Archive for April, 2010

Dialing it in ………

I’m finally starting to see results from my Autocord. I bought it on E Bay for an amazing price. The camera is like new, not even scratches on the flash bracket……..

One thing though, was the focusing. Focusing was VERY stiff and I knew that the focusing lever on these cameras was it’s one weak spot. They break easily and are very hard to repair. I brought the camera to Stan at International Photo and told him about the stiffness and also to do a C L A (clean, lube and adjustment). When I picked up the camera, it worked like a charm. Focus was smooth, shutter and f stop lever worked well. A few days later, the focus was stiff again. Stan told me to bring it back and he’d take a look. I left it with him and picked it up a week later. Focus was amazing. Two days later, stiff again. This was a puzzle and Stan told me to bring it in once more. He looked at it and was puzzled. I don’t think he believed me when I told him it was stiff again so when he saw it for himself, he was surprised. I left it with him again and he decided to strip the entire mechanism and rebuild it from scratch. The focus is like velvet, even now.

Also, during this time I had shot a few pics to try it out. My first roll came out with the negatives covered in scratches……

All the rollers in the camera were rolling smoothly so I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I mentioned it to Stan when he did the focus repair and all I can say is that I have no more scratched negatives.

The next obstacle was to dial in the proper exposures and learn to read the light meter and the scene. My first attempts resulted in really ugly tones and contrasts.

This was a tricky time. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on and I had lot’s of pictures that were like this.  When I finally started to adjust, I went way over to the other end, too much contrast and ended up with photos like this…………………..

My first set of reasonable shots were taken in Montreal. On a sunny, snow filled scene I managed to get this shot………………….

I was pleased with this since it was so bright and the light reflecting off the snow made it hard to figure out the exposure.

My next set of problems was shooting with close up lenses attached to the camera. I was using them to create some intense bokeh but the flare was horrific. ……

I had to figure out where this was coming from. Was it the camera ????? After asking questions on many forums I finally figured out why this happened. I had put the viewing close up lens on the taking lens of the camera and the taking close up lens on the viewing lens of the camera. There is a prism in the viewing close up lens that corrects for parallax error. That is a problem that any cameras that do not view through the taking lens. The closer you get to the subject, the offset of the viewing lens to the taking lens becomes more apparent and what you see in the viewing lens is not what the taking lens is recording. Anyhow, the prism was causing majour flare in the taking lens. problem finally solved.

I took a few more rolls and they progressivley improved (at least I think so)  ………

Contrast was great, focus was good. I was very pleased.  A few more shots on the same roll were very good as well.

My last two rolls were GREAT , as far as I am concerned. I have dialed in the exposure, getting close to optimum developing times and the orange filter is producing exactly what I want…..

The last roll was even better as far as I am concerned. The sharpness is great, focusing great, exposure good and developing getting there……………and I LOVE the contrast

It took awhile and lots of frustration (where I currently am with my Crown Graflex) but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What I am starting to think is that all these challenges are what’s keeping me interested in shooting film. With my Crown Graflex, I am just starting to solve all the issues and if you’ve read my previous entry, you’ll see all the things that you need to keep track of. One thing, as each photo gets better, it makes you want to get out and shoot even more.

I hope to produce images like this in large format. I just need to keep at it.

When I first started shooting with it I found scratches on the negative and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from.

April 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Large Format – A Love / Hate Relationship

I belong to an online photo management and sharing application called Flickr. It’s a great place to get answers to technical questions, get critiqued on your photos and make contact with other photographers. As I have mentioned here, I have been slowly immersing myself in the world of large format photography and have documented stupid mistakes I have made while trying to take photos. A friend I had met on Flickr (and gone on photo shoots with) provided a link to endless errors large format photographers make.

If you want to browse the actual location it is here.

I have edited the list here but left the Flickr names of the members at the beginning of each entry. If you link to the site you can click on any of the contributors to see their work.

The originator of the discussion is Berin Loritsch and he starts off with;

“I have a love/hate relationship with large format photography. I think I have made enough mistakes to fill a book. As far as operating a LF camera, it’s easy to appreciate the creative freedom that it provides. Although if composing a picture on the ground glass was all that was needed, life would be good. It’s when you have to deal with everything about film handling and exposure that you really appreciate all that your small format camera does for you–film or digital.

