Long exposures are a must for black and white infrared photography to capture the eerie white “snow covered” trees and dark skies. There is a great deal of information on the internet that one can sift through, most of it related to digital photography. I am not an expert, but here is how I got some good analog infrared results with my Holga 120!
- Holga or another camera that a filter can be attached to and has a “bulb” mode
- Lomography Universal Holga Lens Mount (55mm)
- Hoya R72 (Opaque Red almost Black) “Infrared” Filter (This is essential!)
- Possibly a “step ring” if your filter is not 55mm
- Holga Cable Release Adapter
- Cable Release
- Black Electrical tape
- A roll of Rollei Infrared 400 (or another infrared film like Efke)
- A timer (cell phones, watches, or just count)
Prepare the camera: Do the following in order.
1. Load your film as you normally would. Infrared film is pretty sensitive to light, so be sure to load it in a “subdued” light setting so that it doesn’t fog. However, I just loaded mine indoors during the daytime and everything turned out fine. I also used the 16 frame mask because infrared film is expensive and it’s a little finicky.
2. Use black electrical tape to tape up the seam where the camera back meets the camera. Be sure to tape all the way around the camera.
3. Put electrical tape over the little red film-viewing window. This can be momentarily lifted up when you advance your film to the next frame.
4. Attach the cable release adapter and cable release.
5. Attach the Lomography Universal Lens Mount—be sure to either not completely cover the focusing symbols, or mark them on the lens mount.
6. Attach your Hoya R72 filter
7. Attach the camera to a tripod. (Here is my makeshift tripod using a Gorilla-pod and my suitcase—what can I say? I was on the go!)
Ok now you are ready to shoot!
1. Shoot on a sunny day without wind for the best contrast and reliable results. Overcast days result in pretty grey pictures, however, big puffy clouds on a sunny day turn out great. Wind may make leaves and water blurry, however, maybe you want some aspects blurry?
2. Find your subject matter. Landscape works really well for black and white infrared photography. Anything green becomes white. I look for scenes that contain puffy clouds in the sky or still reflective water. No worries if someone walks quickly through your frame as you are shooting, they rarely show up, but it is possible that they create a “ghost image.” Portraits are difficult unless you can get someone to sit perfectly still for a minute.
3. Set up your tripod, attach your prepped camera, and compose your shot.
4. Make sure your camera is on Bulb mode.
5. Focus! This is easy on a Holga as long as you don’t completely cover the focusing marks on the lens. If you have to manually focus your camera while looking through the lens, take off the infrared filter as you will not be able to see through it, focus, then carefully re-attach the filter.
6. Use the cable release to engage the shutter. Keep it pressed and start counting.
7. For Rollei Infrared 400 film, I exposed my shots on a sunny day for 60 seconds, then released the cable to close the shutter. (I counted so times were approximate). I found that most of my pictures on sunny/partially sunny days were pretty well exposed, but sometimes due to the long exposure, some things were blurry. You may want to experiment with other times. In the past I experimented with times as low as 30 seconds (sometimes underexposed) or a much as 120 seconds (sometimes over-exposed).
8. Lift the black tape over the red exposure window and advance to the next frame, then reposition the black tape over the window.
9. After your entire roll is exposed. Develop it using regular black and white photo chemicals.