24. september 2013

Infrared - Shooting what you can't see part II, revelations

Since my last post in 2012, about infrared photography, Fotokemika has ceased to exist as a film and paper-producer, this means that EFKE AURA/Non AURA and a whole bunch of cool EFKE (and also ADOX) films has disappeared from the shelves.

The problem wasn't that they didn't sell films, but mostly from competition, price-pressure, raw-material prices and a dispute over land-areas where they had their factory.

This is very sad and leaves us with only one film as a real IR offer today, namely, the excellent Rollei 400 IR.


My previous shots, last year, like this one...

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 12, 9 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

...were great, but even these were actually pretty hard to print properly, as the shadows and mid-tones, soon got too black and the whites stayed too white. Extensive dodging and burning was required for a satisfying print.

Bear in mind that this particular one, was shot with a high-altitude haze layer, which helped diffuse the light a little, a direct, "unfiltered" sun, would create even higher contrast and a good print would be increasingly more difficult to make.

I was out and about shooting with it in August and now in September, and I found that my earlier attempts, last year, at ISO 12, still gave pretty good results at 9 minutes in HC-110 B.

Like these horses:

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 12, 9 minutes in HC-110 dilution B
However: Upon inspecting the negatives of the horses, I found that they lacked shadow detail and the highlights were pretty hot/blown when the sun was shining from a clear sky.

In short, the negatives showed excess contrast.

So, back to the think-tank a little then.....

I was pondering over a week or so. First, pondering if I should shoot the film at EI24, to prevent the highlights from blowing out. This would cause underexposure of the middle/shadows and they will be very hard to recover during printing. This would also probably cause the negatives to be too thin, causing very short printing times, which, in turn, would create problems controlling dodging and burning.

But.....what about an increase in exposure?
If I increased exposure with 1 stop and shot the film at ISO 6 instead, the shadows should have detail. A proper development for ISO 6, would yield a normal negative as well.

"Yeah, but what about your highlights? They were already at the limit at ISO 12, at ISO 6, they would be blown for sure" you may say.....



By researching a proper development-time for ISO6 from my working ISO 12 times, I could also establish an additional reduction-time, to prevent the highlights from blowing out.


This is called "pulling" (film....!).

In this case. I was, in other words, interested in shooting and develop the film as ISO 6, with an additional 1 stop pull processing. This 1 stop pull would serve as a starter, to see where I landed, regarding the highlights, this is also called N-1 development.

This is where some of the beauty of shooting film lies IMO; The ability to separately control your shadows and your highlights trough exposure and trough development. (Yey! \o/ ).

You can't really to that with digital, you get what you get. But the sensors and cameras, usually are impressively versatile in keeping information and contrast under control.

The current RAW processing tools, are also very very good in helping you recover lost shadows and highlights after the fact with digital, by simulating information in a "broken channel" by utilizing data from intact channels..

....but anyway, I digress.....

During film development processing, the shadows always finish FIRST, after that, the highlights keep on getting denser and denser, until they block up. After the initial development, the shadow part (mostly from  zone 3 and below) hardly move at all for the remainder of the time.

You can simplify the thought, by comparing it to a sun-burn; The areas of your skin which was covered by clothing or other light protective materials, would maybe just get some color, but your unprotected areas, initially looking pretty normal, will keep on getting redder and redder as the evening moves on.

- This means, as one would already know, that longer development time (or more agitation during development, as this moves fresh developer into exposed areas of the film) increase the contrast.
Most zones from zone IV and onwards, will keep on moving up towards white, while zones I, II and III more or less stay put.

- This also means that if you develop LESS, you reduce the overall contrast of the negative, as you prevent the lighter tones from moving too far.

- This also means that, by using methods like stand development (little or no agitation), you can maximize shadow-detail while preventing the whites from blocking up too badly.

This explains how agitation influence contrast: Because highlight-areas on a negative, tend to "use up" the developer in that area faster than the shadow areas, if you don't agitate and bring in fresh developer to those areas, activity tend to grind to a halt. If you agitate like a crazy-person, the highlights will block very fast and you end up with some high-contrast....thing.

Now, back to the IR film.
Concluding with the above film 1-on-1 theory; By increasing the exposure, rating the film as ISO 6 instead of 12, and then reducing the development time by one additional stop from the ISO 6 time, - and agitate the film gently.
- I should be able to get BOTH my shadows and also my highlights where I wanted them!

My ISO 6 time was calculated as an average rule-of-thumb, 20% reduction from my 9 minute ISO 12 time.
After that, I reduced the time again by around 20%, to see what time the N-1 development would be.

Answer; 5.7 minutes, which I rounded up to 6 minutes and using the same, gentle, agitation scheme as the ISO 12 development.

I tried that on a low-angle sun, setting over a farm landscape on a Sunday evening. The scene proved to have several good "problem areas";
- White, sun-lit "tractor-eggs"
- Shadows on the sloping hills
- IR-reflected light from the trees and foliage.
- A person in the scene (this time, I used myself as a model :P ), where the facial features needed to be visible and not blown.


Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Awesome success! (imo)
Negatives look very nice, the blue sky will graduate towards black (neg thin/transparent), shadows are thin'ish but have detail, a few blocked-up areas on the tractor-eggs (to be expected).

I have detail in my face on the self-portrait shot and the strange IR-effect on the trees and foliage is present, complete with shadow detail where the sun-light isn't really hitting foliage directly.

So, my new scheme now for Rollei 400IR, is rate it at ISO 6 with a Hoya r72 filter, in HC-110 dilution B, then dev for 6 minutes, one minute gentle inversion of the tank, then 2 slow and gentle inversions every minute.

- 6 minutes is short, so additional experimentation will probably require a starting-point at 12 minutes, using HC-110 dilution H (which is half the strength of B). This dilution will have more room for fine-tuning the process even more.

The chlorophyll is starting to leave the foliage now, and the foliage the trees, as Autumn is setting in, so the wood-effect is diminishing pretty soon.

So, next summer, I will try my new times even more and at various times of the day, to see if it is solid. I suspect that it will be more solid than ISO 12 at 9 minutes, time will tell. ^^

In the next entry, I will continue my publication of completed model-shoots. ^^

That's it for this entry, may Google be with you :)

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