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  1. #1

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    returning to film photography

    I'm Ron from Yellowknife, I've posted other introduction information on the introduce yourself to APUG forum. Several moves back, and over a decade ago, I had been doing some B&W and colour medium format photography. Most of it was astrophotography, some using a home made double scotch camera mount for time exposures without star trails. The winters here are long and dark enough to do that but I'm not sure what parts of the set-up would work at our winter temperatures. If I can afford it I'd like to build, repair, or buy a 4X5 camera light enough for my motorized camera mount, this could be a winter project for me, I have other projects that should be completed before I start this.

    The goal, apart from some winter night photography work, is to make up my own photo archive of parts of Yellowknife as it is today. There's been a push on to tear down old buildings and transform the city from its mining town roots into something more civilized (but I think lacking in character).

    I've just subscribed and hope to be here on and off looking for advice and help as I set out to get back into film photography. My wife of 35+ years, Laura, has OK's putting some processing gear into our small laundry furnace room, provided I keep the expenses reasonable. She's actually very supportive, I wouldn't want to give any other impression.

    Anyone care to give me some helpful suggestions?

  2. #2
    Two23's Avatar
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    You might look at a 120 based system to keep costs down. A Bronica ETRS system is low priced, high quality, and lightweight.


    Kent in SD

  3. #3

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    I took a quick look on the auction site to see what prices were like. If I'd like to import one the prices are very low (compared to 20 years ago), there isn't much available in Canada. They're a 6X4.5 ? Interesting and worth considering although I'd prefer a larger format if I can do it at a reasonable cost.

  4. #4
    APUGuser19's Avatar
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    Aug 2014
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    If you're coming back to this, consider the virtue of energy and eagerness over the mass and discipline of a big camera. Be aware early on, of burn-out. Possibly one of the mechanical Japanese 35's and a basic enlarger like a Beseler 67 or similar would be the way to go. It's amazing how lulls in interest breeds resentment about the clutter of gear in your living space, and the encumbrance of carrying it. The bigger cameras have exponentially diminishing returns for the mass of the gear, and the stringent discipline involved. The present film and chemistry technology delivers the most of a 35mm. Indeed, with Dolby units and chrome tapes, the cassette decks were rivaling the big R to R decks of the day. A decent tape deck with Maxell UDXLII tapes can beat a R2R like a drum. Same with the 35's.

  5. #5

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    Jan 2015
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    Hey man welcome back to film. That is great to hear and I hope you throughly enjoy it. Where will you be doing prints?
    Actually film is better.

  6. #6

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    I'd left film photography for several reasons, lack of interest wasn't one of them. The reasons for letting it go and coming back now are: 1) its the first time since 2003 that we've bought our own house, the rented places didn't have room for the gear, 2) since originally packing up the gear from the move in 2003 from the east coast to Saskatchewan it has several times been in outside storage areas and some of it was badly water damaged, 3) not having a place to set up an area for film processing meant having to send out everything which didn't work well for push processing astrophotography shots, 4) although they made occasional mistakes, like cutting the film into frames in the middle of of a frame (a good astrophotography B&W shot looks like unexposed film with specks on it), I had a good working relationship with Elmira photo in Ontario. who like many smaller labs that would give me that personal attention I wanted got out of film, 5) it was starting to look like film was getting hard to find, even before we packed up to move in 2003, even now the selection is limited compared to fifteen years ago. The list could go on.

    If I wasn't still putting in overtime and other commitments on my time I would have made more progress unpacking by now.

    Why now and why larger format. While I wasn't unpacked and ready to go the demise of my ruggedized point & shoot digital camera brought to the surface my dislike of things that are unnecessarily automated, unrepairable, and disposable, where the challenge is figuring out the buttons and features (which are great with respect to digital cameras) but require little understanding. So the disposable point & shout digital camera may be replaced with a similar one I wasn't up for the expense (and early obsolescence) of a quality digital camera, I'm more into something a couple of steps above a box camera that will take a decent higher resolution photo. 4X5 film and processing seems to have survived so far, quality affordable used parts are available, the basic functions are there, generally I don't need a built in (fill in the blank here) feature, it could be made light enough for my tracking camera mount, I'd like to try some alternative processes just for fun, and the list could go on. Recently it dawned on me that Yellowknife has been through dramatic changes in the last few years, the Giant mine headframe, a landmark from the 1930's, has been torn down, the Con mine headframe, behind our house, is scheduled to go (over the protests of many residents) next year. The downtown core is being bought up by the city bent on modernizing the cities image, and many of the old character buildings are threatened or gone. Walking through the downtown core on Saturday I was surprised at how the downtown core renewal had gone, but then I was struck by an awesome photo opportunities that remained. Outside of town many kilometres of the only highway south have been burned over in the last two years, the last trip I did in June there wasn't a bison to be seen, even the familiar landscapes are changing.

    I don't see myself taking photos that I'd value in something smaller than a 6X6. An example, while doing some indoor candid shots of my mother's 75 birthday back in 2001 (she's still with us) my youngest brother came up from behind her and wrapped his arms around her as I took a shot with my Koni-Omega (stock lens) from across the room. When I did my own enlargement I noticed that I could clearly read the time on his analog wrist watch, something I doubt a typical 35mm or affordable digital camera of the day could have done.

    Its a work day, I should go back to bed, I got up to take my daughter to the airport for an early morning flight to YYC, to find that she called a cab and left already.

    Doing my prints, I don't know yet, I'm up for suggestions, thanks for asking.

  7. #7
    jnanian's Avatar
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    hi ron,
    sounds like a lot of fun !
    good luck documenting the town, i do a lot of that
    it is rewarding !
    and it is kind of funny, you might photograph 1 thing that had been there for ummm 100 years
    and after it is gone and whatever futzing around the town does to the site to make it all nice-nice
    you can show the photograph to people and they won't even remember that thing you photographed was there, its really strange.

    if you are looking at 4x5 - stuff, think about if you want / need camera movements ( straightening out buildings if you "tilt the camera up" )
    or if you can get away with using a 4x5 camera like a big 35mm camera .. compose on the glass, put the film in ( roll film in an adapter, or sheet film )
    and expose ... with 4x5 you might not have to enlarge, contact prints are like 4x6 prints gotten from a lab ... and depending on what you want to do
    they can be as easy to make as with a light bulb and a pane of glass and some photo paper, or you can use the sun ...

    good luck !
    john

  8. #8

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    Aug 2015
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    Yellowknife, NT, Canada
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    Thanks for the post John, the kind of advice I need. I just checked out your website and its saved me asking the question of what should I do with my new in the package 15 year old film. I wonder if any of the chemistry or print paper would still be good for anything. You're signature file caught my attention, my wife and I do a little for charity and I'd like to do more for relief work. I'm out of bed again, my adult son wants to be taken to the dentist and might not be able to drive after the 7AM appointment. maybe we could just head to work after that and perhaps quit early.

    I think I'm going to like returning to the fold :-)

    If I don't drop off to sleep right after work I'll check the forum this evening.

  9. #9
    jnanian's Avatar
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    thanks for the visit
    and it is great to read of another person / people who gives too !

    if your developer or its ingredient-powder is black its all bad
    for film, its ez to mix a simple developer like D23 out of 2 ingredients
    ( not including the water ) .. i cant' speak for D23 but older film and paper
    might like something strong like D72 &c easy to mix from scratch or
    from a dektol pouch

    good luck with the paper and film, it might be good, or bad
    at least you'll enjoy yourself tring to figure that out

    john

    ps the not very movement cameras i was refering to are speed and crown graphics
    they can be had for not too much $$ and ones with a graflok back can take film holders.
    the ones with movements can be found sometimes for not too much $ too, some of the older ones
    ( graphic views, calumets &c ) are solid but sometimes heavy ... largeformatphotography.info has some
    good reading materials for someone starting out with LF, and graflex.org has tons of stuff on everything graflex.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Carolinas
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    I think you would be quite happy with an ETRS or ETRSi. I enjoy mine quite a lot.

    I have a plethora of cameras in 35mm through 8x10 view and my "walk arounds" are usually something like an ETRS or a GS-1. There is a vast, in my opinion, difference in the appearance of enlargements that the medium format has over 35mm, although I love my 35's.

    Whichever route you take, I feel that you will be best served by an enlarger that will handle at least a 6x7 format. I have a Minolta ModIII that I have had since the 1970's and it is a favorite. I only use the 4x5 enlarger for 4x5, whereas the Minolta handles the other smaller formats. If you get a color head, you will find that the current variable contrast papers work splendidly. Using dual filtration (yellow and magenta combined) will minimize exposure time differences as you change grades.

    Welcome back to film; I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy the journey.

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