Film Photos & Projects

Rollei IR400 Infrared Film – First Roll – By Maxwell Wagner

April 22, 2020

I’ve been shooting film for almost 5 years now and was very lucky to have a father that introduced me to film photography – one of the greatest lessons he’s taught me is the intertwining of photography basics and the spirit of science. To that end, I thought I’d share one of my favourite film projects to date. For a while now I’ve been fascinated by the look of Infrared (IR) film.

Rollei IR 400 + Hasselblad 500cm w/ 50mm/f4

I was working in Los Angeles for a month and had some free time to do some sight-seeing. With google at my finger-tips, I began to devise my experiment. However, there were some questions needing answers: When? Where? How? What else do I need? Will it work?

Los Angeles, Post-Apocalypse

Whether it’s the archaic style, a post-apocalyptic feel at times, or just the fact it senses a different wavelength of light – I thought it was cool.

First View of Griffith Observatory


Just by looking at other film enthusiast’s IR work, it was clear that the drama of the image came from the contrasting clouds and the blue sky behind. This turned out to be my biggest timing issue, LA doesn’t get cloudy as often as I thought…


This was pretty easy, The Griffith Observatory. I thought of the coolest place I had yet to explore and if the setting would work for the look I was hoping to achieve.


I had purchased a roll of Rollei Infrared 120 film and pre-emptively loaded up my Hasselblad. A week or so later, an early evening sky had some clouds coming in from the west. I grabbed my bag and began the hike up through Griffith Park.

For the gear heads, I decided to go with my 50mm wide-angle lens and a Red #25 filter (in lieu of not having a dedicated IR filter – seemed to work for me) for the film. I used my spot meter every other shot as I was walking around, knowing the light was changing fairly quickly as the sun was setting.

Example of the limited dynamic range when shooting towards the sun.

A couple of things I learned: Don’t shoot directly into the sun with IR film, the dynamic range of the film is not as vast as your TMAX-100. Although I develop at home, I didn’t want to risk botching the film processing – so I decided to take this roll to The ICON Film Lab in LA, and I’m glad I did!

Also, take your time – some shots that I’m most proud of were only possible by waiting for other tourists to move out of the way.

Overall, I think I have found a new artistic avenue when it comes to film photography. However, at $9 a roll it will have to be for specific projects until I can afford to shoot it frequently.

Thanks for reading, and don’t stop shooting!

-Max Wagner

Follow on Instagram – @maxwellsilverhalide

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  • Reply
    April 22, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your images. I really like the frist four images, the sky and the contrast are really amazing (the Zeiss lens of the Hasselblad shines). These are the first IR-film images I really like.

  • Reply
    Ken Burg
    April 22, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Great work! I was only surprised that none of the greenery was rendered as white.

    • Reply
      Maxwell Wagner
      April 22, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      Appreciate it, I think the greenery would be white had I used an IR filter instead of red.

  • Reply
    Babak Farshchian
    April 23, 2020 at 10:53 am

    These are really beautiful photos Maxwell. Congrats! I wonder, was there a reason you did not develop them yourself? What are the risks? Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Maxwell Wagner
      April 23, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks! I was from out of town and didn’t have the chemistry. Also, seeing as it was my first try with IR, I thought I’d let the professionals develop it so I could tell what was exposed properly or not. Otherwise, I develop all my film at home.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Max. I love your shots. I’ve tried Rollei IR twice and got mixed results. My main issue is over exposing the sky. Can you go into more detail on how you metered your pictures? Did you use a separate light meter or the one in your camera? Also, is it developed the same way as normal black and white?

    • Reply
      Maxwell Wagner
      April 23, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks, Robert – I used a handheld light meter and took readings from the sky and shadows to find a good EV range. I exposed more for the sky, just making sure the highlights are not ‘blown out’. Developed the standard as black and white.

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