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In October, I sold my Toyo 45A to purchase a very used 8×10 1935 Eastman View Camera No. 2D. It had a few issues including missing knobs, bellows that leaked at the front and rear standards, and it needed a general deep clean including a new ground glass. A kind person from the Large Format Photography forum sent me a couple of spare knobs that he had from a previous restoration. That was what I needed to get started and verify that both standards locked down tightly. Next I cleaned and waxed the wood. I thought about a complete restoration, but I want this camera to be an everyday tool, not a museum piece. It’s going to get banged up with heavy use. I found a very reasonable source on Ebay for ground glass and replaced the worn glass on the camera.
The last step was to seal the bellows to the front and rear standards in a light-tight fashion. The bellows themselves were solid, and have definitely been replaced at some point, but they leaked light like crazy since they were not joined tightly to the standards. A first run of using FabTac glue and clamps didn’t really work as well as I had wanted, so I found a roll of this dark black putty that people use to weatherstrip windows. The strips of putty are thin and very sticky, so I lined them up at the seams inside of the bellows and they’ve proven to be totally light-tight.
Lastly, I purchased a used Schneider 300mm f5.6 lens to replace the busted lens the camera came with. A 300mm lens is a standard length for 8×10 (similar to a 50mm on an SLR or 80mm on a MF camera). The f5.6 aperture means the lens is HUGE and heavy, but it’s nice to have the bright aperture in odd lighting outside.
One of my first 8×10 negatives shot on Kodak Tri-X 320 Sheet Film.
I’m developing the negatives in trays (in our bathtub) using Kodak HC 110 Solution H. It’s an easy process and much more fun than developing film in tubes, tanks, or processors. The trays use less solution (although tubes use even less) and you can give each negative TLC. While doing research on tray developing, I ran across “brush developing.” To brush develop, I put the negative emulsion-side up in a 8×10 tray and use a soft 4 inch brush to agitate the developer as I move up and down the negative. It’s a constant agitation that supposedly gives you a smoother development. It is very soothing. Feeling the brush glide across the wet negative is weird at first, but I’ve yet to notice any scratches.
Shooting the Schneider 300mm f5.6 wide open results in insanely shallow depth of field.
Even shooting at f16 gives you very little depth of field up close. For this type of shot, f22 or 32 would be much better.
An aperture of f22 works okay for this type of subject.
After a few test sessions, I’ve got a good sense of the apertures and distances that I need to work with, so I’m excited to get out in the hood with it next.
Last week I posted some long exposures from a roll of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and the Hasselblad shot during a night shooting in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Here are a few more from the same roll.
The shots below were developed in Kodak Xtol Developer (stock solution) at 20C for 8 minutes.
Night Long Exposure of Gowanus Canal with Downtown Brooklyn in Background, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
This was a difficult exposure, because the canal itself was so dark and the sky was lit up brightly in the background. I split the difference and chose to properly expose the dark canal.
Long Exposure of Random Office Chair and Street Art by Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100 Film
This was an almost 3 minute exposure, because there was very little available light and I really wanted to bring out the detail in the shot.
You can see the bushes moving about in the wind right behind the boat sign on this shot. If I recall it was a short exposure (30 seconds) because of the strong street light just above it.
On Wednesday night, I met up with good pal Barry Yanowitz in Gowanus for some night time shooting. He had his Rollei loaded with Fujichrome T64 color slide film (of which he gave me a roll and I can’t wait to try out) and I had my Hasselblad loaded with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 black and white film. It was nice to catch up with him and also to discover that the canal waters had receded to their normal levels after Hurricane Sandy’s rude visit. We each shot one roll of film during the evening.
The shots below were developed in Kodak Xtol Developer (stock solution) at 20C for 8 minutes. I’ll post a few more next week.
So everyone likes sparklers right?
On our recent St. Michaels vacation, Kate and I teamed up for this admittedly kind of corny shot. This was after cocktails on the dock and I already had my 4×5 camera set up to capture the sunset. I used Fuji Provia 100 slide film and the meter reading told me the exposure should be one minute at an aperture of f11. The sparklers only stayed lit for 45 seconds so I had to cut the exposure a bit short. It worked perfectly though. Kate held her legs still and did an amazing job at keeping the repeatedly drawn hearts in a tight pattern. You can see a larger version of this picture at my Flickr account.
In the Flickr comments a few people were curious about the “not as successful outtake” of this shot. Here it is.
