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Thread: Large format photography in bad weather

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Large format photography in bad weather

    Not sure if I'm posting my question in correct category, but please try to help. Usually I'm working with 4x5 and 8x10 for shooting my portraits and landscapes. Next week I'm flying to Russia for ap project, I'll be shooting around 30-35 in outdoors, the weather suppose to be very foggy and rainy. Last time I photographed in this conditions I destroyed few of the negatives, they got stuck to the film holders.
    I was thinking maybe then I should just shoot the project in Medium format, please advice me how should I treate my film holders, maybe I should put fill on location/ instead of putting in in a hot room. Try to abide weather drops/differences?

    As an example:

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    I keep film holders in antistatic plastic zip-lock style bags. This keeps them clean and dry when not in use. Foggy is no problem. A little drizzle is OK. Heavy rain would not be good. A lens hood or something similar would be helpful to keeping the lens dry.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    I keep my film holders in plastic zip lock bags
    A black plastic shower curtain might come in useful as a "rain coat" for your camera and field expedient poor man's Gortex focusing cloth.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    Hot and humid. Avoid large temperature changes. Probably the worst would be to have the equipment in an air conditioned room , then taking it out and using it immediately. Having the holders in a sealed bag and letting them warm up to outside air temp before opening the bag would help.

    I have not had your problem in these types of conditions, tho my experience is limited (4x5 in Costa Rica and Australia). Usually I have the opposite problem -- photographing in dry minus Celcius conditions and having to leave the equipment in the unheated garage instead of bringing it into the warm and relatively moist house.

    In the rain or wet conditions, have something dry to wipe off the holders before and after use. Keep the felt of the light traps dry.

    Buy some silicon dioxide (silicia gel) and keep some in the zip-loc bag with your film holders...and your film boxes of unexposed and exposed film. If there is an oven around, you can dry the gel packets occasionally.

    When setting the camera up in the direct sun (if you see any!), be careful of creating a steam bath in the bellows...happens to me all the time whenever I take my 8x10 out of the redwoods and to where the sun actually shines. I'll be looking at the GG and slowly it gets harder and harder to focus. Hot sun on damp bellows puts a layer of condensation on both the back of the lens and the GG. If you have the darkslide pulled, a layer of condensation could occur on the film.

    Whoops. Was that 30 to 35 F or C?

    If it is 30 to 35 F and humid, then the advice is about the same. Avoid the back-and-forth between temp extremes. Give warm equipment time to cool down inside bags and/or packs before exposing them to cold air.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Sheridan, Colorado

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    Yikes!! I've never had that problem. I've shot 4x5 film from -20 degrees in Canada to +120 degrees in Mexico (THAT'S F!!!). All I did was keep the camera in the tent with me so there was no need to adjust anything. It was dry and at the correct temperature -- so there was no haze, mist, fog, etc.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    La Luz del Oeste, Albuquerque NM

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    An umbrella can keep a larger area free of rain/water. On the Appalachian Trail summer 2016 hikers with umbrellas stayed nearly completely dry. I was impressed. Better than ponchos, waterproof shells and the like.
    Peter Collins

    "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it." Song of Songs 8:7

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2015
    SooooCal/LA USA

    Re: Large format photography in bad weather

    The most annoying problem I have encountered is that some films might buckle a little after being exposed to a extreme atmosphere change, and all film surfaces might not be sitting at the same plane flat... Usually it is some brands of dryer film might buckle if shooting in damp conditions... After it has a chance to absorb the surrounding humidity evenly, it will sit evenly... This problem seems to happen to me when the cool, damp night air after sunset will affect the flatness, or shooting in very damp rainy conditions if the film holder is quickly removed from the (dry) holder plastic bag, inserted into camera, slide pulled, and shot before the film has a chance to settle... (Sometimes the focus on the neg will be OK, except a "bubble" area that is popped OOF...)

    What I found helps is to open the holder bag a little when you first get on to site, and after inserting the holder, pull the slide and push back in for a minute or two (or more) before pulling the slide again to shoot, as the film had a chance to absorb the humidity evenly... But sometimes the area around the slide area will vent some humidity in the edge areas before the center film areas, so pulling the slide a little beforehand will even the humidity level inside the holder... (To get rid of pops and sometimes at worst wrinkles...)

    Some formats I have noticed are better/worse in that regard... 4X5 is pretty good, 6X9 sheet can have greater tensions under those conditions (and edge buckle more), and 8X10 flops around more (but evenly, but evenly popped)...

    Steve K
    Last edited by LabRat; 3-Apr-2017 at 23:52.

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