Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Light Meter

I'm using my S90 digital point and shoot as both viewing filter and light meter. In fact it took the picture above, which is more than you can say for most light meters. I set the mode to black and white, ISO to 100 and then take the shutter speed on manual exposure and f 8 and adjust it for the film and f stop I'm really using. Let you know how it works after I process the film.

Pictures Of New Camera

In the first photos, the camera looks pretty normal. When you look at the last image, the 4X5 looks like a toy in comparison.


the camera is pretty sturdy and sets up easily. At full extension there is a little sag in the rails (you can see it in the second last picture), still very useable, but you'd need to be careful loading film. I'd probably try and avoid this much extension. As this is about 600 mm., and the longest lens I plan on using will be a 19 inch, it shouldn't be a problem.

I have ordered a backpack for it - going with the people at and I'll tell you how that turns out.

My new used camera comes with a 4X5 reducing back (as well as the 5X7) and also bag bellows. I'm investigating getting a Maxwell screen for the back.

Today, a three tube, six cap set of 8X10 BTZS processing tubes arrived. I had thought to tray process the 5X7 film but I'm not good at it and have screwed up tray processing of 4X5 any time I tried it. The BTZS will be slow - I can only process one sheet of 5X7 per tube, two tubes at a time. On the other hand, I can adjust development as I go and to suit. As development times are around 7 minutes, to processs 6 sheets will take an extra 14 minutes - not a lot to get custom developing for every single sheet.

I've been talking with other large format photographers and almost everyone is shooting digitally as well, but they continue to enjoy large format, so we'll see. It was the printing that was always a pain, trying for good prints that were reproduceable.

I'm happy with inkjet printing for the most part, but at some point I'll try contact prints, just to see - going back to how I started at age 12 making contact prints from 2 1/4 film.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shen Hao HZX57 ATII Has Arrived

Big, Beautiful, Heavy - my thoughts on first revealing the camera. It is 8 lb. 15 oz. which is pretty decent for a 5X7 (the Ebony weighs 10 lb). I can remember years ago seeing a 5X7 and thinking it must be an 8X10 so I
m not too surprised. Made of teak and titanium alloy, it is very attractive, the ground glass huge after working in 4X5. The other Shen Hao 5X7 or a Chamonix would be a lot lighter but I'm not prepared to compromise on the swings (on the lighter cameras the swing moves the ground glass off to the side thus reframing the image) - been out twice now with the 4X5 and used a swing both times.

This camera comes with a Technika board adaptor so I can swap lenses back and forth. I'll have to give some thought to transporting the camera - will need space for camera, 3 lenses, and 6 holders.

I already have a Nikkor 90, Symmar S 210 and a 14 inch R. Dot Artar in Copal - might swap that for 19 inch but we'll see. First to see if I make use of it - or do I start thinking of the 4X5 as plenty big enough.

It will be fun.

I'll post pictures soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monarch Coal Mine

On the hillside near the Atlas Coal Tipple, S. of Drumheller, Alberta.

Film Vs. Digital

I was shooting both this evening - hiked up a steep hill, so took the digital (which had a backpack), saving the view camera for some work nearer to the car. I'll need to set up a backpack for the view camera.

The digital seems almost too easy - I like the process of shooting with the view camera - of knowing what I'm doing and going to the trouble - as if somehow I'm earning the image. Whether the images will be any better remains to be seen - still haven't processed any of the film - perhaps tomorrow.

In looking at 5X7 cameras, I had seriously considered the Chamonix 5X8, but it won't take my 90 mm. Nikkor which does cover 5X7. Also, although I have never used a Phillips type camera with the two arms reaching rearwards to the back, it is quite apparent from photographs showing back tilt that in order to use back tilt, one has to swing the camera sideways a considerable amount and the camera is no longer pointing at what it had been - I think I'd find that frustrating - swing - rotate camera - swing more - rotate more - swing a little less - re-aim camera yet again... If anyone has experience with this type, I'd be interested in hearing about their experiences.

In the mean time I have purchased a used Shen Hao 5X7, the more traditional one - heavy at 8 lb. but reputed to be solid, and has the proper type of swing - which by the way, I had to use again with my 4X5 Shen Hao. I was photographing a small rusted cylinder of about two feet height, diameter a bit more than a foot and ran out of near focus with my 210 - the 5X7 extends to 610 mm. so that won't be a problem.

Again, using the 4X5 was fun. Don't know that I'll be using it to take exciting pictures, but hopefully good ones, and who knows, I might try some contact printing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Shot Film!, And Enjoyed It

Well, having had fun yesterday with the stump and not feeling I had got the best of it, I emptied out the darkroom (no mean feat itself), wiped down some surfaces and took some clean holders. I threw out all the old film (does film that was thawed in 1992 (God knows when I bought it) still work?). Anyway, I loaded six holders (12 sheets) and headed out for the stump.

I have found that for 4X5, the best tripod is my Berlebach 9043, with no head on it at all, just using the leveling centre post to aim up and down. The wood legs and metal spike feet work better than my carbon fibre Gitzo for the bigger camera. It does weigh a couple of pounds more, and by the time you place 4 inches of ball head on it, isn't as stable, but with camera right on the centre post - pretty good and quite versatile, grabbing the bottom of the centre post to position the camera.

I used both back tilt and back swing to get the plane of focus just right - actually quite fun and much easier than on a tilt shift lens on my dSLR.

