Friday, December 30, 2011

Polaroid 4x5 conversion

Right before Christmas I took delivery of a new camera. This custom-built camera was a Polaroid 900 model that has been rebuilt to accept regular 4x5 film holders as well as Polaroid 405 packfilm. I also got this camera built with a Schneider Xenotar 135mm f/3.5 lens for high-speed available-light photography. I've been very excited to get it and I finally was able to use it several times these last several days. Here is what the camera looks like:

I am using Fujifilm FP-100C color film and FP-3000B high-speed b&w film. Fuji had other instant film emulsions but these are unfortunately the only two left! They are only 3x4 inch shots but are very beautiful when exposed correctly. I have found that overexposure on these materials are a bad idea and ruin the shot so I shoot for highlights at Zone VII at most.

First, here are a few color test shots at various locations. The instant film has white borders which I have left in for posterity. The third shot is wide-open at f/3.5:

Some b&w photos after the break!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Light Panoramas

One last post before Christmas as I am leaving town until next week in a few hours. Here are some more 6x17 shots using a roll of Fujicolor film I picked up of Christmas lights on several houses. This was my first time developing C-41 color film in 120 size. It came out better than I expected!

I'm trying out a new setting where the pictures will no longer open up in a box but will open up full size in the window. Just click back to return to the blog. I think it makes it easier to see them at full resolution. All images were shot on a Crown Graphic with the Nikon 90mm f/8 lens at f/11 for 8 seconds.:

 I have plenty of material to post next week featuring a special new camera that I've just gotten in so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Panoramic views of the Withlacoochee River

I was fortunate to find a good deal a few days ago on a 6x17 panoramic back for my 4x5 camera made by DaYi. I also recently upgraded my 4x5 from the Zone VI / Wista to a Chamonix. The Chamonix is a really great camera that allows me to use longer lenses and is more precise than the Wista. This morning I used both of them for the first time.

These 4 photos were from a 120 roll of Ilford FP4+ film that I was given along with the 6x17 back. I used four different lenses to test out the back. It turns out that only the 90mm really covers the full 17cm-wide frame, while longer lenses use less and less. The longest lens I used was the Nikon telephoto with 500mm rear element. This combo only covered about 6x12, but it was still plenty wide.

The biggest challenge for these was scanning. I bought a small piece of treated glass from Hobby Lobby to hold down the film on the glass plate that normally is used for 8x10 negatives on the Agfa T2500. This caused Newton Rings on a couple of the scans. I will have to reconsider that strategy or maybe buy some real anti-Newton glass instead.

Here are the four photos in order from widest angle to longest lens. First was the Nikon 90mm f/8, then the Schneider 150mm APO, followed by the 210mm Symmar-S, and finally the Nikon 500mm telephoto. The film was developed in some fresh XTOL 1:1 for 8.5 minutes (I shot the FP4+ at ASA 50). I have never used FP4+ before so I think I will give it a bit less exposure next time and a little more development. I shot these at Langdale Park a little after sunrise. I need to watch for flare using this back as evident in the first photo:

I'm already really liking this panoramic perspective so expect a lot more soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Velvia - the ultimate landscape film?

I received a package today that included 10 sheets of 4x5. These are a variety of shots from many locations from the last few months. I shoot color film sparingly, and transparencies even less due to the high cost and necessity of sending it out. Getting a batch back from California (I use North Coast Photographic) is always like Christmas morning!

Here are a selection of images from this batch of film with some technical info. All images were shot with Velvia 50 or 100 film. For most things I find these films interchangeable, but Velvia 50 does have a little more "oomph," for lack of a real definable quality. This film has the most intense and saturated color of all transparency film. It is loved by landscape photographers for good reason - and many think it is the best color film ever made.

First up is two images from my return to Spook Bridge. Any landscape photographer worth their salt knows what the "golden hour" is - that mystical 30 minutes before and after a sunset or sunrise. Even more important is the occasional 15 minutes or so of absolutely perfect warm sunlight right after sunrise or right before sunset. I was lucky enough to have my view camera ready and some Velvia for the spectacular light that lasted just a few short minutes. here is the result: a painterly view off the bridge with the Withlacoochee River in the background. Shot with a Nikon 90mm f/8 lens:

I also took an image looking into the forest from on the bridge identical to the black & white version earlier. Again with the Nikon 90mm:

Moving on, here are a couple images that you may recognize from earlier posts in b&w. Here are the color versions. First image was with a Schneider 150mm APO lens, second is the Nikon 90mm again:

Here are two images now from Banks Lake. These were made right as the sun was rising, but the wonderful warm light was absent. The intense blue is still very nice, especially with the reflection on the water. First image is with a Schneider 210mm Symmar-S lens, second is with a Schneider 47mm XL f/5.6 lens (equivalent to a 13mm on 35mm!!):

Finally, here is an image from St. George Island in Florida. This is the lighthouse that greets you as you come onto the island. The dizzying perspective was made possible with a Schneider 58mm XL lens:

I really love Velvia and these images really shine from the intense colors from this film. I only wish it wasn't so expensive! Film cost + processing adds up to about $5 per sheet. This is obviously why I shoot it sparingly!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some older 4x5 shots

When I started this blog I had been shooting 4x5 for about 5 months. I wanted to post a few of my favorite images from those first 5 months just as a reminder to myself of where I've come from:

More after the break

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Return to Spook Bridge

I took a little detour after going to Thomasville last Sunday to watch the sun set at Spook Bridge. I had two more 4x5 sheets of T-Max 100 and a couple of color sheets that I wanted to shoot , and the sunset looked beautiful.

The two b&w negatives came out very well but the color shots were E-6 process and had to be sent out. They will hopefully be back next week, along with several other sheets from the past couple of months. These two shots were rated at ISO 50 and developed N-1 with T-Max RS at a 1:9 dilution. I've decided this will be a better shooting and development strategy for my negatives and I am very happy with how they turned out.

