Advice about equipment for away from home workshop

Discussion in 'Workshops & Lectures' started by ahgreenhill, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    I am going to attend a 5 day B&W workshop with Ron Wisner using large format cameras in Death Valley next month. This will be my first foray into using a 4x5 camera away from home. I have a Wista DX that I purchased on ebay, a Schneider 90 mm lens but no filters to fit this lens and a backpack that will hold the camera and accessories. I haven't really used the Wista yet. I have many 4x5 film holders and an old cloth changing bag. I also own a cambo rail 4x5 with a Caltar 210mm lens, compendium shade and gelatin filters, a polarizing filter for the 210 lens and a case. I have a number of questions:
    1. Which camera to take.
    2. Whether to purchase a Harrison changing bag and load film holders or purchase quickload film and a holder?
    3. Whether to purchase filters to mount on the 90mm Schneider lens, get a compendium shade for the Wista or just put the gelatin filters in front of the lens?
     
  2. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    My two cents

    Don't forget a good Tripod and meter! Note papers and pencils, I would suggest to bring along a favorite backup camera just in case you get frustrated your LF. As you filters, Use what you have even if you have to hold it over the lens.
    Most of all. Have fun at the workshop! You will be around fellow photographers who have a strong interest in exploring LF photography. Share your images and share with those who brought images. That's whats great about Apug. Its like a 24/7 photo workshop!
     
  3. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    You might want to contact Ron and ask whether any actual hiking will be involved, or whether the locations are accessible by car. (Ansel never hiked far, why should you? :smile: ).

    Sounds like you have a real dilemma. The hikeable camera is fairly unfamiliar to you. The camera you are more familiar with is not as hikeable.

    Personally, I'd take both. I'd figure out how to pack the Cambo so that I could hike it, at least for, say 1/2 mile. I'd also set up my lenses so they would work on both cameras (does the Cambo use the same lens board as the Wista? If not, I think I'd get an adaptor for the Cambo, and mount my lenses in the smaller boards. I'm biasing toward having a backup system so that if something doesn't work, you don't find yourself without a camera for the workshop.

    I've been using gelatin filters with my Wista, with no real problem. I think carrying a bunch of those is lighter than carrying a bunch of glass filters.

    Quickload vs. cut film holders? Well, I guess it depends on the kind of shooting you'll be doing. Are you going to be using one film type? If so, and cost is not an issue, I might suggest going the quickload/readyload route. You'll have less dust and will be able to mark each packet with development requirements. They'll save you time, and encourage you to burn more film... that could be a good or bad thing, depending on your wallet.

    I would bring some film holders with me to the workshop, along with the readyload/quickload/polaroid holders. I'd bring some boxes of cut film along with my readyload packet film.

    From the various articles posted on the web, it looks like the latest Kodak Readyload holder is more compatible with both Readyload and Quickload packets than the Quickload holder. You might want to pick up the Readyload holder (but get the latest one). Others might want to weigh in on this choice.

    Also, you might want a Polaroid holder. And perhaps get a box of Polaroid 55, so you can get some ready to print negatives along with your proofs.

    I guess if you take my advice, this workshop is going to get expensive fast, and you are going to be hauling a bunch of stuff! :smile:

    -chuck
     
  4. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Your Wista should have all the movements you'll need in Death Valley. Most locations there will involve some walking, but generally less than a mile in each direction. Thus, my suggestion would be to get a Wista board (or an adapter) for the 210mm, so you can take both lenses. Dust can be a problem there, so QuickLoads or Readyloads would be a real advantage. But, if you take sheet film and holders, a Harrison tent is a real film and time saver. Depending on the size and condition of your existing changing bag, however, you might be able to make an internal support frame from plastic pipe.

    On trips of that nature, I prefer using Type 54 (PolaPan Pro 100) for proofs, rather than Type 55, because of the different speeds of the 55 neg vs. proof (if you want both, you really have to shoot two sheets). I also use the Type 54 proofs for taking field notes.

    As to filters, I think that's somewhat of a "system" choice. Gels (100mm) are a more economical choice, but glass can be faster and less prone to scratching. I use mostly glass, using 77mm filters and adapter rings for most lenses, and a second, more limited selection in 105mm for monster lenses. But, I already had most of the glass filters before I migrated to LF. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably lean toward a gel-based system.
     
  5. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Got a tripod and a good meter. I was planning to take a Polaroid holder and film for proofing. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Ron advised the field camera and said there would be some hiking and not to bring a case on wheels. Even though I feel much more comfortable with the Cambo, I think it will be very difficult to carry the Cambo on a plane and hiking a 1/2 mile or so with the boxy case would be difficult. I have a used speed graphex camera with a 123mm lens that I'll bring as a backup. I really appreciate the advice and I think I'll emphasize the Kodak TMAX 100 readyholder. I have a lens board for the 210mm lens and was planning to bring it if I brought the Wista.
     
  7. Digidurst

    Digidurst Subscriber

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    What about some sort of backpack? I ask because I'm going to be doing the same thing in a couple of months and need some way to transport my Horseman LE.
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    Speaking from experience, if you are going to hike DO NOT TAKE A SHOULDER BAG. Ow. A five mile hike and a shoulder bag was all I needed as incentive to purchase a backpack. I have not regretted the purchase at all.

    I have never gone to a workshop but I would take the opportunity to learn the wista. Plus a monorail is a B**ch to hike with and set up. It is pretty discouraging when you are missing the light because of how long it takes to set up the camera.

