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Thread: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

  1. #1

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    Feb 2018
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    Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Hi,

    Looking for some advice regarding lenses for a project I want to start working on. I'm going to shoot macro wet plate on an 8x10 camera.

    I've been inspired by Karl Blossfeldt with his amazing macro images. I really enjoy how he has managed to capture his subject.

    So, this leads to the big question about lenses. If you have shot macro on 8x10 I would really like to hear from you and what lenses you have had success with.

    I've done some research and these seem to be the best so far?? If you have other suggestions for 8x10 I would be very interested to hear.

    Rodenstock APO Macro Sironar
    Macro-Symmar HM
    Macro Nikkor-AM (ED)

    I have read that the G-Claron is another option or the Fujinon A for close up work.

    Looking forward to help.

    Regards

    Luke

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    I've used the Fuji A 360 quite a bit for around 1:2 or 1:1 closeups on 8X10 color film with superb results. But I don't know if that counts as true macro. The
    G-Claron should yield similar results, at least is has for me in 4X5 closeups, where I've used both a 240 A and 250 GC.

  3. #3

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Luke, a question and two suggestions.

    Why do you think Karl Blossfeldt used wet plate? He was active long after dry plates and film completely displaced wet plate.

    Suggestion 1. You shouldn't want to replicate the gear that Blossfeldt used. There's now better equipment than he could have obtained.

    Suggestion 2. Go to http://www.largeformatphotography.in...mainly)-lenses, click on the link in the first post, download the pdf and look at the section on books on closeup photography and photomacrography. Buy a copy of Lefkowitz, its available from vendors on abebooks.com. alibris.com, amazon.com, bn.com, ... at reasonable prices.

    If you're going to shoot at 30:1, as Blossfeldt sometimes did, any old lens for LF should do the job if reversed. But and however, specialists who work at such high magnifications these days use specialized lenses from microscope makers and microscope divisions of merchant lens makers such as Leitz, Nikon and Zeiss. There has to be a good reason why they do this.

    I don't use https://www.photomacrography.net/ but you should go there and look around the site.

    Good luck, have fun, and worry more about technique than about lenses,

    Dan

  4. #4

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Back then, Karl probably used a common 6 inch Tessar at f/64 or f90. I have a highly specialized 120mm Micro Nikkor (used with Nikon's Multiphot). I've used it stopped all the way down to photograph images similar to what Karl was shooting. Enter diffraction to an extreme degree which destroys resolution... images taken at the same very small f/stop with a $50 Tessar would be no better to worse that those taken with my modern $1,000+ 120mm Micro Nikkor.

  5. #5

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Thanks Drew,
    Appreciate your input from experience.

  6. #6

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Greg, re shooting at f/90, see H. Lou Gibson's books, full details in the list. He makes the point, and strongly, that stopping down at high magnification reduces depth of field. He includes photographs that show the effect.

    Basically, when shooting at high magnification there's no winning. The only way out is focus stacking, possible with film but usually impossibly expensive.

  7. #7

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Guys, I'm interested in this as well - not to make wet plates, but rather pt/pd or gum prints in 4x5. I recently acquired a 4x5 camera with substantial bellows that is mounted on two rails with a movable stage on the same two rails. Dan, I ordered the Lefkowitz book on Amazon. Got a copy for less than $10. You mention that "any old lens for LF should do the job if reversed", so that's a starting point for sure. Greg mentions that "diffraction to an extreme degree which destroys resolution", and I am wondering to what degree said diffraction shows up in a contact print?

    I have done some digging on Blossfeldt's methods, but I've never found much info that I could apply. My gut tells me that he kept thing simple. I have not seen an original print - just repros in books. I'll keep following this thread and see what can be gleaned! Thanks guys. -R

  8. #8

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    I was doing some more research today and it sounds like an enlarger lens could also work for shooting macro on 8x10. Something like the Schneider Componon or Wollensak Raptor. I think it was actually written by Dan Fromm. It was a great article about macro photography but on a smaller format. But again it was hard to find any examples of photos shot on 8x10 with different lenses to visualise comparisions.

    The research I have done on Blossfeldt techniques have told me it was all with natural north facing window light and he used a super simple set up. His backdrop was just white, grey or black cardboard. The reason I'm drawn to his photos is because of how he managed to take photos with a some what very basic set-up. Yes his camera had a meter long bellow to help with the micro aspect, and I don't think his lenses were from some fancy microscope company. His stuff was mostly home made or modified. His images are amazing mostly because of how he set up his shots! He did shoot over 6000 plates.

    A great article to read if interested is https://www.moma.org/interactives/ob...ays/Murata.pdf and it talks about the camera sizes he used. It also mentions how he used to actually draw on his plates or scratch off bits he did not want. It's a great read for any Blossfeldt fan.

  9. #9
    sepiareverb's Avatar
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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    I shot arrangements of leaves and grass on 810 at 1:1 for years with a Nikkor W 240. Printed them at 20x24, a couple at 30x40 and one at 40x50 with wonderful results. Delta 100 in XTOL 1:1

  10. #10

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    Re: Shoot Macro on 8x10 like Karl Blossfeldt

    Rob, the generally accepted rule of thumb is that a print has to resolve at least 8 lp/mm to look sharp at normal viewing distance. The diffraction rule of thumb is that it limits resolution to ~ 1500/effective f#. So if you need 8 lp/mm in the negative then the effective f# can't be larger than 1500/8 = f/187.5. That's effective f/#, not f/# as set, and that's where magnification kills. For a lens with pupillary magnification = 1 (that's many, not all, enlarging lenses and LF taking lenses) effective f/# = f/# set * (magnification + 1). Getting to the OP's dream, at 30:1 the diffraction limit is reached at f/6.

    Luke, if Blossfeldt shot at 30:1 with one meter of extension he had to have used quite a short lens.

    About using an enlarging lens. They're typically optimized for printing at 8x - 12x. Lenses for printing murals are optimized for printing larger, some, e.g., Schneider's Comparons (enlarging Xenars) are optimized for printing smaller. Taking lenses are typically optimized for 1:20 or smaller magnifications. This is why I suggested any old taking lens reversed for shooting at 30:1.

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