I found the dark cloth a bit of a pain, either slipping down over the lens or more commonly off the camera entirely, or falling down between me and the camera - and it was hot under there (on a not especially warm day). My bifocals were a pain, only being able to do much with the bottom 1/8 inch of my progressives for  viewing. I have astigmatism so simple cheaters are not an option.

I once had a BTZS dark cloth which was small and closed at the back and elasticized round the camera - it worked perfectly with my Kardan Color - a couple of plastic clips on the metal body of the camera holding the cloth nicely in place. I might just have to do something similar to my Shen Hao 4X5.

The camera performed flawlessly with both the 135 and 210 lenses and interstingly the 210 stood in nicely for the 70-200 zoom on this occasion (ie. working from roughly the same distance).

Arrguably the fun part is now over - I have to clean the darkroom and the developing equipment thoroughly, process the film and then scan it. I made six shots, using two sheets for each shot. Perhaps I didn't need to do that since I can deal with spots and scratches in Photoshop, but you never know and it's what I always did.

I'll scan one neg from each holder at 300 dpi and consider that my 'proof sheet' from which I can then pick the negs I want to do hi res scans from.

I'll let you know how all that works out.

Of course, the obvious solution is to purchase a $40,000+ medium format digital system but like most of you, I'm doing this as an artist/hobbyist and no way can I recoup the cost of such a system. Factoring in the cost of the divorce,...

Hobbyists and artists just have to lump it and do it the hard way. Whether it will hold up to my 5D2 and have any artistic merits to the workflow remains to be seen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Never Know What You'll Find

Was on my way to photograph some industrial equipment and though it was there this morning as I returned from the farmers market - it was gone when I went out to photograph four hours later - sigh. So I headed for a city park that is entirely wild - first growth firs - but the path was closed - washouts. On my way back, I noticed a giant tree stump in the garden of a rather modern and ordinary looking church - and spent a delightful hour photographing it in the rain, looking for the best compositions.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Can You Restore?

Last Sunday, I lost the hard drive that contained the upcomging book - everything - images, portraits, texts, even the list of photographers. Fortunately I use a combination of Time Machine and a redundant array Drobo 4X 1 terabyte backup system. Although it took 24 hours to restore all 500 gig. from the lost drive, it came through perfectly. This morning, my fourth drive on the Drobo gave up the ghost, but since the backup is redundant, I simply pulled out the drive and plugged in a spare one, which happened to be twice the size of the other three, no fuss, no muss, nothing lost. It will be a day or two before the new drive is loaded and the redundancy back in force but it doesn't get much more painless than this.

Three cheers for Time Machine and Drobo.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thnking About Film - Continued

Well, I may be kidding myself, but I did pick up 100 Sheets of Ilford Delta 100 4X5 today. I won't consider any larger format till I have shot all 100 sheets, then we'll see. I might just pick up some colour negative 4X5 too for just in case.

Here's a few images from today - all could have been done with the 4X5 - just more trouble - and iffy whether it would have done any better. On the other hand, if you assume that 4X5 has about 60 megapixels of resolution, that would make 5X8 120 megapixels and it's going to be some time before I can afford a 120 megapixel camera.

Now I have to clean out the darkroom so I can load film. By the way, the middle picture is a two exposure blend, the first and last are focus blends. Wonder if I could have stopped down enough to get adequate depth of field with a 4X5.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Scott Peters Recommended, and Do I Try Large Format Again?

Have been wondering about shooting large format again, just for a change. Was checking out Chamonix cameras from China and their gallery had an image I reecognized - by Scott Peters, who shoots with 8X10 and more interestingly, with a 7X17. I highly recommend viewing Scott's website. He has some lovely 7X17 images in particular.

Of course, enlargine 7X17 is difficult. Hell, scanning it would be difficult - it really encourages you to make contact prints in the wet darkroom. I still have my darkroom - ok, it's a mess and I'd have to remove the crap now being stored in it, but it would be intriguing. Lens coverage for 17 inches wide is problematic - but oddly, old lenses like the Red Dot Artars and even new lenses like the Nikon 450 M or Fujinon C are possibilities.

Another far less expensive and much more mobile option would be a 5X7 or even 5X8, scannable for inkjet printing, even a decent contact print. The ratio isn't as extreme, nor as intriguing. Film is half a sheet of 8X10 - which is still available in colour. I'm guessing you could even get it processed using 8X10 hangers.

I'd lose focus blending, though exposure blending wouldn't be the same problem.  Perhaps the biggest issue would be losing my 70-200 with which I make a lot of my photographs - could I learn to love modest focal lengths? I'd def. have issues with the limited number of shots I could make - would it even be possible for me to change from my one good shot in one hundred formula I have found about right for the last 10 years, even before digital - simply not practical in this format? It might be too frustrating. I suspect that 5X8 could probably work with my current 4X5 lenses, 90 nikor, 210 Symmar S, doubt the Fuji 400 telephoto would work but I could pick up a 450 non telephoto and it would be a fraction of the size.

As to weight, 7X17 would definitely be more, but I'm horribly overweight and have lost 20 lb. of 100 I need to lose - surely I can lug one third of that in camera gear after the weight comes off?

5X8 with a limited selection of lenses wouldn't weigh a lot more than my 1Ds2 and camera kit when it includes my 300 - even with a modest number of film holders.

No question it would be different - I'm 60, could be I'm going senile - hope not. Last time I took out my 4X5 it reminded me of all the reasons I quit large format. I'd have to make sure I have my kit simple and reliable. I wonder....

It's all just dreams at the moment,