Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guest Article - Medium Format Color IR Film

Hello loyal IR Buzz Readers. I am placing this on the Buzz in the Guest Articles area, as I consider it more a technical posting than anything else. But actually it is more a story of an adventure in IR and Film Photography that began when I received an introductory email from a fellow IR photographer in Germany.  Dean Bennici of Munich, Germany

Dean attached the following example photos taken with the film that he describes and offers to IR Color Infrared Photographers, keeping the flame alive. I must say that I take exception with his humble assessment of his own photography skills. I think that these examples are exceptional, and I believe that you will agree.
If you are interested in purchasing some of this rare film, or checking out a few more photos:
The Adventure and Story Begins: OK, so, I asked Dean if I could obtain a roll of his film to run a relaxed "test" in order to add my personal experience to complete this article. I wanted to shoot a roll the way most IR Photographers would shoot, not turning it into a super technical evaluation. Go out in the field and find and photograph interesting scenes, and have fun doing it!
The roll arrived from Germany in excellent shape, well packed, and much quicker than I ever imagined something could show up from half way around the world. Well done, so far. Inside the bubble pack envelope, the film was protected by a 120 plastic film can. On the can was a very good identity label with cautions to load in a low light situation. Also on the label is processing instructions (E-6), and an expiration date. The Processing reminder is very helpful when you get to your film lab. There is no question or mix-up as to the required developing processing instructions, unless of course you want something custom done, which then is between you and your lab.
Also inside the envelope I found an invoice telling me exactly what to expect to see on my PayPal account. No mystery here... There's always an invoice..... such is life. Anyway along with the invoice Dean included a very easy to understand printed sheet with facts about shooting the film, suggested ISO setting, and reminders about using on-lens filters. All-in-all things seemed very simple, and I can assure you that's the way it turned out in my experience.
So, film in hand, I loaded it into my Holga, just being normally careful to choose a somewhat low light situation. I usually do this when I load regular B&W film anyway, so no really extra precautions were taken.
This film is just too special to go out and waste it on "just any" scenes, so I put the camera back and waited for an opportunity that I thought worthy of the film. I didn't have long to wait. Sheryl told me that she heard good things about the shopping at a couple of outlet malls in a town a few hours away. She wanted to take a shopping weekend! Problem is she doesn't like to take me shopping. I'm the "go in, get it, pay, and leave" type. She's not. What to do? Wait a minute.... that town is where Jules Alexander lives. If you don't know Jules, he's the owner and operator of simply the VERY BEST IR Forum out there The Worldwide Infrared Photography Community 2.0
BINGO! A few emails to Jules, and we are set. Jules and I had never met face-to-face, although from his work with his Forum and mine on this Blog, we felt that we already knew each other. When I told Jules we would be "testing" this IR Color Film, he was as excited as I.
The week-end finally came around and we made our short travel. Jules greeted us upon our arrival, and he and his family were just the most gracious and helpful people you could ever meet. Saturday came around and Sheryl went off armed with the credit card. Jules showed me around his town from the IR Photographer's perspective. He provided a Yellow and an Orange filter that happened to fit my 58mm adapter ring that I had on the Holga "Optical Lens". We decided for the 'test" that we would each shoot 6 of the 12 120 frames, to see what we would get. It was really hard to restrain and "save" the next frame for the next great IR scene that Jules knew about. We chose to use the yellow filter, and true to the decision to "go out and shoot" we used that Yellow filter for all 12 frames. Later realizing that we should have given the orange filter a try on at least a few of the frames, but we enjoyed our experience and that was the most important thing.
On Monday, I located a local Photo Lab and dropped off the film in the can. I made sure that they knew that the film was IR and not to load it into their automated machines, but to develop it by hand. Why should you be so particular? Well most of the newest automated film processing machines use an internal IR LED to locate and count frames as it is developing the film. This can fog your film. The person at the Lab knew why I made this request, and that set me at ease in leaving the film with them.
I develop my own B&W film here at home, and I have an Epson 4490 flat bed scanner to scan the negatives. I can then post process the image files and print them if I desire a paper copy. Having this capability, I asked only for development of the negatives, and I had them professionally scan the frames to TIF files delivered on a DVD disk. I did not need printed copies, so I saved the cost of prints. Total for processing came to just over $10 US. Not bad!
The results are like nothing I have made in my photo career. The most obvious IR result with this film is that foliage comes out red instead of the mono whites in traditional IR Photography. Many other subtle colors pop out. I suppose that the best thing to do is just post our pictures so that you can see what you may expect when you give this a try.
The following Images are made by Jules Alexander, and are used with his permission.

This is the same image, Jules has applied some expert Post Processing to get this:

The following images were taken by me:

My final judgement is that I am really impressed by the results you can achieve with this film, despite it's high cost. If you want to give it a try, here's Dean's contact site.

Dean's Website

Copyright Statement: All images and materials displayed and showcased here, are copyrighted and are the exclusive property of the artist. Images and material may not be reproduced or used in any way without the written consent of the artist.
-=- Jerry -=-


Jack Cabbage said...

Definitely a unique look. Looking forward to seeing more.

Jonathan said...

A very interesting post!

I have recently ordered some rolls of the film from Dean. I am thinking about having the film cross-processed in C-41. Have you tried this yet? If so, I would be very interested to see your results!



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Infrared Photography Buzz said...

Thanks Jonathan,

No, This is the only roll so far, but I have 2 more rolls to shoot. Why don't you email Dean and see if he has Xprocessed any yet.

-=- Jerry -=-

Anonymous said...

hi guys,
yes,have cross-processed, but i really do prefer E6. X-ing tends to produce a larger color casr in my experience. cheers and kepp on click'n