View Full Version : Very new to LF! (not even started yet)

Ben R
10-Apr-2007, 14:51

My name is Ben Rubinstein, I'm a full time pro wedding photographer working in the UK though I shoot landscape for relaxation. (www.bphotography.co.uk/fineart/fineart.htm)

I'm going to be moving back to Israel in December and although I'll still be 'commuting' to shoot weddings back in blighty, I will be working hard on achieving some major projects documenting Jerusalem with a couple of books and some major exhibitions to go with them in the future.

My idea is to show the contrast between the modern and the very ancient in what is the most central ancient city possibly of all time. Walking down streets that have seen so much pivotal and world shattering events that shaped history is mindblowing and I want to find a way to transalate that feeling through the medium of my photography.

I will be doing a major amount of street shooting but the exhibitions of architectural features I want to be of huge prints, 50" wide at a minimum, the idea being that you can almost 'walk' into the print. However much I love my 5D I certainly know its limitations and from my MF experience in the past I think I would be stretching even 6X7 to go that large.

So that brings me to LF. I've been researching it until the point that my eyeballs have long crossed over, read all the articles on this site, and trying my best to soak in the maximum amount of information before making the dive so as to ensure that I can maximise the potential of LF to achieve the print sizes that I'm looking for.

Please be patient with me, I'll try not to be too stupid!

Many thanks and looking forward to getting to know you all,


Struan Gray
10-Apr-2007, 23:34
Welcome Ben.

My advice would be to get something, anything, and start taking photos. Halfway between now and December you will have a much better idea of what you need for your job than any of us. You can sell on whatever you first bought for little loss.

Can a city be ancient for all time? It must have been new once. :-)

Ralph Barker
11-Apr-2007, 07:03
Welcome, Ben.

And, don't worry about appearing "stupid" as a result of asking questions.

11-Apr-2007, 07:19
Hey Ben,

As you hopefully have the funds available, call up Robert White (or similar) and get their opinion on an affordable and fully featured field camera. It's gonna cost, but you will do well to have the warranty and customer service behind a new purchase.

I'm not doing anything special with my own LF work, so I cheaped-out. I spent the minimum I could on a Calumet 4x5 monorail, and some barrel lenses and a packard shutter. The setup is too heavy to move outside of a studio/home etc. You'd need a car to carry it long distances. Before buying that one for the capabilities (movements, etc) I bought a cheap old field camera. Half plate - so not even a modern film type! I've modified that as well. It takes modern film holders, and currently works as a 4x5 with a single barrel lens and a shutter behind it. It's also large enough that I can use it as a 5x7 camera if I so wish.

Of course that all works fine for me, but with a project (and no doubt larger budget) like yours, go for a nice sturdy, but compact modern 4x5 field camera, and a couple modern lenses in shutters. You could look into a 5x7 field camera, with a 4x5 reducing back. It all depends on whether you're happy shooting at the smaller 4x5 or working with the larger 5x7 negatives.

Also remember you need to have a strong tripod to support the camera, unless you get something handheld like the Razzle 4x5 rangefinders.

As people have said - get a kit and take some photo's!

Ed Richards
11-Apr-2007, 08:33
Black and white or color? Digital or wet darkroom prints? How big is your budget, i.e., can you afford drum scanning? If you really want 50" prints as a mimimum, and want the best detail, and you are doing digital prints, you will need to drum scan. At $100+ per shot, this mounts up. It makes 8x10 scanned on a consumer scanner a reasonable alternative, esp. for black and white. More cost up front, but you would save $100+ a shot for keepers, and 1000 shots later that is real money. You could then drum scan the best and make billboards.:-)

Ben R
11-Apr-2007, 14:07
I'm on the point of putting my money down on a Tachihara with it seeming to be the best deal in a decent feild camera. Mono rails are just not an option as I will be puttering along from location to location on a little scooter!

Ted Harris
11-Apr-2007, 14:25
Ben, hold your nose, grab your Tachihara and jump in the water ... only thing to do. If it does waht you want great, if not it is still a great learner camera and you won't lose much when you sell it. Take pictures, don't agonize over equipment.

