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jogennard
15-Jan-2015, 03:01
Hello all, I'm new to both the site and large format photography!

I've recently bought a horseman 5x4 and am currently in my final year of a BA Photography in London. Unfortunately we've only had one formal introduction to large format cameras at uni so I'm now blindly finding my way around the whole process. I have a couple of questions that I would really appreciate some help with but will try and keep them brief. My final year project is about my association with the sea from my days in the Royal Navy so I will be photographing the sea in various states, but usually in quite close proximity, i.e. from the end of a pier/ship so as to get a slightly elevated position. My problems specifically are:

1. struggling to find a black and white film that will give me high enough shutter speed at minimum F16 to not have motion blur in the waves. Currently using HP5 400 iso

2. best tilt to use so that everything from foreground to horizon is in focus (is F16 enough)

3. best film and paper to use for maximum contrast (currently using Ilford MG IV RC De Luxe Satin)

Thank you so much in anticipation!
Jo

koraks
15-Jan-2015, 05:47
1. 400 ISO is as far as I know the fastest speed in which sheet film comes. You can push it by one or two stops (expose for 800 or 1600ISO and then develop longer; there are guidelines for this, e.g. in the massive film development chart - Google it), but it will result in increased contrast and grain. If this is a problem, only you can decide.

2. This depends on the focal length of the objective you're using and your elevation above the sea surface as well as the question if the camera is set up with the film plane perpendicular to the horizon. There's no single number that can be given. Look up the Scheimpflug formula to play with the calculus and be surprised at how little tilt is generally required to put the focal plane horizontal. Also take into account that using tilt will alter the focal plane, but it will also result in (an apparent) reduction in depth of field, which is why particularly with wide angle lenses, if you aim for sharpness across the image, it's often more effective to use a smaller aperture than to use tilt. This of course also depends on the question if there are any structures that stick out of the sea that you may want to put into focus or if the sky needs to be in perfect focus (the latter is usually not an issue, so it's a bit hypothetical); if so, tilt will become an even less attractive option. So first decide if tilt is the way to go and then decide on the degree of tilt in the field, as it will depend on factors out there.

3. Well, maximum contrast at least meshes well with the possibility of pushing the film, but it may result in difficulties getting enough shadow detail if you expose for the sky or highlight detail if you expose for the darker areas. You may want to read up on the zone system and different approaches to film development (N+1, N+2, N-1, N-2 and so on) to capture the full dynamic range of the scene - which may or may not be entirely possible, depending on the scene. As to paper, I can't comment as I have no experience in that area. In general, multigrade paper will be able to print with high or low contrast as desired, which you most likely know is determined by color filtering.

As I am relatively new to LF myself, perhaps others can have a critical look at what I said above and correct me where I am wrong and add information where I missed essential bits. Just trying to help out (and learn a bit myself in the process).

koh303
15-Jan-2015, 05:57
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle

Does not need to be a base tilt, just a tilt, on either of the standards, to create an intersection of all three planes (film/focus plane, lens/optical center plane and actual subject plane). Some cameras have auto Scheimpflug calculators (maybe yours has it too, as google), but all you need is a few moments to make the adjustment back and forth until you get what you wanted. You can also try to visualize the three lines and how the intersect as you tilt.

Liquid Artist
15-Jan-2015, 23:28
Jo,
I had this silly idea once that may or may not work.
Personally I think it would be fun.

That is taking a perfectly cleaned mirror,
Sprinkle some sea salt on it on a calm day outside.
Nice blue sky with clouds in it would be best.
If done just right I am thinking the mirror should look like a flat ocean. Reflecting the sky. The salt should look like icebergs in the distance don't show the edge of the mirror or any land based reflection.

Basically you'd be selling the Illusion.
I think it may be interesting to see if anyone notices.

Jac@stafford.net
15-Jan-2015, 23:49
You have almost everything you need. I presume you are using a 135mm to 150mm lens.
For B&W you might get an orange filter or a polarizing filter. Don't break the bank at this point.

Start simply. Tilt the top back about 3 to 6 degrees towards you. Focus mid-range. F/16 is good. On a bright day with HP4, 1/500th sec should be feasible. Any motion blur you get is still the sea, very much as we see it.

