Frugal Photographer
Photographic enlargements without grain

Bluefire™ high-resolution film and chemistry

Bluefire Police, 135-24

Bluefire Police 35mm film

Bluefire Police 135-24


Your price $8.98 USD

[Item: BP13524]

Bluefire HR developer, dry powder mix, 1 litre

Bluefire HR developer package

High resolution developer, 1 litre


Your price $8.49 USD

[Item: BHR1L]

Bluefire Micro brand developer, dry powder mix, 1 litre

Bluefire Micro developer

High contrast developer, 1 litre


Your price $8.49 USD

[Item: BMI1L]
Process Bluefire™ Police at home

Bluefire Police is microfilm, perforated and packaged for use in conventional 35mm cameras

Originally a surveillance film, meant to be used for positive identification at a distance, Bluefire Police was offered to general photographers for the first time in 2002.

It was reviewed in the July 11, 2005 issue of Amateur Photographer, Great Britain's weekly photo magazine, by the legendary Geoffrey Crawley, who called it

"...an exciting new b&w material capable of outstanding image quality, especially in the definition of the finest detail."

Microfilms are essentially grainless; they have granular properties, as all silver halide films do, but the grains are so small that they are not visible, even under extreme enlargement.

But this comes at a price, which is imposed by the laws of physics: as a film's grain size goes down, its contrast goes up. The conventional use for microfilms, which is to make microscopic copies of black and white documents (for example, the entire Bible - Old and New Testament, 1245 pages in all - reduced to the size of a postage stamp), is a demonstration of this inescapable fact.

Pictorial-contrast images from high-contrast film

Problem: you're a full city block away and you want a photograph that can be enlarged to the extent that you can positively identify a person.

Solution: a high-quality 180mm lens, a strong tripod, and Bluefire Police film, developed in Bluefire HR developer.

let's see a demonstration ...

Distant details photographed with Bluefire Police film

A condominium building under construction in 2002, photographed with a 180mm lens at f/8 from one city block away. A painter is visible, taking a break on a balcony.

extreme enlargement from Bluefire Police film

At this extreme of enlargement, the lens is beyond its resolution limit (the man's face is identifiable, as is the distinctive shoulder tattoo, but they have no detail), yet no detail is being lost to grain.

Most 35mm negatives begin to lose detail to grain when enlarged to 8x10 or 11x14 inches, or about 10x to 12x enlargement. The portion of the image shown above is enlarged to approximately 35x.

Question: how many bolts are used to fasten the balcony rail to the wall?

Extreme enlargement of detail in Bluefire Police image

You are seeing something normally impossible to see, the head of a bolt approximately 3/4 of an inch in diameter, from a city block away.
This is an enlargement of approximately 250x. The lens can only resolve it as a vague shape with a shadow. And there is still no apparent grain.

Gorilla photographed with telephoto lens

The image above was cropped from a head-and-shoulders photograph taken at the Calgary Zoo. The image below is an extreme enlargement of the same image, showing the gorilla's nose and lip.

Enlarged detail showing gorilla's whiskers

Donge, photographed at the Calgary Zoo, using a high-quality 180mm f2.8 lens at a distance of approximately 60 ft (20m). The film, Bluefire Police, has essentially no visible grain, making it possible to capture detail that is ordinarily impossible to record.

A sad followup, from The Calgary Herald, August 14, 2007
Donge, a 22-year-old western lowland gorilla that had been at the zoo since she was three years old, was put to sleep Friday. She had been suffering from an inflammatory intestinal disease, called diverticulitis, for years and never quite recovered from her last surgery.
"From the last surgery she had probably ten days ago now, she was not bouncing back and her condition worsened," Garth Irvine, the zoo's gorilla keeper, told CTV Calgary on Monday. "It was a struggle to get medications into her and a struggle to get food into her, she just continued to get worse."
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