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The Art of Color Infrared Photography Paperback – November 1, 2001
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changed favourably with further reading. It illustrates well
almost all of the points to consider when using current color
infrared films from Kodak.
There are some grave errors in the book, however. Three key
diagrams that illustrate the radiation from heated objects
are misconcieved (probably by the 'artist') and suggest that
they emit almost as much X-rays and cosmic radiation as visible
and UV light. The correct appearance is given by the Planck
radiation law, which has been known for almost a century.
This section describes the electromagnetic light spectrum and details the
history of Color Infrared film. It is interesting to note that this film
has only been around for about 40 years and the new version for only several
years. Unlike many other areas of photography where everything has been done
before, CIR (color infrared ) is a relatively new medium that has not been
Dispels some of the more popular myths about IR photography such as "IR
photography can record heat" This is of course not true and the author
drives this and other points home.
Section # 3
Starts off with a couple of nice film characteristic curves that show why
CIR film has such a narrow exposure latitude compared to conventional slide
films. This section then goes on to describe how the film creates false
colors; its a little technical, but most photographers should be able to
grasp the concepts. This section also has a few side by side examples of
AR-5 vs. E6 processing, Images shot in full sun vs. partially shaded, pushed
and normal development. There are a few points on page 28 that I
disagree with, namely the author says it is imperative that the film is
loaded and unloaded in complete darkness. This is very conservative advice.
Most of the time you can get away with loading and unloading in dim light.
I have personally had this film get the first 3 or 4 frames fogged when I
loaded it in bright sunlight, so his advice is good, but maybe a little
frightening for first time users of this film. Secondly the author says he
packs his film in checked baggage in leadlined bags for airline trips. This
is a definite no no. Take your film as a carry on item and have them hand
check it or go through the x-ray scanner. Lead bags will only arouse
suspicion in today's terrorist world, causing x-ray operators to rescan the
baggage at a higher x-ray dosage. However it is interesting to note that the
author has done this and not experienced any fogging from x-rays.
Section 4 deals with Basic Color and Light Theory. Additive and Subtractive
Colors are discussed as well as color contrast and how to apply these
theories to CIR film. Might be a bit boring if you are an experienced pro
but it is a good foundation to those new to CIR.
Section 5 deals with working with filters and there are some good side by
side examples of how polarizes, neutral, Color correction, and be&w
filters can be used with CIR film. I wish there were more examples of how
different color filters effect CIR images, but it gives the reader an idea
of what to expect.
Section 6 talks about getting the colors you want. He talks about shooting
on overcast days, using outdated film and pushing the film
Section 7 is a very interesting section that deals with how different light
sources affect CIR photography. It is similar to Laurie White's book that
deals with this same subject matter. I especially enjoyed seeing the
various comparisons of Mac Beth Color Charts shot under different light
sources. However please note that on page 69 there is a typo. The captions
for the Fluorescent light and Tungsten light pictures should be switched
around. The author also has a few studio shots done with CIR film that are
very interesting since it is such an unusual choice to do studio photography
Section 8 Putting It all Together is my personal favorite. It gives
practical advice on using this film for portraits and studio still life's
and how different makeup turns different colors. The resulting pictures
remind me of cross processed fashion pictures, but are different enough to
be exciting. This section ends discussing one of the most popular "fine
art" uses of CIR film, landscape photography.
Section 9 is a series of Waterlillies pictures which are very well done.
There is a huge waterlillies garden in Franklin NC that I take pictures of
every year, I think it is the largest in the USA. This will inspire me to
take some CIR shots next year.
Section 10 is a portfolio of his CIR work, composed mostly of people and
The book then finishes off with a summary and list of Appendices....
Speaking as a professional photographer, I found the text to be straight forward and not garnished with techno-speak designed only to show the reader how much the author knows about the subject. Rather, the text aptly tells you what you need to know to get you started and achieve your desired results.
The images illustrate Begleiter's points and demonstrate the artistic and technical possibilities any photographer can achieve when applying infrared film to either a professional assignment or a personal project.
If you want to add this film to your arsenal of techniques and you wait to learn how to use it by reading the notes that accompany the film, then you have waited too long. Begleiter's theme is that you should first understand the film, how it works and how to use it, and then apply it where it will give you a fresh look that represents your interpretation of the scene.
There is no question that infrared film can be over-used and mis-used. To his credit, Begleiter doesn't shove his opinions down the reader's throat, respecting his readers enough to let them make their own decisions about using the film and letting them enjoy the experience of learning for themselves.