View Full Version : Hello from Minneapolis!

3-Nov-2014, 22:56
Been taking pictures since I was 8 or 9, starting on a little 110 camera. Shot some rolls on and off for years. Got my first real digital camera in 2002, first digital SLR in 2006, overcame my fear of processing my own black and white film 5 or 6 years ago. Wanted to do LF for a very long time but lacked the money to get into it. And, of course, I was afraid of messing everything up.

I built up a large collection of cameras and photo equipment, nothing individually worth much money, but collectively it was a few thousand dollars worth, and quite a bit of sentimental value. I lost it all in a basement flood (with the exception of my Olympus film gear, my 20D, and a few other misc. cameras.)

I lost interest in photography. I stopped taking pictures, with the exception of the occasional snapshot of the kids.

About two years ago, I mentioned my interest in large format photography, and a friend long-term lent me his speed graphic, and outright gave me a super graphic for a project camera (it has no lens or lens board). I shot a few polaroids, but, mindful of the cost and fear of messing everything up, I didn't use any of it much.

A few months ago, for whatever reason, I slowly started waking up.

I took a ton of shots at a friend's wedding. And then a few days after that I shot my friend's concert, just for the heck of it. I finally got the hang of Lightroom 5 (I upgraded directly from Lightroom 1.4 to Lightroom 5, and it was a bit of culture shock. I just avoided anything having to do with Lightroom because of it.)

I started developing film again. I pulled out my scanner, determined to figure out how to get good results from B&W scans. And they did turn out great. But the grain! So much grain! Okay, yes, tri-X developed semi-stand in caffenol, what else could I expect? But I couldn't make my peace with it. (Even the daylight images were very grainy: [URL="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jowilson/sets/72157647815415069/"] (and yes I know it might be scanner artifacting, I only have a Plustek Opti-Film 35mm scanner, it's not the best.)

A coworker lent me his Koni-Omega. I shot a few rolls and developed those as well. Too small. The negatives are still too small. And I have no way of scanning MF negs (although I have plans to rig up a copy stand for my iPhone.)

I cast an eye toward the speed graphic. My exact thought was, "Hey, if I shoot large enough format I will never have to worry about grain again!

I started reading more about LF. I pulled out the film holders and practiced loading and unloading them in the daylight with a sacrificial piece of film. One day while mixing up a liter of caffenol, I realized I wasn't going to use the full liter. HEY. I have a spare tank. What if I took a quick picture and threw it in the spare tank I had? I quickly loaded a single sheet of film, convinced a kid to sit still long enough for the 1/2 second exposure or so (yay FP4). I threw the film in the tank and realized.... I don't have enough chemistry for this so I quickly dumped in water to top it off, let it go twice as long, and I got... well you can imagine, it was a pretty weak negative.

But I did it!

Some of my friend's holders had film in them. Last week, I pulled the film out and processed it with the paterson tank taco method. I don't like the paterson tank taco method. (All of the film was fogged or unexposed. One sheet was C41! Good practice though.)

Over the weekend I took the speed graphic nearly everywhere I went (without a tripod, I injured my rotator cuff so I can't carry my ridiculously heavy tripod) and I made 6 or 7 shots. I very carefully, methodically, and quickly made one shot of an interesting car, then it took off, then I looked at the lens and realized I was accidentally stopped down a few stops, then I looked at the back of the camera and I realized I completely failed to put a film holder in!

All my pictures are waiting for me to develop them.

Alright, so now you are up to date with where I am at, LF photography wise. Now I will tell you my goals.

1. Build a motor base for my unicolor drum. I picked it up... I don't even remember when, but I don't have the base for it, so I need to make one. Then I can develop my 4x5 in the drum.
2. Figure out the best caffenol formula and dev times for FP4. Why FP4? I have a box of it. Why caffenol? I acquired a developer allergy, and it makes my skin itch horribly. I don't like dealing with that and I don't like wearing gloves. I've gotten good, but inconsistent, results with caffenol. This is probably because of my terribly inaccurate kitchen scale. I'm hopeful I can do better when the new scale arrives. Outdated film might also have something to do with it.
3. 5x7 contact prints. I'm going to start by making a 5x7 pinhole, but eventually I want a camera. I will build up my knowledge of contact printing until I can move on to...
4. 11x14 contact prints. This is the goal. Not sure if I am going to want to go larger than that, but we'll see when I get there. I'm still planning the construction of this camera.

Anyway, all of that info is probably far too much. It's certainly more than I intended to type out this evening! But I am excited to be here.

4-Nov-2014, 07:03
Build a motor base for my unicolor drum. I picked it up... I don't even remember when, but I don't have the base for it, so I need to make one. Then I can develop my 4x5 in the drum.

Note that the better motor base uses eccentric wheels so that the solution 'rocks' the drum a bit as it turns.

Alan Gales
12-Nov-2014, 13:17
You can pick up a Beseler motor base off Ebay for cheap. I use one with my Jobo expert drum.

Don't be afraid of messing up. Another word for "messing up" is learning. We all messed up a lot when we started and I don't think anyone on this forum will tell you that they never mess up even after years of experience. :)

Welcome to the forum.

12-Nov-2014, 14:30
You can pick up a Beseler motor base off Ebay for cheap. I use one with my Jobo expert drum.

They sure are. I got two for $50, and just recently there was one that looked like it was never used for $35.
And they are easy to repair. The switch is the most likely part to fail due to moisture.

OP - the base is a little more than a motor. The roller wheels are eccentric to add a mild rocking motion.

(Hey, did you get snowed under yesterday?)

12-Nov-2014, 21:06
If you do decide to build a base (or anything else oddball), check out Axman Surplus. There's a few locations in the Mpls area. You can find rollers, bearings, motors, all kinds of "stuff".

14-Nov-2014, 17:29
If you do decide to build a base (or anything else oddball), check out Axman Surplus.".

AXMAN! I'll bet Randy Moe would drive up here to stock up! Axman has the best guy-stores in the Midwest.

Besides all the great useful stuff I have got there is the entertaining stuff like a 55-gallon barrel of reject Chinese counterfeit Barbie heads.

In Ohio there are Odd Lot stores barely similar but they did feature barrels of expired canned goods. I have no fond memories of that place, but they did have a great selection of after-midnight TV specials, none of which we might buy.

16-Nov-2014, 14:26
I develop all of my 4x5 sheets in print drums. If you don't have a motor base, just manually roll the drum back and forth on a 2x4. No elegant, but it works.