I shot my first roll of Kodak Professional HIE infrared film with a film photographer I met on Facebook – Jerard van der Walt who is also one of the three founding members of Analogue Cape Town. Infrared is an other worldly image experience, one has no idea what to expect on film as you cannot preview your shots.
Kodak Professional High-Speed Infrared film, also known as Kodak HIE, was a popular black-and-white infrared photographic film from Kodak. The film was sensitive to the visible light spectrum (with decreased green sensitivity), infrared radiation up to 900nm in wavelength, and some ultraviolet radiation as well.
The prominent blooming or “glow” often seen in the highlights of infrared photographs is an artifact of HIE and not of infrared light itself (nor even of all IR-sensitive films). This is because although conventional photographic films have an anti-halation layer that absorbs scattered light, and HIE lacks this backing. As a result, Kodak HIE (which also had a completely transparent base, where most films have slightly fogged bases) had to be loaded and unloaded in total darkness. Light can enter film through the tail protruding from a 35mm canister and without a fogged base it will be piped into the film and expose it; without an anti-halation layer any light entering the substrate through the emulsion will be reflected back and forth inside the film, becoming diffuse as it travels and causing halation. Nonetheless, HIE was produced without a fogged base and anti-halation layers so that sensitivity would be increased by allowing light to reflect back and forth, and because it was difficult to find any way of treating the film that would be effective at infrared wavelengths.
HIE featured a polyester film base that was very stable but susceptible to scratches, and therefore required extra care during development, processing and scanning. It is also a very curly film that rolls up like a snail and takes very long to flatten.
As of November 2, 2007, “Kodak is preannouncing the discontinuance” of HIE Infrared 35 mm film stating the reasons that, “Demand for these products has been declining significantly in recent years, and it is no longer practical to continue to manufacture given the low volume, the age of the product formulations and the complexity of the processes involved.” At the time, HIE Infrared 135-36 was available at a street price of around $12 a roll at US mail order outlets.
Despite the discontinuance of HIE, other newer infrared sensitive emulsions from Efke, Rollei, and Ilford are still available, but have differing sensitivity and specifications from the long-established HIE. With the discontinuance of HIE, Efke’s IR820 film has become the only IR film on the market with good sensitivity beyond 750nm.
Kodak Professional High Speed Infrared Film is a high-speed film with moderately high contrast, sensitive to light and radiant energy to 900 nanometres (nm) in wavelength. It is useful for haze penetration and for special effects in commercial, architectural, fine art, and landscape photography. With development variations, you can use this film for scientific, medical, aerial photography, and document copying. You can also use it for photomicrography, photomechanical, and remote-sensing applications.
Infrared films are sensitive to infrared radiation, some ultraviolet radiation, and to all wavelengths of visible radiation (light). They are, however, not as sensitive to green light.
Whatever the ultimate purpose of your photographs, infrared photography provides unusual effects obtainable by few other means.
I met Jerard at my home two weeks ago where we decided to photograph our local winelands along the Breedekloof Wine Valley wine route. The vineyards are still at a tender stage, in good leaf which is perfect for infrared. Anything organic will glow super bright white, water and skies are usually very black. I used my Nikon F6 coupled with a Nikon AF Nikkor 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5D lens, which was a purposed kit lens for film cameras such as the Nikon F80 and Nikon F100 in 1999. Needlees to say this lens still performs quite well as I also used it with my Nikon D5.
The weather on the day was great, skies had some cloud, a light breeze and we began shooting around 14h00. Jerard used a Nikon F90x, of which I also own three and it was my first semi-professional film camera in 2003. My spare Nikon F90x cameras are for my film photography students to use during the film photography workshops that I present.
I mostly shot this roll with a Red 25 filter or 590nm. I did also try out my other IR filters from KolariVision: 665, 850nm and a Hoya 72 IR – 720nm. Jerard shot his roll on a Red 25 filter. Personally I feel the Red 25 is the best filter for this roll of film, I found it yielded the best results all round. Shooting the film, it is best shot at 1/125 sec or f/11 and rated at ISO 400. I mainly shot in the f/5.6 to f/16 range to see how the film would react.
Jerard loaded our Kodak HIE film in an infrared dark changing bag, and also loaded a roll of Rollei Infrared in my Nikon F5 which I still have to shoot finish. We spent most of the afternoon scouting interesting compositions along our 100km trip. In the vineyards, Jerard spotted a 1.2m mole snake which I almost accidentally rode over, it is almost summer and to be expected. One of my favourite shots from the roll I shot was of a flock of sheep, they seriously glow WHITE in infrared, and they should, see in the gallery below.
Once the day was done and we finished our rolls of film and headed home. Jerard unloaded my roll in the changing bag, as per manufacturer instructions, and developed our film by hand at his home in Ilford ID 11, in a stock mix for eleven minutes. This is a very contrasty film with a lot of grain. ID 11 is a good developer for fine grain results.
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