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Thread: Newbie..help me out

  1. #1

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    Newbie..help me out

    I've been shooting B&W 35mm & 6x6 for years & am happy with the results.When I took my first photo class back in the earily '90's a friend of mine gave me (either I took it or he was going to throw it away) an Omega DII set up for 4x5.Not having a large format camera at the time I accepted the gift & put it in storage (couldn't use it without getting different condensers/lens cones and I already had a Beseler 23cII).A few years later I was given a 4x5 mono rail Cambo but only used it with a polaroid back.Now that I have young kids of my own (and the room),I'd like to combine the two and actually use the camera with sheet film & the enlarger together preferably to make 16" X 20" fiber based,archival prints (11"X14" is the largest print I've ever made before).What are the biggest challenges in my way?I especially want to know about tray processing sheet film & agitation?

  2. #2

    Re: Newbie..help me out

    There are plenty of threads (and an article: darkroom-primer on this site about tray processing.
    But I recon the biggest challenges are finding pictures that will benefit from being blown up to 16x20". A picture isn't better just because it's bigger. What is needed to make great pictures is a lot of planning, a steady tripod etc. You don't say which 6x6 system you are using, but any medium format camera can produce negatives which will hold up to that kind of enlargement. It's just a matter of being very careful at all stages.
    Now, the very nature of most LF cameras makes it more suitable for this kind of slow, thoughful work. I.e. what makes the LF camera better is the lack of speed, not that the negative is so much better in a technical sense. What you do get is a smoother tonality. (There is much less difference in between a 4x5" neg and a 6x6 neg than it is when you compare 35mm with 6x6.)

    //Björn

  3. #3

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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    Tray developing 4x5 is a choice not a requirement. Daylight tanks of various types exist. If you're using Jobo 2500 type tank for MF/35mm all you need is a new reel.

    One challenge is you'll need more of everything. Bigger trays. More chemicals. More space for the trays.

  4. #4
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    Reading the articles on the home page here ("LF Home Page" in the blue navigation bar) will definitely help in getting you started. The Big Problem, and thus potentially your biggest challenge, is that there is something close to an infinite number of variables in equipment, style and technique. Making sense of it all, and deciding on a combination of gear, style and technique that work well for you is the challenge. Next, is mastering those elements well enough to create images worthy of making large prints, I'd say. But, the adventure along the way is well worth the trouble.

  5. #5
    funkadelic
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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjorn Nilsson View Post
    A picture isn't better just because it's bigger. //Björn
    Maybe not better, but it can certainly be more captivating. Take a look at any of Clyde Butcher's work. Some would say "Oh, it's another picture in the Everglades." Try standing in front of one measuring 4'x8'. The viewer begins to notice the detail of the bark on the tree, the fish in the water, the alligator in the background.
    Depending on what you're trying to do with the photo, bigger just might be better.

  6. #6

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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    Quote Originally Posted by cdholden View Post
    Maybe not better, but it can certainly be more captivating. Take a look at any of Clyde Butcher's work. Some would say "Oh, it's another picture in the Everglades." Try standing in front of one measuring 4'x8'. The viewer begins to notice the detail of the bark on the tree, the fish in the water, the alligator in the background.
    Depending on what you're trying to do with the photo, bigger just might be better.
    Of course the dust spots and pinholes get bigger too!
    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.

  7. #7

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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    One option you might want to consider is to look for one of the "cold light" diffusion sources for the Omega such as the Aristo. With one of those you would not need a new condenser. I have never noticed a condenser vs diffusion war here on the forum (although one breaks out every time I remind my father-in-law what I did to his D2).

    Adherents of diffusion sources report a more linear relationship between negative tone and print density resulting in more open shadows as well as less print spotting due to less obtrusive dust. Condenser fans claim more sharpness and contrast.
    Last edited by aduncanson; 29-Nov-2008 at 21:39. Reason: premature emmission

  8. #8

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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Of course the dust spots and pinholes get bigger too!
    I second this. Dust will be the biggest challenge. Nothing ruins an otherwise perfect negative like a few dust spots. Fortunately, there are a number of posts, and a few articles, on this site about avoiding dust. One thing I found out recently was that small flakes of emulsion are sometimes left between sheets of film. tapping the sheets on the tabletop before sliding them into the holder should take care of this.

    --Gary

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    From what you posted it seems you may need:

    135mm or 150mm lens and cone
    4x5 negative carrier for the enlarger
    4x5 film holders for the camera
    Something to hold the film up to dry

    If you already do darkroom work, you should have the rest. Have fun! I have found that photography gets easier as the negative gets bigger.

  10. #10

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    Re: Newbie..help me out

    It seems to me that the biggest challenges will be to build a big enough sink to handle the trays, getting a print washer large enough, and getting very good negatives, having good lenses on your camera, and understanding how movements work on your camera so everything is sharp.

    I learned tray processing from an article on the View Camera site. The method there does not require counting which sheet is which in terms of developing time.

    Can people suggest what size sink would be required to handle 16x20 trays because I may want to try and build one myself.

    eric

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