I finally got the chance to put a roll of Kodak Aerochrome color infrared film through my Rolleiflex Automat A. Prior to this roll, I’d mainly shot color infrared film with a Holga. I’ve found that focusing a Holga is a bit easier compared to my Rolleiflex when it comes to infrared photography. Typically, I’d shoot my Holga on infinity / f11 aperture and most everything is crisp ( at least the center of the frame – Holga’s are known for their soft, blurred edges ).
The Rolleiflex has a fixed focal length, meaning it doesn’t have a zoom lens. So this camera and its Tessar lens allows the photographer to capture the subject crisply, with blurred foregrounds and backgrounds. The bokeh that this camera gives gives is lovely. However, focusing for infrared isn’t exactly easy. As I mentioned in a previous post, the photographer isn’t actually capturing the subject as we see it with this film. Instead, one is capturing the infrared light that is reflecting off of his or her subject. So, infrared focusing marks on lens barrels come into play. These marks allow us to adjust our focus and properly capture the subject crisply in the infrared light spectrum. However, my Rolleiflex doesn’t have such marks. With traditional color or black and white film, this isn’t an issue. Focusing the camera is very smooth and simple. Yet for infrared film, I basically have to take an estimated guess, and focus slightly in front of my subject. In my viewfinder, the image will appear blurry. However, if done properly, the shot will be clear in infrared light.
I typically shoot IR film on clear days. If it’s bright and sunny, I can shoot at f/16 and get nearly everything in focus. However, I shot Oyindamola on a cloudy, rainy day. Since the skies were darker, I had to open up the aperture a bit. A larger aperture plus my estimation being a bit off lead to a slightly blurry Oyindamola. I’m still proud and pleased with the shot, and Oyindamola, although not a model by profession, was very easy and natural to photograph.
In general, portraits are a bit tougher for me. If I’m shooting a landscape, I can be patient, set up my shot, wait for the lighting to be perfect, and snap away. I’ve had some success with portraits by using the same formula. With Jina, I waited until her friend off camera made a quip and had her laugh, thereby exposing her character. I speedily snapped the shot right as this happened. That particular photo was easier to get in focus since I shot it in 35mm using a lens that had infrared focusing marks.
Regardless, I love shooting color infrared film with my Rolleiflex. I have some beautiful photographs from this roll to be sharing soon. I hope you all enjoy my art and passion! This shot was captured with a Rolleiflex Automat A on Kodak Aerochrome color infrared film, Tiffen Yellow #12 filtered and E6 processed. © Patrick Bresnahan