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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.

 

Wilderness Medicine

I think I can speak for most landscape photographers, the majority of us got into the art of making photos because of the love of nature and wilderness. Most activities in nature have a degree of risks. Landscape photography is no exception.

You are probably taking steps to reduce some of the risks, such as packing warm clothing, flashlights for the dark, and carrying water for those long hikes.

Fortunately, most of the locations we visit aren’t too far from civilization, and given the popularity of these locations, we often aren’t alone. If an emergency were to occur, chances are we would be helped. However, one can never be over-prepared for an emergency, especially when backpacking into remote locations. Being prepared and knowing what to do in an emergency or even urgency, could mean the difference between reducing risks of further harm, even death.

In case of a medical emergency, you could be a first responder to a person in your group or anyone you encounter. If you are alone, You must rely on your knowledge and abilities.

This article is not a substitute for proper training in wilderness medicine or first aid. Rather it is meant to function as a starter guide into basic wilderness first aid, more importantly, to get photographers thinking about what essentials are needed for each trip and what the risks are.

I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about wilderness first aid, to visit the following websites for courses and resources

https://www.nols.edu/en/courses/

https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDFs/ Take_a_Class/WRFA_ERG_9781584806295.pdf

https://www.backpacker.com/skills/first-aid

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/wilderness-first-aid- basics.html

Due to the depth of the topic, this article will be divided into two sections, the second part will be posted at a future date.

in the first section, we will cover the following:

  1. Basic Essentials
  2. Hydration
  3. Tick Bites
  4. Spider bites
  5. Poison plants
  6. Snake Bites

In part 2 of the article, we will cover the rest of the topics:

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Blisters
Burns
Wounds and Infections knee and ankle injuries Hypothermia
Altitude sickness

Basic Essentials of hiking in wilderness other than your camera and tripod!

The basic essentials may differ from one trip to the other, based on the location, environment, temperature extremes, and terrain. The essentials for most environments are the following:

– hat
– sunscreen

– insect repellent
– boots
– long pants and sleeves, extra clothing – rain gear
– Map of the area

– https://www.gaiagps.com/
– Compass
– flashlight with extra batteries
– sunglasses
– pocket knife
– matches in a waterproof container or fire starter (or both)
– First Aid kit.
– water and water filtration systems. these can be purchased

through REI or Amazon.
– Duct tape
– Ground insulation for overnight stays.

Hydration

If you are thirsty, you are partially already dehydrated. You should drink to prevent thirst, not to quench it. Proper hydration is essential for the function of your joints, muscles, gastrointestinal system, circulation, kidney function, and mentation, all of which are crucial when hiking. Proper hydration can prevent electrolyte imbalances, such as low or high sodium (both can occur), also known as hyponatremia and hypernatremia respectively. Sodium irregularities can lead to neurological and cardiac conditions, which can be life-threatening.

Mild dehydration is something that most of us have experienced, dry lips and mild thirst. More severe dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle aches and cramps, irritability, frustration, and brain fog, which all can lead to poor decision making.

– Heat cramps: brief but painful involuntary muscle spasms. they usually occur in the muscles being used during the exercise and are the result of insufficient fluid intake.

– Heat Exhaustion: difficulty breathing, headache, feeling hot on the head and neck, dizziness, heat cramps, chills, nausea, irritability, vomiting, extreme weakness or fatigue

– Heatstroke: Rapid and shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, unusually high or low blood pressure, lack of sweating, mental confusion and disorientation, unconsciousness, physical collapse

In the event of heat exhaustion, stop the activity, move into a cool environment under a shade, remove excess clothing and drink hydrating liquids slowly, to prevent rapid electrolyte shifts, which can lead to nausea and vomiting and further neurological conditions. Avoid using medications such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen to reduce temperature. Seek immediate medical care when possible this is a medical emergency. The above measures canoe life-saving. It is always a great idea to have snacks that also contain potassium, such as nuts, banana, dried fruits. Potassium can also be lost through heavy sweating, which is also essential in cardiac and musculoskeletal function. Low potassium (hypokalemia) can lead to heart rhythm problems, as well as muscle cramps. Always avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks as they can actually lead to further dehydration. Sugary drinks such as Gatorade can lead to diarrhea through osmotic effect. If that is all you have available, it can be life-saving, but if you have a choice between water and Gatorade, always pick water.

