questions concerning infrared film : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have a project that I would like to do using infrared, black and white film which I would shoot, mostly outdoors, through a dark red filter (Tiffen # 29 I believe). I started working on the project using 35mm but was very disappointed with the quality of an 11x14 enlargement - much too grainy! I would like to do the project using my 4x5. However, based on my past, limited experience with infrared, I realize I could go through a lot of film before I finally get things right. I would appreciate any advice or insights from those who have used infrared film with a large format camera. I am especially concerned with film handling. Is it true, as I have read, that touching the film when loading the holder can fog the film? Also, how much heat can the film tolerate (I live in Arizona where it can get rather hot). Finally any hints on making accurate exposures using infrared film would be very welcome.

-- Tom Hieb (, March 03, 1999


Richard M. Fenker of Texas Christian University published a beautiful book of large-format infrared landscape photographs of Big Bend National Park entitled "Where Rainbows Wait for Rain" (1989, Tangram Press). Many of those photographs were taken in the heat of summer. If anyone could provide an informed answer to your question, Mr. Fenker could; his e-mail address is

-- Jay M. Packer (, March 04, 1999.

-- Lot (, March 04, 1999.

you'll need to test your camera for infra=red leakage, also your holders. The film, even in 4x5 is inherently grainy, but that is part of what gives it that unique look. Use igloo colers as much as possible and process as soon as possible. Start with ISO 25.

-- Ellis (, March 04, 1999.

Infrared film can be very grainy if over exposed. That is just one of its qualities. I have only worked with the 35mm Kodak Infrared. When exposing don't give it what it wants (the light meter) or you'll get the "space ship" has landed look. Really bright and blown look. A friend of mine did shoot the 4x5 and he found out too late his film holders wheren't light tight enough for infrared film. He used plastic which is fine for regular film. Now he uses wood holders. One book that I have read and enjoyed is "Infrared Photography Handbook" by Laurie White.

Infrared pictures can very interesting and have a look all there own. Happy Shooting, Bobbe

-- Bobbe Singer (, March 04, 1999.

You are absolutely right when you say you'll go through alot of film. I too live in ariz. and the heat can be a killer. I don't care what some books say. The film must be kept cool. if you can carry it in an ice chest that is cool and dark that works best for me. Check your film holders for leaks. Some plastics seem to leak light more than others. I have had the most success with the old metal holders. Make sure your dark slide is scratch, crack and dent free. Every dust spot you have everhad will multiply like a rabbit with infrared. Process the film as soon as you can after exposure. Check your bellows. Lens board and everything for light leaks. I love the effect of infrared in our beautiful southwestern light. When you buy it if they ship it too you ask for a cold ship. I have never had the film fog from my hands when I have loaded it but I have had it fog because it got too warm or I waited to long to process it. Accurate exposures? I rate my film at 200 using a #25a filter. Bright scene lots of greenery f-32 at1/60-1/30. When you focus don't forget that infrard doesnt see visable light. Adjust your focus accordingly. I bracket a little and process in pmk. I like the contrast. HC 110 works ok as well. Hopes this help. jacque

-- jacque staskon (, March 04, 1999.

When you load the film into holders be careful not to touch the emulsion. You will leave finger prints. Try it with a sheet. You'll see. Use lintless cotton gloves. If you can load without touching the emulsion fine. The oil on your fingers is what does it. When you take the loaded holders out into the sunlight to load into your camera, wrap them in something until you are under your darkcloth. No film holder made is light tight when using IR. I have both new and used, metal, wood and plastic. They all leak light. And it doesn't take much. Before you go shooting, try going out on a bright day and load a holder into the camera. Pull out the dark slide. DON'T COCK AND RELEASE THE SHUTTER. This is a test. Now leave it there for 30 sec. Put the dark slide back into the holder. Be sure to shield the holder whenever in sunlight. I stick it under my shirt until I am under the darkcloth. I also hold the holder with my hand cupping the light trap side of the holder. Now take the holder inside and process the film. It should be clear film base plus a little fog. In other words, it shouldn't have fogged in your camera. If it did, you will need to devise a way to shield your bellows from the sunlight. I use tin foil on my 8x10 Gundlach Wizard. The bellows are light tight for ordinary film but are not IR opaque. This test will tell you if your bellows are light tight before you waste a bunch of expensive film. Also when you process your film extend your developement time by 50% but don't agitate very much. Like water bath developement. It really cuts down on the grain. And shoot it at a fast ASA. The longer it is exposed to light in the camera the more it halates. It becomes very soft at 50 ASA. Try it at 200-400 ASA. Almost like a lith film with some halation. Ir is very nice film to use. I shoot with it at high elevations like the White Mtns. in California. The Bristle Cone pine trees Become ghost like with a pure black sky. I also shoot it at the beach. Surreal scenes of water and sand with people thrown into the mix. Also go to the sites listed above. They will really help you keep from wasting film. And wasting film is a sin punishable by death as an artist. Go have some fun.

-- james (, March 05, 1999.

It is probably best to get your preferences with regard to EI and exposure worked out with the cheaper 35mm film. Personally I use EI-50 with a #25 filter, and Kodak's exposure tables (the sunny-16 rule in sun, but with extra exposure in shade); this gives a grainier and more blown-out look than some people like.

Any film-holder should probably be regarded as IR-resistant rather than proof; keep the holders in the shade, and ideally under wraps; as noted above, keep the dark cloth on the camera covering the holder.

This summer I am planning to experiment with Kodak IR in 70mm on my 4x5; it will be interesting to see if it alleviates any of the light leakage and fingerprint problems. It will be about 25% of the film costs.

-- John Lehman (, March 17, 1999.

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