Saturday, April 18, 2009

Infra Red Results

Scan from Rollei 35mm IR film, spring scrimmage at UT, April 5th.

Scan from 35mm contact of frame 15, Efke film tests, Nikon N90s, modified with #87 filter (note light blooms from inaccurate cutting of #87 filter).

I’ve shot Infra red film off and on for most of my 35 years shooting B&W. I loved the Kodak film, liked the Konica, and that was about it. The Ilford is OK, but not as good of an IR effect.

I ordered the two most recommended films from Freestyle. I've shot at least two rolls each of Efke/MACO IR820 and Rollei IR.

Of the two, Rollei is the easiest to use. The results are nice, good "Woods" effect, enough speed to be able to hand shoot without a tripod. I shot a roll with it in a Yashica Electro-35 and most failed to turn out because I had the exposure way.. WAY off with the IR720 filter. The next roll, in the Yashica Lynx 5000 turned out nicely.

I modified my Gossen Luna Pro with a piece of #87 gel filter so it'll read the scene for a better exposure. A test with it at 100 ASA and a roll of Efke showed almost perfect exposures, if a bit long. f/22 at 30 seconds. But the results shows this to be a good exposure. Setting my Nikon at 6 and placing a filter Between the Film Rails didn't work out too well, but relying on the Gossen showed better exposures. The example above shows a scan of a frame shot with the Nikon. 25 second exposure at f/22.

Processing data was a slight push to an adjusted pre-filter ASA of 50, then add in filter factor and get a result of about .5 ISO. Quite slow.

The Rollei, shot in the Yashica at a football scrimmage on a bright sunny day showed a decent ASA of about 4 with a 2 stop push in processing. Hand held exposures were good, most at f/8 at about /60th shutter speed.

My conclusions are mixed. I like the effect of the Efke, but the load in darkness and horrible curl to the 120 loads make it hard as hell to work with, and the extra speed of the Rollei is better for hand held work even if the IR effect is a bit more muted. More tests to follow with different filtering techniques.

Back to the darkroom

My current set-up

I processed my first roll of film in 1974. 35 years. That first roll caused my heart to beat fast as I unwound the finished roll, still wet, and saw my very first processed negatives. That first processing tank, Sears Tower brand plastic tank with a hard to load reel. You had to thread the film from the opening to the end unlike using a stainless reel. Caused quite a few kinks and this first roll had a spot where the film touched and caused an issue. I still have this thing somewhere.

But it was my first roll processed. Just I recall several firsts in my life, such as first time to solo an airplane and land it.

It’s really no big deal. It takes a lot of practice to get to where you can shoot and process and get exactly the type of negative you want.

Now, after a 9 year hiatus, I am again processing film. I have to use a changing bag, which get a bit sweaty while I load up a reel. But it’s like riding a bike, I got back into the mental calculations on adjusting the processing to fit my shooting and type of enlarger I use. Sometimes you have to pull the processing a bit if the scene had a lot of contrast, sometimes you have to push a bit if the scene is flat.

I like a bit more snap to my images so I push about 5%, and agitate a bit more. I start with the recommended developing times and adjust from there. Without a good temperature control, I process the film at room temperature, or about 73 degrees.

However, I never process film if the developer is so warm as to cause a development time of under 5 minutes. Then I’ll add ice to the water bath and allow it to drop.
Like a lot of things, developing film is a personal issue, what works for me probably wouldn’t work for you. Unless you used the same printing paper and enlarger.

I have managed to be able to put a darkroom into almost every place I’ve lived. Currently, I darken my whole bedroom and set up the enlarger on a folding table. I prefer a walk-in closet dedicated to this, but it’s what I have to work with right now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Infrared photography

The Yashica Lynx 5000 rangefinder.

I have decided upon a project for Fine Art using Infrared film and landscapes, perhaps “Monolithic” structures.

To this end, I quickly found out the my favorite two IR films were no longer made, Kodak’s High Speed IR film, and Konica’s 750 IR film. UGH!

