What is your ULF Shooting Routine?
Okay, I finally got film holders for my 11x14 B&J and just had to take it for a test drive.
I still don't have film, a proper tripod or lens, but I loaded the holder with paper and placed a 210 Symmar on it just to get a feel for using the format.
I must say that it was a little more involved than I expected. Getting it on the tripod, carrying the film holder and meter, leveling the camera, focusing, etc. It was comical. I felt like I was about three arms and four hands short... and I was only eight feet outside my front door!
So how do you guys do it? There's got to be an easier way. Do you have help?
By the way, the paper neg came out just fine apart from a little too much contrast. The contact print left a little to be desired, but not bad for my first paper negative. Of course, I picked the worst possible subject; my 4-yr old son. You'd think he could sit still for 1/4 sec...
As a side note, I was very surprised to find that the Symmar-S would cover 8x10 @ f/11 with no noticeable falloff. It is spec'd at 294 @ f/22.
That's pretty much how it goes. You just need to slow down and take your time getting things set up and ready for the shoot. There really isn't an easy way to do it.
Mallards @ 2 o'clock
I have been dry firing the ULF for nearly a year. Now we are loading the guns. My routine is this:
1. Load the car in the order of set up.
a. I pull the tripod out first...It can be on the drivers side or passengers side or the rear door.
b. Set the tripod and confirm leg positions.
c. I unload the camera from the passengers side or rear of the car and not on the road side.....bring camera to location: depending on situation I use a 3 wheeled cart or converted dolly set up for this, or if close I bring the camera to the tripod in its box, which doubles as a platform for equipment.
d. I use a majestic tripod, I set it up without the head, the tripod head is now fitted to the camera which is still in its folded position.
e. Mount camera and head on tripod posts and firm.
f. unfold camera and choose lens-lenses are transported in pistol cases with foam inside...several lenses fit in each case and foam holds secure. Lenses are in zip loc bags. These cases are available from Sports authority-several sizes, very inexpensive....10 to 15 bucks max.
g. Compose the pre determined shot.
h. Load camera---each film holder is transported in its individual holder case...these are zippered cooler bags with adequate padding, water proof, and if need be can be placed in a large cooler with frozen cooling cubes.....These bags accomodate my 14 x 17 inch holders and were sold this summer at Costco for 6.99 each....for my 8 x 10 holders I use the cooler bag that Matt Blaise (Blaze-ON) sells on apug they were less than 15 dollars...
i. After exposing both sides of the film (if the shot is worth setting up for, IMHO it is worth 2 negs) the holder is returned to the bag and a note with info is put into the bag with the film......then the film holder bag is zipped closed and the strap handles are tied with a plastic grocery bag....I know from the outside this has been exposed and not to open it to check etc.
* begin to collect as many holders as you can...it is more effective and efficient to load up a box of 10 or 20 when you go out, a well known Florida Large format photographer is known to take 10 or more shots of the same scene at one setting, knowing it is marketable and when everything is right and you are ready, you have to get it
It is more like hunting ducks from a blind than it is flushing quail!
dont try to talk to anyone while yer shooting.
youll manage to forget something like closing the shutter or stopping down the aperture while yer yapping.
spend some time walking around before you even haul out the camera. holds true for alot of formats, but seems amplified with ULF. Taking that time will pay off. might be a place you found interesting but upon walking around nothing strikes you.
Dont feel obligated to expose a neg. When I first started shooting 7x17 I often times went through all the effort of setting up the camera and realized the scene was "striking" me any longer, yet I still exposed a neg... this rarely worked out well. So from first hand experience, dont feel obligated even if you spent a long while setting everything up.
Dave, 10 or 20 ULF film holders are fine if you are just working near the car. But not very feasible if you have to lug them any distance at all. Taking 10 to 20 exposures of the same scene usually means one thing. The photographer is not sure of either his technique or his equipment. Ulf is more like a marathon than it is a sprint. Get to know your equipment like the back of your hand and perfect your technique then you won't need 20 shots of the same scene. Slow down and take your time composing, work the corners of your ground glass. Eventually you'll get the shot you need in one or two exposures. Bracketting will get real old real fast with a ULF camera. Now if that is how you prefer to work then all I can say is it is perfect for you and keep up the good work.
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yes, it can seem daunting. But relax and enjoy the experience. The first thing I do is walk the area/scene and get a good idea on where I would like to set up. Then I set up the tripod. I turn it upside down on the ground (my foot so the it doesn't get scratched) the then adjust the legs to roughly my chin....then I know when I 'set it up' and put a camera on it, it's basically at the right height for viewing. Then mount camera. Then mount lens. Then place dark cloth. compose image (focus, meter, etc.) and hopefully you know the rest.
Some folks use a baby stroller (3 big wheels) or large back pack, or back of the car to haul the stuff.
I would suggest making or getting a piece of cardboard and cutting a rectangle in it the size of your film. Attach a string with marks equal to the lens length and walk around looking thru the cardboard to get a sense of where and IF you're going to set up. Then unpack.
Practice at home. Load your car, unload your kit, set it up, go through all the steps necessary to take a photo, repack the kit and load it back in the car. Do this 50 times and you'll have it down. Some areas of photography, particularly large format, are a performance and like any performance, need practice.
Taking your time and enjoying your experience, as other have mentioned, is good advice.It's not just about gertting a good photo, but also the process and experience. It let's you think more about composition and concept, which is the great part of the experience. On the other hand, you will get faster as you do the process. everything takes time at first.
One thing is when you attach the camera to the tripod, set the tripod head in the vertical position, so the platform is perpendicular to the ground, so you can access the screw easily and confirm that you are setting the camera squarely on the platform. Do this with the camera in the closed position if the camera folds, then set the camera horizontal and open it.