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Thread: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

  1. #11

    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    The Hine photo above was probably taken in 1909 using a handheld camera 5x7 camera with magnesium powder flash. It's going to be pretty hard to duplicate today. Lewis Hine was not interested in print quality. His images were almost always reproduced, often on poor paper. Beaumont Newhall in a 1940 letter to Ansel Adams wrote: "I do not have a good Hine print. I have never seen one. He is not interested in print quality which is a pity.... Much news stuff is deliberately printed just for the reproduction. I've often felt that a news photography show should just be newsprint reproductions."

    I have just been reading Lewis Hine published by d a p, which is a catalog of a European show that closes tomorrow in Madrid, and then travels to Rotterdam. I recommend it to anyone interested in Lewis Hine. It includes a facsimile of his "Men at Work" essay and examples from his major projects, along with interesting essays about him.
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  2. #12
    hacker extraordinaire
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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Larger formats have less depth of field than smaller formats
    No they don't. Photons do not know what size of camera they are going through.

    The only thing that affects depth of field is magnification and numeric aperture.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
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  3. #13
    unexposed darr's Avatar
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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Wasserman View Post
    The Hine photo above was probably taken in 1909 using a handheld camera 5x7 camera with magnesium powder flash. It's going to be pretty hard to duplicate today. Lewis Hine was not interested in print quality. His images were almost always reproduced, often on poor paper. Beaumont Newhall in a 1940 letter to Ansel Adams wrote: "I do not have a good Hine print. I have never seen one. He is not interested in print quality which is a pity.... Much news stuff is deliberately printed just for the reproduction. I've often felt that a news photography show should just be newsprint reproductions."

    I have just been reading Lewis Hine published by d a p, which is a catalog of a European show that closes tomorrow in Madrid, and then travels to Rotterdam. I recommend it to anyone interested in Lewis Hine. It includes a facsimile of his "Men at Work" essay and examples from his major projects, along with interesting essays about him.
    The Shorpy site is currently showing some of Hine's work:

    http://www.shorpy.com/lewis-hine-photos

    Here is the picture the OP asked about (1):

    http://www.shorpy.com/node/4696

  4. #14
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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    No they don't. Photons do not know what size of camera they are going through.

    The only thing that affects depth of field is magnification and numeric aperture.
    Okay, I skipped some steps. Larger formats require longer focal lengths to achieve the same image. Longer focal lengths provide greater magnification, which make sense given the same image is made bigger for the larger format.

    But you knew that. I think it was apparent I did, too, in the context.

    Rick "sheesh" Denney

  5. #15

    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedGraphicMan View Post
    The pictures you posted were undoubtedly shot with uncoated lenses, this lowers contrast considerably, and often introduces flare. I might take a guess that the picture of the little boy was perhaps developed in pyro? that would account for that "sharp edge" look. I will agree that a little experience with large format will do wonders for finding the answer you are looking for.
    Thank you! I will look more into the pyro technique! I do have some experience with LF but my NYC apartment and budget (not to mention work) dictate what I am able to play with these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    Larger formats have less depth of field than smaller formats....and these will blur the unfocused image more than faster lenses on small format. Some old lens designs transition smoothly from focused details to unfocused details, even at small scale. Others drop off less smoothly, or show different artifacts....

    Most older films had more of an "S" in the characteristic curve than modern films and digital sensors....This effect was perhaps moderated by the veiling flare in uncoated lenses.

    I do not know when manual unsharp masking was first used, but I doubt it was ever used for the types of pictures you show. I would think those are as they were straight out of the camera. The lens was probably a triplet or maybe a tessar, just because they were the most common for so long and it's going with the percentages.
    I appreciate the feedback. I deeply understand the relationship between format size of DoF, CoC, et al. My issue with the first photo is the background, though definitely out of focus, it is not so much so to make me feel the sharpness is due to DoF. The background does not blur to the extent of indistinguishability like even a 50mm f1.2 would on 35mm. I do love your thoughts on how some older lens designs transition more smoothly from focused to unfocused details, and I would love to find some examples. Could you tell me of some lenses that I may google images to see better and worse focus transitions and the others showing the different artifacts?

    You're pointing out how flaring lenses may moderate the heavy S-curve present in older films actually may help me. That would explain how the curve goes beyond the highlights in the way I'm searching for. Other have pointed out flaring but I guess thinking about how it beneficially moderates an s-curve helps me!

    That you think my unsharp masking was used is also helpful. I will look into the triplet and tessar to see if that could provide an explanation for the sharpness I am feeling.
    Quote Originally Posted by sully75 View Post
    Not to be a total D1ck, but the reason these pictures look like they were shot on large, old cameras, with large, old lenses, on old, not-particularly-responsive-film (or glass) were because they were. That's why they look like that.
    Curious to me is why I feel this "old and outdated" technology looks better than all the advances we've made!

  6. #16

    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Wasserman View Post
    The Hine photo above was probably taken in 1909 using a handheld camera 5x7 camera with magnesium powder flash.... "He is not interested in print quality.... Much news stuff is deliberately printed just for the reproduction."
    Were you able to use magnesium flash that distance from the camera? It appears to me the photographer would need to have very long arms!? Or could a second person trip the flash?

    Were prints made for reproduction printed with specific qualities separating them from others? Or does he simply mean they were printed poorly?