Both were shot with a Nikon 90mm f/8 lens (equivalent to a 28mm on 35mm film). Toned in Photoshop:

Now as a matter of interest I also would like to present a very small cropping of the first image to illustrate the detail you get with 4x5 negatives. This is the right-most column on the first photo as it would look if this was printed 10 feet wide, assuming your monitor is at 96 DPI as mine is. Note that this is simply a scan from my Agfa scanner. A custom drum scan would pull out more detail.

As you can surely see, 4x5 has truly remarkable resolution, and is the "smallest" of the sheet films! Just imagine an 8x10 or bigger!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Color Film Bonanza - with 35mm and 4x5

The last few days I have spent the evenings scanning a couple of 35mm rolls of color negative film and developing some color 4x5 images. The 4x5 sheets are a menagerie of shots from the last few months, but mostly a few recent shots.

I discovered an interesting quality from some cheap old Kodak Gold 400 film. This is normally stuff I wouldn't touch for serious use, but when I did some color correction in Photoshop it ended up being some really nice film, much to my surprise. It was probably 10-15 years old! I received it along with an old film camera I bought on Ebay.

Here are a few shots from the roll to illustrate how good this old expired stuff can be. All shot with my trusty Nikon SP and 28mm, 50mm, or 85mm lenses. Yes, there is some blue/magenta color shifts in the shadows areas, but to I kind of liked that. After all, shadows are naturally a little blue. But they have a "look" to them that is very interesting to me:

Next are some photos from another roll of 35mm, also expired. This roll is from Fujicolor 100 film, which I have posted before. This stuff is only slightly expired, and for most things is really pretty nice. I have found that underexposing a hair is better than overexposing, unlike most negative film. I totally guessed most of these shots and 95% of them came out fine, even if underexposed by a couple stops!

This roll was primarily to test out two new lenses. I found a deal on two Voigtlander lenses for my Nikon SP - a 21mm and 25mm. They are very close in focal length but I wanted to try them both, so I bought them both. I might resell the 25mm at some point. The Nikon 28mm I have is going to be sold as it is superfluous (and not as great a lens as these modern designs). Here are a few shots, mostly with the 21mm lens, taken around VSU on a rainy day. As you can see, this film tends to be a little warm in color, unlike the expired Kodak Gold:

4x5 film shots after the break!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thomasville Excursion

Thomasville is a historic town about 50 miles west of Valdosta. I have been there a few times in the past for various concert performances, but not recently. I didn't have anything important to do this past Sunday so I drove there with my girlfriend and spent the morning and afternoon exploring with the 4x5 and rangefinder.

It was a gorgeous day and was a real treat to shoot some of the historic buildings and locales out there, as well as some other interesting subjects. First up are a couple architecture shots from downtown. This first shot is looking across the street at the store "At Home in Thomasville." It was taken with a Schneider 150mm APO lens:

Next is a beautiful house (maybe antebellum?) near downtown as well as some condominiums, both shaded by a live oak tree. Both of these are also taken with a 150mm lens. They were also toned in Photoshop:

Here is a shot of the tower of the new courthouse that is still under construction. I used a Nikon 360mm lens:

Thomasville is also home to "The Big Oak," an historic live oak over 300 years old. It is gargantuan and has cables attached to various limbs to help hold itself up. This image was taken with a Schneider 58mm lens and cropped:

Finally, I have an interesting image that I am planning on retaking. I was wandering around Thomasville when I saw various old rusty items outside of a building. This turned out to be a shop called "Relic's," specializing in old architectural treasures. It was a fascinating place. The store wasn't even open but there was tons of stuff all over the place behind the building. I took a panoramic shot of the rear of the building but unfortunately had a light leak and didn't quite frame the shot correctly. This was taken with the 58mm again but I am going to do it again with a 47mm for even more dramatic effect:

For reference, all 4x5 images are with T-Max 100 film.

Some 35mm images after the break!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Albany Architecture

Last weekend I was in Albany, GA for the weekend playing in the symphony there. There is always a big gap between the final rehearsal Saturday morning and the concert that night, so I brought along the 4x5 to take some architectural photos.

This was the first time I tried using the Wista for architecture. The limited front rise can be frustrating but there are workarounds so you can get enough rise. My biggest problem was keeping the standards parallel and totally level parallel to the ground, as the Wista does not have any levels on it. I was using one I bought from the hardware store but it didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped due to it's size and such (I bought some small triple-axis levels for use from now on.

Here are some scans from the sheets of film that were good. Most of them needed a little bit of tweaking to fix the perspective in Photoshop, but so be it. All were on T-Max 100 film. This first one was my favorite: it is the arch that goes over the main entrance into town. I used the Schneider 58mm f/5.6 XL lens:

These next two are some local churches shot with the Schneider 150mm:

A couple more after the break.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spook Bridge

Yesterday I shot two rolls of 35mm out at "Spook Bridge." This bridge is in between Valdosta and Quitman. It is the site of many local legends and is supposedly "haunted." I've been meaning to go over there for quite a while but was never quite sure where it was. I happened to find some better directions and decided I'd finally go.

When I got there I was a little freaked out, as right outside where I parked there was the massive carcass of a wild boar, including his cut-off face. But other than that, it was actually a really nice place. (I took a picture of the boar, and it is at the end of the post, so beware.)

I shot a roll of Tri-X 400 as well as one roll of Kodak Portra 160. I am really happy with how these turned out and have been working in the darkroom to make a series of 4-5 prints from this location.

Here are a variety of photos from the outing taken with my Nikon SP and the 28mm, 50mm, or 85mm lenses:

A few more photos after the break: