Film chaos!

I’m getting ready to go on vacation in a few weeks, so I’m doing the annual “Drag out all the film and cameras and decide what the hell we want to take.” It takes a while, primarily because we’re shooting 620 and 127 and 4×5 film in addition to regular 120 and 35mm, so there’s a lot of respooling and such that needs to happen. I’ve got 20 rolls of 620 film respooled so far. So far! I’m also working on breaking down rolls of 220 into 120 and 620 rolls. It seems like I always find 220 film cheaper than 120, so I buy it instead, but it does require more work to use in almost all of my cameras. The one camera I have that takes 220 film? The Bronica? Yeah, I’m not taking that. It’s too big and heavy.

So, I’m working on getting the film sorted, and I’ve got the line-up of cameras that we’re thinking about taking. There’s about 10. Or maybe 12. Film cameras, anyway, we’ll also have our digital cameras and the phone cameras too. Can you say “overkill”? Because apparently I can’t.

I’m taking an 8×10 wooden pinhole camera, this one here, because we’re going out west, Way Out West, way farther than I’ve ever been before (America: It is large), and I’ll be damned if I have a camera that shoots 8×10 film and not take it with me this trip. Even if it’s big and heavy. And weighs about a bazillion pounds.

So I’ll have that pinhole camera, but I was also considering taking the 4×5 Bollywood pinhole camera, too. I was all, “Eh,” but then decided I should take some pictures with it just to be sure that I was okay leaving it at home.

I don't even know what is going on here

Nope. It’s coming with. I love that stupid camera. At least I can store it inside the big-ass 8×10 camera.

Then I had the thought that, hey, since I’ll be taking the 4×5 pinhole camera anyway, I can try shooting some of the 4×5 Kodak High Speed Infrared film I have stashed away. Large format infrared pinhole! Woot! That’s something I have tried before, but with Efke’s IR 820 film. I was using an IR 720 filter, one of the ones that is so dark that it’s basically opaque to the human eye. Anyway, a 15 minute exposure time wasn’t long enough to produce an image, and I didn’t want to waste all my large format infrared film trying, so I gave it up. But, the Kodak HIE only requires a lighter red 25 filter, and most people seem to rate it at around ASA 125-200 with the filter, so I might be okay with my regular exposure time? I’ll probably extend it by a few seconds, just to be sure. Anyway, I’ve got enough of the HIE that I can take a few test shots before I go and see what it’s doing.

But, what do I do about a filter? I ordered a couple more step rings today so that if I need to, I can always glue a step ring to the pinhole camera and screw on my regular 52mm red 25 filter. However, I remembered that a few months ago, I ordered a set of film gels (kind of like these) that I thought might come in handy for camera stuff. The gel red looks close enough to the red 25 filter, so I figured I can cut some squares of it to tape over the pinhole when I need them.

Good enough. But then, it suddenly occurred to me that I can be using these gels in my other cameras, too.


Here’s the thing – I’ve got a lot of weirdo 35mm film. However, 35mm is my least favorite format to shoot. I’ll be taking my Nikon FM2N that is outfitted with the Lensbaby lens so I can shoot weird, Lensbaby photos using stuff like color infrared film. And I can always respool 35mm onto 127 and 120 backing paper and run that through my other cameras to get sprocket hole pictures. However, if I want to shoot respooled infrared, I was stuck using my TLR cameras, since I can get filters on those lenses. I can’t get filters on the front of my Savoy, though.

The problem with shooting respooled 35mm film in a TLR is that the sprocket holes will be on the sides of the photo, instead of on the top and the bottom. I prefer to shoot respooled 35mm film in side scrolling cameras, like the Savoy. And now, I realize, I have a way to use filters in those cameras and can shoot the weird, funky infrared respooled 35mm films, too.


All I’ve got to do is tape a small piece of the gel filter on the inside of the camera, and I’m all set to go!

My only qualm is if the plastic cameras will be infrared proof enough to not fog the film, and frankly, there’s no way for me to know that until I try it out. I know people shoot infrared with Holgas, and I think my Savoy, at least, would block light better than one of those. I’ll just have to see what happens. My plan is to just tape small pieces of gel to the camera as needed, and then remove them when I switch rolls. Then I thought that I could work on taping all the pieces of gel back to each other like a big mosaic, and maybe make a crazy flash cover out all the different color pieces! I am insane!

Since I was messing with the filters, anyway, I had the random thought to try shooting my Nikon D40 digital camera with my super-dark IR 720 filter over it.


I didn’t really expect anything, because I always had the vague notion that in order to shoot digital infrared photography, you had to disable some sort of infrared filter inside your camera. I don’t know. It never really interested me enough to find out anything about it. But, when I saw how the photos were coming out, I saw there was some potential.

Threw the picture into Photoshop, and converted it to black and white using Black and White>Lighten.


How about that? It’s almost there. Some magic with the levels…

Messing with levels, yo!

…reveals the finished picture:


Not too bad, considering it was shot with a digital camera. Here’s another one.





Interestingly, the shutter speed didn’t seem to affect much. The first photo of the Dodge Dart had a one second exposure time, and the photo of the van was hand held and only had a 1/30 second exposure time. Weird. I was especially pleased with how dark the sky looked, considering that the sky was a hazy near-white when I took the photos.

I’ll probably shoot more using infrared film, but it’s nice to know that if we don’t happen to have any infrared film loaded up, that I can approximate the infrared effect with my digital camera. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t poop out on me and break during this vacation like it did last year.

One thought on “Epiphanies!

  1. What great results!

    Gosh isn’t it ridiculously hard to choose what cameras to take away! I mean I find it difficult pretty much every day to decide what to just have with me in the car ‘just in case’ lol but traveling is something else!

    Good luck in deciding and I can’t wait to see all the fab shots you bring back šŸ™‚


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