So I'm looking for ideas & suggestions concerning lenses for my 8x10 and 11x14 cameras. Jim Galli I'm hoping you weigh in on this, as well as anyone else who can guide me in the right direction.
I have a Kodak Master View 8x10 and a Empire 11x14 and I'm looking for some old glass to give the finished images a certain look. I already have plenty of fast glass to use as portrait lenses (although I'm looking for more) but what I really want is to find some wide angle lenses that will give the resulting photographs a soft, almost "pointillistic" feel to them. Not soft focus ( I have a Verito and a Pinhkam & Smith for that) but a final look like a Manet/Degas or Remington/Wyeth painting. Where things are in focus but not sharp. If that makes sense? Maybe I need a wide angle Verito or something analogous. Does such a thing exist? A wide angle petzval? Anyhow any input would be appreciated. This is for a long term personal body of work I'd like to start. I'm sure there's some way to do this in post but I want to do it in camera.
Thanks for your suggestions in advance.
Hi Robb. Wide angle is so difficult. Especially with old glass. Most of them are sharp in the middle and crappy out in the corners. The Series V Protar's are hard to use with the f18 wide open. I have an 8X10" 162mm Series VIIb Cooke that is just awesome. I've done some interiors with that lens that just have an etched glass look to them. But if one of those that covers 11X14 (222mm IIRC) comes along.....look out on main street because I'll gun ya down.
Short of getting gunned down by Galli going for the gusto of one of those Cooke's (lol), you might consider experimenting with filtration to achieve what you're looking for. While most "soft focus" filters, or glass plates with smears, just blur when mounted on the lens, you might get what you're looking for by rigging a larger version farther in front of the lens.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
So If another 8x10 comes along may I gun you down for it?
Originally Posted by jimgalli
[SIZE=1]I want everything Galli has!
[SIZE=1]I want to make images like Gandolfi!
I was sure I had seen something...
so here it is - maybe:
should cover 8x10 (or so they say)
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In the pre WW1 era, with 'old sensibilities' yet the excitement of being able to take the new films and plates out of the studios and into 'Homes and Gardens', many photographers turned to the new anastigmats because they were fast, but also usable at fast apertures. Tessars, Heliars, Cookes, Dagors, Collinears, the lot.
They solved the aesthetic difficulties, according to articles written at the time, and from conversations with old timers when I was much younger, by the simple expedient of focussing sharply ( a soft, yet coherent image ) then racking the lens forward, shifting the plane of sharp focus away from the face and into the space before the camera .
Light is always the most important thing in establishing the 'feel' of the image. Next, you can give full exposure and gentle development, to reduce the hardblacks in the shadows. Then, working at a fairly large aperture, and using focus carefully, as did Emerson, you can put the clarity where you want.
So, for a wide field of view, with a coherent image but not striking acutance... I think you're looking at a Series VII Protar or Dagor. Even if you need to stop down a great deal, using Emerson's aesthetic of very soft shadows and mellow highlights ( roughly a scale from Zone II / III ~ Zone VII / VIII ) will reduce the biting, in your face intensity and put the attention back on the content. A good place to begin would be Tri X @ 50 or 100.
A 9 1/2 " Dagor covers 11x14 @ f/32 ( barely, barely, barely ) and a 7" covers 8x10 in a very skinny sort of way. A Protar VII of slightly longer focal length will be needed.
As for a Series V Protar, I don't mind working at f/18 for landscapes. The lenses are very fine, and like the Dagor and Series VII, make a lovely, round, "breathing image ", as Ansel put it. A 5 9/16" covers 8x10, and 7 3/16" covers 11x14.
Investing part of the lens fund in some Satinsnow might be clever.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
Not to light a fire but you could try something I stumbled on for that 'look', Bergger 200 film in dektol 1-3. It may just give you what you are looking for. Try a start time of 4 min @70* for iso50. I didn't like the Bergger film so I never chased this down.
Just a thought.
You might try a convertible lens and use only the front or rear group to achieve the look you are after. I think you'll find the old Gunlach triple convertibles useful in that regard. My understanding is they are not particularly sharp when combined and even less so when the groups are used alone. Compared to other vintage lenses they are fairly inexpensive.
Another option might be simple diopters used as a taking lens or in combination with regular lenses to soften the definition. View Camera magazine had an article about using diopters along with normal lenses about three years ago.
I think I probably missed the boat here. The VIIb is really much sharper than what you're asking about. How wide is wide? Wondering if the 12" de-focus Velostigmat would work. Jay Tepper just put one up on Ebay. Not really very wide but mildly so. That lens on the 11X14 and just letting the corners go dark might have a very nice look.
I'll second gandolfi's suggestion of an Aplanat. Get two - one wide-angle and one "normal". The WA's are suprisingly sharp (all the way to the corners) when stopped down to f:64 or so, while at full aperture (about f:16) they have a very sharp center and soft corners. The "normal" Aplanats / Rapid Rectilinears show the same phenomenon over a narrower angle: Full open the center 30░ or so is sharp and the corners (very) soft, sharpening up to cover about 70-80░ at f:64.
Another nice thing with aplanats is the price: Five aplanats gets you one Petzval - an you're less likely to be bidding against Jim Galli (but more likely to be bidding against me).
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist