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View Full Version : Cookin' with Cooke! Please Post u'r Cooke Portrait lens shots



Jim Galli
5-Apr-2013, 22:31
Post your TTH Cooke Portrait lens shots that you think perhaps explain the consistent value of these classic lenses.


http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/NAMuseum/Packard180Darrin_Cooke15-5IIc_lensS.jpg
packard darrin

Cooke Series IIC 15½" wide open on 6.5X8.5 format

Teodor Oprean
5-Apr-2013, 22:39
Gorgeous image. Very well done.

Emil Schildt
6-Apr-2013, 04:16
Betti

13x18cm paper negative

Cooke 300mm 3.5 full soft

http://www.apug.org/gallery1/files/4/8/8/7/paperneg3.jpg

Walter Calahan
6-Apr-2013, 06:19
Classic car with a classic lens. Congratulations. Beautiful. My Cooke XVa is more of an Ansel Adams lens then a pictorial look and feel. Grin.

Jim Galli
6-Apr-2013, 08:38
Thanks for the comments. Gorgeous image Emil. That's what I'm talking about.

Jim Fitzgerald
6-Apr-2013, 08:51
beautiful guys. Wish I could parcipitate but alas, no Cooke yet! :(

IanG
6-Apr-2013, 14:55
I'd love to participate but first I must get my Cooke lenses onto cameras (or finish the SLR restoration) :D

Great inspirations.

Ian

Emil Schildt
6-Apr-2013, 15:47
Another one - same cooke as above...

http://www.apug.org/gallery1/files/4/8/8/7/olcooke.jpg

Tim Meisburger
6-Apr-2013, 17:40
Nice bird!

ederphoto
24-Sep-2014, 15:01
Post your TTH Cooke Portrait lens shots that you think perhaps explain the consistent value of these classic lenses.


http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/NAMuseum/Packard180Darrin_Cooke15-5IIc_lensS.jpg
packard darrin

Cooke Series IIC 15½" wide open on 6.5X8.5 format

Very nice Jim ! Love the Bokeh ! Were you using a reducing back or did your full plate took this lens like champ ?

Jim Galli
24-Sep-2014, 16:09
Very nice Jim ! Love the Bokeh ! Were you using a reducing back or did your full plate took this lens like champ ?

Thanks! The full plate is a reducing back on my venerable Kodak 2D.

Below is a recent one done with Cooke Series II 13" original 1895 version. Full sharp setting, and also on full plate. I was at a bed and breakfast, Winje's Farm north of Lake City, Ca. and this table, really just a sheet of ply on saw horses, presented itself for the taking.

ederphoto
24-Sep-2014, 18:46
I wonder how many steaks i could eat with all those onions !:rolleyes: Very nice composition . My eyes run all over over the picture and always land in the same place .(Leading lines ).My eyes starts at the bottom right and move up diagonally left and than up diagonally right and than up following the highlights and than down to the right diagonally finding the onions again and moving up towards the highlights and down to the center of the pile of onions .I like that . Just for the discussion , this is what i mean , after all a picture is worth one thousand words :

ScottPhotoCo
14-Dec-2015, 21:51
Bringing this thread back to life!

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5686/23269083679_7e9f805ff4_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Bsd8TV)Portrait of a lady. (https://flic.kr/p/Bsd8TV) by Tim Scott (https://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/), on Flickr
10.5" Cooke Series II wide open (f4.5)
Ilford FP4+

Not sure if this is the appropriate place but I have a Cooke question. On my version of the lens the soft-focus is set by turning the front of the barrel. What is the process for setting and using soft focus? Do you focus at SHARP first and then adjust the SF to taste or do you focus as you adjust the SF? I've looked everywhere I can think but I can't find videos or discussion on this lens.

Thanks in advance!

Tin Can
14-Dec-2015, 22:41
Bringing this thread back to life!


10.5" Cooke Series II wide open (f4.5)
Ilford FP4+

Not sure if this is the appropriate place but I have a Cooke question. On my version of the lens the soft-focus is set by turning the front of the barrel. What is the process for setting and using soft focus? Do you focus at SHARP first and then adjust the SF to taste or do you focus as you adjust the SF? I've looked everywhere I can think but I can't find videos or discussion on this lens.

