Back in 2006 I bought a few rolls of Kodak HIE high-speed infrared film. But for whatever reason I never managed to use it that summer, so I put it in the freezer and waited. But then for one reason or another I never got around to using it the next year either, or the next, and so on.
I used one roll in late 2011 just before the autumn, but that one last roll stayed in the fridge, and I never quite had the chance to use it.
On June 3rd I was heading into London for something and decided while i was around I should do something else. I had a few vague ideas but hadn’t settled on anything until the morning as I was getting ready to go out. It was a sunny day. I could go to Highgate Cemetery, and I could shoot my last roll of Kodak HIE.
So I did.
Kodak HIE was a bit of an awkward film to use. Due to the lack of an anti-halation layer it has to be loaded into the camera in complete darkness. So I put my Voigtlander Bessa R3A into my ‘changing bag’ along with the box of film, zipped up both the inner and outer layers, put my arms in the elasticated sleeves and loaded the film into the camera purely by touch. I probably wasted a frame at the start by winding on more than I normally would do before closing the back just so I could be sure the film was winding on properly.
I then attached a Hoya R72 IR filter onto the front of my R3A. The filter blocks practically all visible light but allows through the infrared.
The images you are seeing were made with a part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is not visible to human eyes. The grass and leaves glow where the sun strikes them as they radiate infrared radiation, far more than the skies which do not give off infrared and appear dark.
It’s a great look. It’s a unique look. There really isn’t any film that looks like this any more. They say Efke ‘Aura’ film was similar in that it also lacked an anti-halation layer so has the same glow. I’ve got a roll of that which I need to try out. But of course that’s no longer made either, after Efke withdrew from film manufacture after their equipment failed and wasn’t cost-effective to replace. Rollei IR400 is still out there, but that does have the anti-halation layer. I’ve tried some, and while it’s easier to work with it doesn’t glow the same. It’s still good stuff and I recommend it to anyone who wants to try IR photography. Ilford SFX200 isn’t ‘true’ IR film, as it only goes a small way into the infrared area of the spectrum, but is also pretty good stuff, must get some more of that too.
I had a bit of a development disaster though, as the film didn’t quite go in the spiral correctly and the last bit around the spiral stuck to the bit before it, so I lost the last ten frames. Should have opened the spiral and tried reloading it. Ah well.
All in all a trip to Highgate Cemetery seemed like a good way to send off my last roll of Kodak HIE. We shall not see its like again, alas!