It was obviously much more difficult to try to repeat K-A-T-E so she just spelled it once and then added these little flourishes at the end as the sparklers fizzled out. I was laughing too hard to ask her to stand still.
Hope everyone has a good fourth. We are hoping to hit the beach tomorrow.
Here are two of the four sheets of Kodak Portra 400 that I shot recently on my Toyo 45AII large format camera. I had received a box of Portra 400 for Christmas and was curious how it would handle long exposures. I normally like B&W for these types of shots, especially the foolproof Fuji Neopan Acros 100, but as I said curiosity got the best of me. I was also a little annoyed that the Kodak data sheet for 45 Portra read: “No filter correction or exposure compensation is required for PORTRA 400 Film for exposures from 1⁄10,000 second to 1 second. For critical applications with longer exposure times, make tests under your conditions.”
Super helpful, Kodak. Thanks! So you didn’t test the film for anything longer than 1 second? You would rather let the consumer make their own tests (which I agree to some extent makes sense)? It is discouraging that a box of 10 sheets of Kodak Portra 400 costs about $30 and each sheet is $3-6 to develop depending on which lab you use. Mine is only $3, so my testing consisted of loading two film holders with four sheets of film and blowing $24 in fifteen minutes.
Yes, I’m being a little hard on Kodak. However, Fuji and Ilford do a fantastic job of documenting the change needed in exposure (due to reciprocity failure) for times longer than 1 second. Kodak should do better.
Anyway, I shot four sheets from my usual test location (in Dumbo underneath the Manhattan Bridge looking at the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan) for long exposures and didn’t see a bit of difference. The first shot was 8 seconds for f22, but I gave it 15 seconds as a starting point.
The second one was taken right after the first and I gave it 30 seconds. I couldn’t tell a difference between the two.
I repositioned my tripod slightly for the second film holder and repeated the meter reading. As it was getting darker, the reading called for 15 seconds. I exposed one sheet for 45 seconds and the other for 90 seconds just to see if it would matter. It didn’t, both negatives were pretty much the same.
Here’s the 45 second exposure at f22.
The bottom line is that Kodak Portra 400 handles long exposures nicely. I got great results between 15 seconds and 90 seconds. Some of that was obviously due to the rapidly changing light conditions, but as its been well documented, this film is VERY versatile and forgiving. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Kodak Portra 400 for exposures between 1 second and 90 seconds. Next time I would probably just give the shot double the time that the meter reading calls for. Please note, this was in no way a scientific method. I didn’t keep notes, but I recall the exposure times and which film holders were which times. For critical paid use, I guess I would do as Kodak suggests and “make tests under your conditions.”
While I’m definitely over the “I have to carry my camera everywhere” feeling that gripped me last year, I still like to occasionally wander around aimlessly with a camera over my shoulder. I’ve had a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 in my Olympus OM-1 over the last week or so and after getting the film back from the lab on Tuesday night, I found more than a dozen images that I really loved and several I had forgot that I had taken. Some of the latter were my favorites from the roll.
Most of these were taken in various parts of Brooklyn as Kate and I enjoyed our normal, meandering, long walks. I still can’t remember being in the East Village with this camera and this roll, but I had two shots of the East Village Cadillac on there somehow.
East Village Cadillac, Kodak Ektar 100
Funny story about this Cadillac, a couple of my images were used by the New York Times East Village Local and the owner of the Cadillac responded in the comments section.
Church Board, Gowanus, Brooklyn, Kodak Ektar 100
Eventually, I’m going to do a whole series on these church boards of Brooklyn. I’m not religious in any way, but I’m fascinated by these signs and the level of detail they preserve about the church. I’m attracted to the signs that use different fonts and sizes to get their message across.
Triceratops Custom Cab, Gowanus, Brooklyn, Kodak Ektar 100
I’ve passed this truck before without taking a picture (it’s on the way to our favorite pie place Four and Twenty Blackbirds) and this time Kate saw me hesitate and reach for my camera. “Go ahead,” she said as she stood there waiting for me as I waited out the traffic.
When Kate and I got in line at the Guggenheim Monday morning at 10am I had my Nikon FM2n and 6 shots left on a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400. Luckily I had rated that roll at 1250 ISO for overcast winter days and early nightfalls. I find you can push Tri-X to 1600 or even 3200 and get usable images, but for 35mm I try to keep at 1250 or under. The grain is pronounced at 1250, but not quite overwhelming in a Xtol developer. Of course, if you used something like Rodinal, it would be grain city even at 800.
