Tag Archives: Film
Yesterday I realized that the Tiffen Orange Filter that I bought for the back of my 8×10 Schneider lens also fits on the Zeiss 80mm f2.8 lens for my Hasselblad. I had the filter in my bag when I was in Lower Manhattan yesterday, so I thought I would try it out on the New York by Gehry Building.
There’s very little difference, but I’m sure it was because the sun was very bright, which really lightened the blue of the sky. A darker blue sky would have resulted in a much darker sky on the second shot. Anyway, I love the building and especially love these two compositions of it. I’ll go back on another day when the sun is a bit lower in the sky.
These shots were developed in HC 110 Solution H for five minutes at 20C.
While my wife was sewing curtains for our front room I decided to play around with the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film and some flowers. This green-sensitive film renders the color green much lighter than we would see it and gives plant life a rather odd look. I was curious to see what type of effect it might have on a vase of flowers.
One of the wonderful things about view cameras is that you can focus very close up and make photographs that are even larger than life size. If your camera has the extension rails to extend the bellows all the way out, you can do amazing macro shots. The Eastman View Camera No 2D has a detachable rear extension rail that gives you 30 inches of bellows extension. When I found my camera I made sure that the extension rail was included. It’s not necessary for everyday shots, but if you want lifesize or larger then you need the rear rail.
Fair warning: what follows is probably either overly technical if you are not interested in how a view camera functions OR not precise enough for those photographers who have to have everything perfectly measured and exactly so… But if you are interested and not wedded to a slide rule then read on.
There are compromises (three of them, really) when you extend the bellows this far out. First, the depth of field is incredibly shallow at full or near full extension. My Schneider 300mm f5.6 lens at f5.6 gives less than an 1/8 of an inch of focus. At f8, f11, and f16 you may get a 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. To shoot a vase full of flowers you need at least a couple of inches of depth of field. And for that you would need to shoot at f48 or f64. I shot this at f64.
I lit the vase from the side with my Westcott TD6 Spiderlite (1200W) through a medium-sized softbox. This gave me an EV value of 7.5, which at f64 called for a 30 second exposure. But then you also have to consider the second compromise. You’ve racked your bellows out to 28 inches and this means less light will hit the surface of the film – i.e. bellows compensation factor. To figure your bellows compensation factor there are a few mathematical equations you can use. I’ve studied all of them, and understand the concept, but I simplify it as follows: I have a 12″ lens. If I double the length of the bellows from the normal 12 inches to 24 inches I add an additional stop or so of exposure. Extended fully to 30 inches I add a stop and a half. This is close enough for me. It might not be for others, but it’s what I use. At this point, I’ve almost arrived at a correct exposure.
Photographic film also has this weird property called reciprocity failure that means that the film actually needs more exposure when you expose it for an extended period of time. Films differ on how well they handle reciprocity. My favorite B&W film for long exposures, Fuji Neopan Acros, doesn’t require any adjustments for exposures up to 2 minutes. That’s fantastic and it makes things much easier. Other films need more exposure time if your shutter stays open for longer than a few seconds. For example, if I was shooting Kodak Tri-X film, I would have exposed the film for a full 5 minutes to get a true 1 minute and 30 seconds exposure. Since I was shooting X-Ray film and no one really has published a reliable table of its reciprocity characteristics, I just went by my own experience. My experience has shown me that Fuji HR-T X-Ray film needs a little bit of added exposure, but not nearly as much as traditional films. I gave this shot an extra 30 seconds.
And just for the fun of it, I focused this next shot with the bellows stretched completely out to 30 inches. I shot it at f64 for a full three minutes.
I tray developed the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film in Rodinal 1:100 for six minutes. I used normal trays and lined the bottoms with glass. My only remaining flaw in X-ray film development is that I’m using 8×10 trays (because I happen to have a few pieces of glass cut to 8×10 for contact printing.) Even with very minimal agitation (rock all four sides of the tray every 30 seconds) I still get surge artifacts on the edges of the negative. This makes the edges of the negative darker (lighter once scanned or printed). My next step is to get 11×14 pieces of glass to line the bottoms of my 11×14 trays. This will give me a more even development across the entire negative.
