End-of-Season (and rediscovering 8×10)…

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.

End of Season...

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.


Mother and son…


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.




    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.

    Scenes from a WWTP…

    As some of you may know, I spend my days doing engineering work at a wastewater treatment plant rated to treat 28.5 million gallons of sewage per day. Not a glamorous position, but it’s an essential of modern life. So here I am.

    A few weeks ago, I was needing to test out a Rolleiflex I was working on. Looking for something new to shoot test shots on (after the obligatory close focus, open aperture shots) I decided to bring the camera to work. It adds a new dimension to the day to take an outside lunch and walk around looking for subjects.

    The Plant is old, and has accumulated detritus piled in every corner. There’s a delightful industrial quality about the place, with tricky lighting everywhere. It’s just plain fun. The Rolleiflex test shots were encouraging; I brought the Yashica-Mat to work yesterday for some more shooting. I present here some shots from those two outings.


    Trickling Filter


    Sludge heater...



    Shop Bench



    I plan on more of this shooting, and can feel that my eye for composing these shots is going to evolve as I go. But it’s been fun so far.

    Automat K4/50 in action…


    Automat K4/50 in action...

    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.

    Automat K4/50 – First roll/Scenes from the WWTP…

    It’s always a little like Christmas when the first negatives from a camera rehab see the light of day. There’s a lot of anticipation, some nerves, and with any luck, a decent pay-off.

    I loaded the K4/50 yesterday with some Acros and brought the camera to the wastewater treatment plant, where I spend the days largely behind a desk. While not a glamorous place by any stretch, there are some things to be found to point a TLR at.






    The shots aren’t as razor-sharp as I’d been expecting, though. I’m attributing this to two things: A sticky shutter release button, and my own inability to handhold below 1/100 any more. The former I hope to rectify by removing the button, cleaning, polishing, and lubing it, and reinstalling. The latter, well, I’ll just have to be more conscious of my technique. And maybe load some ISO400 film.

    My next roll of film will be a proper test – tripod, release, target, and a full running of the apertures. In other words, boring. I’m still undecided on a replacement screen, as well. Hmm…