11-Apr-2007, 17:30
Are you sure that your 5D images can't be coaxed into doing the job? Steven Katzman gets 40x50 prints from his 1DsII (16 MP) which are stunningly sharp and detailed.

Ben R
12-Apr-2007, 04:38
His work is not the type that needs huge amounts of resolution, I can print portraiture up to that size with ease from my 5D. It's the landscape type image which is looked at from up close where the fine detail just becomes mush after uprezzing a digital file.

Matus Kalisky
12-Apr-2007, 05:20
Hello Ben,

I had a look at your work and apprecite it a lot. The Tachihara will do for you nearly everything in landscape, but if you are going to shoot more cityscape or architectuer you MAY (my own experience is rather limited) find yourself to be a bit limited on the movements side. Otherwise you will enjoy its light weight, bright groundglass and ability to to easily handle lenses from 75 - 300 (and with a bit of care 400mm telephoto).

More important is the choice of lenses. I got an impression that you tend to use rather long lenses in your landscape photos. If this is the case you may consider camera that is more stable with longer focal lengths. Tachihara focuses 300mm lens down to ~ 3 - 5 meters at full extension and at this point it is not as stable as it could be (though fully usable with a bit of care).

You may consider to rent SOME lF camera to get the first impression.


Ben R
12-Apr-2007, 07:32
Thanks Matus, to be honest the type of photography I will be doing is going to be far different to that I have done until now. At present my style of landscape photography is to isolate a feature of the landscape and make the photo out of it, this is IMO essential for smaller print sizes to hold the viewers interest. LF has the advantage that you can print large and therefore have enough detail in the photo to lead the eye in and around the photo, not just straight towards the subject. You have to print large for this to work and you have to have the details resolved down to the tinniest amount.

I use long in landscape for compression and isolation, the stuff I will be doing will be shot in alleyways and streets where it is far easier just to walk a bit closer than it may be for landscape work! I've bought a 210mm for long (70mm is actually my most used focal length in 35mm by a long margin) and I'm looking for a 90mm for wide. The rest will be done with my feet.

Ben R
12-Apr-2007, 09:39
Well I just phoned up and ordered a Tachihara 45BF (the chrome not tacky gold version) and I have a 210 f5.6 Caltar IIN on the way from Adorma's Ebay outlet.

It's started!

12-Apr-2007, 09:48
Lucky bloke!

Ben R
12-Apr-2007, 09:55
Lucky? If I survive telling the wife then I'll be lucky... ;-)

George Hart
12-Apr-2007, 09:55
Hi Ben, only just noticed that you are presently in the UK! There are loads of LF photographers here who would be very happy to offer help and discussion! There is even a website for our interests, here http://www.lf-photo.org.uk/. Feel free to browse and make contact. I really like your landscapes, particularly the Lakes and Skye. Keep us posted on your Jerusalem project.

Chris Strobel
12-Apr-2007, 10:00
Excellent!If you want to see some awesome work done with your camera, go pick up a copy of Ray McSaveny's book explorations, if you don't have it already of course.

Well I just phoned up and ordered a Tachihara 45BF (the chrome not tacky gold version) and I have a 210 f5.6 Caltar IIN on the way from Adorma's Ebay outlet.

It's started!

Ben R
12-Apr-2007, 10:57
Thanks George, I'll pop in.

Zach In Israel
12-Apr-2007, 12:18
Just FYI, if you are planning to do a lot here in Israel you probably want to stick to 4x5. 5x7 and 8x10 are going to be harder to find here.

Turner Reich
16-Apr-2007, 03:03
Ben, very nice web site, I am sure you will off and running with the camera and lens you ordered. With 210mm which is what most of the professional schools require you will want to add a wide angle later. Other than the film holders and accessories that you might already have you are good to go. What kind of scooter do you have? How will you carry the tripod?

