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Thread: Light leaks or lens flare?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Light leaks or lens flare?

    Hi all,

    I'm new to LF and have just developed my first batch of shots with some success.

    However one of the images was ruined by a white streak through it that I suspect is either a light leak or lens flare and could use an opinion on differentiating the two.

    The camera is a new Chamonix 45N-2, and I havent had the problem on any other images (though this is the first time I have used this particular holder). I would have thought that a light leak would start at an edge where as this doesnt seem to. Does it look like lens flare?

    Much appreciated

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  2. #2

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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    IMHO it is not lens flare, anyway for those questions you should say the lens and aperture, and sun position.

    By looking the shadows of the trees it looks sun could not deliver flare, as it was at your back (and at the left). Also seen in the wall of the distant houses.

    Regards

  3. #3
    Silver Fox
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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    I think I see more than one streak. There's another, very faint, not as long, to the left of, and parallel with, the large streak. The top of the faint streak coincides with the left edge of the mass of shrubs more distant in the open area. Not lens flare.
    Last edited by Peter Collins; 8-Nov-2017 at 05:24. Reason: add more description
    Peter Collins

    "Growing older is not for sissies." --anon.

  4. #4

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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    #1 -- leak in/around the film holder -- run a test on it by leaving it out in the sun with scrap film in it.

    #2 -- bellows leak/hole/tear near the upper right corner -- run a test after #1. Even a new camera can have an "issue".

    #3 -- lens flare -- easy to test after #1 & #2
    Last edited by xkaes; 8-Nov-2017 at 08:17.

  5. #5
    Huub
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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    Light leak i would say. Lens flair is generally less defined and looks more like loss of contrast in a larger part of the picture. You would also need to shoot into the sun, where the light comes from the left in the picture.

    When you look at how the streak is running and the probable position of the sun, there could be other causes as well on top of what xkaes mentions. The film holder could not seated properly in the camera is one. Moving the holder slightly when either pulling the dark slide or returning it is a second. Working carefully and keeping the camera covered with the dark cloth as much as possible might help.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    Quote Originally Posted by JordanF View Post
    ...one of the images was ruined by a white streak through it that I suspect is either a light leak or lens flare and could use an opinion on differentiating the two.
    Welcome to the view camera. I suspect that everyone to ever use a view camera has seen this on their film at one time or another. You're just climbing the learning curve, that's all. Not to worry.

    This artifact is a light leak. Lens flare tends to occur when you have an area of much higher brightness (typically a light source like the sun, but certainly not always). And lens flare tends to look like broad poorly-defined areas of reduced contrast, almost like a fog over the image. Clearly every lens will give you a somewhat different lens flare look, but they all share the overall physics.

    What you're seeing, in an image without a reasonable flare source in it, is well defined streaks. Notice how straight they are. Twelve-to-one your film holder wasn't properly seated, or you moved it some when you pulled or inserted your dark slide. I say that because that's how I learned about this stuff when I was just starting out -- I got those same kinds of artifacts, and I traced it down to how I pulled and inserted my darkslides. I'm not saying that this is exactly what caused your problem, but I suspect it's something like this.

    For me the cure was to use both hands -- my left (I'm right handed) I used to hold the camera back together (sort of squeezing the film holder into place) while my right dealt with the dark slide. When I started working like this, these kind of artifacts vanished.

    Operating a view camera is not intuitively obvious; you have to develop a specific (to you) workflow that deals with all aspects of making a photograph, from setup to teardown. I can't tell you how many sheets of film I lost because I pulled the darkslide before closing the shutter. It was just a matter of developing a workflow and sticking to it.

    Next up for you maybe is one of my favorites -- not shielding the filmholder from the sun when pulling or inserting the darkslide -- if the sun is shining right at the felt light trap, it can reflect off the dark slide and bounce into the film holder. That's an ugly, yet non-obvious way to loose a sheet of film.

    I'm just sayin' that these kinds of problems are a normal part of learning how to use a view camera. We've all made these mistakes and many more. This is why people tell you that the best way to learn is to shoot lots of film. Early on you make these kinds of errors, and adjust your workflow to prevent them. Then you commit your workflow to muscle memory and you hardly think about it any more. So get out there and make more photographs!

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    Thanks for the fantastic replies everyone!

    I think you're right and the most likely cause of the light leak would have been user error in not taking the proper care when pulling out and putting in the darkslide.

    @Bruce, the two hand method - as well as shielding the holder using the dark cloth will be implemented immediately. Cheers for the advice

  8. #8

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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    On a similar thread, another shutterbug just discovered the cause of his/her light leak -- the changing bag. That's one possibility I didn't think of!

  9. #9
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: Light leaks or lens flare?

    Quote Originally Posted by JordanF View Post
    I think you're right and the most likely cause of the light leak would have been user error in not taking the proper care when pulling out and putting in the darkslide.
    I learned this profound lesson many years ago. It was in a LF workshop where we were using Polaroid materials for rapid turnaround (I mentioned that this was a long time ago!). I was getting some strange fogging on my images, and finally the instructor (Tillman Crane) noticed what was happening. The holder that I was using had a very tiny darkslide handle, and when I gripped it, my fat fingers would lift the back away from the camera just enough to let light in to fog the film. There was no way to change the darkslide handle on the Polaroid back, and my fingers are what they are. So his recommended fix was simple - be aware of the potential problem, but also leave the dark cloth draped over the camera all the time to shade the back.

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