Using the “Sunny 16 Rule” with Black and White Infrared film can be a magical experience for photographers. From shooting it to processing it and finally to printing an image the beauty of this film is still astounding after over 100 years of existence.
Unlike regular black and white film, infrared allows the photographer to capture the infrared wavelength. Whether shooting flora, landscapes, street scenes or in the studio, the image always has something unexpected in it. The images produced by this film can be surreal, perplexing and beautiful. Minor White wrought, “Infrared film can produce hauntingly beautiful outdoor photographs, giving the world a moonlight appearance-the sky dark, the cloud fleecing and the green foliage unexpectedly luminous.”
Since our eyes are unable to see the infrared spectrum, films such as Kodak High Speed or Konica Infrared allows the photographer to capture this hidden light. A deep red filter added to the lens should be used. The red filter blocks out most of the visible wavelengths. The near red wavelength exposed allows for a dark sky and brilliant white clouds.
Using the “Sunny 16 Rule with Kodak High Speed Infrared: In bright sunlight on a clear day, the proper exposure for an average front-lit scene is f/16 with a shutter speed equal to the ASA of the film you are using.”
This rule applies to infrared when assigning 400 as the ASA. With the red filter on the lens a two (2) stop exposure compensation must be added. The ASA is now 100. Photograph all bright-lit scenes F/16 at 125th of a second. This is great average starting point and bracketing one to two stops will help in getting the best exposure.
Unlike other photographers who never knew exactly what they would get until it was processed, this one rule will help you to visualize your image before it has been recorded and processed on Infrared Film. With practice you will be able to visualize the image beforehand, make the correct exposure and delight in the special qualities of Infrared photography. Most photographers shoot infrared with the sun directly behind the camera and sometimes at 90 degrees. When shooting into the sun a neutral density filter (No. 8) is used along with the red filter. The “Sunny 16 Rule” still applies.
Normal processing of 13 minutes at 72 degrees in straight Kodak D76 developer will render the negatives printable. For other times and other developers please refer to the Kodak Darkroom hand guide.
Infrared photography shouldn’t be seen as something difficult to do. It is a unique photography experience with spectacular qualities that makes it a fun way to photograph landscapes, people, buildings, etc. and get result.