Ben R
16-Apr-2007, 04:28
The camera arrived today but the lens is still in transit as are the film holders, I don't have a loupe yet and the focusing cloth will be my jacket until I work out what type I need. I will buy a 90mm in a couple of months but I've maxed out the expenses this month given that I only start the project when I go out there in December.

I carry my tripod at the moment using an Op-Tech strap that goes round my back nicely when walking around, kind of gun strap like but far more comfortable. No reason why it shouldn't work on a scooter as well though I do have to rethink bags...

16-Apr-2007, 04:39
Ben, you could look into the (lowepro??) backpacks that have a side pocket/strap for tripods. No doubt any drinks-holder type pocket will be suitable with a bit of DIY-strapping along the top for security.

I unfortunately find that if you carry a tripod you're a target, anyone who needs one of them must be carrying expensive gear. It sometimes helps to lower your aesthetic in some way - look messy or put some duct tape around your bag. Just as a precaution :)

As for focusing cloth, they're all pretty similar. As long as it is light and folds up small you should be ok. Considering the heat you may find a black cloth is unsuitable.

Ted Harris
16-Apr-2007, 05:10
One correction on dark cloths. They are all about the same with a couple of exceptions.The two mot readily available exceptions are the BTZS cloth (see details at www.viewcamerastore.com) and the Black Jacket (see details at http://www.quietworks.com/FRAMES_FILES/WELCOME_BJ_FOCUSINGCLOTH.html). Both of these are smaller and lighter than traditional dark cloths and, IMO, have much more functionality. I use both.

Ben R
16-Apr-2007, 05:14
I was looking at the Black Jacket, theft is something that is worrying me as in the areas that I will be working grab and run theft is rife, I've been wondering what the best way is to be under a darkcloth not seeing what is happening around me - but not get my kit stolen. A backpack is probably the only idea though goodness knows it will make me look like a camel under a darkcloth!

16-Apr-2007, 05:28
Keep the stuff under the tripod between your legs. it doesnt take much to glance down.

Personally I like the traditional cloth as I can quickly return to the 'real world' and see my surroundings.

Ben R
16-Apr-2007, 07:37
Do you find that you need the full blackout of the blackjacket type cloths? I was playing with a camera outside a store in pretty bright sunlight with my jacket slung over my head and it seemed fine.

Is there a type of photo backpack that lends itself well to carrying LF gear?

16-Apr-2007, 07:40
In my limited LF experience I find the cloth is fine. I whack a bulldog clip on the underside of the camera to get a tight fit around the rear standard if needs be, but usually I duck under it loose and I'm fine. Depends how strong the light is I guess.

As for carrying gear I'm not sure I mentioned, but the laptop backpack I have fits all my gear easy. All but the tripod, which as I said can somehow attach to a side pocket or around the front maybe.

Ralph Barker
16-Apr-2007, 07:46
One thought I've had, but not acted upon, is to make a dark bag - a viewing bag similar to a bag bellows, with an eye cup/ring through which a loupe could be inserted. A bit of Velcro on the back for easy attachment, and away you go. That would keep the head from beneath a conventional dark cloth, and increase awareness of peripheral activity.

A muscular shooting buddy carrying a big stick never hurts, either. ;)

John Kasaian
16-Apr-2007, 07:50
From what I remember of Jerusalem the light can be quite overwhealming. Given your need for speed and mode of transportation you might consider using a doubled black t-shirts instead of a darkcloth. Just a thought :)

16-Apr-2007, 08:05
I just took a few super-quick shots of my gear packed and half unpacked.

I didn't bother removing the Calument monorail from my heavy duty tripod, but for kicks I've put my cheap Lander tripod on the side of the bag for illustration. Two legs in the pocket, which is zipped up a little, and then the side support strap to hold the tripod in place. I'm sure you could cut through the bottom of the pocket so a taller/larger tripod sits more conveniently.

My Half-plate field camera (with 4x5 back) is shown complete with the bolt/wingnut assembly I use to affix it to the surveyor's tripod in this photo http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y43/second-belated/DSC00985.jpg

I can give you measurements of everything, but basically that field camera is a 5x7, and it fits with room to spare on all sides. The laptop pocket shows four of my 4x5 DDS's stacked. You can comfortably fit at LEAST eight. I'm sure another four could be placed in that pocket and then stacked atop the camera (your 4x5 camera is no doubt tiny in comparison to mine).