I reunited with an old friend last night. For months, my Hasselblad has sat on a shelf, watching me play with the 8×10. In fact, I have only shot the Hasselblad twice since getting the 8×10 in working order. I’ve been more than a bit obsessed about getting everything right with the larger format, and as a result I had forgotten how much medium format film is the perfect sweet spot for photography. Medium format cameras are super portable and easy to carry around the city, yet MF negatives yield so much more information than 35mm negatives.
Last night when Kate and I were walking to the sub I remarked that my small bag and tiny carbon tripod (compared to my wooden Berlebach tripod for the 8×10) felt like I was carrying a point and shoot in my pocket after dragging around LF gear. But the Hasselblad is no point and shoot. It’s a great camera that takes no time to set up and the results are fantastic.
I had been wanting to take a good 8×10 night shot of the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, but hadn’t really checked out which spots I wanted to shoot from. So rather than drag the 8×10 outfit over there and not find a nice angle, I decided to test it out with the smaller camera. Not too bad for test shots…
And moving just a bit further back I was able to get some nice headlight trails:
Oddly, I had to stop and think about developing times for 120 film after being so used to developing sheet film in trays. I developed the Acros 100 in HC 110 Solution B for at 20C for five minutes. I don’t quite have the hang of scanning 120 film with the V700 however. This was the first roll of 120 film I scanned with the new scanner and it was a bit of a pain to align correctly.
Realizing that portraits with the Eastman 8×10 View Camera would be very difficult without some kind of artificial lighting, I purchased a Westcott/Adorama Spiderlite TD6 kit from the always reliable and reasonable Simon at Adorama. He gave me a good deal and shipped the bulky kit for free the next day. Perfect service.
Westcott Spiderlite TD6
Image from the Westcott website.
The kit included the TD6 head with six light sockets, six bulbs, a light stand, a 24×36 soft box, and soft carrying bag. This light gives me 1200W of constant, daylight-balanced light. What this translates to in the real world is f8 at ISO 400 and 160th of a second. That’s great for a DSLR user, but in the LF world portraits are often shot at f22, which works out to 1/4 of a second (without figuring in an extra stop for bellows extention). My lens does open to f5.6, but the depth of field is too shallow for even both eyes and noses to be in focus. Kate and I did a mini photo shoot over the weekend to test the TD6.
I shot this at f22 and 1/4 of a second. Kate is very good at standing still. It would have been easier for her to sit, but we both really wanted to do this pose. That’s my shirt and the looking down and rolling of the sleeve was Kate’s idea. She’s the brains and the beauty in this partnership.
Assembling and using the TD6 kit could not be easier. You can choose two, four, or six lights (I chose six for sure) with switches on the back of the head and the 15 foot cord even has an on/off switch. The light from the bulbs when tempered by the softbox is bright, but still soft. I shot this one with the light about five feet from Kate.
I tray developed this negative in Kodak HC 110 Solution H (1+63) at 20C for 8 minutes using “brush agitation.” The brush agitation gives you a nice even development over the whole surface of the negative. People often use brush developing to control uneven development in skies. This agitation method has really grown on me. I like the act of brushing the developer onto the negative. It’s very zen-like.
I recently received permission to shoot in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal with my Eastman 8×10 View Camera. The application for a permit was lengthy. In it, I had to specify how long I would be shooting. I had asked for an hour to shoot thinking that would be enough time. It wasn’t. On an advanced scouting trip, I realized that getting the shots I wanted using such complicated equipment with so many distractions would be cutting it extremely close. The night before, I loaded a mixture of Kodak Tri-X 320 and Fuji HR-T X-Ray film into three film holders and packed my gear. Still fretting about anticipated interruptions, I had told Kate that I was just going to ignore people asking questions or tell them that I was too busy to talk about the camera. . (She suggested I pretend not to know English.) After an extremely pleasant, older businessman type stopped to ask me questions my planned aloofness disappeared. People are curious and I want to be a good ambassador for film photography, so I was nice to everyone and answered each question.
If you’ve ever shot large format, you know just how many steps it takes to get everything in order. It helps to concentrate and double check your workflow if you do become distracted. I’m happy to report that I didn’t mess up once while engaging in almost constant conversation with people who stopped to chat. In the end I did feel rushed to get my shots in, and as a result a few of them are not perfectly aligned. I am happy with the results though and the experience was a lot of fun.
