After having posted a simple guide just yesterday on how to get the film noir effect into your photos, here’s something you may not have heard before….using infra red film, and just as interesting.
Infra red is that part of the frequency wave band which contains the light we photographers use, as well as all those beautiful colours of the rainbow. Think back to the electric heaters we used to use in the old days, with a bright red bar glowing inside them…that heat those heaters gave off is infra-red radiation.
And that same kind of radiation is what infra-red film is able to capture, as well as ultraviolet and the normal visible light we see.
What kind of effects can you get with this film? First, let’s understand exactly what an infra-red film will “see” when we use it in our camera. It will see infra-red light that is reflected off our subject, whatever that subject may be, be it a person, a tree, or a scene.
So if we take a typical photo that contains water, trees or foliage and sky as the main parts, we will typically get the water and sky looking dark and ominous, while the trees or foliage will look almost white.
These effects can be so pronounced, that infra-red film has become the choice for many professional fine art photographers all over the world.
Now a word about how to prepare your film camera for infra-red film use. This only applies to those film cameras that have a little red window or slit at the back designed to show the user what type of film he/she has inside. Unfortunately, although these film windows are ok when using normal films, with infra-red film, they will let in infra-red light which will destroy your film!
The way to overcome that is to cut a small piece of cooking foil, the same size as the window or slot, place it over the window and tape it down properly and securely with black insulating tape. That will seal off the thing from stray infra-red and you’re good to go.
Another problem can crop up when using Canon film cameras. Unfortunately, most Canon cameras used a beam of infra-red light to judge what frame number the user is shooting, so very obviously that would expose the whole of your infra-red film within seconds! So Canon cameras + infra-red film= No!
Loading the film into your camera also has to be done carefully, as it is sensitive to light, more so than normal film. I have always used a good changing bag, which ensures the film gets loaded in absolute darkness.
Focussing is another topic that you need to be careful about. With infra-red, you will use special infra-red hyperfocal marks on already in place on your camera lens (these are usually marked in red).
To enhance the surreal effect of the film, you can also use filters. Go ahead and use a normal red filter you’d use with monochrome film, but even better would be to use a special infra-red filter such as a Hoya R72.
Processing is as normal; either take your film to your local lab, mentioning to them that it is an infra-red film, or process it yourself, being extra careful when loading the film into your developing tank etc.
all photos courtesy http://www.flickr.com