The front pocket is empty. as is one side pocket. There is well enough space for spare lenses on boards, and all sorts of accessories. I should have folded up my dark cloth and placed it on top of the camera but I kiiiinda forgot!

The bag is a Targus OCG256




I'm sure with a tiny camera like your 4x5 you'll find a bag like mine oversized, even with every possible accessory in it. The camera takes up the bulk of the space in this one. I fitted my Calumet 4x5 monorail in it still-assembled (minus focus rail). Targus make suprisingly spacious bags, and they're cheaper than camera bags.

Chris Strobel
16-Apr-2007, 09:37
I was looking at the Black Jacket, theft is something that is worrying me as in the areas that I will be working grab and run theft is rife

Well you could always add a pitbull to your kit :D

16-Apr-2007, 09:41
Well you could always add a pitbull to your kit :D

Ferrets are smaller and more portable. Just as scary to bystanders :D

16-Apr-2007, 10:03
Ben, you could get some accessory cord, say 5-7 mil. Tie a loop through your tripod's center column somehow (I have two holes in the bottom of the center column of my tripod). Attach a carabiner (climbing gear, useful otherwise) to the cord loop and hang your _closed_ backpack to the tripod from the carabiner. You can do variations on this to make sure the backpack always ends on the ground as well, so you can drop and zip open to access the contents.

I don't have experience in situations like that, but if I were worried about theft while shooting, I would have things attached together like I suggested. A photo buddy would also be a good idea.

Chris Strobel
16-Apr-2007, 10:08
Ferrets are smaller and more portable. Just as scary to bystanders :D

Then maybe a ferret for the 4x5 kit, and the dog for 8x10, or maybe I got that backwards.............. darn slysdexia again

Ralph Barker
16-Apr-2007, 11:05
Ferrets are smaller and more portable. Just as scary to bystanders :D

Ferrets are too cute. A badger is far more convincing, albeit less portable. ;)

16-Apr-2007, 11:22
How about exotic pets like tarantulas or scorpions. I'm sure a leash could be arranged :eek:

Ben R
16-Apr-2007, 13:28
One thing I won't be bothering with was the idea of getting a gun, bending over in the old city of Jerusalem with a gun sticking out of the back of your pants, well the only hope you may have is that they will be laughing too much to aim straight! :)

What might be worth looking at is the new Urban Disguise bag that I was planning on getting anyway as a great bag for flying with my photo gear and laptop on route to weddings, etc. The flat profile would be just about perfect for a field camera plus lenses, the only problem being how lopsided it will get!

Just bought an RRS plate for the Tachi, damn but the peripheral costs of this business cost as much as the camera and lenses by the time you've bought film holders, film changing tent, cable releases, viewing hoods, protective wraps for lenses and bodies, tripod plates, lens hoods (anyone got any good pointers on hoods incidently?), rear filters, bags, rotweilers, etc, etc, it all adds up doesn't it?

16-Apr-2007, 16:56

your safety in Jerusalem will be much much greater if you just get one of these. It also doubles up as a darkcloth:


PS - sorry if I'm being inappropriate. Had a bit to drink tonight. Hic!

Matus Kalisky
17-Apr-2007, 01:21
Just bought an RRS plate for the Tachi, damn but the peripheral costs of this business cost as much as the camera and lenses by the time you've bought film holders, film changing tent, cable releases, viewing hoods, protective wraps for lenses and bodies, tripod plates, lens hoods (anyone got any good pointers on hoods incidently?), rear filters, bags, rotweilers, etc, etc, it all adds up doesn't it?

No, Ben, it cost much more. I have Tachi as you , 3 lenses (only one was more than $300 - all used), chinese carbon tripod, used ballhead, 10 used filmholders (half of them is total crap), camera case from photobackpacker, used 4x peak lupe (to be replaced), some filters and so on ... . On top of that I managet to expose 60 sheets. Recently I acquired close-to-expire film - 200 shets of diferent type - another ~ $300. All that in one year. Most of the mentioned stuff I was buying overseas (I am in Germany) so plus shipping and recently taxes (20%).

