View Full Version : field development

4-Mar-2016, 18:54
Now that FP100C and C45 are gone, we need some other way to make field proofs. Personally, if I go to the trouble of traveling to a location and setting up a photo, I want some way to make a field proof besides the ground glass. I'm sure I have poor technique and everyone else is perfect, but I still forget to stop the lens down, forget to drop the speed graphic bed, have shutters that stick and bellows that sag into the light path. I have the polaroids to prove it! So what options are there:

Take a developing tank and changing bag in the field and develop a negative. I am pretty good at interpreting negatives. The problem is it takes 10 minutes or more and you need some water. Maybe a fast monobath might make this worthwhile. You could shoot RC paper for easier viewing but would have to correlate more for film speed. You could dispense with the idea of proofing and just develop your intended final negatives in the field...but how would you dry them?

Digital camera to take a picture of the ground glass.


4-Mar-2016, 19:29
New55 instant film.

Lachlan 717
4-Mar-2016, 20:54
What back-up will you have for the development aspect?

With all due respect, it seems to me that, if you stuff up the image capture, there's just as much chance of you stuffing up the field development.

Also seems that you're trying to fix symptoms, rather than cause. Perhaps work on a check-list. LF is easy to make systematic. B follows A, C follows B and so on. If you work on cause, you'll have the added benefit of not needing to pay for these back-ups!!

Light Guru
4-Mar-2016, 21:10
Follow a checklist and take multiple exposures.

4-Mar-2016, 21:43
As good old EW wrote, using ones camera should be as automatic as driving a car. ""The driver ceases to think in terms of brake, clutch, and the gear; his mind dictates where the car shall go and the necessary operations automatically follow....Until the photographer has achieved this disciplined co-ordination, he cannot have full command of his medium..." (from California and the West, p186)

I find the GG to be sufficient. Cut corners on the GG do help in determining if bellows sag is a problem and if the lens has enough coverage at a particular f/stop when movements are used. One can see the image where the cut corners are to check image placement (I believe it is called an aerial image -- brighter than the GG image). Firing the shutter once before pulling the darkslide will ensure the lens is ready.

I never made field proofs. Proofs are of little use when the light is changing. I have worked in conditions where time was not an issue, but also many times when seconds counted. I have had many failures -- many would have been avoided if I had done field proofs -- but I would have lost many more images if I depended on proofs.

4-Mar-2016, 22:55
If you follow a set procedure each time you take a photograph, one that simultaneously checks for the known screw-ups you're likely to make, you won't have any problem when working under pressure. Just as I mounted the 8x10 on the tripod recently a railroad bull startled me from behind with "you're on the right-of-way....misdemeanor...blah, blah, blah." After obtaining permission to take the shot I started to mount the lens but, alas, the lens board was too small! I checked and it said it was a Toyo board alright but it wouldn't fit the Toyo adapter board on the camera. "I'll have to figure that out later," I thought to myself. But with the bull looking on this put added pressure on me and I quickly swapped that lens for one that did fit on the camera - in this case one with the same focal length but on a Toyo big board after removing the adapter. Within seconds I had the camera focused with the right amount of front tilt (I prefer correctly-focused foregrounds with my subject even when using a soft focus lens), determined the correct exposure which I set the lens for and, after a quick check of the scene to see that everything was correct, the shutter was cocked and the aperture closed (a $5 fine if not!), I pulled the dark slide and THEN released the shutter. Walking back to the car I was unsure if the negative was properly exposed as I was working very fast and under pressure. But it developed and printed flawlessly thanks to the procedure that I had trained myself to follow.


Doremus Scudder
5-Mar-2016, 03:58
One of the things we have got used to in the computer/Polaroid age is instant feedback and the ability to correct mistakes. For example, I can't imagine typing on a typewriter anymore since I constantly backspace and correct mistakes now instead of not making them in the first place. However, with the demise of Polaroid and the impracticability of most other methods of proofing in the field, that's exactly what we have to do now (just like the photographers in the last centuries): Not make the mistakes in the first place.

Sure, there will always be the occasional lost shot, but if you refine your camera-handling technique you will find that your confidence of having got the shot will increase tremendously. Plus, you'll find that you'll spend a lot less time for a shot. Proofing requires carrying around more stuff and time spent fiddling with it. Good technique is streamlined and quick and (as mentioned above) becomes second nature after a while. Plus, proofing doesn't check for a lot of mistakes that you can make (e.g., double-exposing or pulling the camera back open when pulling/inserting the darkslide).

My advice would be to invest some time camera handling and developing your own routine for ensuring everything is correctly set and that nothing is impinging on the image before you trip the shutter; it's not all that hard...

A couple of things I've learned from my most-common mistakes (many that proofing wouldn't have helped):

Come up with a way to be sure you're not double-exposing a sheet of film. My problem was that I would expose on side of a filmholder, store it back in its ZipLoc bag and then not shoot the other side for hours (or days...). At that time, I would often be distracted enough to not notice the turned darkslide and would expose the already exposed side... I fixed that by making sure that the side of the filmholder to be exposed was showing through the clear side (i.e., non-printed) side of the ZipLoc bag.

Related to this is making sure you re-insert the darkslide after exposing with the correct side facing outward so you know you've exposed that side of the holder (proofing won't help this mistake however...). Just being careful is the only way I've really found to be sure of this, however keeping an exposure record will clear up any cases of doubt.

Make sure you've closed the aperture preview before pulling the darkslide. I now walk around to the front of the camera, close down the preview, set the f-stop and shutter speed and fire the shutter once to make sure everything is correct before I insert the filmholder. Firing the shutter is impossible with the aperture preview open on most modern shutters.

If bellows sag is a problem, remove the back from the camera just before shooting and make sure the bellows isn't impinging on the image area. This is an easy check, as is the check for vignetting when there is doubt: just look back through the lens at taking aperture and make sure you can see the corners that are in danger of being vignetted. (Alternately, you can look through clipped corners at the taking aperture to make sure you can see the entire aperture; this is a bit harder for me, especially if the camera is positioned too high for me to get up there to look, so I prefer looking back through the lens.)

Make sure the camera back stays together when pulling/inserting the darkslide by pinching it closed with your other hand while manipulating the darkslide.

Keep something over the filmholder light trap when the darkslide is out, especially if you have to wait for the shot. Sometimes I balance the darkslide over the opening, other times I use my hat or the darkcloth, whatever is handy, to keep light leaks to a minimum.



Kirk Gittings
5-Mar-2016, 09:24
Practice, systemize and methodically eliminate issues like sagging belows ( I have propped mine up with a small piece of foam when i had such a problem). If you always shoot two negatives, the second one will tell you that you forgot to stop down on the first if you step around the front of the camera and always check your settings again before the second exposure. There is really no reason you can't get by without Polaroid. What people did before Polaroid will serve you when Polaroid (or its successors) are gone.