First Leap into Infrared Film Photography

I think it was 3 years ago when I bought a Hoya R72 filter with an adapter to fit my Hasselblad lenses. I also bought a 35mm Rollei Infrared film. 35mm? Yes. I don’t know why but I bought 35mm infrared film, obviously I wasn’t thinking straight 😉 It took me quite a bit of time to finally start working with this. I thought, before I hit the big 30 later this week (Thursday to be exact, Doomsday to be more specific) I should at least have done this once.

After having worked two whole weeks except for Sundays I had the past Monday off and when I woke up at 9:30 I thought, WOW, this looks like a great day to finally go IR all the way. I jumped out of bed, took a happy shower, took care of my bunnies, ate something and packed my stuff. The weather was awesome so decided to make a small trip on my bike through lovely Limburg-land.

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The first two kilometres I used to pick up some 120 film at my work when I realised I only had 1 roll of 35mm in the fridge. The other 48 I used to find locations to my liking but also to enjoy the biking. My favourite sport is spinning and at the moment I’m actually saving up to buy a proper racing bike so this journey was quite the pleasant one!

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The weather was absolutely perfect as you can see on the Snapseeded iPhone photos (I solely work on black-and-white, unless stated otherwise, so all the colourful photos on here are either made with the iPhone or the Canon Powershot S100). The temperature was around 24 degrees, sunny but with marvellous clouds to cheer up the scenery. Blue skies are pretty much boring, except when laying next to a pool 😉

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So, how did I go about it? After a quick read on the www I determined the following M.O.: I set external light meter to 64 asa and measured the scenery. I took that reading and compensated 5 stops for the filter. The desired aperture for me was F/16 so I made a bracketing of 1/2, 1 and approx. 2 seconds. The reason I used F/16 is to compensate for any flaws in focusing. Because this infrared film records a different wavelength focusing is a bit different. My 50mm FLE has a small red line especially for IR photography. I shoot landscapes and normally focus on infinity, then I turned the infinity mark to match the red line on the lens, to the ‘new’ infinity line for infrared so to speak and voila!

Film: Rollei Infrared 400
Filter: Hoya R72
Camera: Hasselblad 500CM + 50mm FLE

Exposure: 1/2 second at F/16 (all images you see here)
Developing: Kodak HC110 dilution B for 9 minutes at 20 degrees
Scan: using Epson V700 (done nothing special, it’s about the print later on anyway, a negative is nothing more than just a starting point ;-))

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There are a couple of things that stand out, besides the obvious IR effect which I dig and think it will look pretty combined with lith. The first is that the negatives are really dense. Even the shadows are dense. Really dense. BUT, I do have a lot of detail. And grain 😉 I made contact sheets today (which look much more impressive than these scans btw), I had the lens fully opened (Componon-S 80mm F4) and had an exposure time of 85 seconds. Huhum, my ‘normal’ negatives usually require something closer to 5 seconds, so to give you an idea.

Secondly: I seem to be suffering from a light leak. Well, not me but my camera. Not sure what causes this, especially since with some they are on the left side and with others they are on the right. I have to admit I did not change the films in the dark (no hell no, I’m working outside in the sun!) but I might try changing them in shadows next time, when I can find them 😉

I had a chat with Robert Hall who discussed my results (thank you!) and I will change some things next time:
I will shoot a roll at the same exposure time of 1/2 and bracket 2 stops shorter; development time shorter than I have now (7 minutes or something, yet to determine).
I will shoot a roll where I will measure the light with my Spotmeter F at F/12 and skip the compensating for the filter. Develop as I did this time.
Change developer: Robert recommended using a staining developer like PMK or Pyrocat.

Conclusion: haha, I’ll get back to you next time, enjoy your evening 😉

Ohhhh and a very big tip for when riding 50 kilometres on a bike: Wear decent bike pants!! I should have known that 😉
For the ones interested in where these photos are taken: Somewhere between Eijsden, Mesch, Lixhe, Voeren and Maastricht etc.


    1. It’s been awhile but I believe it’s because the Rollei Infrared 400 is actually rated as a 64 asa film, not a 400. I guess that’s correct because if that’s not the case the images would have been poorly exposed.

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