I like using Kodak’s 35mm HIE infrared film, especially when I’m photographing outdoors in bright, sunny conditions. It’s pretty much the only 35mm film that I use now, everything else being in medium format.

What I like about infrared is the glow that it gives. It’s almost an otherworldly look, sensitive as it is to a different spectrum of light than what our human eyes see. It needs to be handled in complete darkness, but the one thing I most dislike about it is the way the negatives retain their curl (from having been wound in the 35mm cartridge) for such a long time. A perfectly flat 35mm HIE negative seems to be an impossibility (at least whenI develop them!).

Still, it is worth the extra effort in handling. I’ve mostly used the film while photographing in Nevada, Arizona and California, but I began using it back in 1998 in New Mexico. I was attending a weeklong workshop at the Santa Fe Workshops with an instructor, Elizabeth Opalenik, who likes to use HIE film. Therefore, she saw to it that everyone in the class got a couple of rolls of the film to play with.

Two of the photos I made with mine that week are shown here. The photo at the top is one of my favorites from the week with any film. It shows a pregnant young woman in a tub at spa near Santa Fe and displays how much water absorbs infrared light.

With the second photo, of a different model lying on her back, I was just trying to show an interesting shape. (A woman from England in the class, though, said that she thought it looked like a blancmange!)

For those interested in using HIE film, I set it at ISO 320 and use a #25 red filter. Kodak supplies no ISO rating for the film, but Elizabeth suggested 320 and, after doing a bracketing test, I would agree.

I’ve got a few more good infrared photos from ’98, I think. They’re just waiting to be scanned – and posted here.

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