Twelve shots in the Rolleiflex

I received a very special roll of 120 film in the mail back in March.  It’s my first-ever roll of Kodak EIR infrared film, now known by its secondary-market name as “Aerochrome.”  I already have four rolls of color infrared film in 35mm format, but this is my first attempt to use infrared film in my 12-shot Rolleiflex 6×6 camera.

And mind you, at the cost of a roll of this film… this may be the ONLY time I ever use Aerochrome in this camera.  Or in any camera.

Aerochrome.  Rebranded Kodak EIR color infrared film in 120 format.
Aerochrome. Rebranded Kodak EIR color infrared film in 120 format.

See, Aerochrome is currently the only commercially available 120-size infrared color film in existence.  No, I’m not going to try to say that ten times fast.  But I am going to say that the neato thing with Aerochrome is that it will provide the same vivid white foliage and black skies and reddish-orange fields and turquoise water that Kodak’s 35mm EIR infrared film can provide.

Apparently in 2011, a guy named Dean Bennici got his mitts on the last batches of Kodak EIR film, and he hand-cut 120-size rolls of the stuff.  Kodak was okay with this, so long as he renamed the product and didn’t advertise it as being sold by Kodak.  Thus begat Aerochrome.

And let me tell you… this stuff is expensive.  Bencini sells a few rolls of Aerochrome on eBay every now and again – he starts the auctions at $1, but by the time the auction ends the film can sell for $100 or more.  I got lucky.  The auction for the roll I purchased ended at about $65.  Yeah, Chuck spent $65 for a roll of film that will most likely come out to twelve freakin’ shots.

Don’t judge me.

So if I’m going to do this… I have to do it right.  No question, no horsing around, no funny stuff.

And there’s only one camera in my collection that’s capable of shooting 120 film with high quality and care.  That camera is my Rolleiflex Automat MX 120 shooter.   I haven’t used it that much of late, but now’s the time to get the camera some action.  I took the Aerochrome out of the freezer (What, you don’t store your film in a freezer?  What’s wrong with you?), went into my darkroom (and by “darkroom,” I meant my bathroom at 3:00 a.m.), and loaded the Rolleiflex in total darkness.

To get the best results from color infrared film, your camera needs a filter.  After reading as much as I could about this film, and after my initial tests with a roll of 35mm color infrared stock, I applied a yellow Wratten filter to the front of the Rolleiflex shooting lens.  I estimated my targets.  ISO 400, f/16, 1:125 exposure.

This is where the fun begins.  Before I take a single picture, I say a prayer.  A prayer in which I hope that everything goes correctly, that the exposures produce amazing, brilliant shots… and if they do… then maybe there’s something here for competition season.  We shall see.

Twelve shots.  No takebacks, no excuses.  Between April 17 and 19, I took twelve pictures in the Rolleiflex.  Then I shipped the film off to McGreevy Pro Lab.  Fingers crossed.  If this works… hoo boy I will be excited for sure.  If it doesn’t…

The photos taken.  The film dropped off.

Now let me tell you a little story about McGreevy Pro Lab.  When your film is done, they e-mail you an invoice.  If the film was developable and images were achieved, the invoice just asks for payment.  But if the roll is blank or if there are no viewable images on the roll… they let you know on the invoice.

Invoice pops up in my e-mail.  Before I click the e-mail to read the invoice… I say another prayer.  Please let this work.  Please tell me I didn’t just set $65 on fire like a Jimi Hendrix guitar.

The invoice held a charge.  Images were captured and developed.  Aces.

And I know you want to see those images, don’t you?

Sure you do!

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Sweet mother of all things holy…

It worked.  It freakin’ worked.  I got twelve awesome images, and over half of them are so super-awesome that I have to share them on the blog.

And this image in particular…

Thacher Park stream.  Rolleiflex Automat MX camera with yellow filter, Aerochrome infrared film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Thacher Park stream. Rolleiflex Automat MX camera with yellow filter, Aerochrome infrared film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Two words.  Short pile.  I know there’s a place where I can enter this photograph.  I may not know exactly where… but it definitely deserves some love.

Okay, it’s official.  I love this Aerochrome stuff, and the guy who’s selling it has some fresh rolls.  Oh look, another eBay auction.

I figure if I buy at least one more roll now – and maybe a roll or two for summer, when the trees are in full bloom and the streams are flowing fast…

Yeah, you know me.  Of course you do.