And I would still like to get
- reasonable darkcloath (use a simple black T-shirt by now)
- good lupe
- lens case
- some stuff for contact prints
- good pan tilt or ball head
- at least 5 more holders but better 10.
- later some wide angle lens ~ 75mm
- some nd grad filters
- some day spotmeter
- lens hoods also - at leas for my osaka 400/8
- ...

And if I keep going like this than soon a new girlfirend. ;)

17-Apr-2007, 01:56
Matus I'll swap you a backpack and a darkcloth for your girlfriend :D

Matus Kalisky
17-Apr-2007, 05:00
Matus I'll swap you a backpack and a darkcloth for your girlfriend :D

PM sent :D

Zach In Israel
11-Jul-2007, 02:37
Trust me walking around Jerusalem with a gun will not raise any eyebrows. (Assuming you have the paperwork). Even in the old city, though be careful in the arab areas.

Ben R
22-Jul-2007, 05:40
Been there, carried the rifle, I actually had it on me when I proposed to my wife at the Kotel (western wall) at 3 in the morning some 6 years ago. She told me she knew I was going to propose when I took it off and laid it next to me on the bench, I couldn't get down on my knees with a rifle on my back! Thing is that being under a darkcloth with a gun in your belt is very very dangerous when you are in a city where it could mean your death at the most and 7 years in jail for losing a gun at the least.

It does make things easier for you though in such a security conscious country, instead of having to be searched going into shops etc you just show your identity card and liscense. Last time I went to the western wall it was absolutely bucketing it down and it was 11pm at night, I had my big camera bag and tripod on my back and neither I or the security guards could be bothered searching through it in the rain. He asked me if I had my army reserves identity card, showed it to him and got straight through, got a great image out of it though!


Zach In Israel
22-Jul-2007, 06:56
That is a nice shot. Personally I generally avoid the Kotel, way to many people trying to hit you up for tzedakah. Yea, having a gun in your belt while under a dark cloth is probably not such a good idea.

I do more landscapes and flowers than city scapes. I hope I got some nice pictures last thursday when I was down in Mizpe Ramon. (I still needs to take it all to the lab)

Ben R
22-Jul-2007, 09:16
So did you find a lab then in the end? I bought the LF for cityscapes and Jerusalem specifically, I always found Israel a bit sparse on the landscape stuff unless you're into sand dune stuff (I want to do some of that down Eilat way actually with the red mountains). My idea is to photograph cityscapes in Jerusalem for big prints to sell. It's never been hard to sell Israel to the Jews, I'm hoping that I'll make something out of it.

Zach In Israel
22-Jul-2007, 21:47
This batch I'm going to take to Panorama, its not great but it will get the job done (I hope). At some point I'm going to get an E-6 kit and start developing everything at home, but not right now.

Most of this round of pictures is actually 35mm shots of the night sky. As for landscapes there are some really pretty bits in the shomron (Which is my neck of the woods) or in the north. And the negev has a stark look all its own.

Ben R
23-Jul-2007, 02:16
I'm still trying to find a cheap way of shooting 4X5 without processing myself, a step that sounds far too complicated!

Zach In Israel
23-Jul-2007, 09:32
I think Panorama quoted me 14NIS/sheet for E-6. I can get prices for B&W or C-41 when I go in later in the week. (I have the phone # around here somewhere too)

Ben R
23-Jul-2007, 10:04
Thanks mate.

Zach In Israel
26-Jul-2007, 02:25
Thanks mate.

Panoram's Phone # is 972 02 673 6780, and they are on R. Mase Hoshev which is in Talpoit. Take the #14 but and it off of Yod Horotzim across from Hummus Talpoit.

They also have a web site http://www.panorama.co.il

Send a PM when you get back to Israel.

