Although simple in concept pinhole photography has its challenges in terms of framing and exposure. When coupled with infrared film the guesswork required multiplies up ….

I really like pinhole photography and have had a fair amount of practice in the last year or so. So I think I am beginning to get the hang of it although there is a still a long way to go to get to the standards of the best pinholers.

Coupled to infrared film, the expression can be interesting, especially in portraiture. I particularly like the milky-white skin that can come from infrared film. So, I thought I would give it a go.

The first challenge is to select the right IR film and get a proper IR filter for it. The only real IR film available to me is Rollei IR 400. Ilford’s SFX is not a true IR film. So I started with the Rollei and got a R72 filter for it, which still leaves a considerable infrared spectrum after filtration. The Rollei comes with the advantage that you do not need to be in totally dark conditions to load the film.

The next challenge is to decide the amount of exposure to give the film. A light meter does not really help because it does not measure IR light. However it provides a good starting point.

So I rated the film ISO 400 (the box speed) and assumed that the R72 filter would account for 5 stops. So I set my light meter to ISO 12.

Next I had to judge the reciprocity failure of Rollei IR 400. I read that the exponent to use was 1.52. So I took the meter reading and took its 1.52th power. This gave me an exposure time of about 4 minutes.

Next I had to sit for 4 minutes without moving – surprisingly difficult.

To develop the negative I assumed between 8 and 9 minutes of Rodinal at a dilution of 1:50. I found this off a chart, but there was a big variation in people’s views on this.

Here is the result:

Self portrait; Pinhole with IR film.

So my educated guesses seem OK. I quite like the effect of IR on the juxtaposition of the pine tree with the deciduous tree. Pine trees tend to come out dark, whilst deciduous trees come out near-white.

I just now need to take some more interesting pictures and start to play with the direction of light.

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