ORWO TC27 400 35mm Infrared is a black and white film meant for use in the security industry. Instead of traffic surveillance, I suggest that you do some reconnaissance work of your own. Here are tips on how to collect the best intelligence.
A day out with a roll of ORWO’s 35mm Infrared film is a must for the experiential photographer. The purpose for the film—surveillance work—conjures up a world of spy games, secret missions, and shady characters. If you want an adventure, load up your camera, strike out, and remember these tips for capturing the best evidence for your classified reports.
1. Choose your secret mission.
Analog photography is about adventure. What is your top secret assignment? Is it an art heist? Here is a shot of some Oaxacan objects d’art at a small gallery on South Congress:
Analog photography is about capturing the world around you. Who is the subject of your surveillance? Is it a married man meeting his lover at the Jo’s Café on South Congress? Here is a picture across the street from the popular coffee house:
2. Do your reconnaissance work outdoors.
The best conditions for ORWO’s 35mm Infrared is outdoors. Indoor lighting delivers muted tones. For example, this shot was taken by a student that participated in a lecture series I gave at Texas State University in San Marcos. Even though we were rubbing Buddy’s head for good luck, the color spectrum is too dull. Compare the group picture below with the shot from the street:
3. Collect your intel on a bright, sunny day.
ORWO’s 35mm Infrared film also performs best on sunny days. While Austin doesn’t get much rain, clouds gathered as I started to shoot the rest of my roll. Watch the progression in the next five pictures as the day grows darker:
(a) The shot from the hip at the intersection of 6th Street and Congress Avenue is crisp. The tonal range is longest in this picture.
(b) Walking away, the Littlefield Building is already getting dimmer and the blackest blacks and whitest whites are gone from the frame.
© The Car2Go (a free ride sharing program) and rear view picture as I drive to SOCO is more muted still.
(d) The bus stop is all grays.
(e) The phallic Austin Motel sign is all mid-tone values.
If you want to know more about the history and production of ORWO’s TC27 400 35mm Infrared, go to Filmotec. If you do some spying of your own, buy a roll on-line at the "Lomography Shop: http://shop.lomography.com/films/infrared-film/orwo-tc27-400-36-infrared. Don’t forget to share your not-so-confidential notes in a comment below or suggest a top secret mission for a fellow Lomographer. Have fun!