I'm officially addicted.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ChrisC, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Yesterday my Shen Hao 4x5 arrived in the mail and all I have to say is wow! I don't see how the price reflects the quality at all. I'm absolutly blown away by it in virtually all respects. The only gripe is how dim the ground glass is, but that's to be expected from someone who's been used to looking at viewfinders his whole life.

    Being my first large format camera, and the first time I've ever spent any time with one, I can see myself being very at home with this style of photography. I took a bit of a punt ordering it (no where around here rents them, and LF stuff is hard to find used) but I'm glad I did. I took a couple of shots in the back yard this afternoon and developed them, and apart from some fogging on the film (still to determine the cause) things are looking very good.

    Also if anyone has any useful links or tips for me the first time I go out, I'd greatly appreciate it. It's definatly a big step away from where my comfort zone lies.

    So basically I want to say a big thanks to everyone here for your discussions about LF, your photos and some of the questions I have posted over the last couple of months in various places around here. It's been a huge help in deciding what to throw my money at.



    Best regards,
    Chris C.
     
  2. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I'm only new to it too, and my advice would be to not rush thru your available sheets. When you 'see' your image, work though the process, make sure your shutter is shut when you pull the darkside, etc. Check all the ground glass, not just the main CoI. Simple things but easy to miss something which will mean disappointment after developing. Take your time and enjoy!
     
  3. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Congrats! Welcome to the Shen Hao club. I bought the same camera and it is just beautiful!

    Are the edges of the image fogged or the whole neg? Did you clise the shutter before you pulled you dark slide to take the shot?

    There is a awesome book called;

    Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga that is just awesome. IT helped me a ton.

    Also another called;
    View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel that helped me a lot also. I am also new to LF and these two books really helped me get ahead of the game as well as all the great help from all the awesome APUG members!

    Again welcome to the LF world and you will now never turn back to the other, you have been cursed LOL

    Kev
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Chris-

    More information on what exactly you mean by "fogging of the film" (where it's fogged, what the fogging looks like, etc.), along with information on how you loaded the film holders and how you did the development, would help us help you determine where the fogging might have come from. (When I bought my first 4x5, I got a Polaroid 545 film holder and some Fuji film in Quickloads so that I could learn to use the camera without worrying about learning how to handle film right away. It worked for me, but it is an expensive solution.)

    Regardless, welcome to the world of LF. I think we should start taking bets now on how soon you'll talk about moving to 8x10. :smile:

    The factory GG on the Shen-Hao is a bit dim, but it's quite workable. Make sure you have your lens opened all of the way up when you're focusing, that you're using something to block out stray light, and that you have something to magnify the image for focusing, and you should be just fine with a little practice. For a number of years I used an old black t-shirt as my dark cloth (just put the neck of the shirt over the back of the camera and climb in through the waist), and today I still use a magnifying device known as a "linen tester" for my focusing loupe (they cost under $10 at a fabric stores so you can buy a couple, they fold up into almost nothing, and they do a good job).

    As far as hints, I can highly recommend the following:

    1. Waste a sheet of film by removing it from the box (in the dark!) and then practicing with it to make sure your film holder loading technique is good, first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and finally in the dark.

    2. Whenever you first open the camera, or when you're getting ready to set up for a new shot, "zero out" all of the movements before you start. Move everything back to the neutral position and start focusing from there.

    3. Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.

    4. Pull the dark slide slowly; pulling it fast generates static electricity which attracts dust to your film.

    5. Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.

    6. Once you've focused and stopped the lens down, always check the corners for vignetting. Look through the cut-outs in the corners of the ground glass to make sure you can see the entire circle of the iris of the lens. If you can't, then you're vignetting (cutting off the light from the corners of the film).

    7. Did I mention: Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.

    8. Buy some cheap film and use the camera. Use it a lot. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to avoid mistakes like, for example, pulling the dark slide while the shutter is open.

    9. You will make a few mistakes in the beginning. It's part of the learning process. Don't worry about it too much. My third most common mistake (it's happened twice) is removing the dark slide from the wrong side of the film holder. This ruins the film on that side of the folder (because it's exposed to the light on the GG). Make this mistake a few times and you won't make it again. My 2nd most common mistake is forgetting to remove the dark slide before taking the shot. This habit's harder to break, because it doesn't cost you anything but time so you don't feel quite so bad about it. My most common mistake has been...well, I'll bet you can guess.