Tick Bite

Although most tick bites are harmless, Proper handling of tick bites can prevent complications such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), now reported under a new category called Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis (SFR). Lyme disease is endemic to the north-east and parts of California’s central coast. SFR is endemic to south-eastern states. The peak months for both are in the warmer months of the year, May through August. Before you go out, know where to expect ticks. Ticks generally live in grassy, brushy and wooded areas, on animals, such as deer. Key is prevention. You can reduce your risks of tick bites by treating your clothing with Permethrin 0.5%. It can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear. You can also purchase clothing items previously treated with permethrin. When possible, avoid contact with ticks by walking gin the center of trails. After returning from the hikes, checking your clothing items, remove all clothing items and check your body. Examine gear and pets. The longer the tick stays on your body, the higher the risk of transmitting the disease. Generally, 24 hours or more of the tick embedded in the skin is required to transmit the disease, therefore it is essential to find the tick and remove properly.

In the event of finding an attached tick, remove the tick as soon as you notice it by grasping it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, pulling it straight out. If you aren’t sure how long the tick has been attached, seek medical care. Avoid applying petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, r a hot match to the end of the tick. These home remedies do not work, they also are likely to kill the tick while it’s embedded in the skin, increasing the risk of transmitting the infection. Avoid twisting the tweezer, as this will break off the body of the tick, leaning the head behind, making it much more difficult to remove. Wash the bite area and your hand with soap and water after removing the bug. Save the tick by placing it in a small container filled with rubbing alcohol, this way

your doctor can send this to a lab for assessment and identification of the tick. Watch for early signs of infection, such as rash, fever, body aches in the days and weeks following the bite.

For more information, visit the links below.

RMSF https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/index.html

Lyme disease https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html

Preventing tick bites https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html

Spider Bites

  • –  2 Central punctums (as opposed to one with an insect bite)
  • –  Seek medical care if pain is severe, difficulty breathing, upset stomach.
  • –  Although rare in nature, it is important to identify them for

proper treatment
– Two common poisonous spiders in the US

– Brown Recluse: Most commonly found in the midwestern and southern states of the US; Bite causes a stinging sensation with localized pain, small white blister develops.

– Black widow: Found throughout North America, more common in southern and western states. It usually causes two puncture sites. The venom is a neurotoxin and produces pain at the bite area, then spreads to the chest, abdomen and entire body. It can cause body aches and gastrointestinal upset.

– Possible spider bite symptoms:

– itching, rash, pain, muscle cramps, reddish to purple color or blister, sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, fever, chills, restlessness.

– In case of a bite, stay calm. Identify the type of spider if possible.

  • –  wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • –  Apply a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice to the

bite area to reduce the swelling.

  • –  Elevate bite area if possible
  • –  Do not attempt to remove the venom
  • –  Immediately seek professional medical carePoisonous PlantsThey grow in wooded or marshy areas throughout North America. The plants aren’t really poisonous. They have a sticky, long-lasting oil called urushiol that causes an itchy, blistering rash after it comes into contact with skin. The reaction is delayed, often hours to one day after exposure. This is called delayed hypersensitivity reaction. The rash can peak within a week but can last as long as 3 weeks. The three main poisonous plants that you may encounter are Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac.

Poison Ivy

– Two types of Poison Ivy: Western Poison Ivy (ground vine only) and Eastern Poison Ivy ( ground and climbing vines)

  • –  Leaves are always grouped in threes
  • –  Pointed leaves
  • –  Staggered stems

Poison Ivy in the summer

Poison Ivy in the fall

Variation of Poison Ivy

Poison Oak

– Two types: Atlantic Poison Oak (ground vine and small shrub) and Pacific Poison Oak (ground and climbing vine and shrub)

  • –  Leaves are always grouped in threes
  • –  Rounded leaves
  • –  Staggered stems

Poison Sumac

– One type, found only in very wet environments, in the east coast

  • –  Pointed leaves
  • –  Small trees, not in vines
  • –  Leaves grouped up to 13
  • –  Rare in the mountains
  • –  Often grow near lower-lying wetlands

Exposure Prevention is key. Once the oil is exposed to skin, it causes a delayed hypersensitivity reaction, resulting in rash and blisters at the sites of exposure within hours to 24 hours later. The rash doesn’t usually spread unless urushiol is still in contact with your skin.

Clothes can keep you safe. Keep your skin covered. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, gloves, and closed shoes if you’re in an area where these plants grow. If you think you’ve come into contact with these plants, be sure to handle the clothing items with care, with gloves, and wash them at the hottest temperature.