Zach In Israel
30-Jul-2007, 23:28
I just got a while bunch of stuff back from Panorama, and once again I have to say I'm really not happy. I had them scan 2 rolls of 35mm slides, and they did a really crappy job on about 2/3 of them, and didn't scan the rest. I plan to buy a scanner at some point and redo the scans at home.

I would advise developing yourself. Prizma on Zion square will have the chemestry you need.

Ben R
31-Jul-2007, 02:50
I'm really really trying to avoid the processing at home route, I don't have the time to teach myself pro level processing from scratch, I'm shooting LF for a specific project albeit on that will take years, I'm not looking to make it a hobby where I will have the time and money to experiment and get things wrong.

I'm going to be bringing a Epson 4990 with me when I come in December, you would be welcome to use it though I doubt you will be happy with the results for 35mm film at least.

Having used one of the best 'in lab' scanning services in the UK (Imacon 848) I have learnt from experience that you a) have to be able to talk to the guy scanning and establish a relationship b) tell them exactly what you want. I was getting work back that was really medicore until I told him to scan at max resolution, no sharpening, a nice flat scan in 16 bit without either side clipping. That way I could do all the post work myself with a file that actually had all the information needed for me to express my interpretation of the picture, not the labs interpretation. The moment they are applying changes to the file you lose the ability to manipulate. If they decide where to put the blacks then the information in those blacks won't be there in sufficient detail when you want to pull them up, etc, etc.

Here is a great example, I told them to scan the neg as flat as possible in 16 bit then I worked on it. The result is far better than the original scan they made where they did the manipulation 2 years ago, far more detail in the blacks, far better definition of the clouds, etc. Please excuse the horrible jpg compression.


31-Jul-2007, 09:14
I'm curious Ben. you said you want to have high resolution pictures that people can walk in. but if you enlarge 4x5 10 times which I'd say is max to keep resolution acceptable, it comes to 40x50" print.

Shouldn't you go at least 8x10? which it's 80x100"?
Also, if it's a one time thing for you, wouldn't be better for you to rent the gear instead of buying it? I'm sure you could find one person here hwo can lend it to you if you make reasonable offer.

Kill me...

Zach In Israel
31-Jul-2007, 12:17
Ben, Assuming I haven't gotten my own scanner by then I wll take you up on it. I'm betting that doing that level of custom work with the scans will cost an arm and a leg. a friend of mine has a jobo, so maybe you can use it, just buy your own B&W Chemestry. For now my own work is going to be limited to E-6.

Looking foward to you getting here.

Ben R
31-Jul-2007, 12:42
Peter, it's a project that will probably take 5 years, if I can get galleries interested then i will keep on shooting! A 10X enlargement is big but given that I have no LF experience at all, I'm not really looking to run before I can walk. I can do a great 20X30" from a 645 neg so I don't think I'll be disappointed with a 30X40" (revised my sizes a bit based on prices that people will be willing to pay and framing constraints!) from a 4X5. The idea is pics big enough to 'feel' like you could walk in rather than wall sized ones on a 1:1 scale! :-)

Zach, we'll be in touch mate. I didn't pay any more for the 'custom' scans from my lab, just told them what I wanted and paid slightly more for the 16bit files. I thought that drum scans would cost me a fortune but Ted Harris PM'd me to let me know of his prices and what is resonable, if you send to the US (and why not?) a top drum scan will be affordable. I'm going to scan on the epson to see what I have and then when I need the biggies, I'll send for drum scanning.

Zach In Israel
1-Aug-2007, 11:25
Here in Israel 4x5 will be a lot easier than 8x10. Yes there are folks doing 8x10 here but you will probably have to mail order film and a lot of other stuff. I went back to the lab today and talked to someone there. I think if I work with them I may be able to get something that will work for now.

I'm looking forward to meeing you and hearing about your project. I am working on a sky atlas myself and am still at the point of choosing between doing it 4x5 or on 120 format. Right now leaning to 4x5 but I have to work out a number of details to do that.

kevin kelly
10-Aug-2007, 15:25
Hello from Ireland Ben.

And viva Israel!!!