Thanks in advance!

We have had this discussion. The short answer is Cooke itself in their research and published literature changed the techniques. Early they advertised, focus wide, close down and shoot. 30 years later they advertised focus at shooting aperture.

Take your pick, but I think the experts here, and I am not one of them, use the second technique.

Look up old Cooke advertising, from before the Knuckler.

I'm still trying to get results I like with my Cooke. Focus is very tough for this 4 eyed bastard.

ScottPhotoCo
14-Dec-2015, 23:49
Randy,

Thank you for taking the time to post this. I was unable to find much at all so far.

My real question, however, was more about using the soft focus function in process rather than aperture use. My other soft focus lens, a Kodak Portrait lens, is full time soft focus variable only by aperture. So the way the Cooke works is completely foreign to me.

Thanks again for your answer and I hope to see some of your Cooke images here. :)

Tim

Tin Can
15-Dec-2015, 00:01
Randy,

Thank you for taking the time to post this. I was unable to find much at all so far.

My real question, however, was more about using the soft focus function in process rather than aperture use. My other soft focus lens, a Kodak Portrait lens, is full time soft focus variable only by aperture. So the way the Cooke works is completely foreign to me.

Thanks again for your answer and I hope to see some of your Cooke images here. :)

Tim

I condensed the story too far. I meant initially they recommended set the lens on full sharp, found focus and then shifted to 1 of up to 5 soft focus positions. Aperture was not discussed in the literature I read. Then later said set SF position and then do focus and shoot. I infer they did either way at the same aperture as they knew it was also a variable.

More to come.

Tin Can
15-Dec-2015, 00:07
I suggest you do some googling.

Start here and dig for history, it's right there inside your computer.

http://www.cookeoptics.com/l/largeformat.html

Colin D
15-Dec-2015, 04:09
Good on you Tim for re-igniting this discussion because I'm yet to learn how to use my Cooke, albeit it is a series VI, and will be keen to hear any insights on how to get the best from it. The focussing technique is worth discussing.

I've done a few low interest test shots to date (see below) just to give it a run, but now I've cleaned and painted out the studio room I'm raring to get back into using the lens. I'm keen to do portraits, perhaps with some persuasion I can get the cook, not Cooke, to let me take some of her.

143539

Ari
15-Dec-2015, 06:03
Maybe this helps, my lens is not SF, but with a Cooke XVa I found that there was a slight focus shift when closing down.
I normally shoot at f8 or f11, and even then there would be some focus shift; I found this out after buying the lens (not that it made any difference), and was told that this is a characteristic of most Cooke lenses.
I've since learned to focus with my loupe at the working aperture.
Here, I missed exact focus by ~2mm from a distance of about 6 feet:

http://www.aritapiero.com/uploads/5/7/9/8/5798107/3104400_orig.jpg

Colin D
15-Dec-2015, 12:21
So Ari, focus with aperture means doing that first then setting the sf last, or set sf first then aperture then focus.

Ari
15-Dec-2015, 12:32
Colin, my lens does not have a soft-focus function, but because of focus shift, I stop down then focus.
This could apply to Cooke SF lenses as well, though I'm not sure at what stage to apply the SF.
My first guess would be stop down, apply the SF, then focus; then again, would one stop down AND apply SF as well?

Jim Galli
15-Dec-2015, 12:41
I don't know if it's correct or not, but I always set the soft focus ring to the number I want and then focus on the ground glass.

Mark Sawyer
15-Dec-2015, 12:47
With soft focus lenses, there is always a pronounced focus shift. Soft focus is achieved through spherical aberration*, which is also the cause of focus shift. As you close the aperture, the spherical aberration goes away and the focus shifts. So always focus a soft lens at the taking aperture.

Also, on lenses with adjustable soft focus, (Cooke Portrait, Series II Velostigmat, Portrait Unar, Dallmeyer B series, Universal Heliar...), always refocus after setting the softness where you want it.

* except a few rarities that achieve soft focus through chromatic aberration, but even then, the same principal holds true.