    10. Play with the camera a little. Sit in a chair and un-fold and fold it. Get good at this in the comfort of your home and it'll be easier in the field.

    11. More than anything: Enjoy! LF photography isn't like 35mm or even MF photography. It's slower, more directed, and more purposeful. It won't take you long until you're not making any of the mistaked mentioned any more, and then you'll be turning out negatives on a regular basis with more detail, better tonality, and easier enlargeability than anything you've done before. It's addictive for a reason: It's very, very satisfying.

    Congratulations on your new camera and all of the best for a bright photographic future.
     
  5. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Congratulations! I'm still fresh enough into my LF experience that I still get a buzz setting up the camera. You'll love it...<p>
    One question for you about the dim GG. How fast a lens are you using, make sure it's not stopped down, and a dark cloth is mandatory (or a reflex viewer).

    Other ways to screw up film I seem to be adept at include not flipping the darkslide after the exposure and losing track of what's been exposed and what hasn't. Leads to prolonged development of blank film (good for measuring fog + base density) and some creative but unintentional double exposures.


    A question for Mongo as well
    Your point # 6: viewing through the corner cutouts. What do you mean by seeing the iris from all four corners? You mean the full circle of the stopped down aperture blades, right? Just checking something I've always been sketchy on.
     
  6. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Your description is better than mine. You want to see the full circle of the stopped-down aperture blades from all four corners. If any part of the circle isn't visible to you, then you're vignetting.
     
  7. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Jack's book is quite good, one of my favorites (I have several of his books). I would also recomment "Photographing the Landscape" by John Fielder (Colorado based LF landscape photographer) and "Light and the Art of Landscape Photography" by Joe Cornish (UK based LF landscape photographer). I have a list of books on my website that you might consider (although I need to update the list): http://www.visionlandscapes.com/Resources.aspx?Type=Recommended Books
     
  8. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I think it took me 18 months before I made the jump from 4x5 to 8x10.

    Number 3 above: Been there and done that too. It hurts more when you do it with 8x10 though. Ouch! :sad: I have the one slide I did that with still in my folder so I don't forget that I did that.

    Number 10: Try and experiment with the movements while your fiddling around with the camera, learn how moving certain parts of the camera affects the image on the ground glass.

    Number 11: Definitely agree on this one! And it's fun too! :D
     
  9. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I just want to add one thing to what Mongo has already said...

    Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.

    Have fun. I am sure it will give you a completely new perspective on the craft. I also recommend Jack Dykinga's book.
     
  10. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    There are three books I recommend

    The Dykinga book

    User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

    Using the View Camera that I wrote.

    There is another book that is not a friendly intro book but a good longterm reference

    View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel


    steve simmons
    viewcamera magazine
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2005
  11. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Hi Chris, congrats on the new purchase.

    Some good suggestions already.

    Just a couple things I'd add that could be a little ellusive at first:

    - When loading the Fidelity film holder. Hold cross-ways in the left hand and pull the dark slide out a couple of inches to the left. Lift flap at the other end of the film holder open and insert the film there. (I know a fellow who tried for ages to put the film in the other end - caused endless frustration :tongue:).
    The film box shows orientation of the emulsion side.

    - Focussing can take a little while to get to grips with. The best advice I received when starting out, was to spend time learning how to use just the Tilt on the front (lens) standard until it starts becoming familliar.
    Apart from being the most commonly used movement in landscape photography, the principals of changing the focussing plane learnt here are the basis for focussing with other movements later on.

    Good to see another local going BIG! :smile:

    Best, John.
    (Auck)
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Another hint: Unloading holders is easiest upside down! Hold the holder, pull the BOTTOM darkslide partway out. Then it's easy to get a fingernail beween film and holder, and the film slips right out. I wasted lots of time in a pitch black darkroom in the middle of the night before I discovered this.
     
  13. claytume

    claytume Member

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    Chris

    some really good advice here especially from Mongo and I think this is the best one, the more familiar you get with the camera/film/processing the better you'll get. I've come across a few new 4x5 shooters who gave up after a few months because they never got past the basics and produced acceptable results.

    There are more LF shooters than you think around Wellington, I shoot 8x10 and have a Shen-Hao 5x12 on the way. There are a couple more 8x10 shooters not far from me. Call by some time.

    Clayton
     
  14. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Thanks alot for all the kind words and advice so far everyone. In just the last 6 months since I've come back to film I've found this place to be such a priceless resource. It's fantastic.