Grand Central Terminal, NYC, Ticket Windows, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Film
If I’m nitpicking, there are a few things I’d do differently with this one. First of all, there were too many elements to center it properly. And after developing I could tell that I didn’t take enough care to make sure the top was straight and that the sides included everything I wanted. Without a dark cloth to cover my head and the ground glass while shooting, I can’t see the sides of the film very well and it’s difficult to see the top and bottom of the ground glass. I’ve even cropped this one a bit, but it’s still askew.
Grand Central Terminal, Tunnel Passage, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Film
This is another slightly flawed shot. I couldn’t get rid of the light flare at the top and keep the entire chandelier in the frame. While shooting, I could tell that there was a little flare at the top, but hoped it wouldn’t show up on the negative. But of course it did.
I developed the Kodak Tri-X 320 film in trays with Kodak HC-110 Solution H at 20C for five minutes and 20 seconds using brush agitation. For the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film, I used Rodinal 1:100 at 20C in trays for 6 minutes. After lining the tray bottoms with a sheet of smooth glass, I was able to cut down on the scratches. However, you still have to handle the double-sided X-ray film with great care.
Yesterday, I had permission to shoot with my 8×10 camera and tripod for an hour in Grand Central Station. I was only able to take 6 pictures, but here’s a sneak preview.
Grand Central Station, NYC, 8×10 Camera with Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film
More next week.
There were a few reasons why I moved from a 4×5 camera to an 8×10 one, but the main reason was simple – contact prints. I think contact prints are the most pure and fulfilling way to translate a photograph from your mind to the negative and then finally to the paper print. There’s no cropping, enlarging, or hiding anything. The frame of your ground glass, and the border of your negative, is exactly what you get in the print. You can dodge and burn, but you had better be quick, as your exposure times are normally between 3-10 seconds (unless you use special contact speed paper).
A darkroom can take up a lot of space, but almost everyone has a place where they can hang a bare light bulb three feet above a piece of paper. Edward Weston used this method and printed his 8×10 negatives as gorgeous contact prints.
Our tiny bathroom is perfect to make contact prints. It has no windows and is right off a darkish hallway. It’s very easy, even in the daytime, to achieve total darkness. To start contact printing, I purchased the following supplies from our local hardware store:
8×10 sheet of 1/4 inch thick glass (had the glass guy smooth the edges)
20×24 piece of plywood (to place over the bathroom sink)
8×10 Piece of thick black felt
15W light bulb (later replaced with 7W)
To complete what I needed to get started, a friend sent me a safe light that he didn’t use anymore. I used my iPhone voice recorder as a timer. I made a voice memo counting seconds of exposure and marking each step in the process in 30 second increments. For instance, 2 minutes in developer, 30-60 seconds in water (stop bath), and 1 minute in the fixer. The voice timer helps, because I can start the timer and turn the light off on my phone. Even the dim light from a phone can cause fogging.
After putting the piece of wood over the sink to provide a flat, hard surface. I placed the felt and sheet of glass on the wood. I secured the clamp light on our shower curtain rod so that the lightbulb would hover directly over the felt and glass. The light ended up being about 36″ above the glass. I laid out my trays (developer, water, and fixer) in the bathtub and plugged in my safe light.
That’s it as far as set up and preparation. You turn out the lights, turn on the safe light and then open your box of paper. You place the paper, shiny side up, on the felt (don’t forget to close up your box of paper!), put the negative, emulsion side down, on top of the paper, and put the sheet of glass over the negative/paper. Make sure they are lined up and then you are ready to expose your contact print.
For my first print, I guessed that I should do a five second exposure. I placed the exposed paper in the developer and within 30 seconds it was almost totally black. Hmmm, maybe 3 seconds next time? I exposed my second sheet for 3 seconds. It was much better, but still too dark. For the next exposure I only kept the light on for 1.5ish seconds. That was perfect. However, it’s difficult to replicate a 1.5ish second exposure with my primitive materials. So, back to the hardware store I went for a lower wattage bulb. I snagged a 7W bulb and went back to work. The 7 watts gave me a perfect exposure at 5 seconds.
I could have done a test strip, but it took very little time to achieve the tright exposure. For these tests, I was exposing 4×5 negatives on 5×7 Ilford Multigrade IV RC Paper. The result is above.
