Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved



Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More


24 Jan 2022 7:00AM   Views : 611 Unique : 358


Halation was, at one time, the bugbear of against-the-light photography. It wrecked the images that flare didn’t… As it doesn’t happen with digital, maybe some explanation is necessary. Here goes.
Film isn’t completely opaque, so light can go straight through the emulsion, and then reflect around between the emulsion layer and the backing material, whether it’s film or glass. It’s easiest to imagine the effect with a sheet of glass, which has significant thickness: as the light bounces back and forth between the back of the emulsion and the opposite surface of the substrate, it spreads out.

In other words, it’s a soft-focus-like spreading out of highlights Awful if you’re aiming for technically accuracy, but capable of being quite beautiful with the right shot and the right film. Light and airy and lovely.
And there’s a way to kill it – or, at the least, cut it down a good deal. Applying a light-absorbing dye layer to the back of the film does the job nicely, and in some cases, this is obvious in processing: the dye stains the developer and it comes out a very different colour from how it went in – not just a little bit brown!

The best-known example of a film that suffers from halation is the much-lamented Kodak High Speed Infrared black-and-white film. It achieved a considerable following from those willing to put up with temperament in their emulsions – both exposure and development were challenging, I found. Maybe the most famous exponent was Simon Marsden, who used HSIR for pictures of haunted castles, but I found Kathy Harcom’s gentle landscapes, often hand-tinted, were magical. Marsden died several years ago, but KH is alive and well, it seems.

Halation has most of the same characteristics as flare, but is more localised, as it’s an effect that relies on light spreading through the emulsion, rather than bouncing around in front of the film (or sensor). Because a sensor is utterly different in construction and operation from film, it just doesn’t happen in digital imaging, although I suspect that it’s relatively easy to replicate in digital processing (that’s an invitation to the clever processors to tell us all how…)

EfKe, now defunct, produced an infrared emulsion that replicated HSIR’s characteristics – I bought two or three rolls, but didn’t use them all… Maybe the remaining roll will entertain me in the Spring. I found a satisfactory alternative for my own work in Rollei 80S, not a true infrared emulsion, but with extended red sensitivity that gives the pale skin tones that I particularly like from this kind of material. But halation is as well controlled as on any normal modern film.


Recent blogs by dudler

Focus scales

If you’ve been taking pictures since before autofocus arrived, you’ll be very familiar with focus scales – they are one of the primary controls on an old-school camera, and just one more of the things that you really needed to get right. With autof...

Posted: 27 Dec 2022 7:01AM

Porcelain processing

People commented on the look in my last post and it seems like a good idea to share the secrets for Christmas. I learned the technique several years ago: a model’s boyfriend told me about it, and a website that described it in detail: I tried it, l...

Posted: 23 Dec 2022 10:47AM

You develop your own films don’t you?

If you have your own darkroom, or if you use film cameras regularly, there are always a few people who mention the attic. As in ‘Grandpa’s cameras are in the attic. I don’t even know if they have film in them!’ This leads me to ask if I can have a l...

Posted: 16 Aug 2022 11:17AM

Choose your pond

There’s an old saying about being a big fish and a little pond. Do you want to be the most important person in a small organisation, or are you content being a relatively small cog in a big machine? It’s the same in photography. With relatively mo...

Posted: 3 Jun 2022 2:25PM

Graduated filters

This is for Hannah, and anyone else who has come across the casual way that a lot of togs talk about one or two types of filter that landscaper photographers use a lot: graduated filters and neutral density filters. A graduated filter is one that i...

Posted: 25 Apr 2022 12:18PM


dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
24 Jan 2022 7:01AM
The cover shot on Kathy Harcom's book shows exactly why the Kodak IR film was so much loved - and why her pictures are wonderful.
bluesandtwos Avatar
bluesandtwos 13 544 1 England
24 Jan 2022 8:38AM
Thank you John, I hadn't heard of either photographer but their pictures are stunning, other wordly and beautiful.
I may well see if I can track down some second hand books! Smile

PaulCox Avatar
24 Jan 2022 10:25AM
Quote “bluesandtwos”:-
“Thank you John, I hadn't heard of either photographer but their pictures are stunning, other wordly and beautiful.
I may well see if I can track down some second hand books!”

Likewise not heard of these two, but have struggled with IR using a Digital Camera, so just before Christmas bought my self an early present a 590Nm converted Lumix GF1, which has proved great compared to using IR filters on a standard digital body. I could never achieve good IR results using them and processing in Lightroom or Photoshop. The results with the converted body look more like those in the Kathy Harcom link, which I think are fantastic.

Thanking you for another great Blog and links. Paul.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
24 Jan 2022 10:42AM
Using filters on the lens without having the one on top of the sensor removed is hard work, and needs a tripod… A converted camera offers great opportunities - though having all filters removed (a full spectrum conversion) on a mirrorless body offers most options.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.