The image in this post is an unretouched photo shot by Jacob Appelbaum on color infrared film.
Some of my color infrared film is posted to flickr, almost all of it is tagged as 'colorinfrared.' Link. I was first introduced to color infrared by my close friend Kate Young. She showed me some amazing portraits she'd taken and I was hooked. The first time I shot with it, it was really expensive to acquire. It's around $22 a roll and that's before shipping or processing. After processing the film, I went to ebay and bought a few expired blocks of 20 rolls. It's a much higher upfront cost but in the long run, it's a better deal per roll. Also, with expired film you get all sorts of fun film quirks. I keep it in my freezer because it's so sensitive to heat.
The best explanation of color infrared film is published by the makers of the film itself. Kodak created a really awesome technical publication on their website that explains everything someone needs to know about the film. Link.
I shoot all my color infrared shots with a Nikon FE-2. It's equipped with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I use an R2 filter (deep red) most of the time. Sometimes I'll remove the filter but it's rare. I meter the film and shoot it as if it's ISO200. I shoot with the Nikon because it lacks an infrared sensor inside the film back. Most modern cameras have an IR sensor and it will fog your film. I have to carry a changing bag to load film and often it makes me look like some pervert. It's so anachronistic to use a changing bag, no one has any idea what you're doing.
One of the interesting things that got me hooked on EIR over other color slide film was the sensitivity. As far as I know, it's some of the most sensitive film every created. Certainly in 35mm. It's sensitive along the lines of 250nm to 700nm.
On the aforementioned Kodak publication, they discuss the spectral range of different films including EIR. With most common films it's sensitive to visible light. Panchromatic films are sensitive to ultraviolet and visible light. EIR is sensitive to ultraviolet, visible light and infrared. This is an over simplification and it doesn't really take into account X-rays or heat or a million other things.
Practically, it means that I can take a photo and capture more information than I could with other film or even with digital cameras. The spectral range for EIR is huge. I'd been interested in ultraviolet/fluorescence photography previously: Link. If you look at that site, you'll see in their gallery how fluorescence techniques were used to enhance things like the Shroud of Turin or fingerprinting. Even though most panchromatic film is sensitive to ultraviolet, almost all lenses cut out anything below 280 nanometers. This means that you'd need some glass that didn't cut into the part of the spectrum you were hoping to capture, a quartz lens will do the trick apparently. I suppose it would also be possible to shoot with plastic toy cameras and get interesting results but I'm pretty stuck on my Nikon. I'm not sure if the lomographers of the world have any comment on the spectral range of their plastic lenses but I'm all ears for interesting UV/IR film stories.
EIR was my first real foray into non-visible spectrum photography. Granted, it's at the other end of the visible light spectrum from what I was first interested in but hey, we've all got to start somewhere!
PS: reclaiming tubgirl.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.