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Demystifying Aerochrome: A Chat with Photographer Mark Schneider

Are you a photographer who’s looking into shooting a roll of Aerochrome? Or maybe you have a roll in your freezer and have no idea how or when to use it? You’re not the only one.

I purchased two rolls of Aerochrome from Dean Bennici, one of the few sources you can purchase Aerochrome from in 120 rolls and 4×5 sheets, and it took me 6 months to shoot a roll. After my interview with Mark Schneider, I felt comfortable enough to pull a roll out of the freezer and shoot it.

(You can read Dean’s interview with Emulsive: “I’m Dean Bennici and this is why I Shoot Film”)

I interviewed photographer Mark Schneider about shooting Aerochrome. I had a lot of questions about it, and Schneider clears up many common ones beginners have about the film in the 56-minute interview below:

The History of Aerochrome

Aerochrome was a false color infrared film packaged in formats not seen today. What was the primary reason? These rolls of film would be loaded into airplanes and helicopters for various purposes. The Department of Natural Resources and The National Park Service used the film to survey vegetation. Chlorophyl from the vegetation reflects infrared light.

Aerochrome is sensitive to the color spectrum and infrared light. With the right filter color, you can filter out a spectrum of color which yields these red/magenta colors. The healthier the vegetation, the more vibrant the colors. The film was also used as a form of aerial surveillance to filter people attempting to camouflage themselves in the woods.

Early Artistic Applications of Aerochrome

One of the earliest known photographers credited to using Aerochrome was Richard Mosse. He traveled into the Congo with this film to reveal the unseen conflict and humanitarian disasters taking place there. This is a metaphor on revealing the unseen light spectrum, infrared. This project was called “The Enclave” (2012).

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