Shooting Aerochrome by Joel Tonks

Introducing our new "Featured" series! Kicking the series off with a stunning feature by Joel Tanks shooting with Aerochrome. We first met Joel from our first photowalk event and recently reached out to him to share a piece of his experience with our readers. Keep reading if you want to know more about this unique film type and Joel's journey in shooting film! 


Hi! I'm Joel, I'm a visual artist currently living in Sydney. I was first introduced to film photography when I moved to Sydney in 2015 for work after uni. My job involved assisting with the technical aspects of a visual arts faculty, including preparing chemicals for the darkroom. Before this, I had only shot digital, except for a bit of film as a kid in the 90s. It wasn't too long before I was seduced by the slow gratification of the darkroom. Pulling fresh negatives out of the developer and seeing silver crystals forming an image in the emulsion is a magic that never gets old. 

As I had easy access to Ilford films and developers, I mainly started off shooting black and white, hence the name @silverandsunlight. As I got into shooting colour film, it quickly became about shooting ALL the colour films. Aerochrome was truly the unicorn of films. 

Aerochrome is a false-colour infrared sensitive film originally developed for aerial surveillance which went out of production in 2011. It essentially renders infrared light as red, red light as green, and green light as blue. To get the strong colours you have to use either a yellow or orange filter. 

I shot this roll on a hike up Mt. Canobolas near Orange NSW a few weeks ago. A huge bushfire came through here two years ago and there is heavy regeneration on the eucalyptus trees and other native plants, so I thought it would be worth to use my only roll of Aerochrome to capture the contrast between the fire destruction and the new emerging life. I was planning on driving up to the summit, but the road was closed due to early snowfall. My friend Alex (wearing the shorts) joined me on the hike.

As we got higher up the mountain and into the clouds, the winds got icy cold and the mist became denser. Aerochrome becomes less sensitive with increased altitude, so I adjusted my exposure 1/3 of a stop for every 300m. At the summit of the mountain at 1400m, the iconic Canobolas radio towers peered out from the cloud, which can be seen from all over the region. There was a brief break in the cloud and I managed to capture a patch of blue sky, which contrasts the infrared-reflecting foliage on the ground. 

I plan on spooling some more 35mm Aerochrome soon, so watch this space! Also check out @joeltonks on instagram if you want to follow my painting, ceramics, and interactive electronics adventures.


Connect with Joel!

Instagram: @silverandsunlight & @joeltonks
All images shown in this post is provided to us by Joel Tonks.

Leave a comment