Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More On Large Format

I was photographing the other evening, and suddenly realized that all my lenses were mounted so the name of the shutter would read right side up when the lens is mounted (technika), but that it would be infinitely easier if the f stop and shutter speeds were on the side (right preferably) so I could see them when the camera is mounted at eye level.

Spent the evening filing notches in lens boards and remounting the lenses sideways - not as aesthetically correct perhaps, but a damn site handier.

I've been using my Canon S90 for viewing and exposure metering, but it doesn't help me assess contrast so I have purchased a used spot meter.

There is an interesting series of videos on tray processing of large format film on youtube that suggests that scratch free negatives can be had with just a bit of care. Oddly, part of that is placing the negatives in a tray (in waterbath) that isn't too big so the negs. don't go all over the place. Also clip one corner of one neg. so you always know when you are back at the beginning of the pile. Hmm. would be nice to process more than two negs at a time (BTZS tubes). I'll think about it - and practice a lot, before risking good negatives.

I've been thinking that the 5X7 would make a suitably impressive camera for shooting environmental portraits and I might just get up the nerve to give this a try. Digital would be a hell of a lot easier, but I think the result would be different - will report on progress.

I now have a 5X7 Technika V (as well as the Shen Hao). Even more weight (12 lb.) but built like a tank, and with wide angle focusing knob on the outside (like the Technika 2000 and 3000, for a whole lot less. The Shen Hao is far better looking, but the Technika does have its advantages - absolutely rigid, perfectly aligned, can handle wide lenses like the 72XL or even a 55 for 4X5, and has bellows long enough to use my 450 mm. lens without an extension board. The back has a bail for opening it, and of course a rotating back. The extension rail has only a single button to press down on and it's on the left side, making extending it a lot simpler. But 12 lb. - don't think I'll be getting far from the camera with this monster.

Have been doing some scanning of the 4X5's and 5X7's. So far no 5X7 that wows me.

The BTZS darkcloth is definitely the best, if a bit hot and humid in there - have to be careful not to breathe on the ground glass or the damn thing fogs up - or even worse, the moisture gets between the ground glass and the fresnel. May have to get some snorkel gear - and I thought I looked silly already.

Had forgotten just how frustrating cable releases are - designed to fall off, or break off, yet fiddly enough you hate having to screw one on for every change in lens - so I leave them on, and they break, and they fall. Am about to find out if they rust, having dropped one in the stream I was standing in.

It was only after photographing that I even gave thought to the image being upside down in the ground glass - didn't even notice as I was shooting - mind you I'd shot with a view camera for a number of years - just not in the last few.

I had kept purchasing View Camera magazine, which seemed pointless at the time, yet hard to let go - guess it was prescient.

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