Think it's difficult to use color infrared film? Think again! Michael Raso of the Film Photography Project tells us how he hacked our Simple Use Camera and made it simply perfect for the usage of color infrared film!
Hi Michael, can you please introduce yourself to the community?
My name is Michael Raso and I’m the founder of The Film Photography Project (The FPP!). I’ve been shooting still and motion picture film since the late 1980s including the shot-on-Super 8 horror feature film “The Basement” and many other low budget feature films. I started The FPP podcast to express my love for the medium of film and to connect with other film nuts! It’s grown beyond my wildest dreams and the podcast is now entering its 8th year!
In a nutshell, what is the Film Photography Project?
Launched in 2009, the FPP informs, engages and inspires film shooters both novice and professional via our bi-weekly internet radio show, The Film Photography Podcast. Through the show, FPP has assembled a community of photographers from around the globe who share their creative passion for ﬁlm photography. Most rewardingly, the FPP’s Camera Donation Program continues to place analog cameras, film and lenses into the hands of kids in classrooms worldwide at no cost.
We'd love to hear a bit of the story and process behind the FPP Color Infrared Film, how did that get started?
A few years ago I found a company that makes 35 mm color infrared film! I know, I know, it’s been discontinued right!? Wrong. The film is used by a foreign government for scientific purposes and The FPP was lucky enough to find it. The film was originally made for surveillance in tropical areas. It’s noted characteristic is its color shift on trees and plants. It’s a remarkable film and most noted for being shot by Richard Mosse in the Congo.
When shooting the color infrared film, what are some challenges that shooters may encounter? Do you need a special camera?
Color Infrared Film does need special attention. It needs to be loaded in an almost dark space and should be kept refrigerated until you’re ready to shoot.
The Camera: To shoot color (or B&W) infrared film you’ll need a simple 35 mm SLR, rangefinder or point and shoot camera. When I say simple, I mean a camera that does not have auto wind or auto advance. Those cameras use little diode lights to count frames and that will fog your infrared film. Keep it simple…use a camera like the Canon AE-1, Pentax K1000, Nikon FM etc. You can also go VERY simple but using a 35 mm Holga (like our FPP MOD IR Camera), Ultra Wide and Slim or the new Lomo Simple Use Camera. With any camera shooting infrared film you must use a yellow or orange filter. The recommended is Tiffen #12 Yellow.
The Lab: I can tell you – I’ve received dozens and dozens of e-mails with light leak problems and they’re all lab related. Many film labs claim they can process color infrared film but in fact, they cannot. I recommend The Darkroom to process color infrared film. If you are reading this and can recommend a lab, please do by leaving a comment.
The Simple Use Camera is just that — pretty simple! How did that add to your shooting experience?
I love simple, point and shoot cameras. Such cameras allow you to forget about the “gear” end of things and just concentrate on your composition. When Lomography introduced their Simple Use Camera, I knew I had to try it. There are three varieties – the Black & White, the Color Negative and the Purple. All of the cameras are pre-loaded with film. The Purple variety is pre-loaded with the famous Lomochrome Purple film. It shoots a wild color palette and is lots of fun! It's the perfect camera to always have with you. It looks like a one-time use camera but it’s completely re-loadable. On a recent trip to Rhode Island, I noticed that I had a roll of FPP Color Infrared Film in my bag with my Purple Simple Use Film camera. When it was time to re-load I thought, “Heyyy, what if I clip the yellow filter off the flash and taped it over the lens?!” I did and voila! My Simple Use Film Camera camera can now shoot FPP Color Infrared film. I had no idea how my images would turn out. Wow! Great! Shooting color infrared film can’t be easier!
After a busy summer shooting and testing film (including Lomography’s new 16 mm movie film – more on that another time), I’m back at the Film Photography Project HQ preparing brand new podcasts. Our first new show premieres on Friday, 15 September. The podcast and rest of the FPP world can be accessed by clicking over to our site – here.
Learn more from these videos:
- Film Photography Project: How to Use Infrared Film in a Simple Use Film Camera
- Film Photography Project: Simple Use Camera, Reload and Review