    It's a little bit strange. I only shot and developed one sheet, so I'll test a few more to see if it was a one-off or not. One half of the film is perfect, and looks fantastic, while the other right on the edge has a creamy looking solid patch down the border, and another patch about 15mm wide running parallel almost the entire width of the frame. It almost looks like a nicotene stain, although I don't smoke. I'm wondering if it was from inproper film loading. I'll have to sacrafice a piece of film later and make sure I'm loading properly. My darkroom does have a couple of very tiny light leeks, mostly below bench height, and I was standing between them and the film. I wasn't exactly waving the film around, and was pretty quick with it from box to film holder, so I don't think that could have been it.


    I need to buy a bag that fits all my stuff in it, so until that happens in a week or two I'm going to be doing alot of backyard shooting. It should give me the time to take things nice and slow, with a drink in one hand and perhaps another one in the other :smile: It's a very uninspiring location, but that'll allow me to focus more on the technical side of things, rather than looking for a great shot right off the bat.

    We'll have to see how things pan out. I might try another this afternoon and see what happens.
     
  15. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Some of my best work has been at places that were "uninspiring"...it's amazing what you can find to photograph when you really look.

    Also remember: You can set up a shot without actually taking a picture. It's a great way to learn to use the camera.

    I'd think twice about the drinks, though...the times I pulled the wrong dark slide were when I was adjusting to new medications (for back problems) and was a little buzzed. Just a cautionary tale from one who's been there...
     
  16. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I also have the Shen Hao... I assume you have found www.lfphoto.info - if not, there it is :wink:...

    One thing I always do is to cock, fire and re-cock the shutter before I remove the darkslide - if it does not fire, it means I still have the shutter open for focussing... It also exercises the shutter (useful if it's old) and reminds me to double-check that I have set the correct aperture and speed (my "favorite" error: light changes and I forget to take a new light reading).

    Your fogging sounds a bit like insufficient fixing - is it possible that whatever processing method you used didn't cover the film properly?

    Anyway, enjoy and take your time - I do and still make a pig's breakfast of it at least once at every location...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  17. carsten

    carsten Member

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    My suggestion is to use also a Polaroid or Fuji back (the chepeast with the chepeast filmpack) to check what you are doing, to avoid mistake, to understand tilting and so on...
    Hi Carsten
    After a couple of years of 4x5 I added a 5x7, but honestly I still prefer 4x5.
     
  18. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    And I'll add one more even to that -- make sure you've reinserted the dark slide before pulling the film holder. Failing on this one will *really* fog your film...
     
  19. carsten

    carsten Member

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    Yes, it is true. Sometime I pull the darkslide from the holder just to make the film been exposed and the I push it back in the holder...
    My english is getting worse and worse...
     
  20. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Thanks for that. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for people out shooting LF. I can't recall seeing anyone (mind you I haven't really been looking until reciently) but I'm sure I'll bump into someone somewhere along the way.




    That hadn't crossed my mind, but now that I look at it I think I can zero in on that being the problem. Looks consistant with what a couple of my books show insufficiant fixing to look like. Thanks for putting my nerves to rest!





    On a side note, I'm also looking for some sort of backpack so I can take it on day-tramps around some of the walking trails around here. My usual camera store only had 2 camera backpacks, both of which just looked completly wrong without even having to try them on. Would I be best taking a punt and ordering one from off-shore, or do you think I could get away with using a normal pack, and packing things seperatly inside it? The latter sounds tempting now, but eventually when I get a selection of lenses, unless I make a custom lining with foam, it could get quite tricky.
     
  21. KenS

    KenS Member

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    Damn!
    Does this mean I have to move to OZ or NZ? :cool:

    Ken
     
  22. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    FWIW, when I first got into LF back in the early '70s, all I had was an Orbit monorail and the large, fiberboard case that it fit in - upside-down, hanging from the rail. For a while, I used a pack frame with a large bag that I could slide the whole case into. Heavy, and not very convenient, but it did the job for a while.
     
  23. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I now use a Photo Trekker AW II, but before that I used a normal backpack with the lenses and most of the other bits in a lidded plastic box. The camera was wrapped in the dark-cloth and packed on top of the box. Film holders were in smaller boxes. Sleeping pad foam makes great dividers...

    A picture of my loaded Trekker is here , about 3/4 of the way down, but the whole thread is of interest.

    Bob.