If you think you’ve been exposed to the plants on your skin, wash the area as soon as possible with warm water and soap, apply calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream. If water and soap

aren’t available, alcohol wipes can remove the oils. Keep the areas cool, dry and clean to prevent secondary skin infections. Antihistamine tablets and creams will NOT help with the itching, so be sure to carry Hydrocortisone cream if you travel in these areas. Severe reactions may require much stronger steroid creams and even oral steroids. Seek medical care if your rash is moderate to severe.

Best of 2019

Using calculators in large format photography

Part I: Depth of field

Correct focusing, as trivial as it may seem to users of small cameras like an SLR or even an autofocus camera, can become – and more often than not actually does become – a challenge when working with a large-format camera, in particular when the term “focusing” is meant to encompass all the correct camera adjustments needed to obtain a flawless, throughout sharp image with sufficient depth of field (DOF). Given that the superior technical quality of the final print is one of the major reasons for using a large format camera, it is clear that the LF photographer needs to understand and master proper focusing.

Figure 1: Silver and Gold. Stand of old Cottonwood trees in Colorado; Sinar 5×7´´, Apo-Ronar 9/300, RVP 100, 1 sec @ f/22 +2/3. This is an example of a shot which would seriously suffer from an insufficient depth of field – had both the branches close to the camera and those in the background not appeared tack sharp, this shot wouldn´t have made it into my portfolio. The moderately long lens required stopping down to a bit less than f/32 – needless to say that this was determined using the technique described in this blog post.

The reason for the difficulty to perfectly focus a LF camera simply is the fact that in large format everything is – well: larger. Among others this means that the focal lengths in the LF world are much longer than for small cameras – for example, the normal lens for a 4×5″ camera has a focal length of 150 mm, and the normal lens for an 8×10″ camera is 300 mm. Unfortunately, the depth of field of a lens decreases with increasing focal length, and it is exactly this theme of limited DoF which is a large format photographer´s steady companion. While in smaller format photography long lenses are often used to isolate an in-focus main subject from an out-of-focus blurry foreground and/or background, this is not often done in large format photography. Rather, here one normally tries to bring all elements of a composition into focus (or, more precisely, into the DoF zone within which everything appears if not perfectly, then at least sufficiently sharp). But how can this be accomplished with an average three-dimensional scenery when even a super wide-angle lens for an 8×10″ camera, equivalent to a 20 mm lens for 35 mm cameras, still has a focal length of 120 mm?

Stopping down is the first thing which comes to mind, and in LF photography this is absolutely essential: in practice you will never shoot wide open, both because of the minute DoF at open aperture and because traditional LF lenses, other than some modern digital lenses, are designed to be really sharp only when stopped down. Typically an LF lens´ “sweet spot” (the aperture where sharpness is at its maximum) lies somewhere between f/16 and f/22, regardless of its speed. Having a close look at how LF lenses perform, it often can be observed that a lens shows its highest performance in the center around f/16, with the corners being noticeably less (but still acceptably) sharp. Stopping down to f/22 then allows the corners to catch up, while sharpness in the center already begins to slightly degrade due to diffraction. So as a rule of thumb one may say that for many if not most LF lenses f/22 provides the best overall sharpness, with resolution in the corners being not much behind the performance in the center – of course always provided everything is in focus. While theoretically DoF can be increased by stopping down further – some LF lenses allow to stop down to f/90 or even f/128 – for formats of 8×10 and smaller stopping down a large format lens to beyond about f/32 is no good practice, because then diffraction kicks in and will start to visibly degrade image quality. It is often overlooked how dramatic this effect is: while diffraction limits the theoretical maximum resolution of a lens at f/22 to 68 lpm (= line pairs per millimeter), stopping down to f/45 cuts the achievable resolution down to only half of this value, 34 lpm. At f/64, only 24 lpm is left, and now even two thirds or more of the lenses resolving power are being wasted – that´s not why you decided to go for an LF setup.

On the other hand it needs to be seen that picture elements which are clearly out of focus are even worse than an overall somewhat “soft” image suffering from diffraction. Accordingly the goal will be to make sure that all parts of a subject will be within DoF, and at the same time to achieve this without stopping down too much. Camera movements (which are not part of this blog post) are often absolutely indispensable for obtaining sufficient overall sharpness of an image, but even with perfect adjustments of the camera it often remains a challenge to find the best possible compromise between sufficient DoF and limited diffraction.

