My Infrared problems: is it underexposed or underdeveloped?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by philip pankov -, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. I have done a lot of MF work, always developing film myself. In all
    cases I found manufacturers recommendations for dev times to be too
    long (as many people on this forum would agree). I normally cut the
    recommended time by 20% and start for there.

    Now, I have been playing with Infrared MF films for last two years.
    I tried Konica 750, Ilford SFX 200 and Maco 820.
    I carefully followed manufacturers recommendations for developing
    each of these films, I mean times and temperatures were exactly as
    per specs.
    My problem is that I have to use Grade 3.5 - 4 filter to make IR
    print to look the way IR should look.
    If I do straight print on normal Grade 2, I end up with this type of

    (this is not my photo, but very representative of what I get)
    As you can see from example above, there is not enough contrast, no
    good clear highlights. If I print neg like this one grade 4, it
    looks like proper IR.

    I want to get to the point where I will get "proper IR" look with
    grade 2 print. So, my questions are:

    1. Am I underdeveloping my negs? This would be strange because
    manufacturers times are normally too long. Here I use recommended
    times and end up with underdevelopment?

    2. Or am I underexposing my films? I know that longer
    development = greater contrast, but would giving extra exposure to
    IR film make it more contrasty? I mean shadows would stay dark (as
    there is not much IR there anyway), while highlights would become
    lighter, thus increasing the contrast range?

    P.S. I know I should run the tests and so on, but I am sure some
    people at this forum already solved this seemingly common problem
    with IR?


    Philip Pankov Photography

    Fine Art Black & White Photography
  2. Sorry, link should be:
  3. At least on the crummy monitor here at work, the sample is flat and not the brilliant Ir look you want. Exposure is adequate. My best guess is a red filter of some sort was used, not a true IR filter. To get the dark skies and really white foliage, a B+W 092, Hoya 72, or Kodak 089. These are so dark you can`t see thru them except in very bright light and then the shy will look dark and diciduous foliage white.

    I use a B+W 092 with HIE and 1/250 at 6.3 in the sun. I don`t bracket.The skies will have some density, but can be made black if the sky was a true blue to begin with. Hazy light blue skies will not go black easily.

    I follow Kodak`s recommended time for D76 at 8 min undiluted if I remember correctly.

    All the same rules apply, expose til the shadows are right and develope so it prints correctly.

    Look at these pages and notice the filters and films used.
  5. One thing to note - if you use the Konica, you probably won't want to use the 87, 87c, or 89 filters. Konica cuts off its IR sensitivity at 750nm, and at least 1 if not all 3 of those don't transmit enough IR in that range. The Hoya will be close, I think, but should work.

    That's what I remember from my IR workbook - it's at home, though.

  6. Not sure about the other 2 films you mentioned but SFX isn't really a "true" IR film but rather one with extened red sensitivity. I shot a role for the first time a while back and didn't achieve the traditional IR look either. It does have a unique almost metallic look to it but not what you see from something like HIE.
  7. Well, SFX may not be a "true" i/r film, but it does a pretty good job in bright sunlight with an 89B filter ... a few m/f examples here . As noted, neither SFX nor the Konica film are suitable for use with an 87 filter, it's just too "dark" to give reliable results.
  8. IR film has a fairly steep curve but with a long toe and shoulder. I think your problem is exposure. IR can give a very low contrast fine grained look or coarse grained high contrast. the difference is usually just two stops exposure. I find getting the classic IR look is much easier with HIE than the ones you use. Ilford isn't fully IR, the konica is extremely slow and the maco is ok. Remember, much of the classic IR look comes from the lack of antihalation backing in HIE. Maco do their films with and without this backing, so you might experiment here as well. Easy to test out exposure though, simply bracket 3 stops around your current exposure and see how they look.
  9. Thank you for replies so far.

    A few points to qualify first:

    1. I am experienced MF photog. I also produced some commercially viable IR images. My very specific question is: looking at the example at the link above, is it underexposed or underdeveloped or both?

    2. I use Hoya R72 filter with all films, its equivalent to 89B and should produce strong IR effect with all 3 films I tried.

    3. HIE is not available in MF and I do not want to buy it anyway

    4. +Proper IR+ look for me is not HIE look with huge halos. +Proper IR+ look in my mind is strong Wood effect, with proper deep blacks in the shadows and clear highlights.

    5. Maco IR film I use is the one with antihalation backing.

    Coming back to the original question:

    Please look at the example at the link above. My grade 2 prints (i.e. normal contrast) from all 3 films look like that. I can get them to look like +Proper IR+ if I print them on grade 4.
    I want to have +Proper IR+ look with grade 2. So, shall I:

    A. Develop it longer to increase the contrast on the neg?

    B. Increase my exposure by 1 or 2 stops, to get whiter highlights and thus have higher contrast on the neg?

    C. Do both?

    Can someone comment on what I need to do here?

    How can I get +Proper IR+ look with grade 2 prints from available IR films, excluding HIE?


    Philip Pankov Photography

    Fine Art Black & White Photography
  10. Firstly the example you give is a digicam IR so isn't film at all. It is therefore hard to comment on.

    Secondly the antihalation dye in maco films is only antihalation to visible and not very much to IR, so you still get burnt out highlights. You also need to wash it out before developing the film as it can interact with the developer and reduce development(so the manufacturers say). But I'm sure you know this.

    Soif you are happy with the graininess of your shots then you simply need to give more development to get more contrast. As I'm sure you know though, the usual monochrome film situation where mild underexposure and over development can look similar to mild overexposure and under developement doesn't really apply to IR because of the strange film curve to which I referred previously.

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