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The Virtues of an Analog Stopwatch

It’s best to keep things simple when working with a large format camera. Over the years I’ve developed a ritual of sorts when working in the field. As Alan Brock mentioned in an earlier post, one such ritual is test firing the shutter before pulling the darkslide. If the shutter is cocked and still doesn’t fire, it means your shutter is still open. Pulling the darkslide would have fried that sheet of film. We’ve all been there before, and it’s nice to avoid those mistakes.

Another practice of mine is to use an analog stopwatch for timing exposures. I love how the motion of starting/stopping the stopwatch is the same as using a cable release. This greatly simplifies the process, and is far easier on my brain—especially in stressful moments when I’m juggling other variables including wind and dynamically changing light. There’s another advantage to this technique as well. Analog stopwatches don’t require any batteries, and there is something very satisfying about seeing that second hand sweep toward my desired exposure length. The stopwatch I use is made by Minerva, and can be found on the used market. These stopwatches are quite old, but very simple in design, and are designed to last a very long time.

 

A Path to Consistent Results

A Path to Consistent Results

By: Ryan Gillespie

Some time ago, I thought I would try some different developers for my black and white film. I knew there would be some differences in the chemistry and developing times, but I figured “As long as my exposure was correct, I should have a nice negative to work with.”
How wrong I was.

This is not a report on what developer is the best. I truly feel that all the developers on the market today are excellent developers to use and will give excellent results. Hell, for many months I only used a homebrew developer concoction called Caffenol made up of Washing soda, Vitamin C, and Instant coffee. Caffenol surprisingly worked very well but when I plunged into Large Format Photography, I thought I should also get more serious about the developer I was using to process my film.

I had heard some great things recently regarding a film from ADOX, their CHS 100 II black and white film and I wanted to give it a try. I went out on location to a scene I walk past multiple times during the week and thought it was interesting enough subject to photograph, as well as a perfect time to do a film test. I loaded up my film holders with ADOX CHS 100 II black and white film and hit the road. Luckily for me I had a nice completely overcast sky giving soft even light over the subject allowing me to keep the same exposure for all sheets of film being exposed, 4 sheets to be exact. My exposure for each sheet of film was f/11 @ 1/30 second at box speed. I then returned home and developed each sheet of film individually in four different developers that I have used over the years. My process for developing is as follows, a water bath/rinse prior to the developer. I keep bathing and rinsing the film until the water runs clear again from the anti-halation layer. Once the water runs clear it’s onto the developer. Each developer was used at 68oF/20oC for the recommended standard times from manufacture. After developer I used a water rinse to stop the development process and then a Fixer bath for 6 minutes.

The developers being used and tested with the CHS 100 film are as follows: Pyrocat HD mixed one part A to one part B to 100 parts water.
Kodak HC-110 mixed 1:7 (Dilution B)
Clayton F-76 mixed 1:9

R09 One Shot mixed 1:100 (one-hour stand development)

I was expecting all the negatives to be fairly close in density range, but I ended up with a very large range of negative densities as seen in the image below.

After a visual inspection, a scan inspection, and a physical print inspection, I decided that I preferred the results from both the Pyrocat HD Developer and the Clayton F-76 Developer. Both negatives did not quite have the density that I prefer to see and the other two negatives were too dense.

When printing for Platinum Palladium, I found that a staining developer works best with prints made from ultraviolet exposures. With this in mind, I settled on using Pyrocat HD as my preferred developer with this ADOX CHS 100 II film.

Hoops

I then decided to take an additional step and try to determine my preferred film speed and Developer combination with the Pyrocat HD, one that would give me a negative density that works for me and my printing methods. I set up a target to photograph under consistent lighting in a studio setting and began making an exposure of the target at different ISO settings on my meter.

After a visual inspection, a scan inspection, and a test print of all the negatives printed together on the same sheet of paper, my personal preference of ISO rating for ADOX CHS 100 II film in combination with Pyrocat HD Developer was an ISO rating of 80. Keep in mind that this is my personal preference and yours may be different.