    Take ZIPlock bags to put your film holders in, including the quickload/readyload/polaroid holder. It is a known fact that if there is a speck of dust or drop of water within a hundred yards it will be drawn to your film holder. Not the guy next to you, yours.
     
  9. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    I have spent many days in Death Valley. You will have a blast. Mostly I carry an 8x10 or 11x14, so I know what bulk and weight are all about. The main hikes in DV for images are all under 1.5 miles, but involve sand, tight spaces or boulder hopping--indeed no place for a case on wheels. I would strongly suggest a backpack.
    It's about 3/4 mile over sand to the dunes at Stovepipe Wells. Blowing sand and dirt are your problems. Carry stuff sacks that are waterproof, as there is no place to set your film holders/meter/incidentals/etc. I put a metal hook on my tripod to hang all that stuff that should not touch the ground.
    Salt Creek is a great hike, and you will probably go there at dusk. It's a board walk for the first 1/2 mile, then creek hopping and a winding one-person-at-a-time trail. Round trip is about 3 miles.
    Mosaic Canyon is narrow and you must pull yourself up in places--no room for a big case or shoulder bag.
    All the rest: Badwater, Devil's Golf Course; Devil's Cornfield; Ubehebe Crater; Zabriske Point are just off the road and short stroll.
    Filters will not be too important, as you will have little haze, and will do the bulk of your shooting at dawn/morning or dusk/evening. Instead, you will want to control your development. Shoot tons of film and take lots of notes, then fiddle in the darkroom when you get home.
    Please, when you get home, tell everyone that Death Valley is the worst place in the world! The truth will be our secret.
     
  10. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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  11. mark

    mark Member

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    I got a great deal on a Hakuba but they don't seem to make them anymore. I wanted another one. I have no idea what to get now.
     
  12. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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  13. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Thanks Deckled Edge- great advice about the stuff bags.
     
  14. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Several years ago I bought a generic bag on sale at B&H that has 2 separate compartments. It was inexpensive and I was inexperienced and didn't know what I really needed. It is difficult to use for many reasons. I am considering buying another one for this trip and would appreciate suggestions? I intend to carry the camera, film and lens in it on the plane.
     
  15. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Several years ago I bought a generic bag on sale at B&H that has 2 separate main compartments and lots of side and front pockets. It was inexpensive and I was inexperienced and didn't know what I really needed. It is difficult to use for many reasons including remembering which compartment contains what, constantly zipping and unzipping, can't easily open the bottom bag with the bag laying flat, etc. I intended it for a medium format camera and it is fairly tight getting everything for a 4x5 in it. I am considering buying another one for this trip and would appreciate suggestions? I intend to carry the camera, film and lens in it on the plane.
     
  16. ahgreenhill

    ahgreenhill Member

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    Thanks Deckled Edge for the advice, especially about the stuffing bags. I hadn't thought about them. Where did you get yours? I really enjoyed your web site and will email you about photographic questions about your migration to large format.
     
  17. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    Stuff sacks are a standard backpacker's item, but the coated, waterproof ones are most used by kayakers and canoeists, where gear might get wet. In Death Valley it won't be a matter of getting wet so much as getting dusty. Try REI, Campmore, Bass Outlets or any big outdoor retailer for stuff sacks. They come in all sizes, but get small ones to wrap lenses in, medium size for film holders and a bigger one to store your focussing cloth. I also find that an apron with pockets, or a tool belt or vest with many pockets comes in handy where you can't set anything down.
     
  18. Danpv

    Danpv Member

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    I carry a backpack when hiking but when I settle on a spot to get set up, finding a place to set everything down without risking misplacing meters, filters, etc is often a problem. Wouldn't be without my seven-pocketed cargo pants to hold all sorts of things. The large pockets with zippers, snaps and velcro closures are just the ticket for holding anything smaller than my camera or tripod. They're the perfect mate (or substitute) for a photographer's vest.
     
  19. mark

    mark Member

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    I've done the cargo pants and photogs vest and looked like I had bumps growing all over me and had a hell of a time remembering which pocket I stuffed what into. By the time I got back to the car the camera was the only thing in the back pack everything else was in my pockets.
     
  20. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Hi,
    Think sand ,sand and more sand!. The dunes could hold one's interest for a long time and are the most interesting when it is windy, like another world. Make sure to think about your workflow when sand is in the air..EC
     
  21. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Change the 210 lens and take the Wista. A exercise from Tillman Crane is the 5 minute drill. Have all your stuff packed up and pick a photo op. Anything on your living room wall or backyard is just fine. Pull everthing out, set up the tripod, mount camera and lens, focus, take meter reading insert (empty) film holder and shoot. Pack it all up in under 5 minutes. Do this each night a few times before your trip and you will be awful fast next month. I did this a while before a big trip to the Smokies. At a barn I was photographing a digital guy walked to me and says; "I can't believe how fast you took that picture" He made my day.
     
  22. Danpv

    Danpv Member

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    At least you had it all on your person, instead of having left it in the field.
     
  23. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    It is a good workshop and Ron has a good approach and is very helpful....Don't be shy about asking questions, shot set up focus etc.

    You also get lots of good practical info on lenses. I took this workshop with Ron a few years ago....what a great time to be in DV....this time of year and this year is exceptional due to the record amount of rain...I would take some color film for sure. Shoot as much as you can...I wouldnt be too concerned about having to hike too far....there are so many wonderful photographs quite close to the car...good luck...I hope to be in the valley in the next two weeks..