Sargeant Drive – Mount Desert Island


Kodak HIE High Speed Infrared Film with Red #25 Filter


One of my favorite films is Kodak HIE, aka Kodak High Speed Infrared Film. Infrared film is sensitive to the infrared spectrum of light, which is invisible to the human eye. When shooting under bright sunlight, the film renders foliage in bright highlights and turns the sky a deep black. Shooting the film requires a different frame of mind because of these qualities. The film will pick up the best detail on subjects that are in direct sunlight. Areas in shade or light shadow will be extremely dark, even though your eye can see in those places just fine. Its best to slow down and focus on what parts of a subject or scene are in bright/direct sunlight and compose your shot from there.


Despite the films temperamental nature, it makes beautiful photographs. I remember shooting my first roll, developing it, and being floored by the prints I made from the negatives. When I was a junior in school, I did a semester long project that focused on infrared photography. I shot the entire project with HIE, per a recommendation from my professor. I had such a wonderful time shooting and printing with the film that it inspired me to pursue infrared photography to this day.


Unfortunately, Kodak discontinued the film in 2007. I chose to hold onto my last two rolls of HIE for as long as possible. Years passed, but I kept the film in my freezer to better preserve it. At the start of this year, I decided that it would be best to use the rolls over the summer before they go bad from being expired for too long. I brought the film with me on a trip to Acadia National Park, and used all but 15 exposures. I knew I only had seventy two shots before the end so I wanted to make every one count. I took my final HIE photograph over Thanksgiving weekend to finish my last roll. It was a bitter sweet moment in my photography. I had a fresh roll of infrared film to process, study, scan, and edit. However, I knew that I will never shoot with HIE again. It has not fully hit me yet. I imagine this truth will resonate more down the road when I want to get out there and shoot some more HIE.


I will never forget my beloved HIE. It sparked my interest in infrared photography and helped me create some of my favorite photographs. Long Live HIE.