I believe it´s fair to say that in the practice of LF landscape photography you´ll almost never be in the situation where you have any DoF to waste. Rather, DoF has to be seen as an invaluable and limited resource you have to be very considerate about, and more often than not to fight for – every carelessness will almost inevitably result in a loss of sharpness somewhere (or everywhere) in your image. If you locate your focus point at the wrong distance, too close or too distant parts of your subject will appear out of focus. If you don´t close the aperture far enough, DoF won´t suffice, and both too close and too distant picture elements will look blurry. If you close the aperture too far, diffraction will degrade resolution across the entire image. This situation might remind some people of thermodynamics, where the first law says that you can´t win, while the second law then informs you that you can´t even break even, and in any case means that proper focusing requires all your attention and skill.

From this it becomes clear that for a rational approach to focussing it will be indispensable to know exactly, once the camera has been set up and all movements made, from where to where DoF needs to extend, and which focus setting and which aperture will be needed to provide exactly this DoF, not more and not less.

What comes in extremely handy here is a DoF calculator like the one Rodenstock used to make (Fig. 2). The concept behind this calculator is strikingly simple so that it´s very easy to use: you just have to determine the extension difference between the near and the far focus points on your camera, which directly translates to the aperture needed for your shot. This sets the Rodenstock calculator apart from the numerous electronic DoF calculators available today, some of which are web-based (which doesn´t help much anyway when you´re out in the middle of nowhere) while others come in the form of smartphone apps. Unfortunately most if not all of these electronic calculators, and in any case all which I have seen so far, require you to enter the near point and the far point as measured as the distance between your camera and selected elements of your subject, not as extensions of your camera. This renders them virtually useless for outdoor use unless you find a way to reliably determine these distances in the field.

Figure 2: Rodenstock´s depth of field calculator

For determination of the extension difference it´s ideal if your camera has a scale like many monorail cameras have (Fig. 3). If your camera is not equipped with a scale, you can use a millimeter scale ruler which for this purpose could be removably attached to your focussing standard, e.g. using velcro. Once the two focus points have been determined, you´re almost done: just position the focusing standard at the exact middle between the near and the far focus point and close the aperture to the value required by

Figure 3: The millimeter scale on a focussing standard. The example shown here is the front standard of a Sinar Norma camera. Sinar´s monorail cameras allow choosing from either the front or the back standard to be used for focusing, depending on the situation.

the distance between the two extreme focus points. This value can either be read from your calculator (Fig. 4; read: with an extension difference of 4.0 mm, the calculator suggests f/16) or be taken from one of the tables below. The beauty of this approach is that the effect of the focal length on DoF is already factored into the extension difference itself and does not need to be further considered or corrected for. For example, an extension difference of 4.0 mm will always require stopping down to the same aperture, regardless of whether obtained with a 47 mm superwide lens or a 300 mm long lens. Also, forget about the “one third / two thirds rule” – using the focusing method presented here, the correct focus point is at the middle between the near and the far focusing point, nowhere else.

Figure 4: Reading the Rodenstock calculator

While the Rodenstock calculator works for essentially every LF camera, its use is particularly straightforward with cameras which allow both the front and the rear standard to be used for focusing, and which have fine drives with an engraved millimeter scale. These features in this combination won´t be available for most flatbed cameras (in which case you´ll have to improvise a bit), but they are pretty common in case of monorail cameras (e.g., Sinar). For these the workflow is as follows:

  1. Coarse focusing by adjusting the distance of the standards on the rail. While doing so, make sure that the fine drives of both standards stay in the “0” position.
  2. Fine focusing using the drive of one of the standards to the far point – the drive of the other standard remains in the “0” position.
  3. Fine focusing using the drive of the other standard to the near point – don´t touch the first standard in this step anymore.
  4. Reading the additional extension (in millimeters) needed to shift the focus from the far point to the near point.
  5. Determining the appropriate aperture corresponding to the additional extension using the calculator; stop down accordingly. Don´t forget the correction for an appropriate circle of confusion, as described below.
  6. Moving the second standard back to the exact middle between the near and the far focusing adjustments (i.e., to 50% of the additional extension) – and you´re ready to shoot.

While this description may sound a bit lengthy and complicated, in practice it´s absolutely easy to follow, and in the time needed for reading this paragraph you could have focussed your camera according to this technique two or three times.