Emil Schildt
15-Dec-2015, 13:38
With soft focus lenses, there is always a pronounced focus shift. Soft focus is achieved through spherical aberration*, which is also the cause of focus shift. As you close the aperture, the spherical aberration goes away and the focus shifts. So always focus a soft lens at the taking aperture.

Also, on lenses with adjustable soft focus, (Cooke Portrait, Series II Velostigmat, Portrait Unar, Dallmeyer B series, Universal Heliar...), always refocus after setting the softness where you want it.

* except a few rarities that achieve soft focus through chromatic aberration, but even then, the same principal holds true.

Doesn't come any clearer! (pun intented.. :) )

Tin Can
15-Dec-2015, 14:14
My reference is found on this website. http://www.antiquecameras.net/softfocuslenses2.html Screen snip from this website for educational purposes only.


143557

macolive
15-Dec-2015, 15:10
Betti

13x18cm paper negative

Cooke 300mm 3.5 full soft


Lovely portrait!

Mark Sawyer
15-Dec-2015, 15:45
My reference is found on this website. http://www.antiquecameras.net/softfocuslenses2.html Screen snip from this website for educational purposes only.


Just to round it out, here's a page from the 1930's Cooke catalogue at http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/cooke_2.html which explains, "The portrait should always be re-focused after diffusion to insure obtaining the exact effect desired." ( suspect this is the later reference you refered to, Randy?) Wollensak put out similar conflicting information on the Velostigmat Series II. I suspect some of the advertising copy may have been written by people with little photographic knowledge...

143559

ScottPhotoCo
15-Dec-2015, 17:30
Thank you all very kindly. With this in mind I will have more images with the Cooke here soon. :)

Tim

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
15-Dec-2015, 17:49
A recent image with a 10.5" Cooke IIE, at f8 with no soft.

143564

It fits perfectly on a 5x7 Home Portrait Graflex.

Tin Can
15-Dec-2015, 18:02
Just to round it out, here's a page from the 1930's Cooke catalogue at http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/cooke_2.html which explains, "The portrait should always be re-focused after diffusion to insure obtaining the exact effect desired." ( suspect this is the later reference you refered to, Randy?) Wollensak put out similar conflicting information on the Velostigmat Series II. I suspect some of the advertising copy may have been written by people with little photographic knowledge...

143559

Yes, and there may be one more page somewhere.

I was confused in my early usage as I wanted to believe the pioneers...

...and the early way sounds easier! :)

Mark Sawyer
15-Dec-2015, 19:13
...and the early way sounds easier! :)

When changing the spacing of the elements to get spherical aberration, you also get a slight shift in focal length, so everything is a little out-of-focus. There's a huge difference between out-of-focus and soft focus...

Tin Can
15-Dec-2015, 19:31
When changing the spacing of the elements to get spherical aberration, you also get a slight shift in focal length, so everything is a little out-of-focus. There's a huge difference between out-of-focus and soft focus...

Maybe I'm just so myopic I can't see the difference...

I keep tryin! :)

Shootin sharp portraits this week.

Emil Schildt
16-Dec-2015, 08:07
Maybe I'm just so myopic I can't see the difference...

I keep tryin! :)

Shootin sharp portraits this week.

that's interesting... on mine (F3.5) there's a HUGE difference...

Mark Sawyer
16-Dec-2015, 11:56
Maybe I'm just so myopic I can't see the difference...

I keep tryin! :)

Shootin sharp portraits this week.

There's always been a bit of confusion between soft focus and out-of-focus, and in how to focus the soft lenses. In soft focus, there's a sharp image accompanying an out-of-focus image, so there's both sharp detail and softness. All areas of the lens throw a sharp image somewhere, but the definition of spherical aberration is that in a spherical lens, the light from the outer edge of the lens focuses in front of the plane-of-focus for light from the center of the lens:

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/spherical%20aberration_zpsl198uclr.jpg (http://s55.photobucket.com/user/Owen21k/media/spherical%20aberration_zpsl198uclr.jpg.html)

The thing is, there's more light gathering area at the edges than in the center, so when you focus wide open, that's the dominant image, and photographers tend to focus there, on the "circle of least confusion" (where all light from the lens is sharpest), or somewhere in-between. As you shut down the aperture, it cuts off those outer edges, and the center area throws the more dominant image, so you should refocus on that.