 Here’s the challenge, let’s see if we can come up with a complete 101 ways for messing up a LF picture. I’ll get the ball rolling:

1. Load the film backwards in the film holder
2. Load the film in front of the retaining rails so that when you pull the dark slide out, the film falls into the camera. (that was embarrassing).
3. Pull the dark slide out before you switch off the preview mode on the lens.
4. Use the numbers from a meter that only gives you EV100 values when you have ISO 25 film. Really dark negatives.
5. Shoot a really low contrast scene and forget to push development. You get negatives that don’t have enough contrast even when printing grade 5.

Michael Costolo
6. Put empty film holders in your bag (only to find out they are empty when you go to develop).
7. Not flipping the darkslide over after a shot and then not being able to determine which sheet you exposed.

Berin Loritsc
8. Forgetting to compensate for bellows draw on closeups
9. Forgetting to compensate for reciprocity failure for long exposures

10. Forget to tighten the controls and have your composition go down the drain when you insert the film holder (of course you realize the mistake only once you develop the film).

11. Forgetting to wind on the roll film back and making a double exposure.
12. putting roll film in the 6×12 back the wrong way round, then wondering where all the frame numbers went. Fortunately I realized and didn’t try to shoot backing paper.

13. When using several holders with different films (b/w, colour…), forget to take note while loading – and then not remember which film is in which holder.

14. Always remember to clean out the film holders before inserting a new sheet of film. I’ve messed up more than a few negatives with dust.

Rob Cruickshank
16. Pull the Grafmatic right out of the back, instead of changing sheets.

17. load two sheets into the holder, both backwards.
18. forget to change the lens apeture and speed when changing the lens.

and so on…

tALSit de CoD
19. Pulling off the WRONG darkslide when about to take a shot and ruining a great shot… 

Ray Pempengco
20. Forgetting to bring either a loupe, cable release, or a tripod (or all of the above).

21. Lose track of which film is in the holder (getting mixed up in pencil inscriptions on the holders), eventually shooting black and white when you thought this was velvia…
22. Forgetting to turn dark slide after loading the holders, getting confused, and paying E6 development of unexposed sheets…

Mr. E.
23. scratching/bending film when it doesn’t want to come out of the holder easy.
24. forgetting to change ISO on your meter when shooting different speeds.

25. loading multiple sheets into the same Expert drum slot for developing
26. shooting film at the wrong speed after carefully labeling film holders
27. forgetting to close down the lens
28. trusting old beater shutters which were wildly inaccurate
29. light leaks on a homemade lens board
30. lensboard not secured and lens jumped into a lake
31. taking spot readings with my fancy meter in incident mode
32. fingerprints on film from clumsy loading 

Paul Vernon Photography
33. using so damn much front tilt that the edge of the image circle runs across the middle of the frame.

Paul Vernon Photography
34. Set tripod up temporarily with legs still collapsed. Put 4×5 field camera on top of tripod. While rummaging in bag for lens, use big butt to knock tripod and camera over into rushing stream. Spend rest of day drying out camera.

35. Forgetting to reverse the darkslide when sliding it back into the holder after taking to picture to indicate an exposed sheet .
36. Unexpected double-exposures

37. Lose grip on darkslide in the wind and watch darkslide sail away.
38. Bump camera unknowingly and make exposure 20° to the left.

38. Load the holder with a sheet of film only to discover when you go to develop the sheet, the backing paper was loaded into the holder too.

39. Forget to drop the bed when using a wide angle lens and get blessed with fuzzy stuff in the foreground of every shot

40) Assume that what is in focus with the rangefinder is in focus on the film 

missing number 15 in a list of 101 things that can go wrong

so i’ll do it now, out of order
15. forgetting which box you have stored your exposed sheets of film in, waiting to be processed, and opening a box of film thinking it is the box you keep processed velvia slides in….

Tim Johnson
41. Having two unopened boxes of Type 55 in the fridge – finding it difficult to make the decision on which first and last project to shoot with this classic film.

42. Being so afraid of the wasting precious large format materials that you let purchased film expire instead of shooting it.
43. Failure to fully re-insert the envelope on a Polaroid packet into the holder before pulling it through the processing rollers.
44. Forgetting to switch the Polaroid 545 holder over to “process” mode before pulling the envelope while the holder is in your hand.

Sandeha Lynch
45. Kick tripod without realising it.
46. Somebody else kicks tripod while you were searching for the cable release.

47. Insist on hand inspection (in dark-loading bag) and almost get laughed out of Schipol Airport (Amsterdam). The security genius followed my instructions, but left the film box open in the bag when he was done!!

47. When using quickload holders, don’t pull the darkslide out enough and get a cropped image.
48. Using a wide angle lens, carefully take a picture of your cable release.

