This time I broke a film.
I love the infra red effect. I like contrasty, dark, grainy black and white so the original Kodak IR film was marvellous. For my first go I didn’t have the special opaque filter but that was OK, it meant I could shoot it in an SLR without needing a tripod. So my one roll of high speed infra-red worked really well and gave me a taste for it.
Roll forward a few years. Kodak have stopped making their film but there is a Maco version. How hard can it be? Stick some in an old folding camera, stick a red filter on the front and expose at about 6 ISO. Pretty hard as it turned out. Very thin negatives. I need to get serious and do this properly. So I bought a square of special filter material: a piece of 720nm opaque IR filter. My thinking was that this would block wavelengths shorter than 720nm, so cutting out the visible part of the spectrum. Pop in a nice IR film that says it is sensitive down to 820nm and we should get glorious glowing Wood effect.
For my cunning plan to work I needed a good way of mounting the thin filter gel. Step forward the Agfa Super Silette. It’s a nice little rangefinder but not worth much. I don’t use it often so I would have sold it on eBay, but it’s worth less there than the effort of selling it. But if I were to convert it to an infra-red camera the punters would be wearing out their bid buttons for it. Plus, I would have some neat IR pictures.
So I carefully fixed a small rectangle of filter gel behind the camera lens. The Agfa has a rectangular mask in the body between the film gate and the back of the lens. It will be there to block the light that doesn’t fall on the film from bouncing around inside the camera. A perfect place for the filter. A couple of dabs of craft glue and some delicate work with tweezers and I had the perfectly-adapted dark-light camera.
So, in with a roll of Rollei 80s film and off we go on a sunny day at 3 to 12 ISO. The Rollei film has nice examples on T’interweb of IR effect through opaque filters. The Agfa being a rangefinder means that it doesn’t matter that you can’t see through the lens. Sorted.
What I got was a totally clear film. The leader and frame numbers were there, so it wasn’t that I had tried to develop it in fixer.
I had one remaining roll of dedicated IR film. Expensive and precious stuff, but it was sure to work. Work it did not. Another totally clear film. Now I’m stumped. Does the lens on the Agfa block infra-red?
This will be a developing post as I experiment. First step will be to prove it’s not the Agfa. If I use a bit of the 720nm filter on a different camera I will find out if the problem moves with the filter or stays with the camera. My memory is nudging me that one of my lenses has a special slot behind the rear element that will hold a bit of filter gel. If not I’ll bodge something with an old screw-in filter. I’m thinking the tests will be: no filter (proof the film is developed); red filter (some effect but not yet opaque); IR filter. If I rewind the film I can take the filter out of the Agfa and load the film into it. I can then do the same tests by putting the IR filter in front of the lens. That should show me that the film is OK, whether the Agfa is blocking IR or I did something stupid with the filter or film.
But if anyone can se what I am doing wrong, add a comment and put me out of my misery.