My recommendation is to do a similar film test with your choice of film, your choice of developer, and whatever meter you use in order to determine your preferred ISO for the film and developer you are using, in doing so you will greatly increase the consistency in printing and or scanning of your images.

If for any reason along your photographic journey you decide to change one or more of the following in the process:

the film, the developer, the temperature of your chemistry, or your light meter. I would suggest doing another film test.

Here’s to more consistent results in your photography!

Best of 2019

Film Drying

Developing Film at Home

Developing Film at Home

Developing your own film at home isn’t as difficult as some people seem to think. I was hesitant to start but after dipping my toe in Black and White I quickly moved to C-41 and even E6. The motivation to start the process of developing film at home started when the Postal Service lost track of my film in route to the lab. This went on for a few days but luckily they found the package and it was delivered successfully. Even though the lab was able to develop my film and sent it back to me without any issues it got me thinking about the risk of sending off my film and relying on others instead of owning the entire process from beginning to end.

Development Tanks and Trays

Let’s start with the equipment you will need. For 4×5 film, there are a few options available, less for 8×10 and larger. The first thing you will need is a tank or tray to develop your film in. The benefit of having a tank is the fact that it only requires complete darkness during the film loading. Once loaded the film is in a light sealed container so you can do the actual development anywhere. Trays, on the other hand, require the entire process to be completed in the dark making this a bit more difficult way to process your film. Because of this, I prefer to use a tank to develop my film but if you shoot larger than 8×10 you may not have any choice in the matter. There are a few different tank styles available for 4×5 film, some of the more popular options are the Paterson MOD54, Stearman Press SP-445, BZTS Tubes, the B’s 4x5reel, and Jobo Expert Drums. Of these, I have only tried the Stearman Press SP-445 and Jobo Drums but any of them will do the job. For larger sized film BTZS has an 8×10 version of their tubes and Jobo has an Expert Drum for developing 8×10 film. I have also heard that Stearman Press is working on a solution for developing 8×10 film as well so other options may soon be available.

Jobo 3010 Drum

I started with the Stearman Press SP-445 and it worked great. The only reason I decided to move up to the Jobo was due to scale. Last year when I came home from my fall trip I had around 40 sheets to develop. That means 10 full runs to complete all 40 sheets. By contrast, the Jobo Expert 3010 processes 10 sheets at a time so that the same amount of film could be completed in 4 runs. The more times you use your chemicals the longer the runs need to be to correctly process your film. A second reason I like the Jobo better is the fact that nothing covers the emulsion side so there is less chance of anything damaging the film. Using the Stearman SP-445 I have had sheets come out with clear spots where the film holder covered the emulsion. For this reason, I prefer the holders that require bending the film so the back of the film is the only thing touching the holder rather than sliding them into a flat holder that wraps around the film.

Chemicals

Black and White Film

Black and White film is by far the easiest film to develop yourself. To develop Black and White film at home you will need 1) Developer, 2) Stop Bath, 3) Fixer and finally 4) PhotoFlo. The only part of the process that is temperature-sensitive is that the Developer needs to be at a specific temperature. Please consult the chemical manufacturers’ website or find the information in one of the Apps listed below. I have been using Kodak HC-110 developer with no issues at all. The best part about this developer is that it lasts a long time. I have had the same bottle of HC-110 for 2 years now and even though it has expired and it needs to be replaced it still works fine and I have a quarter of the bottle left. This is after developing hundreds of sheets of film. Along with the developer, you will need a Stop Bath. Stop Bath is used to halt the development process. I have been using IlfoStop from Ilford. Again this stuff goes a long way. Next, you will need a Fixer, this “fixes” or allows the film to be safely exposed to light. You will use this chemical the most but again is relatively cheap. I use Ilford Rapid Fixer and see no reason to change. Lastly, I use Kodak Photo-Flo to keep water spots from the film while it is drying. There is some debate about using this and others say using a drop of dish soap is just as effective. My thoughts are it costs less than $10 for a 16 oz bottle and you only need a drop at a time so it will last a very long time.

