I want to try IR photography. Where do I start??

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by LowriderS10, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Member

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    For years I've been awed by IR photography. I think the results are otherworldly and stunning...and I think it's about dang time I tried my hand at it.

    There's only one problem...where do I start? I have done a bit of research, but I tend to read conflicting stuff, so I thought you guys would probably know best...

    Here are my questions:

    What nm IR filter should I get? I've been reading that the closer to 700, the better.

    Does the brand of the filter matter, or can I get started with a cheapo eBay $10 filter? (remember, this is my first shot at it...so if a cheapo filter is 95% as good as an expensive one, I'd rather start with that, just so I get the hang of it).

    Do I need to use special film? If yes, what do you recommend?

    Also, if I need to use special film...how/where can I get it developed? Or can normal places develop it?

    Thanks very much!

    PS: If you're wondering about what I'd use for equipment, I finally have my near-dream combination of a Canon AE-1 Program with a Canon FD 28 2.8 (my absolute dream is a 24 2.8 or wider), that I'd love to try this with.
     
  2. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Efke has nice IR film. I played a little with red filter, but not with real IR. I was developing film in normal developer, only loading and unloading of film in camera I did in total darkness. And patience is very important - for me it was not easy to get good results at first try :smile:.
     
  3. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    el-cheapo $10 filter works just fine for me. As does the Ilford SFX gel, but it is a little fragile.

    You may want to check to see if your camera uses an IR sensor for the frame counter - If it does, you may get some localised fogging. As for processing, the Efke/Maco stuff can be developed in regular D76.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The AE-1 uses a mechanical sensor for the frame counter.

    I have had good luck experimenting with a Hoya R72 filter with either the Rollei infrared film or the Ilford SFX film.

    You need to use an appropriate filter with film that is specialized - it needs to have extended sensitivity into at least the near infrared.

    Most of the usable filters are very dark to visible light - composing using your camera's viewfinder when the filter is attached will be a bit of a challenge :smile:.

    This thread and the links referred to in it should help:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/51782-rollie-infrared-film.html#post647858

    One hint: the sort of outer-worldly effect that people recognize with IR photography is called the "Wood Effect". This has nothing to do with wood, but rather with respect to Robert Williams Wood, who discovered it.
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    IMHO, this is an outstanding reason not to use an SLR for IR photography! It *can* be done, of course, but you nearly have to compose, focus, and *then* put the filter on and shoot---with a rangefinder or a TLR you can actually shoot IR handheld, if it's a nice bright day and you don't mind working with thin negatives. TLRs are nice, as well, because the films tend to be very grainy and medium format makes that less obvious.

    IR film can be developed just like any other b&w film. If you're having it done commercially, tell them what it is, just in case they have something that emits IR---if you're developing your own, do everything normally. (In 35mm, the Efke film *may* need to be handled only in total darkness, or something called "light piping" can occur from the exposed tongue and fog the first few frames---people have different experiences as to whether this is a real problem.)

    I was intimidated to death by IR before I tried it, but it turns out to be easy: put the film in, put the filter on, shoot, develop. The hard part is determining a good speed to rate the film at, and then exposing at that speed, which will be VERY low.

    With the Efke film, I generally rate it at EI 6 plus or minus a stop, but I've seen people say they prefer it as low as EI 0.5! This isn't as goofy as it sounds, because the ratio of IR to visible light varies a lot---it's higher at morning and evening, for instance, which rather confusingly means that you can treat the film as faster when the day gets darker---and varies with latitude and season. Bracket and experiment; it's fun.

    -NT
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Lowrider, I recommend Rollei Superpan, rated at 200, with a 72 or an 87 filter. The 72 filter will need 6-8 stops of compensation, the 87 will need much more, typically 10-12, but it's well worth it, in my opinion. You can also use a deep red filter with this film and compensate 2-3 stops or so. Note that this film also makes a damn fine ordinary b&w film.

    n.b. some folks give their metering recommendations by specifying an effective ISO. I don't do that, I keep the film at box speed and compensate for the filter.

    Especially since you are shooting 35m format, I'd recommend bracketing liberally for your first roll, and take good notes on how you expose each frame.

    Oh and since you are shooting 35mm, take care that your camera is "IR safe" i.e. it doesn't introduce any unwanted fogging.

    I agree with the comments above that rangefinders are very nice for IR! I use a mamiya 6 for the bulk of my IR, and sometimes a crown graphic with a rangefinder. When I do use a view camera, I prefer to use apo lenses that need no IR refocus. Do pay attention to the need to refocus for IR, especially if you use the deeper (87) filter. If nothing else, focus a bit closer and stop down a bit more to enclose your subject in a bit more depth of field and ensure good focus. This isn't necessary for red filters, mind you.

