The agony, all for LF. Oh yeah, my first sheet film too
Well that was pretty simple. I was expecting scratches galore, uneven development, etc. But it looks like the only things lacking in the 2 sheets of film I developed is the subject matter, composition, focus, etc. First though, I have to explain my LF situation at the moment. I am currently borrowing an old Burke & James monorail 5x7. This is one of the most beat up things I have seen, but it is functional. The ground glass holder is broken, so the glass is taped in there. I literally tore my hands up when I was trying to turn the knobs to get this thing to focus. The movements don't really work, the camera just wobbles all over the place. I didn't have a true focusing cloth, so I used a towel, that didn't really work very well. Then the next lovely feature of this beauty is the lens. The lens is a fabulously wonderful uncoated Kodak Anastigmat f/6.3 (by the way I'm being extremely sarcastic). The shutter is broken on the lens, it is only firing at about 1/100sec, no bulb either. But since it is an old lens the shutter release is a lever, so I can manually keep the shutter open. So when I'm focusing I have to have one hand on the lever and one hand on the knobs, this means my towel keeps falling off. Then after I think the image is in focus I stop down to f/45, cock the shutter, put a lens cap on, insert the holder, and pull out the darkslide. I then go ahead and release the shutter, catching the lever half way open, I wait for the second hand on my watch to get to 56 sec. I then take off the lens cap and make my 4 sec exposure. I then repeat the whole process with an 8 sec exposure. I was tired of all the hastle, so I pack up and head home.
At home, I set up my trays; water, Rodinal 1:50, water, and TF-4. I turn out the lights, turn on the music, and go ahead and develop the sheets (Arista.EDU 200 in Rodinal 1:50 for 10:30). After 3 min of fixing I turn on the lights... and wow there's an image, or wait... both sheets have images! I haven't been this excited since I developed my first roll of 35mm (and I still get pretty excited each time, but there was something more exciting about seeing the giant 5x7 negs in the tray). So after staring at the sheets for the entire 5-8 min wash, I put them into another tray of photo-flo, and then hang them up to dry. The negs are tad thin, but I didn't see any scratches or uneven development, so they are printable.
Once the negs are dry I'm going to go ahead and scan one of them. And then I plan to make a couple work prints on Monday, which will also be the first time I have ever done contact printing (excluding making proof sheets).
So that's my story, my first time ever developing sheets in trays. And just think, I still have 23 sheets left until I have to give back this "lovely" camera. I do have to say, though, this really makes me want to make the jump to 4x5 or 8x10. I can already imagine using a camera/ lens that actually works the way it was designed to... oh wow I can hardly wait. My next paycheck starts the beginning of Grant's LF savings fund. -Grant
I really wish you hadn't posted this. Despite all the pain-in-the-neck factors, you still loved the result. I know how you feel, I suspect.
You probably feel the same way that I did when I souped my first roll of 120 afer being a 35 mm guy all my life. Now I love MF and don't use the 35mm much. But so far, I have staunchly resisted the urge to actively start looking around for a 2nd hand crown graphic or similar. I've gone as far as 6x9 cm on an old Ziess Ikon folder I picked up at a market for 40 oz dollars. It is enough of a size increase over 645 that I sometimes think; "hmmm wonder what a 4x5 inch contact print would look like?" (I've never seen one in the flesh).
A few more stories like this and I may be in *real* trouble... ;-)
All sounds perfectly normal to me. So you shed a little blood, suck it up, man! Just don't drip any in the developer. BTW, what makes you think things would be any different if you had a $2500 Canham 5x7? My first LF negs were with a brand spankin' new Zone VI view camera and Schneider lens and you have done a lot better than I did. 25 sheets already? In one day? Yikes. Did this camera have a motor drive? For me, 10 is a lot in one day.
One thing that will get you really hooked is when you don't have to tray process anymore. Trays get real old real fast without great music and wine, anyway. I got away from tray processing as fast as I could. I got a JOBO 4x5 inversion tank that had reels that held 12 4x5 negatives. Awesome thing, but it cost a fortune to fill it all the way with developer. So I started using Rodinal! Then I got a JOBO processor and some Expert drums and now life is so cool. Heck, I choose a developer with long development times just so I can eat\drink\surf while the JOBO spins away. Next thing, you might consider a JOBO drum and an inexpensive motor base like the Beseler or something that will spin the thing for you. Please tell me you're not doing DBI are you? I mean, a 15 watt green safelight? Didn't they know about time and temp back in the 1920's?