C-41

When it comes to color negative film processing I use Tetenal Colortec C-41 Rapid 2 Bath Color Negative Developing Kit. It comes with all of the chemicals you need to develop your color negative films like Kodak Portra or Ektar. The kit includes 6 bottles of chemicals and when mixed comes out to a 3 step process, 1) Color Developer, 2) Bleach/Fix and 3) Stabilizer. The main change when moving from developing black and white to color is all of the chemicals need to be held to a consistent temperature throughout the process. Because I am using a rotary tank I keep the chemicals at 68° Celcius or 100° Fahrenheit but the manual that comes with the chemicals has all of the details you need. Unlike black and white chemicals, C-41 chemicals expire 12-24 weeks after opening the bottles depending on the chemical.

E6

Finally, there is E6 film processing for slide film or transparencies. Films like Velvia 50, Velvia 100 and Provia 100F all use this developing process. Just like with C-41 processing temperature is extremely important throughout the process with E6 development. For E6 I use Tetenal Colortec E-6 Developing Kit – 2.5 Liters which has proved to be a very good product. With this kit you also get 6 bottles but end up with a 4 step process, 1) First Developer, 2) Color Developer, 3) Bleach/Fix and 4) Stabilizer. Also, like the C-41 chemicals, E6 expires 24 weeks after opening.

Please dispose of all used chemicals according to local environmental regulations. There is a great article on this here.

Apps

To help keep track of your processing times I use a couple of App with built-in timers. Anything to simplify the process at a relatively low cost is going to be beneficial.

Massive Dev App

Massive Dev

This App is a must-have for Black and White Developing. Included in the App is a massive database of films using different developers so it will more than likely have your film and developer combination. Even if it doesn’t have what you need there is an associated website https://digitaltruth.com/devchart.php where you can look up even more. The main site https://digitaltruth.com/ has lots of useful information on film developing as well so be sure to check it out. There is also a built-in timer so you have everything you need to keep track of your development in one location.

Lab Timer AppLab Timer

This App is created by the same people that created the Massive Dev App but it is focused more on Color Development. It has quite a few built-in Templates to at least get you started. Also like the Massive Dev App, there is a built-in timer to make things even easier.

Drying

After the developing has been completed you will need to allow the sheets of film to dry. I typically leave film hanging in my bathroom overnight with the door closed to minimize dust. The film should be dry in 2-3 hours but as long there isn’t a lot of dust flying around there is no reason to rush the process. Until it is fully dry it is quite easy to create scratches or marks on the emulsion.

Film Drying


Name: Martin Quinn

Location: Phoenix Arizona

Description: I purchased my first and so far only large format (4×5) camera in 2005.  Living in Phoenix Arizona I spend the majority of my time photographing in and around the southwest.

Gallery: Martin Quinn

Website: http://www.QuinnImages.com
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/QuinnImages/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quinnimages
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quinnimages/
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnimages/

 

Long Exposure Photography

What is long exposure photography and why I do long exposure photography?

By definition, any photograph made with a shutter speed of 1 second or longer could be considered long exposure photography. This varies from one photographer to the next. Some consider 0.25 sec long, some 0.5. Ultra long exposure photography, although there is no clear definition, is a long enough exposure which smooths out the movements. In my experience, anything longer than 30 seconds is considered ultra long exposure. Never the less, This yields a photo that records the passage of time in one single frame. the resultant photograph can only have an impact if the subject has an element of stillness and movements. For a long exposure photograph to be successful, it needs to have mainly two elements:

  1. a subject that is static, such as rocks, or trees
  2. an element of constant movement such as water, clouds, people, etc.
Standard Exposure

Standard Exposure

Long Exposure

Long Exposure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long exposure photography can turn a very chaotic subject such as the sea with harsh waves into a minimalistic, serene, dream-like scene that has mystery, that you normally can not see under normal circumstances. It is an abstract world that you can only create with your camera.