See how that works for you.

This picture by photographer Stuart Klipper was done on 6x17cm hand-held at maybe 1/250th second. I have seen it enlarged to a great size. It holds up very well. (Downsized to fit here doesn't do it justice.)

128143

Oh, you are working B&W. Well, here is Klipper's image as it should look with an Orange filter.

128144

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 01:38
Thank you all for your wonderful advice. Jac, I was just wondering what exactly does tilting the top back achieve? Is this to achieve constant focus? The images you attached are exactly what I'm trying to achieve!

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 01:43
So just to clarify, for my own fuddled brain...

HP5 can be stopped down to achieve 800 ISO with corrections to exposure in the darkroom.
I have been told to keep the film plane straight and to only tilt the lens plane, would you agree?
By using the Scheimpflug technique, I would measure the distance between lens and sea and then tilt the lens plane by that many degrees?
If I push the film it will give me increased contrast anyway?

Again, thank you all so much, I'm really grateful to you for taking the time to help.

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 01:44
Jo,
I had this silly idea once that may or may not work.
Personally I think it would be fun.

That is taking a perfectly cleaned mirror,
Sprinkle some sea salt on it on a calm day outside.
Nice blue sky with clouds in it would be best.
If done just right I am thinking the mirror should look like a flat ocean. Reflecting the sky. The salt should look like icebergs in the distance don't show the edge of the mirror or any land based reflection.

Basically you'd be selling the Illusion.
I think it may be interesting to see if anyone notices.

It sounds like a great project and if I ever get the hang of this I'll give it a go!!

AtlantaTerry
16-Jan-2015, 04:17
So just to clarify, for my own fuddled brain...

I have a feeling you are overthinking the problem. Have you actually gone out to take some photographs with your LF camera? There is no better teacher than experience. (The 10,000 hour rule.)

Jim Jones
16-Jan-2015, 06:42
. . . I have been told to keep the film plane straight and to only tilt the lens plane, would you agree?
. . .

This is true when there must be no convergence of vertical parallel lines in the subject. It also ensures that the lens coverage will include the entire film area; extreme front tilt can exceed the lens coverage. However, when capturing a basically flat horizontal subject from a moderate elevation, little tilt is required. The lens should have plenty of coverage for this. How much tilt is needed can be calculated, but experimenting may be more instructive. Try practicing on a stationary subject first. Focusing on a moving sea can be more difficult.

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 09:45
I have a feeling you are overthinking the problem. Have you actually gone out to take some photographs with your LF camera? There is no better teacher than experience. (The 10,000 hour rule.)

Yes I have and was maybe a little disappointed in the results, hence my questions. I was expecting amazing quality and I just didn't get it. Clearly I know it's something that I've done, or not done and not the camera that's at fault.

Peter Lewin
16-Jan-2015, 10:05
If you have access to a scanner at school or elsewhere, perhaps you could post scans from a couple of negatives; then we might be able to offer some thoughts on why you aren't seeing the quality you expect. For example, it could be blur from too slow a shutter setting, or from problems with focus, and so on. For example, I've been using HP5+ "forever" rated at ASA320, and in sunlight I am a bit puzzled why you would need to push the film speed; you may well be correct, but I would love to see what you are currently getting before offering advice.

Luis-F-S
16-Jan-2015, 10:10
So just to clarify, for my own fuddled brain...

I have been told to keep the film plane straight and to only tilt the lens plane, would you agree?

You use the lens standard for focus, and the film standard for prespective. Read Using the View Camera: A Creative Guide to Large Format Photography. Good luck. L

fishbulb
16-Jan-2015, 10:25
If you really want "amazing quality" for large format there are a lot of factors. It's very challenging. These are just some of the things that can affect final image quality.