    ____________________________________
    Darr, thanks for providing those links with more examples of Hine's work!
    ____________________________________
    rdenney and BetterSense - I knew what you were saying. I am very experiences with this relationship between format size and DoF by way of aperture and circles of confusion.

    The one thing I've never been able to do is plot a diagram illustrating this to see if the relationship matches up exactly taking into account the variables that change between formats. Does anyone know? Does the depth of field characteristics between formats perfectly match when you adjust focal length for FoV and aperture to achieve similar DoF?

  7. #17

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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    I'll try this again, LF lost me again! The first is an obvious Lewis Hine photo, 1874-1940. He was shooting from around 1900 until the mid 1930's. He was an absolutely incredible photographer but he was his own worst enemy which is why he died penniless. Much of his important interior work was with flash powder, very powerful stuff, and the reflectors and bare bulb "effect" was similar in many ways to a very broad light source. If I were to duplicate the Hine photo, I'd use 4x5 with a 150 to 200 lens at around f8.0 and a 3 or 4 foot soft box and normal processing, then control the contrast in printing.

    I seem to recall that dry plates at the turn of the 20th century had a speed of 12 to 16. For sure, Kodak High Speed Pan (late teens to earl 20's) had a speed of 32. From about 1900 on characteristic curves didn't change significantly. The one really big change was the quality control change from 1954 was the from contact print to enlarging QC. The principle difference was a speed increase of about 1 f stop (I remember it vividly, I was in USN Med Photo School). Another change was from "gamma" to "average gradient" (also called GBar). Gamma was the extension of the straight line portion of the curve, however from the 1950's on, only SuperXX even had a straight line portion. From that point on practical sensitometrists extended a straight line from the equivalent of Zone 2 to Zone 8 and called it GBar and then based film speed as relating to Zone 5 as .70.

    Lynn

  8. #18

    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Hine talks about flash powder when he photographed immigrants entering Ellis Island and makes it sound quite exciting: " The flashlight was a compound of magnesium and an accelerator, the latter being increased in proportion to the speed desired as the former was very slow. Also it was rather deadly when it decided to go off prematurely or became caked up and showered sparks over everybody....A horizontal pan on a vertical hollow rod with a plunger into which a small paper cap was inserted and then the powder was poured across the pan in what seemed, at the time, to be enough to cover the situation. The shutter was closed of course, plate holder inserted and cover slide removed, usually, the lamp retrieved, and then the real work began, By that time most of the group were either silly or stony or weeping...and the climax came when you raised the flash pan aloft over them and they waited rigidly for the blast. It took all the resources of a hypnotist, a supersalesman, and a ball pitcher to prepare them to play the game and then to outguess them so most of them were either not wincing or shutting their eyes when the time came to shoot."

    Photos for reproduction were printed at a higher contrast than exhibition prints to allow for the half-tone process used at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by marshallarts View Post
    Were you able to use magnesium flash that distance from the camera? It appears to me the photographer would need to have very long arms!? Or could a second person trip the flash?

    Were prints made for reproduction printed with specific qualities separating them from others? Or does he simply mean they were printed poorly?

    ____________________________________
    Darr, thanks for providing those links with more examples of Hine's work!
    ____________________________________
    rdenney and BetterSense - I knew what you were saying. I am very experiences with this relationship between format size and DoF by way of aperture and circles of confusion.

    The one thing I've never been able to do is plot a diagram illustrating this to see if the relationship matches up exactly taking into account the variables that change between formats. Does anyone know? Does the depth of field characteristics between formats perfectly match when you adjust focal length for FoV and aperture to achieve similar DoF?
    ____________________________________________

    Richard Wasserman

    http://www.richardwasserman.net

    http://richardwassermanphotographer.tumblr.com

  9. #19
    Wayne venchka's Avatar
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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by marshallarts View Post
    ...

    Curious to me is why I feel this "old and outdated" technology looks better than all the advances we've made!
    Welcome to the club. New isn't always better. Given the fact that wet plate cameras and wet plates are still being manufactured today and used with lenses contemporary to the origins of wet plates, there are no "outdated" processes. If only the "kids" would learn this. A few have. Most have not.

    Good luck with your quest.

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  10. #20
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    Re: I've been searching for year for an answer to this question.

    The first photo, I don't really see any shadows on the floor, so I'd guess it was naturally lit. A good triplet or tessar will produce the smoothness in the out of focus areas seen. I especially like the smoothness as it fades from the left most person to the next person who is further back. Any of the people in the background look nice and smooth, and I think that's a major factor in the success of this photo that makes it transcend a utilitarian documentary purpose. It's a wave shaped field of mysterious and anonymous workers. The old lenses which are generally not corrected for color have a smoother and slower transition from in focus to out of focus at wide apertures. I think this is because the spherical aberration is creating a slightly less distinct area of "in focus". A tessar wide open on a 4x5 or 5x7 camera would be a decent way to approximate this without much effort or expense.

    The second photo seems to show the ability of film to handle dappled light well; better than digital sometimes. If you like that all-over softness, a Kodak portrait, imagon, or other meniscus lens will do it just fine. Softness will vary depending on aperture. There were consumer cameras of that era that used medium format sized film and made negatives in the shape of that photo. Nothing to say that photo wasn't cropped from something though. It will differ from digital in that the exposure was either guessed or metered for the shadows, where in digital, we have to worry about the highlights. Highlights were ignored here. It's actually not a great print, even if it were sharp. I'd probably print it a shade darker.

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