49. Count seconds by Mississippi’s because you forgot your watch.

Berin Loritsch
50. Your cable release gets stuck because you bought a cheap Chinese release… only to find out that the release works differently than you thought.

51. Today’s screwup: Change lenses but still set everything up as though it were the other lens (went from a 90mm to 135mm, but looked at the DOF for 90mm and used the viewfinder set for 90. Grrrr)

Rob Cruickshank
52. forget to set the focal plane shutter on the Speed Graphic to “O”
53. Set the shutter to “T” when you mean “B” and turn a 5 second exposure into an indeterminately long exposure.

Berin Loritsch
54. buy outdated color film, but forget to compensate for speed loss… On the bright side, the home development went well and the color balance was good.

Ben Rains
55. Having holes in your camera bellows that cause secondary pinhole images to show up on your film.
56. Not being careful enough with your film development agitation and having your negatives come out unevenly developed.

57. Mis-labeling your film holders so that you think you are shooting black and white, when instead you are shooting color, and then subsequently developing those color negatives in b&w chemicals… oh and it’s 8×10 film.

58. Having you stopwatch malfunction (OK it was me) 3 times in a row on 12-15 sec exposures!. I was actually using my cell phone as a stopwatch–it has a stopwatch function, but it was a pain in the butt to use,

59. get lazy, and don’t drag your camera with you, don’t even go out … this has messed up untold shots for me!

Ben ©
60. Buying film then getting so broke you need to sell it.
61. Forget your tripod plate and have to hand hold the camera.

Cristiano Abreu
Been there myself… traveling more than 100 kms to shoot with a F2 monorail, just to find that I forgot the tripod on the floor of my room 😦 that’s what I gain from sleeping too little

My history of goof-ups has been to forget to change back the ISO setting on the lightmeter for different films and underexpose the negative, pulling the DS before cocking the shutter with the preview lever opened (normally manageable by estimating a new time and re-exposing the shot if the overall exposure was long enough in the first place), and
62. taking the holder out of the bag accidentally by pulling the DS, which was not secured due to a loose pin, and partially exposing the neg before sliding it back again in hastiness.

Al Graham
63. Drill the hole for the shutter’s locator pin in such a way that it gets covered when you open the aperture to set up your shot, then uncovers a bit when you turn the aperture down to shoot.

Mr. E.
64. Shoot at an out of town location, wandering around. Instead of putting finished exposed holder in your ass pocket or back in your bag leaving it on the ground and not realizing until you get home and go to develop. Was one of my few good holders too…

65. From yesterday: Realize after two sheets that today’s loaded holders do not follow the usual convention of “black side unexposed, white side exposed”. So, change to proper system for holders 2 and 3. But holder 4, already in the bag, had the correct system. So which is which? Bound to have two blank sheets. Grrr

66. take the wrong tripod head to location and get stuck finding a way to fit a LF camera to a MF head. sighhh… will the stupidity end? Probably not.

67. Try using a Quickload holder and realize that the release button must be depressed before any pulling happens and thereby yank off the metal slide that holds the envelope closed. Hello, over exposed $3 film sheet.

68. (tonight’s other screw-up) Forget which of the three infinity stops is the right one for a given lens and end up with out of focus sheets (difficult to focus on the GG in the dark). A whole evening for naught!

69.Deciding to start shooting at 11 pm when tired is silly, and possibly .

70. the ground glass is dark, so you open up the lens, but it’s still dark, and then you realize you just made a double exposure on an already inserted, and open film holder.

71. Insert your film holder and pull out the darkslide, then cock the focal plane shutter on your Speed Graphic. Then realize that cocking the focal plane shutter will expose the film as the slit winds past.

72. buy a LF camera but fail to buy any film holders for it.
73. forget to tighten the front standard and the first few frames are spot on while everything else gets that fuzzy foreground effect increasing more and more.

74. Get frustrated with your Polaroid holder, and start slamming things a little too hard so you end up knocking the camera out of whack. (Shift and Swing the rear). 
-or phrased differently-
Not being cautious while inserting things into the camera and accidentally changing the swing and shift.

75. shooting handheld with my Graflex 4×5 and in a hurry put the dark slide in my trousers front pockets, the scene needed a lower pov and as soon as I bend my knees I cracked the darkslide in two (I had only 2 holders at the time)….
76. pulling a holder out of my messenger bag and finding only a darkslide in my hand and a open holder in my bag (curse those loose fidelity elite “locks”!)* allready mentioned under #62 sorry!

