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Thread: Nighttime LF questions

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Nighttime LF questions

    I took this last night. It's a church around the corner from me that looks pretty cool at night, but I have yet to capture it the way my mind's eye is seeing it. I'm having trouble with the heavily lit doors, and the not-in-light steeple. I'm also having difficulty getting focus at night (I use an Agfa 8x loupe). I tried to do some front and rear tilt, and thought I got rid of the tilted perspective, but I missed that as well.

    Shot on Kodak Super-XX, EI ~160, 10'30" @ f/8. Developed in D-76 for 9 minutes, 5 agitations every 30 seconds.

    The Negative:
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    Unedited Positive:
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    My rough edited positive
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    Would a grad ND help with this shot? How would I deal with metering and reciprocity failure if I use an ND? Spot-metering just above the left door, where it was sort of middle of the road between light and dark, my exposure was 60 seconds. Should I have metered a different area? I haven't done a multiple spot metered average before, so wasn't going to try that.

    I tried to use the camera movements to get the doors and the steeple in focus, as well as correct for the perspective distortion. It's obvious I missed both. How do you guys that shoot at night see a dim subject on the GG well enough to hit focus?

    Overall, I was pleased, as the exposure time and my developing seem pretty close to spot on, but the final left me something to be desired.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

    Re: Nighttime LF questions

    A very good effort. I agree the exposure and development appear to be right on.
    For such subjects at night I use a level to assure the back is vertical. that takes care of perspective. It stays there and any movements to correct for focus are done with the front standard only. For this image I see no need for any movements other than possibly raising the front. to get the steeple.
    When I was in high school in the 40's I think I took several negatives of every church with a steeple within 50 miles of home. Most were done both in daylight and at night. The only 4x5 cameras I had at the time were a pre WWII Speed graphic and the same vintage Graflex. The only usable movement was front rise on both cameras.

    Have fun and keep practicing.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Nighttime LF questions

    Great project to learn on! A ND filter would not serve you well. You are getting lots of flare from the lights, and using the middle f/stops would at least keep it to a minimum (multi-coated lens?) So you might go to f/11 or f/16, assuming an f/5.6 lens. But it may not be significant.

    Composing and focusing is difficult in the dark. Depending on your camera and coverage of the lens, I suggest setting it up perfectly level, with the back at 90 degrees to the ground -- and in theory it will be parallel to the church. Then use only front rise to get it all in. That might simplify that part of it. Unless there is some foreground you need to get in focus with tilt, I would not use any for this image.

    I have always been a fan of gridded GG. Still not easy to see in low light, but I find them handy, even in the landscape w/o buildings, etc. But I have noticed that sometimes it is better not to fully correct for perspective. Just a touch can give a feeling of height.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Edinburgh, Scotland

    Re: Nighttime LF questions

    I had a similar problem as far as exposure goes. I ended up exposing for the unlit spire and hoping to latitude the highlights would be okay. A compensating developer might help in that regard. Once I scanned the negative I applied a digital grad to even out the contrast for printing.

    This one in particular but that whole set had similar problems.

    As far a focusing goes. You're on your own . My own very similar question from a few weeks ago and my second attempt wasn't much better.

    I've tried to use my 54 at night and tbh I always get better results with my RB67. Its largely a matter of practice but the fact that Acros is much cheaper in 120 than its relative cost in sheet film makes practising unappealing tbh.

  5. #5
    Large Format Rocks ImSoNegative's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    McCaysville Georgia

    Re: Nighttime LF questions

    my first nightshot was in an old section of a city in Georgia, I arrived about an hour before dark and got everything ready and focused there were lots of lights, street lights, light coming coming out of the old shops etc, I took the shot which was a 37 minute exposure on hp4, I cut my normal developing time by around 4 minutes, developed in d76, it worked well.

    url=][/url]nightingainsvillega by john golden, on Flickr
    "WOW! Now thats a big camera. By the way, how many megapixels is that thing?"

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