I’d resigned myself to selling my 8×10 Eastman #2 recently. Hadn’t been shooting it: I couldn’t quite dial in the Ektascan BR/A in Adanol, the camera was unweildy, the Ries heavy. Got discouraged, annoyed, and checked out mentally. Went so far as to put the 14″ f/6 Petzval I’d bought for it on the block.
Gratefully, it seems to be a buyer’s market right now. Got no bites. As I was mowing this weekend, I figured I’d shoot something outdoors with the 8×10 and the 14″-er and maybe that would help it move. Decided I’d put the boy in front of the lacrosse goal for an end-of-season picture. I’d had a moment of developing success with the Ektascan in HC-110; I had just enough syrup left for a couple sheets.
I set the camera up, pre-focused and waited for some clouds. Stood my son in front of the net with his stick, and fired off the shutter.
Now, I’ve been shooting the same ol’ portraits for a long time. Bored with them. Wasn’t expecting much out of this shot, but was nice to shoot something a little difference. I was not ready for the rendering this lens would give, though. I’m in love. Have some ND filters on order so I can slow things down enough to shoot my local waterfall with this lens, too. I’m reinvigorated, and the rig is off the market.
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.
From the weekend. I have to admit, while I always liked the process of large format, I’m enjoying the overall experience of photography more now than I have in years. This was from a 10 minute sitting, trying lots of different poses, expressions, positions. When my son got tired of the process, we were done. Much easier, lower impact on him, and favorable results.
Didn’t do a first day of school shot this year – this is a first-weekend-after-school-started picture. 4×5 Arista.EDU Ultra 100 in HC-110 dil H. Asanuma, Sironar-N 210/5.6. First sheet of film I’ve burned in – what – six weeks? The boy’s still a trooper.
Took my son to the Daniel Boone Homestead this weekend. Had the Automat loaded with 400 Tri-X. Side note – I HATE 400 films! Haven’t found one yet that I’m happy with in HC-110, and I’m not switching developers any time soon.
Anyway, this was a real-life test of the Automat, in the field. I found I do not like the waxed screen. It was suggested on APUG that the wax was applied too heavily, though I’m not sure how I’d apply it any more sparingly than I did. Moral of the story – I’m stripping the wax off. I’d rather go with the stock screen, cleaned with a clean mirror and viewing lens, than deal with the hot spot created by the wax.
Otherwise, this camera is a gem to use. Cranking is smooth and solid, shutter is good, and it lives up to its Rolleiflex heritage. New leather is ordered. This one will be finished soon.
With the Rolleiflex about ready to film test, I felt like shooting a TLR, so I loaded up the Yashica-Mat this weekend. This was an end-of-roll shot, with my daughter hamming. Exposure was fine, but not enough time in the soup, and I think I could have agitated a little more. But the Yashinon is a strong performer, regardless.
Will be loading the Automat tonight for some test shots before I sink money into new leather…
I know I’ve said it before, but I think I’m swearing off large format portraiture for the foreseeable future. Took the last photo of the boy this afternoon. Momma was not happy with it. “It looks like a depression commercial.” Great – just what I was going for. But I can’t force the boy to smile, and holding a smile for LF shots is much harder than blank expressions. Set up the 5D and 70-200/2.8, point it at the boy, make him laugh, and assemble a triptych. Much more fun, much better results. No need for all the gyrations, especially if I focus on the results. The process is fun sometimes (well, most of the time), but I think I need to reserve it for other subjects now.