77. load a quickload backwards

78. “Now, *this* is an empty holder, I always put the exposed ones over *there*” – and open it for cleaning… (in daylight, of course, why would you clean the holder in the dark?…)

Xia Ke
79. Went out shooting some lobster boats in the cove this morning. Had a great scene all composed. Apparently after I composed I was a little too focused on making the exposure as when I got home and developed the shot, I found a few people had walked in frame, dead center 😦

80. Set up a night shot outside the house, open the shutter, leave, and completely forget it. Wake up the next morning and think, “wasn’t there something I needed to remember?”

81. Break your ground glass on the first day of a two week road trip!
82. Run out of film with three days left on your trip and trying to find film in a series of small towns along the way.

83. Meter with a DSLR with a polarizer on, then forget to transfer the polarizer to the LF lens and make 3 frames 2 stops overexposed.
84. Decide “4 shots is enough” the night before and not reload the other 4 film holders, then burn 3 of them as mentioned above.
85. Brag to mother in law how quick I was getting setting up the LF camera, make the mistakes above, only realize it after screwing the bellows back down and have to completely reset to get the shot with the remaining piece of film. Elapsed time: 45 minutes.
86. Not test every single film holder before flying to Alaska only to discover that one of them has a not-insignificant light leak. I still don’t know which one of them is the culprit.

John Falky
87. Proudly demonstrating your camera out in the boonies to a Mexican Rancher, only to find that you have no battery in the light meter….who nods and nods, and then drives off….failure and humiliation.

88. Realise, 55miles up the road, that there’s not much point in carrying a LF lens if the rest of the LF camera is still at home, resulting in emergency trip to one of the better camera shops in Scotland en route to the scenery. Oops.

Rob Cruickshank
89. Hand Speed Graphic to friend, but forget to tell him about the shutter select switch which always slides back up to “back” and which I hold in place without thinking. Forget to open back shutter again after explaining problem to friend. Spend rest of evening shooting blanks.

Ben Anderson (#BennehBoy)
90. Shoot some portraits on 8×10 chrome, sync a shoe mounted strobe on Auto for fill and forget to not obstruct the meter on the flash whilst holding it up = overexposure.

91. pushing the release button on the Fuji Quickload when pulling the envelope out for the shot, pulling the film too. paying to develop a blank sheet.
92. finding a great landscape shot with a painter painting the scene, and getting him to agree to pose. (he was very helpful in getting the lighting just right) forgetting to stop down the apreture, oeverexposing by more than a few stops. It would be too embarrassing to meet that gentleman again.

Chris McIntosh []
93. Missing the correct tray when developing.
First times developing sheet film I a) put the negative in the stop bath first- fail, and b) missed the tray and had the negative stick to the scratchy sink surface. Too bad there’s no clone stamp in the real darkroom for scratches/ dust.

94. Finish shooting. Take lens off camera. Realize the film holder is still in the camera and along with the lens, you’re holding the darkslide.
95. Start developing film at 1 in the morning. Place 6 sheets into the developer at the same time instead of one by one. Swear a lot for the next 5 minutes while you try to pry them apart.

John Falky
96. You take your Crown Graphic on a hike. The girlfriend comes along. you take a picture of the Crown Graphic and the girlfriend with your 35mm, and after developing you find unfettered hate being displayed toward the Crown Graphic, it is wisely left at home on subsequent trips. Now the girlfriend is gone, the Crown Graphic lives on.

Matt Perko Photography
97. Changed a lens on a Cambo 4×5 and when sliding the lever back to lock the lens in place, I inadvertently slid it too far which unlocked the bellows. The bellows hung there about a 1/4″ or so away from the front standard while I took a shot.
98. Set up final shot, remove darkslide, shoot exposure, start to disassemble camera beginning with lens, completely forgetting to replace the darkslide.
Too late, film is overexposed due to light.
No more film left.

99. Change your portrait set-up, open the lens up to recompose, shoot photo at 3 stops over-exposed
100. Hold camera up, set shutter and aperture, check rangefinder, check wire frame, anticipate the moment… shoot…. pull darkslide…
101. Buy a large format camera

Just another train nut
102. Get fed up with all of the above and go buy a digital P&S.

103. Think you’re all sophisticated using the zone system in a new way, but forget to re-set the light meter to reflect the N+2 situation. Shoot 4 sheets of precious, irreplaceable film. Somewhat rescued by developer….

104. Forgot to bring film and film holders as they were in a separate bag from the camera. Needless to say very short day after a very long drive.

105. When using a digital camera to check lighting before exposing real film forgetting to set the DSLR ISO to match the 4×5 film ISO.

NO Photography
106. Getting permission to use your schools darkroom to load film. Then loading the six film holders and turn on light to leave, realizing as the flourescent lights were warming up that the rest of your film was outside of the box on the table. Thankfully I only lost 2 exposures

zach elston
107. shifting your crappy super cheap tripod because you shoved your ill-fitting film holders in too hard, losing composition…being too lazy to fix it.
108. dropping all of your film holders in the snow by accident before you even take one shot…

Chris Walrath
109. While waiting for the light to change with your Sinar on the tripod, throw a stick for your dog to fetch, forgetting your holding the leash. Oh, you threw the stick past the camera and your dog is a Great Dane.

110. Set up shot for long exposure, hit shutter. Repeatedly run to camera to cover lens to avoid car headlights in shot. At the end of the 6 minute exposure, realize the lens was not set on T after all, but on 1/15.

And I wonder WHY we do this …………………………….

April 20, 2010 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

Two Months Later

Well, it’s been quite the journey. In the last post I talked about my two new cameras. The Monolta Autocord and my Pacemaker Crown Graflex. I have pretty much all I need to develop my skills with these two cameras but I must admit, the large format Crown is going to be a challenge.

I have taken 2 rolls of 120 with the roll film back and both of those were a disaster. There are too many things wrong for me to begin analyzing at this time. Some of it is mechanical, either the film back or the camera. I have stopped trying to get this back to work.

The other format, for which this camera is designed, is 4 x 5. I have taken 12 shots, actually, 14 shots. I develop the sheet film in batches of 6, since that’s all my tank holds. The first batch I developed was a first on many fronts. A first using the tank system I bought, a first loading sheet film into the holders and after, into the tank holders and a first shooting with the camera. There have been 3 runs of developing and each one has been totally different from the last. In the first batch, I had two negatives that I shot and 4 that were in the holders when I received them. My two negatives turned out fine. The second batch had light leaks on ALL the negatives and the third batch , well, let’s see. I had two shots that were good, except for the minor light leak. The two middle shots were completely ruined by a major light leak and the last 2 were actually funny. I took my shot and then changed the shutter and f stop for the second shot. I did not reverse the film holder so I ended up with 1 totally blank negative and 1 double exposure. Thank goodness I was bracketing the scene with a tripod so the blur is not too bad. Anyhow, here are the examples…….

This is a photo of vertical blinds. I shot this to test the shutter and other things. It was more or less my first shot with large format and it was also the first batch of developing. Notice there aren’t ANY light leaks in this shot.

This is from my second batch. Notice the light leaks on both sides of the image. This same pattern also appeared in the third batch and I have no clue where it’s from. The contrast in this one is ok but the image is a little harsh

This image is also from the second batch with the same light leaks. In addition, the whole image is kind of a gray, Contrast is bad. The other images are more or less like this one in terms of the gray and the light leaks. Notice the light leak is the same pattern as the others

These last two images are from my third batch. Out of 6 negatives I manged to get 2 of any use. This image is great, except for the light leaks. This is the result I am looking for. Lot’s of tones, good highlights and detail in the shadows. I had a hell of a time during developing this batch. When you pour the developer into the tank you want to make sure it goes in relatively quickly. For some reason, the liquid would not go into the tank quickly enough. It took over two minutes for me to get the developer in. I extended the developing time by 30 secs and I was lucky with this negative. Note the persistent light leak again.

This is the other image that was more or less useful. It’s a double exposure and you can see from the swirls on the image that the developer didn’t get in there quick enough. It’s still a success as far as I m concerned, lol. Actually, the reason I am very pleased with these two is because of the tonal range in both of them. If I can keep producing images with these tones I will be very happy. Note the light leak again.

The Minolta is another story. I am REALLY happy with this camera. I have lot’s to learn with it but overall, I have been taking some nice photos with it AND developing the film myself. Here’s some of the results with this camera.

This was from the very first roll I shot with the Minolta and probably the reason I kept going with it.

There were LOTS of mistakes with those first few rolls and there are still mistakes being made but I am REALLY pleased with this camera.

And a little later…………

and I blew this one up to 20 by 20 and it’s still crisp and sharp……..

I can see myself giving in to the large format but never to the medium format of the Minolta. I’ll keep trying to perfect the large format and see where it goes. First thing is to figure out where that darn light leak comes from.

Until next time…………………..

April 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm 2 comments

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