Heading to the Desert

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Bill Burk, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Got an upcoming trip planned to Blackrock, Nevada to fire off a rocket with Scouts. I'm wondering what black and white I should shoot. Once that's settled, I'll take advice on "what" to shoot, for example scenery or documentary...

    I'm a Kodak guy and have some 4x5 TMY-2 I can crack open in the freezer, but I want to save it for more traditional "Sierra" photography and I hear there's going to be dust and wind - and you know dust and 4x5 aren't the best friends. So maybe I won't shoot LF.

    TMY-2 is my go-to film so I am pretty much set on that. But desert might be better suited to 100 TMAX. Or maybe some slower film like Panatomic-X*.

    Other options I'm considering, 6x9 folder (also not "great" with dust), TLR.

    And of course I could fallback on 35mm. Leaning towards this because dust typically is a non-issue in 35mm. No motor drive though.

    *Not like... really - when I say Panatomic-X I mean it - from my small stockpile.
     
  2. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Personally I'd shoot FP-4 or Acros for the scenery. But being a Kodak guy sounds like you're set. Do the documentary stuff in 35 and shoot Tmax 100. If it very bright and contrasty is shoot the Tmax 100 at 50 and pull back development times by 30%. That's always worked for me in beach shoots to get good nice moderate contrast with shadow detail and still have highlights bright but not blown out.
     
  3. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I've shot LF in some pretty dusty sections of desert and been OK. Not in sandstorm conditions, obviously---you don't want your cameras exposed at all for that stuff! But in the usual conditions of wind gusts that occasionally kick up a dust devil, I would expect you could get away with reasonable caution: keep equipment in a box or something when not actually in use, wait for a lull before putting the holder in the camera, keep the lens cap on whenever you don't need light to get through. It might be best to minimize lens changes too.

    I actually think a folder might work out well, because of the simpicity (what's the sand going to do, clog up its autofocus?) and the quick transition from folded-up to ready-to-shoot. Keep it in a bag or a big pocket or something, maybe a gallon-size Ziploc bag if things are really bad, and find someplace good and sheltered to change film (maybe inside the car).

    Desert scenery can be tough because of contrasty light and low-contrast subjects (beige rocks, taupe rocks, ecru rocks, and tan rocks all look much the same to b&w film). I guess that militates for a film with a large dynamic range but a fairly steep curve in the mid-to-upper range, which does sound like TMX/TMY, doesn't it? Or maybe TXP.

    -NT
     
  4. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    FP4.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Then it's coming along. A couple rolls of Panatomic-X are out of the freezer...

    Picked up some TMY-2 35mm today. Decided against 100 TMAX because I haven't tested it (last time I shot it without testing I had thin shadows).

    Chris at Kaufmann's dug through the boxes looking for different batches, so I have batch 0164, 0166 and 0167 (to test for albada's boomerang curve thread if I remember to leave a few frames at the end of each roll).

    One of the dad's is a chef, so if he says barbecue lizards are on the menu, I will teach the kids how to catch lizards with a grass snare...
     
  6. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Have fun. BTW--that's gross.:smile:

    Edit: Sorry. I've got lizards all over everything out here. All over the sides of the house, porches, cars, yard, EVERYTHING. I've got at least a 2 lizards every square yard. Gosh I hate those things.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2013
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Bring more water than you think that you will need.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'm afraid my motives might be questioned if I used anything but film manufactured by my employer, Kodak.
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Good point
     
  10. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Ha! That explains the stash of Panatomic-X.

    s-a

    (Rocket. All I ever got was Pinewood Derby...)
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I share your loyalty.

    Although you would probably be forgiven for any of the competitor's near IR films.
     
  12. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I don't believe in 40 some odd years I've ever shot any other film than Kodak.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks for the loyalty Tom1956 and MattKing,

    s-a, I got the Panatomic-X before I got the job, but if offered a tour of the vault I would definitely ask if there was any Panatomic-X stashed away anywhere and if anybody needed it...

    There's a Kodak PlaySport camera going up in the rocket.