Unfortunately Rodenstock has not only discontinued their line of outstanding LF lenses, but they also don´t make this fantastic tool anymore, so you´ll have to look for one of the places where they still have a couple of these calculators remaining on their shelves, to spot some forgotten stock which may show up from time to time, or get a used one. As of July 2019, you can still buy the calculator from the following sources: US  B&H (USD 79.95), Badgergraphic (USD 44.99); UK  Linhofstudio (GBP 34.00); Germany  Foto Mueller (EUR 37.20), W. E. Schoen (who actually designed the Rodenstock calculator; EUR 42.00). Alternatively you can laminate either a photocopy of the calculator (or a small number of photocopies with the calculator being adjusted to different scales of reproduction and to different front tilt angles, if that is relevant for your photographic style) or simply a printout of a table with the most important numbers (see tables 1-3). For those who are frequently working at reproduction ratios in the 1:1 to 1:20 range, Linhof has published a depth-of-field chart which also works on the basis of extension differences.

Finally, there is still one more interesting variation of the theme: DoF scales on the focussing knobs of some monorails which you can find, e.g., on Sinar´s f2 and P2 cameras. For those with the necessary patience and skills, instructions of how to make such a scale for other cameras (e.g., an Arca Swiss F-line) have been published on QT Luong´s Large Format Photography page.

Table 1: f-numbers for 1:∞ scale and zero front tilt. In deviation from the Rodenstock calculator, f-numbers already have been corrected for a smaller circle of confusion (see main text) and can be directly used without further correction. The (corrected) numbers in the table are based on those indicated by the calculator and thus depend on the shooting format. As explained in more detail in the main text, I nevertheless recommend using the values determined for 4×5 also for 5×7 and 8×10. Depending on the lens you are using, working at f/32 (fields shaded in grey) typically does not provide optimal resolution due to diffraction and tends to soften what actually should be tack sharp. Yellow fields indicate the onset of clearly visible image degradation due to diffraction. I cannot recommend stopping down to f/45 or beyond regardless of the format you´re using; this is nothing but an emergency solution if nothing else helps. Orange fields mean that you should seriously consider further refining your camera movements or even to change your composition since diffraction will seriously limit image quality. An alternative, although very time-consuming at the post-processing stage, would be focus stacking of images shot at a bigger aperture (of course only feasible if you use a hybrid workflow via scanning your film). A dash indicates situations in which stopping down beyond f/64 inevitably would cause such a loss of image quality due to diffraction that using a large format camera probably is not a good choice here. Finally, those rare situations in which a very small extension difference would allow to work with an aperture larger than f/16 (which would be out of most LF lenses´ “sweet spot” of sharpness) are indicated by an “o”. Here, in practice an aperture in the classic f/16…f/22 range is recommended.

However you implement this all in practice: working with precise focus adjustments and carefully determining the optimal aperture for each of your subjects will eliminate a lot of guesswork from your LF photography, and can lead immediately and effortless to technically significantly improved images.

In practice, a number of points need to be kept in mind though.

First, a correction factor has to be considered if you either use front tilt and/or are shooting a close-up subject, with a scale of reproduction of more than 1:20 or so. A nice thing about the Rodenstock calculator is that such parameters can be factored in very easily by making appropriate adjustments to the calculator; when working with a table, a little bit of guesswork may come in again. Table 2 provides the f-numbers for a reproduction scale of 1:10, table 3 the f-numbers for a tilt angle of 30°.

Table 2: f-numbers for 1:10 scale and zero front tilt. Like in table 1, f-numbers are corrected for a smaller circle of confusion.

Second, to my experience the circle of confusion used for these DoF calculations (which corresponds to the international standard circle of confusion of 0.03 mm for the 35 mm format) is too optimistic and does not fit today´s expectations regarding the sharpness of a somewhat larger print. I experienced this already many years ago on when using the DoF scales of my manual 35 mm Nikon lenses and bumped into the very same problem again after moving to Large Format. In order to overcome this, I recommend closing the aperture by one more stop than the calculator (or the DoF scale on a 35 mm lens) suggests. In the example of Fig. 4 above, I´d use f/22 instead of f/16 as the working aperture. In my hands this correction by one-stop provides highly satisfactory results, but the necessary correction will depend on your particular requirements, first of all the size at which you intend to print and the viewing distance from which your prints are expected to look flawless.