There are two new films on the market, Efke’s (Maco) IR820s and Rollei’s Infrared film, so I had to buy sample rolls of both and do some testing.

But first, a camera. The film should be shot through a visually opaque filter which makes using a SLR-type camera difficult. The process is compose, focus, adjust focus for IR, attach filter and hope you didn’t move the focus, then shoot and bracket. A twin lens or rangefinder allows you to keep the filter on the lens and compose, focus and shoot without removing your eye.

A medium format camera would be best, as the larger negative allows for larger resulting prints.

I sold my 6x6 camera back in 2001, so first step was to get another one. EBay is full of medium format cameras. What is obvious is the level of idiocy surrounding these cameras on eBay. Pretty typical, actually.

My town is minus decent used camera stores. My only source is mail order or eBay, sadly. I have no idea when the next camera swap meet may be…

The Yashica Mat 124-g was sold new for about 175. I once had three of them. None ran me more than 180 mail order, new with warranty.

Last time I checked, you could get one used for about 80.

Even given inflation, why are the prices at or above 200? Many are listed as having sluggish shutters or problems, but the bids are still well above a price associated with a broken or parts-only camera. Stupid people.

I settle on a Russian camera, the Lubitel 66 by Lomo. It shows up for a total of 40.00 including shipping. It took a week’s worth of using a bid sniper system to get this one. There are a lot of people who still have more money than function brain cells out there. Good for the seller, but they’re idiots none the less.
The Lubitel has a 40.5 filter size, so a 40.5 to 52 was also found. No batteries so you use a meter.

Now for a rangefinder. One that’s totally manual with a lens that uses an easily found filter size. Well, research indicates to me another Yashica, the Lynx series of cameras, made in the 60s & 70s. Not the Electro models, which are semi-automatic, aperture priority. Lynx rangefinders use a 46mm filter, with a step-ring I can use 52mm on them nicely.

Again, online research shows these cameras to be worth not much more than 70.00 as many have shutter issues. Many on eBay are going for about 20 to 30. Some sellers are trying to sell “like new” cameras for about 2x what they went for new.

I have yet to get a fully functioning camera, as the sellers are morons who can’t seem to be bothered with even TRYING to see if the shutter works.

It easy. Advance the film lever to arm the shutter, look in the lens as you fire it, does the shutter move? Set it at something like 30 to see if it sticks. Yashicas have simple Copal shutters which can be dirty causing either too fast or too slow speeds.

I had two show up thus far, and both had poor shutters even though the seller said “Perfect working condition”. Also, all sold “as is”… except I probably could push a dispute about one as it was poorly described as to both the shutter and film sprocket.

(Free advice to sellers – TRY to figure out what the f*** you are selling… at least test the damned things. Karma, baby – karma. It’ll get ya even if you don’t believe in it. Trust me.)

So I have learned to open up this type of camera and clean up the shutter. It’s not rocket science, and about on the level of changing out a starter or alternator on the car, but cleaner and a lot less cussing involved. Now it’s fairly simple to get a shutter working, they basically need to be flushed out with a solvent (I use 70% alcohol) which dries after freeing up the shutter. NEVER lubricate a shutter. Just get it clean and it’ll work, no adjustments needed.

However, one of the cameras has a broken film sprocket. This causes the occasional overlap of frames. I have no idea how to disassemble it that far to replace it, so I am hoping to find a similar camera online for parts, so I can tear into it and see how it goes together. Only repair manual available is an assembly manual. For as much as a camera.

Apparently, if the seller lists an item as “vintage” many people will assume it’s extra valuable and bid insane amounts for it.

I need two or more as the 35mm IR film needs to be loaded in complete darkness or almost dark to avoid fogging the film through the felt opening.

I did find out you can use a #87 Lee filter in a SLR if you carefully cut it to fit between the film rails in the camera, placing the filter right over the film itself. This is not as easy as it sounds. I tried on my Nikon N90 and the filter isn’t cut very well, I used scissors and it left a gap at the top. Test shots yesterday show some issues at the top & bottom of the frame, but otherwise cool shots.

Next up – film tests and results.