The out-of-focus image is a blurred version of the sharp image, so it's fuzzy edges extend outside the sharp image. Higher intensity light tends to dominate, so that's the halo or glowing effect around the highlights soft lenses are known for. Textures are also softened, (though not removed completely, because of that sharp image), hence the smoother skin.

How much spherical aberration is in a particular lens design and how it changes as the aperture is closed accounts for a lot of the different "personalities" between soft lenses. So a Cooke doesn't look like a Verito, and neither looks like a Plasticca or an Eidoscope or a Hyperion...

Most diffusion filters just scatter light, softening textures by softening contrast. (Softars, with their little "lenslets", are closer in effect to a true soft focus lens, but still not the same.)

ScottPhotoCo
16-Dec-2015, 12:29
There's always been a bit of confusion between soft focus and out-of-focus, and in how to focus the soft lenses. In soft focus, there's a sharp image accompanying an out-of-focus image, so there's both sharp detail and softness. All areas of the lens throw a sharp image somewhere, but the definition of spherical aberration is that in a spherical lens, the light from the outer edge of the lens focuses in front of the plane-of-focus for light from the center of the lens:

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/spherical%20aberration_zpsl198uclr.jpg (http://s55.photobucket.com/user/Owen21k/media/spherical%20aberration_zpsl198uclr.jpg.html)

The thing is, there's more light gathering area at the edges than in the center, so when you focus wide open, that's the dominant image, and photographers tend to focus there, on the "circle of least confusion" (where all light from the lens is sharpest), or somewhere in-between. As you shut down the aperture, it cuts off those outer edges, and the center area throws the more dominant image, so you should refocus on that.

The out-of-focus image is a blurred version of the sharp image, so it's fuzzy edges extend outside the sharp image. Higher intensity light tends to dominate, so that's the halo or glowing effect around the highlights soft lenses are known for. Textures are also softened, (though not removed completely, because of that sharp image), hence the smoother skin.

How much spherical aberration is in a particular lens design and how it changes as the aperture is closed accounts for a lot of the different "personalities" between soft lenses. So a Cooke doesn't look like a Verito, and neither looks like a Plasticca or an Eidoscope or a Hyperion...

Most diffusion filters just scatter light, softening textures by softening contrast. (Softars, with their little "lenslets", are closer in effect to a true soft focus lens, but still not the same.)

Very helpful. Thank you!

ScottPhotoCo
16-Dec-2015, 12:31
Just starting to process some film from an actor's headshot session last weekend. This is made with the 4x5 RB Glraflex Auto + Cooke 10.5" + Ilford FP4+ XTOL 1:1.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5742/23168007483_4f6d6aebb0_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Bih6sT)Portrait of Nicole (https://flic.kr/p/Bih6sT) by Tim Scott (https://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/), on Flickr

Colin D
17-Dec-2015, 03:52
Hi Tim, I like the photo. Is it too much to ask what f-stop and soft setting you used, no problems if it is.

Cheers

plaubel
17-Dec-2015, 05:21
"The portrait should always be re-focused after diffusion to insure obtaining the exact effect desired."

In my not so big experience, there can't be a total sharp point, because of the different focal planes of the SF lens. "Less confusion" is a fine description.

Otherwise, the not-so-clear definated sharpness ( but sharpness) goes deeper then the DOF of normal lenses, so in my opinion, you can choose "this point or that point" and for me, the second part of the sentence, "obtaining the exact effect desired" is the most important one.

As described in the book "Practice of soft focus" from M. Neumüller and seen on my GG, too, the effect becomes more interesting in expanding the bellows, starting from a good enough focused point.Shorten the bellows gives more out of focus then a great effect.

So my way is first focusing and choosing the degree of softness, or choosing softness first and than focusing, it is not so important to me.
The main thing to me is the last step - a combination of refocusing and mainly looking for the best affect by stretching the bellows.
A total view of the GG image seems to give a be better impression of the effects than a small view via glasses or Lupe.