Table 3: f-numbers for 1:∞ scale and 30° front tilt. Correction like in tables 1 and 2.

Third, the logic behind these calculators assumes different scales of reproduction for different film formats. For example, it is assumed that because an 8×10″ negative needs to be enlarged only half as much as a 4×5″ negative for obtaining a print of the same final size, the allowable circle of confusion is twice as big for an 8×10″ camera. With this concept I do not agree, because I don´t want to pay four times as much for an 8×10″ sheet of film and its development and carry three times the weight in the field, only for obtaining essentially the same image quality which I can easily get out of a 4×5″ negative. While theoretically these numbers of course are correct, they suggest using the larger formats (5×7″ and 8×10″) in a way which I deem pointless. Instead I personally think that whenever possible the values determined for 4×5″ should be used regardless of whether shooting 4×5″ or larger, even if that means that in practice an 8×10″ camera will only provide superior results in comparison to smaller cameras with subjects which have not much depth and thus allow to work at f/22…f/32. Due to the deleterious and inescapable effect of diffraction, an 8×10″ negative shot at f/45 won´t contain more detail than a 4×5″ negative of exactly the same subject shot at f/22 from the same distance with a lens having half the focal length. It thus is just more expensive, without providing any advantage in image quality (except maybe looking more impressive on the lightbox).

One last thing: I absolutely don´t advocate focus stacking in large format photography, since it can be extremely tedious and cumbersome to perfectly combine the scans of two or even more differently focussed images to one flawless image file. One reason for my reluctance to do focus stacking is that in my experience for unclear reasons the scans to be combined tend to show distortions which prevent them from fitting perfectly. This effect renders their combination an editing nightmare which can cost you many hours if not days of work until everything is perfect. And don´t even think of letting the software do this for you – dismay would be guaranteed. That being said, unfortunately there are occasions where there simply is no real alternative to focus stacking, namely when in order to obtain the required DoF for an image you´d need to stop down so seriously that diffraction would essentially eat up all the advance large format has over smaller formats. In such cases, and they come up from time to time, I definitely prefer to combine two images shot at f/32 over one single image shot at f/64 which would be guaranteed to lack overall sharpness. In such instances you need a tool to set your two (or more) focus points as precisely as you can, and for this again a DoF calculator is simply indispensable. Fig. 5 is an example of a successful focus stacking project, but this took me more than two days of not very pleasant computer work until the two 400 MB scans had been seamlessly merged into one file.

Figure 5: Carboniferous. Hoodoos and coal bed in New Mexico; Sinar 5×7´´, Nikkor T-ED 9/360 mm, RVP 100, focus stacking of two exposures taken at 1/4 sec and f/32. Due to the difficult topology of the location there was no way to switch to a different composition which could have alleviated my focussing problems. I thus decided to apply focus stacking and to “split” the shot (which otherwise would have required stopping down to f/64) into two separate exposures at f/32.

Taking all these aspects into account, DoF calculators are a reliable, inexpensive and easy-to-use means to replace all the guesswork otherwise needed by a rational approach to focussing and stopping down. In order to get the highest technical quality out of large format photography you need to work as precisely as possible, and these calculators provide you with exactly the information you need to reach that goal. I´m using mine for practically every single shot, and I know that I´d be way less satisfied with the sharpness of my images if I didn´t.

Part II – Using calculators in large format photography


Name: Frank Sirona

Location: Germany

Description: I´ve been interested in landscape photography since I saw for the first time a number of dye transfer prints made by the pioneer of color landscape photography, Eliot Porter. After my Nikon years I had a brief affair with a Mamiya 7, until in 2004 I finally upgraded to large format. Since then I´m shooting film using my swiss made 4×5, 5×7 and 8×10 Sinar cameras. Of these, the 5×7 has by far become my favorite, since weight and bulk of a 5×7 are still somehow manageable when air traveling (flying with a 8×10 monorail is a pain, believe me!), while the big groundglass is just a joy and makes composing easier than with a 4×5 camera. Also I personally do like the 5:7 side ratio much more than the 4:5 ratio of the other two standard large formats. The majority of my work has been done in the Desert Southwest, and I continue returning there whenever I can.