After feeling comfortable with my setup, I grabbed an 8×10 negative and a box of Ilford Multigrade IV FB Paper. My exposure time was again 5 seconds and I had a gorgeous 8×10 contact print all ready for the wash. Oh the wash… The difference in FB (Fiber) prints is that they must be thoroughly washed to remove the fixer. I don’t have a print washer and I don’t want to waste a lot of water, so I used frequent changes of fresh water in large trays for an hour. This is labor intensive, but I’ve always liked the feel of a heavier paper.
After your print has been nearly washed to death, you squeegee it on both sides and then begin the drying process.
If the washing process seems daunting, then the drying process will seem cruel. Most people with a darkroom will have presses or heating devices to dry and flatten their FB prints – not your humble contact printer though. For my first two prints I just placed them face-up on a clean surface and left them overnight. The next morning the prints had curled like mad. I placed them separately in between pages of a heavy book and put weights on top. After a day or two they are mostly flat. I’ve heard the process of flattening can take a week. That’s okay, I’m patient.
One thing that does help is allowing the contact prints to dry between screens. They dry overnight and the curling is much less frightening than open-air drying. Then I place these in the pages of a book under weights as well and they will be flat – eventually.
One step that I left out in this post is toning. If you want your paper prints to last forever, you should tone them. I’m still researching this and am open to any suggestions or experiences that others may have.
I know that many people use specialty papers, but I’m using Ilford Multigrade papers of both the RC and FB type. I trust that Ilford will be around for the long haul, so they are my paper of choice. For testing and casual prints, I’ll use RC paper. For sale prints, I’ll use fiber.
Madison Square Park Shake Shack at Night Shot on 8×10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film w/ Eastman View Camera No. 2D
Madison Square Park Shake Shack at Night, NYC, 8×10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Sheet Film
You can click the photo for a larger version. And you will notice the scratches on the film. That’s a big downfall with this film, but I think I can get better/be more careful.
Yestereday I posted this same scene shot on Kodak Tri-X 320. The Tri-X shot was pretty much exactly how I wanted it. The Fuji HR-T X-Ray shot is also acceptable, but the highlights are a bit blown out and the dark trees on the left have less shadow detail. This was also not a fair comparison (nor was it really meant to be), because I shot the above x-ray photograph at f11 and tray developed it in Rodinol 1:100 for 6 minutes 30 seconds. I developed the Kodak Tri-X negative in Kodak HC11o Developer.
If I had to do this shot over, I would develop it for less time to control the highlights. That said, I continue to be impressed by the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film. The metered time was 30 seconds, but I doubled the time to a full minute considering reciprocity failure. If you want to read more about this x-ray film, I posted my first impressions last week.
On Friday night, I loaded up two film holders, one with Kodak Tri-X 320 and one with Fuji HR-T X-Ray film, and hopped onto the N train with my 8×10 Eastman View Camera No 2D trailing behind me in a suitcase. After a few aborted attempts at packing the camera and associated gear in three different bags, I finally broke down and bought a roller bag from IKEA (the Uptacka). It was cheap, is fairly sturdy, and has just enough space to fit the folded up Eastman 8×10. I remove the rear extension rail and pack it in an outside pocket, but you really only need the extension rail for close up shots. If I turn my Schneider 300mm f5.6 (a massive lens) backwards it can stay attached to the camera folded. Up to four film holders go in the front zipper section. And the outermost pocket holds my meter and cable release. I don’t feel especially stylish dragging an ugly nylon case through the city, but I’m already showing questionable sanity by using the camera.
I haven’t developed the x-ray film yet, but here is a Kodak Tri-X-320 shot.
Madison Square Park Shake Shack at Night, NYC, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Sheet Film
You can click on the image for a bigger version. This was scanned at 1200dpi, which gave me a 12,000 by 9,600px file. I had to reduce the image for uploading as Word Press only accepts images under 8MB. Clicking through to the larger image can still give you an idea of the details you get with an 8×10 negative. Keep in mind this was only scanned on an Epson flatbed scanner, not drum scanned.
Not quite as happy with this shot of the Empire State Building.
Empire State Building at Night from Madison Square Park, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Film
This was also shot at f22 and the measured exposure time was one minute. To account for reciprocity failure with the Tri-X, I exposed the shot for a full four minutes. As above, this sheet was developed this shot in Kodak HC 110 Solution H for 5 minutes and 20 seconds.
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.