    I want to keep it simple, so I'm not fidgeting with gear. I'm considering bringing the ESII and Spotmatic F with the lenses I have: 24, 50 and 135. Funny. As I look in the well of the ESII I'm thinking to myself "dang MS-76's are so expensive." Maybe I'll just shoot 1/1000 to 1/60 mechanical, and if I need slower get out the Spotmatic. Of all the cameras I've used, the ESII was always good with batteries. But I don't need (or like) automatic anymore. Spotmatic, on the other hand, doesn't do well above 1/125. ESII is fine at top speeds and I may need them. Better bring both bodies in case one acts up (ESII occasionally has a mirror lockup feature that wasn't designed by the manufacturer - every other shot the camera acts like an Exacta).

    But the best reason to bring these cameras is that I can shoot candidly and quickly (versus 120/4x5). This trip is likely to have lots of movement and people doing tasks and chores. After listening to the radio last night, I want to create a mosaic.
     
  14. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I've shot ES (not ESII) for 40 years. And I've worked on them. Something about the design of the mirror up latch is so finicky. Very temperature-sensitive. Otherwise it's a great camera. Does a fine job.
     
  15. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I was kidding, enjoy the trip!

    (Whenever the internet fails at conveying emotion I remind myself that it's just a bunch of machines. Not someone with whom you could share some scotch.)

    s-a
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Pan F has a very difficult time with the extremes of open lighting in the desert. You won't get much shadow differentiation. I'd assume your old
    Pan X would have the same problem. TMY400 will give better edge acutance than TMX100, but both have excellent gradation unless you
    overexpose them and blow out the highlight. Acros works nicely is you give a little extra exposure for the shadows. By Blackrock Desert, I'm
    making the assumption that some black rocks might be in the venue! I think you'll regret it if you leave your 4x5 behind. Having plane of focus
    control and the extra capacity for detail under that sharp lighting is important. The windiest conditions are in Spring anyway. Just keep everything well wrapped. Small cameras aren't immune from dust either; but you might want one along as a backup system.
     
  17. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Wow Bill, I did not know you work for Kodak, that's cool to know. I shot Kodachrome at Burning Man in 2010....a lot of preparation went into that trip to keep my gear working well, it was as gnarly as they say.
     
  18. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    With a little luck, the recent rains will keep the dust down... I'm bringing the 4x5 with just a few sheets of film "just in case" and the Pentax gear mentioned. ESII did the "mirror lockup" trick on me just one time in a day's shooting last weekend, so I think it will be "fine".
     
  19. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Bill--See this link concerning the ES mirror situation. Don't be afraid to open it up. The circuit boart just plugs in like a computer sound card. You can't hurt anything. Study the affected area and see how it works. You'll undoubtedly conclude your own remedy procedure. Remember, just because you fixed it when the weather is hot doesn't necessarily mean you've fixed the problem for all times. But you can sure cut down the frequency of the problem.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/How...ntax-ES-Spotmati/step7/Step-five-Lubrication/
     
  20. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks for the tip Tom1956, I've worked on the ESII before, having polished the ledge of the lever that holds the mirror. For the mirror to rise once on a roll during a day of real shooting, makes me feel it's "reliable enough" for my trip. Bringing the Spotmatic F for backup body just in case it gets worse but I should be fine for now...
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Trip was a success, rocket got near the height they wanted, almost 3 miles. A Kodak camera took HD video on the journey. I took mostly documentary black and white of the camping experience. The ESII performed flawlessly, I never took the Spotmatic F out of its Ziploc bag. I doubt I have anything but smoke on the 4x5 I shot - my timing was bad. But I should have a decent group shot prior to launch.

    Since I piled the gear in the darkroom, my first priority had to be to get the gear packed back away, ready for the next trip. Now the sink is usable, the next few days I'll be getting the film processed.
     
  22. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Well, just in case you developed a taste for lizards and didn't get to have enough, you can come and pick them off the sides of my house by the dozens. A smorgasbord--all-u-can-eat.
    Glad the ES worked.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2013