The Basic Camera



The Last Camera I’ll Ever Need – Or Not

The Last Camera I'll Ever Need - Or Not

For as much as I procrastinated today,  I just couldn’t pass up on this deal.  So welcome the newest member of the family, a Century Master 8×10 Camera and Studio Stand, made by Folmer Graflex in Rochester, New York, Circa around 1940.

The combo, which has been stored in an older gentleman’s workshop for nearly 20 years is in great shape.  The wood is in near perfect condition, the bellows still pliable and light tight, and all controls and gears work great.

The plan:  A studio 8×10 for normal photography, incorporate a wet plate back for collodion (alternative processes), and use as an enlarger to make those huge 30×40 prints I’ve always dreamed about.

Since it didn’t come with a lens, I removed the internal shutter and installed my 14 inch 6.3 Kodak Commercial Ektar.  Just need to finish cleaning up and lube a few spots and it’ll be ready for its trial debut.

Needless to say, this one won’t be going on any road trips, and it also takes up one of the car spaces in my garage, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

More Fun With X-Ray Film

More Fun With X-Ray Film

Just another example of what can be produced with films once thought to be used only for medical and scientific purposes.

This is a contact print of an image from the Talkeetna Mountain Range in Southcentral, Alaska, taken using Fuji Super HR-T x-ray film in a Seneca/National 8×10, with Fujinon 240mm f9 lens, and yellow+ 0.3 ND filters, f32, 1/4 sec.

The Cyanotype

As promised,  here’s one of my first cyanotype images.

The process begins with coating the paper with a sensitizing solution of equal parts Potassium ferricyanide and Ferric ammonium citrate mixed separately in distilled water.   Since the solution is sensitive to UV light, you can complete this process under normal household lighting (incandescent).   The solution is brushed on and the paper allowed to fully dry in the dark.

Careful not to get it on you, as it will turn your skin blue and is difficult to remove immediately.   As always, do wear a protective mask, gloves, and goggles when working with any chemicals.

Next, the negative is placed emulsion side up in a split contact frame, the dried paper placed coated side down, and both secured by the frames’ latching back.   Take the frame outside in the sunlight and place it on an easel facing the sun.   The paper will immediately start to turn from yellow to blue.

The process takes anywhere from 6-20 minutes, depending. After about six minutes, remove the frame and carefully open one-half of the back, and carefully peel back part of the image to inspect.   The image is ready when the blue starts to fade back to white.

Remove the print and place it in a running water bath, washing it until any remaining yellow disappears and there is only a blue and white image.   Hang the image up to dry and you’re done.

This is but one of many alternative methods to traditional photography, and a fun way to energize your work.

This image, of old wagon wheels at Independence Mine, in Hatcher Pass, was taken with a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD, 65mm Sekor lens, Fuji Acros 100 film, and processed in D76 1:1.   The cyanotype was contact-printed on Canson 140 lb Cold Press Watercolor Paper with Bostick & Sullivan Cyanotype Kit.

8×10 Film Processing Just Got Easier

8x10 Film Processing Just Got Easier

For more than 12 years I’ve been using JOBO rotary processors to develop 35mm thru 4×5 sheet films. With the JOBO, you simply load your film on the proper size reel (in darkness of course), place it into their light tight rotary tube, and you’re ready to process your film under normal lighting conditions.

Recently, I’ve been processing 8×10 sheet films using tray processing in the darkroom, but thanks to the crew at CatLabs in Jamaica Plain, Mass., I can yet again escape the darkroom (and chemical fumes), save precious processing time, and step back into the light.

Their newly designed processing reel can hold three sheets of 8×10 film and can either rotated manually or in the processor. Pre-ordered mine already and can’t wait until it arrives!

Film Resolution

Film Resolution

Today the rave is all about the digital megapixels.

Well, here’s the resolution I’ve gotten from film. Shot with a Seneca/National 8×10 View Camera on Fuji HRT X-Ray film, this is a contact print from an 8×10 negative, and a subsequent cut from the frame. Image resolution from a negative scan at 4800 PPI yields a file size of just over 2.6 GB.

What does your digital camera produce??

X-Ray Film

X-Ray Film

Think x-ray films are only for the doctor and dentist offices? Think again. X-ray films are becoming used more and more by photographers using large and ultra-large format cameras, mainly because of its price (about 30 cents a sheet compared to $8.00 a sheet for 8×10 cut films).

X-ray films are either blue or green sensitized which allows you to load and develop sheets under a low-watt red lamp. X-ray films have rounded corners and do not have notches like ordinary films, and there’s no need to since they have emulsion on both sides.

The downside, you must be very careful when processing as x-ray film is highly susceptible to scratches because of the double-sided emulsion. Tray processing is the best way to process, but do make sure to take two images as one is bound to get scratched. You can also spot smaller scratches.

I processed my first 8×10 x-ray negatives today, which came out fairly well, although I do notice a few small scratches. With practice though, this process can be mastered. So if you’re looking to photograph using larger format equipment, but are afraid of the high film prices (especially for practice), try some x-ray film until you get proficient with your particular camera.

Sunny 16 Rule

Sunny 16 Rule

Spring is in full swing, the leaves are out, flowers blooming, the perfect setting for outdoor photography. So, you load up the car with gear and head out to your favorite location, setup the camera and tripod, depress your camera’s shutter slightly to take a meter reading, and uh-oh, for what ever reason the meter’s not working.

Fear not, you can usually use this formula to get you in the ballpark for a decent exposure. It’s called the Sunny 16 Rule and it goes like this; first, set your shutter speed equal to the speed of the type film you’re using; second, use the following aperture settings based on the type of light you’re photographing in. For bright sunlight use f16, slightly overcast skies f11, overcast skies f8, and heavily overcast skies f5.6.

So, for example, if you’re using 200 speed film on a bright sunny day, you would set your shutter speed to 1/250th and your aperture to f16. You can use reciprocity formulas to vary your different settings to suit your needs.

This will get you close to a good exposure (black & white films have the greatest exposure variance, color not quite as much, and transparency film less than sympathetic). The best solution, check your equipment thoroughly before going out, especially on long trips, and carry a handheld meter as a backup.

So go ahead, have fun, and enjoy the beauty of spring.

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

Stopped by Stewart’s Photo, Anchorage’s oldest camera store today, for my weekly browse. Sad, but each year brings less and less in the way of film photography, equipment, film, and processing supplies. What used to comprise over half the space in the store only 10 years ago, now barely fills this tucked away little cubbyhole.

Used film cameras can still be had, though not nearly as abundantly as before and often at outrageous prices, films are few and far between, and chemicals for development and printing have all but disappeared from the shelves never to be seen again (in part because manufacturers are refusing to stock here without tacking on heavy shipping and hazardous material handling costs).

Still, I wander in every now and again in the hopes of finding a bargain or two, perhaps a vintage camera someone has parted with or maybe even some expired films. Thank goodness the major photography chains in the lower 48 like B&H, Freestyle Photo, Adorama, etc., continue to provide everything we need to continue our craft and ensure the legacy of film photography lives on for the next generation to enjoy.