Done already 10 images with my new 4X5 camera. These include some funny mistakes so there are about 5 images. Hardly any experience to speak off but already a major problem can be recognized - composing is very difficult.
Composing for me is one of the most significant part of photography. With my 6X6 MF camera it is easy as I can see the entire view on my camera GG screen.
Theoretically it should have been same with the 4X5 but it isn't:
1. w f4.5 I can see brightly only a small area in the center and everything els is dim to a point I can't clearly see the extents of the image in one sight.
2. I can move the bright spot by moving my head and changing angle of view so I can see another small area bright enough but still can't see all of the picture at once.
This issue is most frustrating to a point I am considering not using the LF any longer something that will be very disappointing for me. I wonder how do you folks have solved this problem?
It helps to have a brighter ground glass, Satin Snow comes to mind, and a darker darkcloth. A lens with a larger max aperture is another thing but much more expensive to implement. Other than that you must become familiar with your lenses angle of view and do the better part of your composition out from under the darkcloth. Don't give up too soon!
Fresnel lens. It makes all (most?) of the light emerge perpendicular to the GG. There are very high end fresnel groundglasses with the fresnel bonded to the front face of the GG, but I find the cheapy from Edmund Scientific does just fine. I have an 8x10 and two cut down from 8x10 to 5x7 and 4x5. I only use them for composing and then remove it to focus. The dedicated GG's allow you to do both at once, but I tend to see the little grooves and find it distracting (besides being too expensive for me). You can also find the cheap ones in some bookstores, etc sold as a reading lens, but they don't tend to be big enough.
First, if you don't already have one, get a good dark cloth. With plain ground glass in my 9x12 cm plate camera, even just using a black T-shirt as a dark cloth made a huge difference in what I could see in the ground glass -- focusing was easier, and I can see the image all the way into the corners, which I never could with just the folding hood supplied with the camera's ground glass back.
Second, consider upgrading your ground glass -- first, if it's not new and very clean, find out how to remove the glass, clean both sides carefully (I've used dish soap for hand washing dishes), and dry with a lint-free cloth (rather than air drying, which can cause water borne minerals to deposit in the texture of the ground side of the glass), before reassembling (be sure you get the ground side of the glass in its original orientation). If the glass isn't pretty fine textured, think about replacing it with a new one from Satin Snow, and if it's still not bright enough under the dark cloth (and the corners can be rather dim if you have a wide angle lens -- shorter than about 150 mm in 4x5) think about a Fresnel lens overlay -- you can get these in various price levels, the cheapest being the full-page book magnifiers sold in dime stores for a dollar or two; cut with sharp, heavy scissors to match your ground glass size with the center of the magnifier centered on the glass, and simply drop into place, textured side of the Fresnel against the smooth side of the glass (the plastic Fresnel can be retained with transparent tape, if needed). This will greatly increase the size of the bright center area and reduce the amount of head movement needed to see the corners and edges of the image.
Beyond that, practice...
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
I have used 4x5 in the studio for years but I have been taking it out to the field for the first time recently so we are at the roughly the same point on a similar path
I use a 150mm f/6.3 on my 4x5 with a Satin Snow Ground Glass and find I am able to view the whole glass. Certainly, I have to move my head around a bit to get the best view of a particular area but not the narrow spot that you describe. It might take a while to get, but it is cheap enough to try out and, if it doesn't solve your problem, will almost certainly greatly improve it.
But don't take my word for it. Search on "Satin Snow" on APUG and you will see many happy unsolicited testimonials from users of this glass.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
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In Sept 1995, the Photography Society of America’s PSA Journal ran an article by Larry May titled “A Field Lens For 4x5 View Cameras” (see http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...61/ai_17461863.) Basically it involves affixing a fresnel magnifier (as previously mentioned by Terence) between your eyes and the ground glass. It works well.
Originally Posted by Ruvy
The specific Card Lens Magnifier mentioned in the article may no longer be available, however, one very similar can be obtained from http://www.centercoin.com/coin_suppl...ultraoptix.htm. Scroll down the page and you’ll find Handi Lens / Fresnel Lens - 5-3/8" x 3-3/4" - $3.00 Each - (#HL-3)
The suggestions that have been made are all good. Additionally, you are going from seeing an image in the viewfinder that is upside down from your view camera ground glass. This takes some time to incorporate...probably substantially more then ten sheets of film
Consider the upside down orientation a blessing because normal human functioning oftentimes gets in the way of photography...by having things upside down we begin becoming aware of relationships with form/void and shadow/highlight at the exclusion of photographing readily identifiable objects.
Any good art book will help with the use of leading lines, utilizing diminishing forms, and perspective in composing photographs.
Pay attention to the edges and the corners...
Satin Snow GG. Other than that a good darkcloth and stepping back a little so you can see the whole GG will help. None of my lenses are wider than 5.6 and they are plenty bright with a good darkcloth. With the Satin Snow GG in my 5x7 it is like looking at a little TV screen.
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
All the sugestions stated here so far are great mechanical sollutions. My suggestion though idealistic is more intuitive. Eventually your eyes will adjust faster to the under the dark cloth situation. Make it easier to see edge to edge and top to bottom. The more important part is to visualize as the camera see's. If you find a scene or whatever you are shooting and have chosen your angle. Anticipate the lense then step back 20% farther than the final composition. This will center your image more on the GG. Make your height changes and angle changes here then start moving forward into the final composition. I think eventually you just see the image as the camera sees it and this frustration your going through now will dissapear. Also your might try shooting polariod. The deminsions of the polariod are slightly smaller than film but fairly close.
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
Don't be decouraged. What I did I got Satinsnow GG's for all my cameras. Very bright no fresnel lens needed, and make sure to open lens fully for focusing and stop it down for picture taking.
Hope this helps
Looking is a gift, but seeing is power.