I hadn’t planned on taking any shots inside of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit, just a shot of the Guggenheim facade.
That plan changed when I got inside. The exhibit is whimsical, and thanks to the unique design of the Guggenheim, totally engaging. As you climb or descend (we took the stairs to the top and went down) the view of the exhibit, which hangs from the ceiling into the atrium, is constantly changing. You see pieces from above, then at eye level, then from below. It wasn’t long before I joined the camera snapping hordes. The Guggenheim has a no photography policy, but guards and staff did not prevent people from taking pictures. Camera flashes, despite the total inability to light up something that far away, fired almost constantly. I was able to take these shots, sans flash of course, at f4 and 1/60th of a second. I think I was able to use 1/125th of a second on one of them and had to use f2.8 on another. Still I’m happy with how they turned out. I could have easily shot a roll or two of film to capture this exhibit, but I liked knowing that I had to be selective.
This was my favorite piece of the exhibit, but also the hardest to photograph. I knew I only had two exposures left and I wanted to save one for the facade on the way out. How do you expose for a huge, dark mass of soil against a white background? Very carefully… I love the bunnies on the grass.
All images developed in Xtol 1+1 solution at 68F for 11.5 minutes.
Happy 2012, everyone. One of my informal resolutions for 2012 is to spend/buy less. In that spirit, I’ve started diluting my Xtol developer with one part water instead of using the stock solution. I’ve noticed a little less contrast, but I could probablyneed to develop for another 15 seconds rather than the recommended time.
These are all on Kodak Tri-X 400 in my Hasselblad camera. I have some Fuji Neopan Acros 100 loaded in my 4×5 film holders, so I’ll see how the Xtol 1+1 works with that next time.
It’s rare for Kate and I venture up to Midtown. The combination of the crowds, nondescript buildings, traffic, and chain restaurants makes for my least favorite NYC experience. If I only knew Midtown and Times Square, I would never choose to visit or live here. There are exceptions though. Maybe two or three times a year, something will push us north of 23rd Street. Probably my favorite exception is the Bergorf Goodman holiday windows. Sure, you will find gorgeous, imaginative windows at Bloomingdales or Saks, but for an absolute knock-your- socks-off, gasp-inducing session of window gazing, park yourself in front of Bergdorf’s. I know their team must work year-round on these windows and I can’t even imagine the budget. I don’t even want to know.
On Wednesday night, Kate and I met in Midtown, she with her Nikon D90 and me with my Hasselblad and two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400. For stunning, full-color pictures visit her blog Embarrassment of Riches. Her pictures truly do the displays justice. Mine, however… Let’s just say that a hulking medium format, manual-focus, non-metered camera with B&W 400 speed film is not the proper tool for shooting windows in Midtown during an evening rush hour. But I made the best of it.
Since it was dark, I set my handy pocket light meter to 1600 ISO and decided to push both rolls of Kodak Tri-X to 1600. This allowed me to shoot at a reasonable aperture of f5.6 or f8 with a decent speed of 1/125th a second or 1/60th of a second. Not ideal settings, but not horrible either. The challenge came when I had to stop an average of 23.5 times an exposure while someone popped up in front of me with an iPhone to take their own pictures. I say pictures, not picture, because each person took approximately 47 photos as I waited to take my one shot.
I consider the evening a success, though, because I didn’t yell at, shove, or punch anyone. I did gently nudge one particularly prolific iPhone shooter out of my way once.
These pictures are okay. If I cared to go back, I would go later in the evening with a tripod and a few rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100. The shots would be well-framed, longer exposures, of course – a huge improvement over these. But did I mention that it’s in midtown? I’m not going back until next year.
All pictures were taken with Hasselblad 501cm, a Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens, on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600 and developed in a stock solution of Kodak Xtol developer for 8.75 minutes.
While I normally use my Nikon FM2n if I’m shooting 35mm, lately I’ve been using my 40-year old Olympus OM-1. It’s paired with a versatile 50mm Zuiko f1.8 lens and is a bit smaller than the Nikon. I love that this camera served my father-in-law for dozens of years, then Kate during high school photography classes, and is now working like a champ for me. I’m not sure how how many digital cameras we use today will still be around in 40 years. Probably none.
This past weekend I loaded the OM-1 with Kodak Portra 400 for our random exploring.
Virginia Slims Poster, Prospect Heights, Kodak Portra 400