Long exposure photography with a large format camera is more challenging than with a digital camera, which is the reason why I like it. The calculation for a correct exposure for various films changes based on the respective reciprocity failures. The development of black and white film also is different for each film and also changes with long exposure.

The best time to photograph in my experience is overcast days, as the exposure is uniform due to the diffused lighting, there are no harsh lights and shadows, which can adversely affect the exposure and development of the film. Dark shadows on a sunny day, despite metering correctly, will yield a very dark, almost complete black shadows without any details due to effects of long exposure and tricky development. For the same reason, the highlights can often become over-exposed.

I typically carry a B+W 6 stop screw mount ND filter and a Lee 10 stop ND filter but I find that the 6 stop is what I utilize most often, As a 10 stop ND filter with the addition of reciprocity failure time can lead to very long exposure times which can increase the risk for failures. When it comes to black and white film, I often use Kodak Tmax 100 due to higher resistance to reciprocity failure than Ilford Delta 100. To put it into perspective, a 1-sec exposure for Kodak Tmax 100 with 6 stop ND filter yields a 1 minute and 30-second exposure, as opposed to 8 minutes and 14 seconds for Ilford Delta 100 in the same situation with the same 6 stop ND filter. As one can imagine, the Delta 100 exposures can easily add up in darker situations.

Black and White Long Exposure

Black and White Long Exposure

I also use Fuji Velvia 100 on overcast days as it is very stable with long exposure. One must be cautious on sunny days as you can easily have over-exposed highlights with long exposure.

For the exposure calculation I use an app called Reciprocity Timer which simplifies the task. It has a database of popular films which allows the addition of different filters.

To meter the scene, I typically meter as I normally would, then plug time exposure time into reciprocity timer, add the 6 stop ND filter, and use the exposure time given by the app. I have found that the only time my exposure has not been accurate is on sunny days with harsh lighting.

As stated earlier, there are many challenges with long exposure photography with a large format camera. On a recent trip, I discovered that wind, despite having a sturdy tripod, can still create movement, not by shaking the camera, but the movement of the film inside the film holder through the opening of the dark slide. This creates a partially out of focus photograph. One half of the photo is in focus which isn’t objected tot he wind. the portion of the film that is adjacent to the dark slide opening, is subjected to movements, thus leading to a blurred foreground in a vertical orientation. The film can also shift creating an out of focus capture. As I thought about this further, I came up with two fixes. In order to prevent wind entering the film holder, one can place a piece of masking tape on the opening after removing the dark slide and prior to exposure, or one can make a custom dark slide, long enough to place in the opening just after removing the actual dark slide. To fix the shifting film, one can tap on the film holder a few times to assure it doesn’t move during exposure. Removing the film holder from the Ziplock bag also allows any shrinking and expansion of the film sot hat it doesn’t occur during exposure.

Focused Top Half

Focused Top Half

Out of Focus Foreground

Out of Focus Foreground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I continue to learn this process myself, the biggest advice I can offer is trial and error. I recommend experimentation with your favorite film, with only one filter, such as a 6 stop ND filter which results in long enough exposure to yield the desired effect without leading to very very long exposures. Develop a technique that is consistent.

 

Name: Gevork Mosesi

Location: San Diego, CA

I began my photographic journey in the mid 1990’s with the legendary Canon AE-1 which still works till this day. In 2011, I rekindled my love for analog photography, leaving digital photography. I have not looked back since. I primarily use a 4×5 large format camera to make my photographs. I also utilize a 6×17 panoramic camera in the right setting. This format allows for a slower workflow which makes me more aware of the landscape, giving me full control of the image making process, ultimately avoiding multiple unnecessary digital exposures. Most of my work is from the landscapes of the Southwest.

Gallery: Gevork Mosesi

Website: http://www.gmosesi.com/

 

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