A short post, a note to self, be more careful with freezing Rollei Infrared 400 film. I've now had a couple of rolls damaged with mottling from the backing paper damaging the emulsion when storing the 120 film in the freezer. I've not had any issues like this under similar conditions with Kodak film and although I did have one issue with Ilford HP5 this was around the time they issued a statement potentially acknowledging a bad batch.
The below pictures were taken with my Fuji GW690, the first with an R72 IR filter and an R25 red filter and the latter 3 with IR only. The first came out great. really showing off the sharpness of the GW690's lens and the dramatic effect of stacking the IR and red filters. The remainder would have been cool, except for the abrasive mottling effect that I assume is from from the post-freeze thaw.
Finally getting my hands on some of the remake of Fuji Acros, after only getting to know the original after its demise, I thought it would be a great film to try with some long exposures in my Bronica SQ 135W panoramic 35mm back. Long exposures of several minutes are a breeze with Fuji Acros 100 due to its excellent reciprocity failure characteristics, although I still managed to underexpose these shots a little from where I wanted them. Some sea defences on the rugged coast of the New Forest were my subjects.
My 50mm PS wide angle, a 10 stop ND filter helped with these. I think I should've also stacked a red filter to increase the drama in the skies but the exposure times started to get way beyond what my family would tolerate standing still on a beach for - I'm surprised I managed to get this many exposures given that each was at least several minutes. This meant I rushed my compositions somewhat, but still I'm quite happy with the results, perhaps especially due to the panoramic aspect ratio the 135W back has provided.
I'm headed back to Scotland next week, to the northern Highlands of the Assynt and Torridon regions, placed I did not get time to visit in 2018 on my first road trip in the country. I will be revisiting Glencoe, in. part out of necessity to break up the driving, but there are far worse places than that to do so. This time it may be slightly warmer than when I visited in the frozen late March of 2018 but I fear the midges will be more of a challenge.
Anyway, here are my 5 favourite colour images from that trip all taken with my Bronica SQ.
Just got my first roll of Portra 800 back from the lab that I shot with my Fuji GS645W. This is an old trike that I had as a kid and my parents dutifully kept for the arrival of grandkids. I couldn't resist trying out an Eggleston rip-off shot of the bike and it worked pretty well although I probably should've made an effort to find a slightly less distracting background. Eggleston must have been lying right on the floor to get his shot and I should've gone lower myself. I'll post some more images from the roll soon but the colours that it has generated have blown me away, particularly on the shots from overcast days. The grain is alot finer than I expected and the colours really pop. I have another roll of this stock in my Rolleicord that I need to get on and finish.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased I have been able to get out of the city and do some walking. I realised that the Cotswolds was pretty much halfway between where my sister and I live and so this has quickly become a destination to explore on foot via the excellent network of public footpaths. My first fond impressions of the Leica III have persevered and I think it will turn out to be a great travel camera. Its pretty small, particularly with the collapsable Elmar 50mm lens, and the quality of craftsmanship makes the camera a joy to use, slowly that is. There are a couple of issues though that I'll need to take care of probably by getting it serviced - the rangefinder is very dim making focusing a challenge and quite a few frames did miss the mark. When the focus is right the lens has a really great character, it's sharp enough but has a creamy texture to the out of focus areas. I'm not looking for sharpness when using this camera, instead I'm looking for the antique texture to the images, to capture more of an idea of a memory than a precise recording of it. The form factor meant that it wasn't too burdensome to attached the camera with a Peak Imaging clip to my baby carrying hiking backpack. Walking 10 miles with around 20kg on my back was a challenge, but at least I couldn't blame too much of that on the camera choice.
In the first image you can see quite a frustrating issue - the negative was scratched most of the way and I think this must be due to some grit inside the body. It mostly edited out OK with the heal tool in Lightroom - good job we have digital tools too. I will try and use some compressed air to blow anything out, and also try running a dead film through it to see if I can sort it myself. I hope I can, because the repair shop I have in mind has a waiting list upwards of 6 months. I guess with people being stuck indoors they have decided this was a good time to send of their Leica to be serviced!
