing in a consistent way with DDX. I think therefore that the system as a whole gives me correct results but change any part of it and the whole thing will need to be re-calibrated). My lightmeter is old but I trust it to work with the system as a whole.......... enough waffle !


I had Ilford DDX , Ilfosol 3 and a bottle of 500ml of stock perceptol in the fridge.... that had been there "a while" as I never really got great results with it but keep trying. So new film, unknown how my lightmeter would give me results for invisible light so obviously I chose the ............perceptol of unknown quality! Compounding this was a lack of consistent development times from my usual information sources (should have just done what Dave said !!) Guidance ranged from 10 mins at 1+1 on the Rollei Information sheet to 14 mins at stock on another well trusted information source. I went for 14 mins at 1+1 in the end !


I said the film was tricky to handle and it was true for the developing as well as it was hard to keep it in the correct grooves on the MOD54 adapter and after the final rinse .... the outer 2 were gone ! I found them of course stuck to the inside of the drum, from where they were very hard to remove but luckily because of the way they were loaded , the emulsion side was not in contact with the drum.


One looked very blurry and the other 3 looked a bit .....meh, although I have not seen IR negatives for a long time....they looked a bit flat and lacking contrast.


Photographed on the lightbox with an iPhone, the images above look more contrasty than the actual negatives and the one on the bottom right has a ghost image shifted slightly to the right of the dominant image. (This was a 3 minute exposure and with 30 seconds remaining some ladies wandered into the scene and called over to me " Are we in your way? ". I closed the shutter and of course said "no, not at all", and reopened the shutter when they had finished their flask of tea.....The image is shifted sideways so not likely to be the film "slipping", but I had noted the lensboard was a little loose, so maybe the lens shifted slightly before I reopened it due to vibration of the shutter ? I don't know its my best guess anyway.)


The two lefthand images have been scanned on my scanner and I really don't think there is anything likely going to come from them as they just don't really have it in them.


The top righthand image was deliberately "overexposed" 1 stop as the grass in the foreground was something I wanted to be "lit" in the image but as yet has not been properly scanned ....but I did take a look with the iPhone for a quick check when I took the picture of all four seen above. Maybe ....just maybe there is something here as it has the feel of light that I am always looking for !




This iPhone "scan" has been tweaked for contrast a little and is the only one really, of the four that maybe has some potential for me. Just need to keep the sheet flat in a holder long enough to get a scan of it now. Hopefully I will scan this one this week and see what I can make of it


When I started writing this post I had written them all off and only when I looked at this one again did I see there may be something here.

What Did I learn ?


Don't go out again with a lensboard that isn't tight when attached to the camera (A bit of electrical tape has been employed)


IR film needs IR light for it to work and that's why, I think, the shots under the canopy didn't work so well!


I know now what I get with 6 month old, 1+1 perceptol with both normally exposed sheets and with a sheet exposed at +1 stop (in "my" system)


Developing in trays may be less difficult for this film, so giving all the sheets a bespoke development may be the way I go next time.


Listen to Dave..... "ID11(1+1) for 9.5 minutes" so next time that will be my baseline !


Wear long trousers, I got bitten a million times.


Never disturb "elderly" ladies , whilst they enjoy what they tell you is tea !



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