* stable tripod setup, no wind, etc.
* cable release of course
* a low-speed, fine grained film - higher speed film has more grain, that's the tradeoff
* setting the lens for the best exposure possible for your subject, intended final image, and film / print types
* a good meter or method of metering to reliably determine this exposure
* good focus on the ground glass, and a magnifier (loupe) to check the focus on the ground glass (also, you can learn, by trial and error, how to use movements by re-checking the ground glass with a loupe after each change to the movements)
* a good lens with good covering power. probably a relatively modern multi-coated lens for maximum resolution of fine detail.
* use the center of the lens' image circle, not close to the edges. in general, lenses have their best performance in the center.
* stop down a few stops from maximum aperture of the lens, but not more than f/22 or so, or you start to lose resolution due to diffraction of light (this depends on the film type too). in general a f/5.6 lens will perform best between f/16 to f/22. at f/32 or f/64 you will lose a lot of resolution to diffraction.
* a good camera with no light leaks, good stability, accurate ground glass, and locks on the movements (so the focus point doesn't move after you focus)
* good film holders that are flat and provide (1) good film flatness (2) position the film at the correct plane so that what you focus on the ground glass ends up focused on the film and (3) don't have light leaks or dust problems
* proper development of the film by a skilled developer, and careful handling of the negatives to avoid scratches and dust
* a good scanner with a well-trained operator and/or a good optical enlarging setup and operator
* a good printer/paper and/or enlarging paper
* a good memory to do all the steps for shooting large format in the right order, and not forgetting equipment at home or forgetting to put the dark slide back in, etc.

Since starting large format work, I have struggled with most of these, particularly the last one, but it gets better.

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 14:26
If you have access to a scanner at school or elsewhere, perhaps you could post scans from a couple of negatives; then we might be able to offer some thoughts on why you aren't seeing the quality you expect. For example, it could be blur from too slow a shutter setting, or from problems with focus, and so on. For example, I've been using HP5+ "forever" rated at ASA320, and in sunlight I am a bit puzzled why you would need to push the film speed; you may well be correct, but I would love to see what you are currently getting before offering advice.

Thanks Peter, I'm not back at uni until the end of the month but will scan the prints that I developed in the darkroom on my flatbed scanner at home. Hopefully you should be able to see enough detail to see the problem.

jogennard
16-Jan-2015, 14:36
You use the lens standard for focus, and the film standard for prespective. Read Using the View Camera: A Creative Guide to Large Format Photography. Good luck. L

If you really want "amazing quality" for large format there are a lot of factors. It's very challenging. These are just some of the things that can affect final image quality.

* stable tripod setup, no wind, etc. the wind thing is an issue as I'm waiting for rough sea States and am stood at the end of a pier. I have a Gitzo tripod which is very heave duty and weight bags.
* cable release of course -got
* a low-speed, fine grained film - higher speed film has more grain, that's the tradeoff - 400iso
* setting the lens for the best exposure possible for your subject, intended final image, and film / print types
* a good meter or method of metering to reliably determine this exposure -sekonic light meter
* good focus on the ground glass, and a magnifier (loupe) to check the focus on the ground glass (also, you can learn, by trial and error, how to use movements by re-checking the ground glass with a loupe after each change to the movements) -nikon loupe
* a good lens with good covering power. probably a relatively modern multi-coated lens for maximum resolution of fine detail. - 150mm lens
* use the center of the lens' image circle, not close to the edges. in general, lenses have their best performance in the center.
* stop down a few stops from maximum aperture of the lens, but not more than f/22 or so, or you start to lose resolution due to diffraction of light (this depends on the film type too). in general a f/5.6 lens will perform best between f/16 to f/22. at f/32 or f/64 you will lose a lot of resolution to diffraction.
* a good camera with no light leaks, good stability, accurate ground glass, and locks on the movements (so the focus point doesn't move after you focus)
* good film holders that are flat and provide (1) good film flatness (2) position the film at the correct plane so that what you focus on the ground glass ends up focused on the film and (3) don't have light leaks or dust problems
* proper development of the film by a skilled developer, and careful handling of the negatives to avoid scratches and dust
* a good scanner with a well-trained operator and/or a good optical enlarging setup and operator - developing the film myself but have been doing so for four years with medium format and no problems so far
* a good printer/paper and/or enlarging paper
* a good memory to do all the steps for shooting large format in the right order, and not forgetting equipment at home or forgetting to put the dark slide back in, etc. -doing my best but I am over 40!!!

Since starting large format work, I have struggled with most of these, particularly the last one, but it gets better.