Website: www.franksirona.com

Instagram: @franksirona

Platinum Palladium Contact Prints

Platinum Palladium Contact Prints

When it comes to capturing an image, there is something almost spiritual when you do it utilizing a Large Format Camera. The entire process of capturing an image is so much more than just clicking the shutter. Viewing the image and composing it on the large ground glass, checking and double checking composition, metering for exposure, inserting the film holder, removing the dark slide, waiting for just that right light to fall on the scene, clicking the shutter release, re-inserting the dark slide, removing the film holder, writing down your notes regarding the exposure and subject, and then crossing your fingers that you did everything you were supposed to do correctly in order to capture that image on film.  For me, this entire process and experience of image capture is only one part of the overall experience of why I photograph with a Large Format Camera

Large Format Photography provides you with large negatives and positives full of detail and information that are just begging to be printed. I believe an image isn’t a photograph until it has been printed. The print is the reason I pack 60 plus pounds of gear around to capture that one image that speaks to me. The print is that one tangible thing that will remain with you or with your family, or with someone that appreciates your images for years and generations to come. Long after it has been seen and then forgotten on social media.

“Our lives have become digital. Our friends are now virtual, and everything you could ever want to know is just a click away. Experiencing the world through endless second-hand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity, we have to initiate it.”

-Travis Rice

Hearing these words from Travis Rice had a profound impact on me and my work and how I thought about sharing my images. I decided that sharing my work and images on social media wasn’t enough and that social media does not do justice for images captured with Large Format Cameras. I wanted to offer and give “authenticity” I decided that I wanted to make hand-made contact prints of my images. I wanted something the viewer could hold, feel, and look deep into at the small details that are just not visible on a small handheld device.

Contact prints are something special to look at as they will show every small detail captured on the negative.  You can do contact prints in a variety of different media including traditional Silver Gelatin Darkroom Prints, but I choose Platinum Palladium prints for their range of tones, soft creamy whites, and most importantly long-life span.

I wanted my images to last for generations, long after I am gone from the world.

There is nothing quite like a hand made platinum palladium print.  It is simultaneously gentle and powerful, it is subtle yet rich and luxurious, and it has a physical presence like no other print. They are a work of art unto themselves.

I wanted to share a quick step by step of the process, but this is in no way a tutorial of how to properly make a platinum palladium print.  I recommend taking a workshop if one is available in your area or read a how to book.  I have done both and I definitely recommend reading The Platinum Printing Workshop by Ian Leake as a starting point before you dive into the process.

Cocoon – Oregon Coast – Platinum Palladium

Cotton rag paper is hand coated with a solution containing platinum and palladium salts and an iron oxalate sensitizer.

There are many paper choices, and some do better than others depending upon your environment, particularly your humidity level.

The mixture is then quickly brushed out across the paper as it is slightly absorbed into the paper.

After drying, the paper and your negative are carefully sandwiched together under glass in a contact printing frame and exposed to Ultraviolet light.

The contact frame is then placed inside an Ultraviolet exposure unit.  These can be made or purchased and use a variety of different Ultraviolet light sources.  I chose to make my exposure unit using LED Ultraviolet light strips.  You can also use the Sun as your Ultraviolet light source, but you may find exposure times to be inconsistent one print to the next.  The ultraviolet light causes a reduction of the platinum or palladium salts into pure metals.

The real fun and excitement to Platinum Palladium printing comes at the moment of development.  Once your developer comes into contact with the exposed platinum palladium coating, a reaction occurs where the image is transformed and visually seen at the same time the platinum and palladium have become embedded into the paper.

After several clearing baths to remove the remaining salts, the final print consists of pure platinum (Pt) and palladium (Pd) metallic fragments laid onto and embedded within the paper.  The process I use today is virtually unchanged from that first patented process in 1873.

The platinum-palladium printing process is such a fun way to print your images. You may find the printing process to have a steep and sometimes frustrating learning curve, but once you dial in the prints to your own personal liking you will find great satisfaction in printing your own images for lasting generations.

A full video of the printing process is available to view at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx1BOiKOQKo

Thick of Things – Redwood Forest, California – Platinum Palladium

Land Of My Fathers – Ramasaig, Scotland – Platinum Palladium

 

Ryan Gillespie

Name: Ryan Gillespie
Location: Vancouver, Washington
Description: I decided to get back into film photography in 2014, large film, and the large format process. The camera is big and the process is slow, but this oversized and somewhat primitive camera design is a romantic and creative way to become much more intimate with the subject and landscapes around me. Majority of my work is captured close to home in the Pacific Northwest.

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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