    How much "effect" you will see depends very much on sun and season. In the early spring, in my area, there is a lot of fresh foliage and also clear, non-hazy skies, which makes for very strong effects- I posted an example in the apug gallery recently and I think I still have a few in my apug portfolio. Mid summer and fall are not quite so good for Wood effect, with any of the current near IR films.

    P.S. I have also shot the efke PL IR 820 and the Rollei IR. I prefer the sharpness I get from the Rollei films, the Efke I've used has too much halation for my taste, and it also greatly reduces the sharpness. On the other hand, you may like halation. So just keep that in mind.
     
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  7. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    What he said.

    Especially since you are shooting 35m format, I'd recommend bracketing liberally for your first roll, and take good notes on how you expose each frame.

    In addition to this, it would be good to keep track of the time of day, weather conditions (hazy, etc), and any other factors that might affect the exposure -- it will definitely help you define why some photos work, and others don't.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    As you may be able to tell from my linked to post, I find that my Mamiya TLRs are ideal for IR.

    I should probably try my Canonet too though :smile:
     
  9. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Member

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    wow...you guys are a wealth of information. Thank you!

    You've definitely given me a lot to think about...since I have a full compliment of EF lenses, I'm thinking it might be cheaper to pick up a beat-up 10D or a beat-up Rebel XT digital body and IR mod it than shoot through roll upon roll of film experimenting...

    Right now I'm not developing my own stuff (I used to 10+ years ago), for a variety of reasons...I'd love to, but it's just not in the cards for the time being, and I'm not sure if it's financially a smart choice to buy IR film (which, I'm guessing, is probably not cheap), then pay for developing, only to have the first few rolls be garbage...hmmm....opinions? ideas?
     
  10. MFstooges

    MFstooges Member

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    6 replies made you digital convert? wow...
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    IR shot to film and IR digital are quite different. The sensitivity ranges are very different, and that gives quite different effects. I much prefer the look of IR film. For one thing, film retains the highlight tonality so you don't wind up with completely whited out leaves on trees. And with digital, especially the older bodies you mention, it's very easy to blow out the highlights. Also, if perchance you like halation, that is not something you will get with digital. You'd have to post process it or something to get that.

    Shooting IR film is really not that hard, you should simply not expect perfection with the first roll. The good thing about 35mm is that you have a lot of exposures on a roll and can bracket liberally, with ease.
     
  12. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    How much does a Digital conversion cost? Around $500……that’s quite a bit of film, even if you are fooling around with it.

    Regardless, I am curiously watching this thread. I like the info that has been given. Might be enough for me to even give it a try (with film)
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Lowrider S10.

    If you can find the right filter for it, your Ansco Anscoset might work really well with IR film.

    A hand meter would be an advantage though.
     
  14. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I've got IR film in the freezer. Want some? PM sent
     
  15. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    That thing measures a completely different range of IR. As usefull for IR photography as a meter that meters UV light.
     
  16. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    How does weather effect IR image, does a heavy cloud day make foliage look different than a sunny day? What the "best" condition to shoot IR in
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Although IR films appear to clear haze, best results will be on days when there isn't so much and when the sunlight is direct on the subject. So you need to look out for high clouds, which do scatter IR and reduce the amount of IR light reaching the leaves. We have to remember that the light responsible for Wood effect has to come down all the way through the atmosphere ands then reflect off the subject. So the ground haze between us and the subject is only half of the issue.

    [N.b. Mie scattering appears the dominant mechanism relevant to IR]

    Clouds can look nice in IR because the surrounding sky tends to go very deep, but you mustn't have complete clouding with today's IR films, their sensitivity extends only to 850 nm or so and they won't deliver much of anything in shade. (HIE delivered quite strong Wood effect in the shade, but alas it is no more)

    The proportion of IR light changes through the daytime, and I can tell you that mornings and late afternoons rarely yield a successful IR photograph.

    A *lot* depends on your light and the filter you use. I usually use a deep #87 filter and longish exposures of a few seconds. And the prime IR months for me, in my area, are April, May and June. Before that there isn't much foliage, and after that there is too much haze. I sometimes like the film in the fall again, when humidity drops.

    Of course, if you don't have good light outdoors then all is not lost... indoor IR portraiture is very possible and does some interesting things with skin tones (they tend to look porcelain). There was time when it seemed every rocker had to have an IR portrait. Try it! On my site, I think I posted examples of IR and a UV portrait on the same subject, done in tree shade, to show how differently they render the skin. IR looks very nice, UV looks hideous and leathery!

    As always, just experiment and find out what works for you!
     
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  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    P.S. I found the links: IR, and UV.

    I was testing for focus shift using an apo lens, the IR film and deep fileter, hence the swing and shallow DOF.