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Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Aggie, Jan 26, 2003.
It is pretty simple really. open the tripod and mount the camera. open camera install the lens you do have a lens, right?, install the cable release aim the camera at something. here I generally use a level on the lens board and rear (ground glass) and level the camera front to back and side to side on the lens find the lever that opens the lens for viewing usually it is a gray lever that might have a little white triangle on it. slide it sideways use the knobs on the front of the camera to bring the object into sharp focus focus the camera with the f stop wide open HINT:makes it easier to see the front rise will make the vertical lines not converge at the top check the focus several times to make sure it is still in focus after fooling with the rise use the knobs to lock down the settings for now use that to make an image. take your reading ( I tend to want to give the film full exposure and usually expose the film using an ei at about 1/2 the box rated speed 400<200) and set the f stop and shutter speed. try to use some f stop in the f22-f45 range then use the corresponding shutter speed large format camera don't like being shot wide open. (not as sharp as could be) close the lens with the same knob that opened the lens for viewing find the cut sheet film holder insert the csf holder into the camera. COCK THE SHUTTER! if you are having problems locating this stuff go to http:www.skgrimes and cruz around his site and find the section on copal shutters this is very important no exposure will be make without this step watch your scene to make sure the wind is not moving something (this is the biggest problem for me and why I try and shoot 400 box speed film ie:Hp5+) if everything is a go, pull the darkslide out and use the cable release to make the exposure. after the exposure place the darkslide back into the cfs holder and remove the holder. I always load the film so that the darkslide's white side is facing out when I have unexposed the film in the holder and when I after I expose the film I flip the dark slide to the black side to indicate not to use that particular holder again. I tend to make duplicate negs at the scene of the crime because film is cheap (relative) and it is expensive to go back and redo it (if you really can) that is really all there is to making a simple photograph. now tear down the camera and pack it away and move to the next scene unless you only want to move a few feet in which case you can problaly just pick up the tripod and move it in masse. if not, repeat the stuff above for the next scene.
A few tips learned the hard way. 1. slow down and take your time. You will make less images with 4x5 than your mf camera. that is to be expected 2. try not to kick the damn legs of the tripod before the exposure and especially during the exposure. 3. practice looking at the ground glass. it is gonna be upside down and you will be frstrated at first 4. clean the holders with a vacuum cleaner before you load the film I always put the darkslides part way in the holders and make sure that the black/white orientation is set for white 5. load the film with the notch codes to the opening and on the right. that will put the emulsion up facing the dark slide. do this in the dark. 6. have fun this is a hobby remember? 7. print this list out and use it in the field for a few times and it will become second nature. Really...welcome to the world of Largeformat photography. soon you will understand why I wanted a young nubile to carry my stuff and the old adadge about if it is more than 50 feet/yards from the car it is not photogenic
when you are ready to process the film post a new note and we can discuss that. if you have questions about the message above or if you find I left something out, feel free to contact me on the forum. Plus, there are plenty of photographers here that can help you also. the gist of all this typing is that I don't know of any cd/dvd's that are out there.
All I can say is books bah-)) I've got mine setup looking out the window since I got it. I pratice focussing using the movements. Actually putting film it is a bonus when you've got the big glass to look at. The few books I've got never made 100% sense before I started playing with the camera. Then things started to click.
The only things I can add to Lee's post is to make yourself some sort of mental [or written] checklist. It's so easy after all these years of automatic lens to forget to stop down the lens. Or any of the other little things.
Congrats on the new camera! Wisners are very nicely made, though he's upset a few ULF users with seemingly endless backorders for the cameras he makes in smaller runs. Did you by chance get the "Flight" kit with two of Wisner's own lenses? If you did, people will be curious as what you think of them.
Have you looked at Steve Simmons' book, _Using the View Camera_? That's probably the most beginner friendly. If that's not enough, find a person who does large format. An afternoon of hands-on training and demonstration will probably be more more helpful than a video, if such a thing exists.
Also look at the tutorials at largeformatphotography.info.
I would buy a book such as the Simmons book or if you are more technically minded there is an excellent book by an author, last name of Stroebel, that covers science and theory of using a view camera and why it does what it does.
The reason a book is appropriate is two-fold. First, you can make perfectly acceptable images playing with the camera and tweaking this movement and that. You can also waste a lot of time trying to get the depth of field, focus and composition you want if you don't have some basic information.
Second, the more basic knowledge you have before the workshop, the more you will understand and get out of the workshop.
Also, do not underestimate the importance of a good tripod. Many on this and other forums will argue that a tripod is equally important as lenses and the camera itself. I concur with that opinion. Use an unsuitable tripod for awhile and then switch to a tripod for LF and you will be amazed by the difference in sharpness of your negs.
An interesting fact about large format photography is that all the tips and techniques in the books only make sense when you know how to do it anyway. I've always been an avid book-learner, but LF books only make sense in retrospect
as bob barker says, "Come on down!" I will even pick you up. just let me know and I will he happy to do that.
to add to that If you come down soon we can go see a show at the Amon Carter Museum of work by Elliot Porter. His son gave a talk today that my wife and I attended. I liked the show better. The prints mostly were dye tranfer and there was some b/w that was very good.
The best thing to do is just play with the camera. Books, no matter how well written, can not take the place of hands on practice. Set the camera on the tripod, or on a table even, and see what the different controls do. You can tell right away which knobs move the front or rear standards forward and backward for focus, which ones tilt them, etc. While doing this, look at the ground glass and you will see what the effect was. In one way, large cameras are easier to use than any other type... Instead of having to guess what yoru depth of field and focus point is, you can see it just as it will be on the film.
I'm going through the same thing over the last 2 weeks. I have a Speed Graphic with 135mm lens. My suggestion is to go back and forth between the books and the camera. You have to know the camera before what the books say make sense, and you have to know what the book says to make the camera work.
I ruined my very first LF negative by pulling out the dark slide before closing the lens aperture preview thingy. You have to make mistakes to learn, and I'll never do that again!
The best advice was to remember that this is a hobbie and it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy the process, even (or maybe especially) the process of learning.
how old is this little potty mouth?
Calumet used to have a video, "Photographing with Fred Picker" with a lot of hands on and two or three sample shoots. He used a 4x5 or 8x10 throughout. I concur with Steve that playing with the camera itself is a great learning tool. If it looks good on the ground glass it will look good on the film.
I'm not sure if the Picker video is still available. I tried to look, but their website lists 479 videos, with no good search facility.
You might want to give them a call, 1-800-CALUMET
Aggie, Congrats on your LF purchase. If you are interested in reading about /learning how to set-up and use your new Wisner,here are a couple of ideas. John Harlin has written a book that will walk you through the whole camera,lens,tripod,first experience etc. It was written primarily for the wooden filed camera user.I have read the book and always refer back to it when I drag my Zone VI out of the closet after awhile. Hera are a couple of links to get the book. www.jbhphoto.com and www.calumetphoto.com
John is a great LF teacher and if you looked into his camera room, you wiould find a 16x20 Wisner,a 11x14 Wisner,sveral 8x10's ,an8x20,& a 4x10.He and his wife are LF fanatics. Thanks Aggie, Jim
Funny you should mention John Harlin. I sat in front of him and his wife yesterday at the Amon Carter Museum. We we there because one of Eliot Porter's sons (Patrick) gave a talk about growing up around Eliot. Then we saw the retrospective that the Carter had up. I had talked to him before at Arlington Camera but had never been introduced. I took the time to introduce myself and we traded war stories and the like.
How do you know JB as he likes to be called now? Are you in the metroplex?