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  1. #1

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    Advice about equipment for away from home workshop

    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. #2
    Robert Brummitt's Avatar
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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!
    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit"
    Aristotle

  3. #3
    chuck94022's Avatar
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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? :-) ).

    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! :-)

    -chuck

  4. #4
    rbarker's Avatar
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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.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  5. #5

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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. #6

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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. #7
    Digidurst's Avatar
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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. #8

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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.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ahgreenhill
    Ron advised the field camera and said there would be some hiking and not to bring a case on wheels.
    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. #10

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    [QUOTE=mark]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.
    QUOTE]
    Which backpack did you purchase and any recomendations on backpacks for 4x5's?

    Gary

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