The roll was finished with a trip to the Suffolk coast in Harwich and Covehithe. The latter reminded me alot of Martha's Vineyard's northern shoreline in the US and although I was mainly shooting long exposures with my Bronica SQ I got a few snapshots on the Leica to finish the roll so as not to let it linger.
As for the Ilford Ortho 80, to be honest I've not been that impressed so far. It seems fine but I haven't seen any remarkable results in my images that would make me choose this over go for Tri-X (although price will probably start to become a factor as Kodak is outpacing Ilford in that regard).
IR film has been on my 'to try again' list for quite some time but it has taken me quite some time, 3 years in fact, to give it another go after a relatively lacklustre experience with some 35mm Ilford SFX. The experience with SFX helped me learn the hard way that its probably not best to experiment with a new film or process on a trip like the one I did to the National Parks of Utah in 2017. I had mistakenly through that a R25 filter would be deep red enough to get some good contrasty results with the SFX but really an R72 was what was needed. The results were not favourable leaving me with images that fell flat and leaving me wishing I'd opted for my normal TMax instead.
So I finally got round to ordering some more IR film, this time going for the Rollei Infrared 400 offering. This film should have slightly more sensitivity up the IR spectrum than SFX and this time I had also got my hands on a Hoya R72 that I would use for all of the images. I loaded up the Rollei in the 120J 6x4.5 back I have for my Bronica SQ and decided to use most of the 15 exposures on a recent, post lockdown trip to my parents farm in Shropshire.
I had my fingers crossed for some sunshine, or at least some dramatic light between the clouds. No such luck - the sky way overcast most days - and so I didn't know if I would be able to get very dramatic results. When I got the negatives back I was very pleasantly surprised. The crops were bright white and the contrast was good (although the scans did take a bit of tweaking with the clarity, contrast and black point). In the shots where I had also stacked my deep red R25 filter the sky was really striking and black. I had also been concerned that maybe the images would come back looking a bit gimmicky and would be a nice oddity for me to try out but may not hold out as a choice for when I'm out on special trip (particularly given my prior experience with Ilford SFX).
To me these images do not feel gimmicky, but instead have offered me a new perspective on a landscape that I thought I had exhausted my creativity in finding new compositions. The farm where I grew up is so familiar, that even though it changes each year, I sometimes struggle to see new interesting compositions. In fact one of my favourite images ever captured of the landscape on the farm reminds me alot of an infrared picture due to the unique consistency of the snow that day that settled in the trees.
I metered with the R72 blocking 5 stops of light and the R25 when sued as an additional 3. The Long Exposure app on iPhone comes in handy for easily calculating the real exposure of the base and I did account for some reciprocity failure with a factor of 1.52 (e.g. 30 seconds became 2.93 minutes and 90 seconds became 15.57 minutes). Most of my exposures were within this range and so freezing motion was not an option, North Shropshire can be quite a windy place and this week was no exception.
Now for some negatives. The first being that the negs came out with a mottling effect that I believe to be due to the backing paper interacting with the emulsion. Potentially this is caused by bad storage, or at least condensation in the wrapper when coming out of the freezer. Its not too bad for this test roll but I really hope the 4 other rolls I have in the freeze do not exhibit this! I'm not sure if it is my freezing or I bought it from a source that did not store it correctly. The other downside is the same as long exposures with an ND filter - the screw on filters are a pain to be taking on and off again to recompose on an SLR like the Bronica. I think my next roll will be in my Fuji GW690 rangefinder which will not require me to take off the filters in between shots. Luckily both the Bronica and the Fuji have focus correction marks for IR on the lens barrel as IR does focus at a different point to visible wavelengths of light.
I really like the ethereal qualities of this film and I'm definitely looking forward to using it more for some high contrast long exposures.