Last Updated on 02/07/2017 by Chris Gampat
Lead Photo by Steve Harwood. Used with Creative Commons Permission
A new online petition on Change.org is appealing to Kodak to bring back yet another film emulsion: Kodak Infrared Ektachrome. This film is not to be confused with Kodak Aerochrome–which we’ve featured very prominently on this website. Kodak discontinued the film along with a lot of their infrared films due to people just not buying it–as is the case with lots of films being discontinued. However, with a new generation of photographers starting out in digital and then picking up film afterwards coming to the fore, Infrared film may have a new home soon.
The petition reasons that since Kodak Ektachrome is coming back, that this film should too.
According to the petition:
With film sales continuing to rise, film manufactures reviving older films which were previously discontinued, and the announcement of Kodak’s re-release of Ektachrome for 2017, photographers worldwide are taking an interest into more analog processes for their image making. Since Kodak’s famous infrared color film IR-Ektachrome (an alternative stock: Aerochrome III) was discontinued in the 2000’s, the use of infrared (IR) photography has had to be limited to using digital equipment, or only black and white IR film. The infrared Ektachrome produces an image unparalleled to any current IR film or digital equipment.
They make a good point: there are a lot of photographers using digital to get the infrared look but nothing and no amount of presets can really deliver that good old analog look. Kodak Infrared Ektachrome would be a nice addition though we understand it will be expensive.
So what’s so special about this film? Infrared imagery is often rendered in black, white, and grey; nothing more. But Kodak Aerochrome took greens and turned them into shades of purple, red and pink. Kodak Infrared Ektachrome did something similar. To process the film, the lab tech used the A-5 process or E-6. “Process AR-5 is recommended where comparisons to historical data are desired,” states a Kodak Infrared Ektachrome PDF. “While Process E-6 will provide meaningful results, the higher contrast and color saturation may affect interpretation as compared to this film’s predecessor.”
The other problem is that the film is apparently delicate and is more easily affected by temperature and environmental changes. This sounds a lot like modern day CineStill film–especially with 800T.
Here’s how Kodak Infrared Ektachrome works:
“As indicated in Figure 2, all three layers are inherently sensitive to blue radiation. To limit the exposure of each layer of color infrared film to only its intended spectral region, a yellow filter (minus blue), such as a KODAK WRATTEN Gelatin Filter No. 12 (or equivalent), is always used over the camera lens. With the yellow filter in place, the layers act as though they are sensitive only to green, red, and infrared (all blue radiation is absorbed by the filter). The grey areas in the top portion of Figure 2 illustrate exposed areas of silver halide from each of the spectral bands reflected from the original scene. Thus, three separate negative silver records are formed.
Where there is no exposure, reversal processing will yield cyan dye in the infrared-sensitive layer, yellow dye in the green-sensitive layer, and magenta dye in the red-sensitive layer. The amount of dye formed is inversely proportional to the exposure. The bottom portion of Figure 2 illustrates the dye formation and resulting colors after exposure and processing. Infrared radiation appears as red, which is the result of yellow dye formation in one layer, magenta dye formation in a second layer, and the absence of cyan dye. Green reproduces as blue—the result of cyan and magenta dye formation and the absence of yellow dye. Red reproduces as green—the result of cyan and yellow dye formation and the absence of magenta dye. Blue in the original subject has not been recorded because of the filter, and is therefore rendered as black. Numerous other colors will be formed, depending on the proportions of green, red, and infrared reflected or transmitted by the original subject.”
Let’s hope that this gets done!
You can check out the petition here if you’re interested in also bringing back Kodak Infrared Ektachrome.
And if you’d like to know more about Kodak Aerochrome please check out our various interviews here. One of these photographers, Daniel Zvereff, will be featured in our upcoming analog photography zine: so please donate to our project!