Ritchie

Tin Can
17-Dec-2015, 09:11
Your last point my be my exact problem. I am severely myopic and never see the big picture nor details unless I use loupe or put my bare eye right at GG. Lately I have Been trying, in darkened studio, viewing GG at a distance of up to 2 meters. Not really working. Maybe I need to try binoculars...


In my not so big experience, there can't be a total sharp point, because of the different focal planes of the SF lens. "Less confusion" is a fine description.

Otherwise, the not-so-clear definated sharpness ( but sharpness) goes deeper then the DOF of normal lenses, so in my opinion, you can choose "this point or that point" and for me, the second part of the sentence, "obtaining the exact effect desired" is the most important one.

As described in the book "Practice of soft focus" from M. Neumüller and seen on my GG, too, the effect becomes more interesting in expanding the bellows, starting from a good enough focused point.Shorten the bellows gives more out of focus then a great effect.

So my way is first focusing and choosing the degree of softness, or choosing softness first and than focusing, it is not so important to me.
The main thing to me is the last step - a combination of refocusing and mainly looking for the best affect by stretching the bellows.
A total view of the GG image seems to give a be better impression of the effects than a small view via glasses or Lupe.

Ritchie

ScottPhotoCo
17-Dec-2015, 09:37
Hi Tim, I like the photo. Is it too much to ask what f-stop and soft setting you used, no problems if it is.

Cheers

Hi Colin,

If I remember correctly this was either 4.5 or 5.6 set at "sharp".

Tim

Mark Sawyer
17-Dec-2015, 12:02
In my not so big experience, there can't be a total sharp point, because of the different focal planes of the SF lens. "Less confusion" is a fine description...


With apologies for subverting the Cooke thread, describing soft lenses and how they work kinda gets into semantics. All pathways through the lens are producing sharp images, but they're on different focal planes. The outside areas of the lens are on a focal plane closer to the lens, getting progressively farther away as you approach the center.


Otherwise, the not-so-clear definated sharpness ( but sharpness) goes deeper then the DOF of normal lenses, so in my opinion, you can choose "this point or that point" and for me, the second part of the sentence, "obtaining the exact effect desired" is the most important one.

On a side note, soft lenses were first produced not to get a pictorial effect, but to get a deeper depth of field, done by spreading the focal plane. It was a bit later that photographers began to use the softness that produced as an effect.


So my way is first focusing and choosing the degree of softness, or choosing softness first and than focusing, it is not so important to me.
The main thing to me is the last step - a combination of refocusing and mainly looking for the best affect by stretching the bellows.
A total view of the GG image seems to give a be better impression of the effects than a small view via glasses or Lupe.


Yes, one must always refocus, but especially so with dial-in-the-softness lenses. As you change the spacing between the elements to adjust the softness, you also change the focal length slightly, but enough to throw the whole image out-of-focus, in spite of the spread depth of field. I suspect this, coupled with faulty instructions to "focus, then dial in the softness" has led to a lot of confusion about the difference between soft focus and out-of-focus as photographers using that method got simply out-of-focus images.

I'll shut up now...

Colin D
17-Dec-2015, 14:15
Thanks Tim, useful to know as I'm close to getting the Cooke in action.

Tin Can
17-Dec-2015, 18:56
Mark, please do not shut up.

I need all the online help I can find!

richardman
17-Dec-2015, 19:01
.. I am severely myopic and never see the big picture nor details unless I use loupe or put my bare eye right at GG. ...

Oy, most people use the word figuratively, but you use it literally! (Then again, apparently now one of the "big" dictionaries also allows literally to mean figuratively. As they say, I can't even.)

richardman
17-Dec-2015, 19:02
This is why I like the Cooke PS945 or the old Cooke triplets. The diffusion disk images just look fussy to me, whereas the Cooke are different. Thanks for explaining.

richardman
18-Dec-2015, 17:04
I meant fuzzy, not fussy ;-P

Jim Galli
18-Dec-2015, 17:09
I meant fuzzy, not fussy ;-P

Same thing.

Mark Sawyer
18-Dec-2015, 23:58
What about frumpy?