BTW, you have probably started out with the perfect format. I really don't recommend starting out with 4x5. I'd go with 5x7 or 8x10 and skip 4x5 completely. It's way too small. Now that you've shed your blood on 5x7, why step down? You see it ain't so tough after all, right? So stay big (I'm sure there are folks here that would consider 8x10 'small', but they all live in small shacks in the woods and mutter to themselves so we can discount their opinions). I love 5x7 and now I just shoot that and 8x10 in LF. 4x5's are too small to make a decent contact print and if you're going to enlarge them, why not enlarge 5x7 instead? 20 sq. in. vs 35 sq. in. - easy choice.
In the good old days, when fishermen went out to sea and caught their first tuna, they would wipe blood from the kill on the faces of the initiates. You have been baptized in blood, an honorable passage into the world of LF. Do you have the courage to enter the world of the Zone System or BTZS?
Bless you and welcome. You are a man now.
Shooting in LF takes guts, it is a step into history. No hi-tech to save you, it is as pure as it gits. Go for it.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
Grant, all hope is now lost! Sorry Bud, but that's just the way it is.
If you plan on enlarging, 4x5 will get you there very easily. I have a "spare" enlarger for 4x5 because I couldn't pass up the deal on a Beseler 45V-XL from a lab here in Tucson (let me know if you need one). 4x5 is going cheap now at all of the photo equipment shows I've visited lately. A local store has a very nice Crown Graphic setup with case, film holders & flash for $250 ready to go, a good deal for a good 4x5.
If you like that larger film, try to get an 8x10 to use and see how you like it. Don't buy until you have a firm feel for a few formats (sorry, still early and I guess the "F" key got stuck in my head before the coffee has started working this morning). If you decide on 8x10, don't do what I did with an old B&J monster, try to find something a bit more portable and you will save money on trips to the chiropractor. It works very well, but is a bit much to lug around here in the desert without a bit of help from a friend.
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Congratulations! Better then one of my first attempts. I was so excited after having finally set up the camera, metering and composing that I pulled the darkslide, flipped it over to exposed side, immeadiately put it back in the film holder and exposed the film.
It does get easier with a more useable camera. All the mechanics become second nature, and a reliable lens will provide consistent exposures.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
"DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK. "
I love it!
congrats! the great thing is you can find 4x5 enlargers for cheap (i got an omega d2 for free!). if you think large negatives are cool, wait until you make your first enlargement from a large negative :-) i recently got a burke and james 8x10. it makes you feel how "small" 4x5 or maybe even 5x7 is. this stuff is like crack.
I's like crack. You get the first couple for free after that you get a scratch and you are so pissed you go out and shoot more film just to prove it was not you who scratched the film. You develope and all is well. Then when you are once again feeling good you scratch one and the whole cylce repeats itself. In no time you're out on the street jonesing for a bigger neg, a larger camera and even bigger trays. Passersby look at you strangely as you mumble about too big an SBR, minus development and the woes of illford. Some ass calls you a Zonazi but you are lost, stumbling further into the gutter, no longer looking at the people who go by as humans just wallets and purses, the dollars you need for just another box.
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
Thanks for the encouragement everyone.
Mike- I meant that I had only shot 2 sheets, I still have 23 to shoot. The drums do sound quite a bit easier, but I think I'll wait till I get my own LF camera first. No DBI. The only reason why I would go to 4x5 is because it's more "available" (or at least from what I've heard). I'm pretty sure it's easier to find 4x5 enlargers than a 5x7 one, and if I were going to commit to contact printing I would go up to 8x10 (assuming I enjoyed shooting 8x10 that is...)
Right now, though, I have no room for an enlarger (unfortunately). I figure that I will be going away in less than a year, so there's no point in investing in a set-up that I will only use use for about 9 months, then it will never be used again for about 4 years. I do plan on contact printing at my house now though, which is exciting.
By the way, here is a scan of the first negative. Yes, I know... it is a picture of old mattresses, a little boring. But I will be going out to shoot again soon.
Thanks everyone... -Grant