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Infrared Photography - Infrared Filter - How to Develop IR Film

Updated on June 22, 2011

Infrared Photography can be both challenging and rewarding.

In this article I will discuss the use of Black and White Infrared Film.

Infrared Effects

The Sky

The sky will turn dark black with infrared film. Cloads will show up as white and you can get a very nice contrast between the cloads and the sky.

Because of the dark skys infrared film was used in some movies ot create the effect of night while shooting in the daylight.


Lakes, Rivers and other bodies of water will also be turned dark black.


The foilage of plants will turn bright white.

Infrared Filters

When shooting with infrared film you will need to use a filter to filter out the visible light or your image will just look like a normal black and white image. Different filters block different amounts of visible light giving you more or less of an infrared effect.

Orange Filters

Orange filters give a slight effect and will not be very noticeably different. Only use an Orange filter if you are looking for a subtle effect.

Red Filters

Red filters will give you a mix of infrared and visible light. The darker the red the more infrared light will be captured versus visible light.

Opaque Filters

Opaque filters will filter out visible light so you will only capture infrared light.

Opaque filters can be hard to work with as you will have troubles focusing and metering properly. You also have to make sure that your opaque filter will work with your infra-red film.


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Under ExposedCorrectly ExposedOver Exposed
Under Exposed
Under Exposed
Correctly Exposed
Correctly Exposed
Over Exposed
Over Exposed

It is very important to bracket when photographing with infrared film. Since you are not photographing normal visible light spectrum, you can not be certain of the proper exposure. To make sure that you got a properly exposed image you should take one shot at the recomended exposure, followed by additional shots at 1/3 to a full f-stop above and below.

The Infrared Light Spectrum

The infrared light spectrum is broken up into the near infrared and far infrared. Most infrared films do not go into the far infrared spectrum and only go varying degrees into the the near infrared spectrum.

If you are going to use an opaque filter you need to make sure that your film is rated higher than the light the filter blocks out.

Handling Infrared Film

Do not open the box until you are ready to use it. Infrared film is more sensitive than other films and should not be exposed to light, even when in their protective metal casing. You should load the camera in complete darkness either in dark room or by using a changing bag. When you load the camera make sure that you keep the film container so you can put the film back into the film container when you are done. You should also process the film in complete darkness.

Buy it -> Use It -> Develop It

Don't leave Infrared Film laying around. I always try to buy, use and develop my infrared film all in the same day.

If you must to store your infrared film make sure it is kept refrigurated and in its storage container.

Tips for Shooting with Infrared Film

  • Bracket!
  • Use a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field.
  • Wipe a little Wetting Agent (Hypo Clearing Agent) on the film pressure plate before loading the film.


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