Seneca Improved View v.4 – Trimming the back

So, Had some time recently and tackled the misfitting back. For some reason the stock Seneca back was grafted onto a Korona or Agfa back. Overall it was about 1/16″ too long in each axis:
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The solution? Pretty simple – trim the edges back a bit. Obviously easiest done on a tablesaw, but mine’s buried under flotsam right now, so I attacked with the Stanley 65:
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The result?
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Not bad for about 5 minute’s work. Next is setting some locking pins and filling all the random holes, replace the holder stop, and refinish. And a new ground glass. But, Progress!

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New Project – Seneca Improved View 8×10 v. 4…

For a long while I’ve been pondering a project. After a lot of internal debate and a fair bit of gear sell-off, I pulled the trigger. An excruciatingly long wait ensued but the mail lady dropped this off a few days ago:

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A Seneca Improved View 8×10, appears to be variant 4. The camera is in pretty good shape – wood seems sound, finish is good. Metalwork is tarnished but should clean up well. Lensboard retainers are missing but I have some ideas for that. Needs a new ground glass, easy enough. The back is a little odd, at some point the Seneca back was grafted onto a Korona back. I could split the two, but I’m a little worried about what I might find. I think a little minor surgery is advised in order to hone the fit as is. Bellows are ugly as dirt and a little short but they’re sound and will work for now.

Also included were five wooden holders. All need a little TLC, one has 5×7 inserts I need to remove somehow, one is missing one end flap, which should be easy enough to mill a replacement.

I’m stoked. And I’d forgotten how big these things are. Too used to 4×5…

I never seem to learn…

Had an idea for a non-portrait today: Shoot one of my benches with a single shop light above. Seemed like a good idea, really. I’m still learning the Ektascan, and there’s scant info about reciprocity failure. What started as a 12 second exposure (metered) ended up as a 10 minute exposure in order to get the shadows under the bench near zone III.

Ektascan reciprocity failure...

Clearly pushing the limits of the film. Pulled the developing about 30% to bring the contrast down to something reasonable. Still, lots of flare, the and contrast is poor.

So, after spending several hours running through half a dozen sheets of Ektascan, changing developing times and exposures, I set up the 70D and shot this in about 30 seconds. Desaturate, upload, done. Some things are better suited to digital, a lesson I never seem to learn…

No reciprocity failure...

Large format on the cheap!

Image

Large format on the cheap!

Okay, while you can bottom feed with large format, it’s really not *cheap*. Usually. Lemme ‘splain: Years ago, Mark Sawyer published an article in View Camera about using dollar store magnifying glasses as objectives in LF. I immediately started looking for cheap glass. But everything I found was plastic, small, and had a secondary focal length diopter built into the lens. Didn’t seem like that would work, so I kept looking.

About a month ago, our local Ace had a sale on real, glass, single FL magnifying glasses. Three sizes, a dollar each. I bought one of each size. Mounted one for the 8×10 a couple days ago, but have no film. Tacked the midland length lens (which, turns out, is 7″ f/3.5) into a 4×5 board tonight, strapped a Packard to the front (literally – held on with a bunch of rubber bands) and aimed it at the boy.

I’m happy with what I got. And I’m a little disappointed – all those expensive lenses got very little on this’n. I’m reassessing my Magic Bullet chasing.

Mother and son…

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Mother and son...

Took this photo this weekend of my wife and son, on 4×5. And I’m dissatisfied. It has me, again, ready to swear off large format portraiture. And I’ll tell you why:

  • My daughter gets her giggles from her mother. While my son is capable of sitting stock-still for multiple seconds, my wife couldn’t handle this 1/2 second exposure, and my son couldn’t stand still while he was telling her *she* wasn’t standing still. So, on large format, with a modern Sironar-N lens, the image is soft. Not what I was going for.
  • The exposure and lighting were not what I was shooting for. When I’m using period lenses, I tend to over expose a bit, which is easier for my scanner to recover. With this shuttered lens, the sensitivity to under exposure (using Arista film, which has horrendous reciprocity) is acute. The negative was under exposed by, maybe, half a stop, but that’s thin enough that I lose shadow detail. And it makes my scanner wacko.
  • Post-processing, while simple and full of opportunities and options with digital, are greatly reduced with a thinly-produced, wonky scan. No color option, no post application of various filters.
  • I’m back to where I used to be: Unless I have a specific reason to use LF for portraiture (i.e. – using a period/specialty lens), I can’t justify it anymore. This image should have been shot on digital, would have yielded a more expressive, technically stronger image. Shame on me – I was more about the process than the result.

    Shop cleaning…

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    Shop cleaning...

    Sometimes there’s nothing as satisfying as having a clean shop. Only took a few hours, but now the garage/shop is rearranged into something usable, sensible, and appropriate for actually making things. The trash pile is large (the garbage men won’t be happy tomorrow), and I still have to store the mower and gas cans in the shop area when I’m not working. But the power tools have a logical layout now, there’re room to move, and there’s clear benchtops.

    Time to make some sawdust.