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Thread: How to shoot HABS/HAER projects without Polaroid or Fuji in 2020

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016

    How to shoot HABS/HAER projects without Polaroid or Fuji in 2020

    I have the opportunity to shoot a HABS job later this year and haven't used the old 4x5 since before we lost Polaroid and Fujiroid. How is getting a good exposure being handled in 2020? Are you using a digital camera and transferring the exposure over to the 45? I would love to shoot this project, but need to make sure I come back with decent exposures!


  2. #2

    Re: How to shoot HABS/HAER projects without Polaroid or Fuji in 2020

    I don't understand, is there something about HABS/HAER that prevents you from using a lightmeter?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    North Dakota

    Re: How to shoot HABS/HAER projects without Polaroid or Fuji in 2020

    Buy one box of film. Get a light meter or use the one you have. Run a series of tests so you know the densities you get in finished prints when metered, exposed, processed and printed - as you do it.

    This is not difficult and you don't need instant film to test it.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  4. #4
    schafphoto's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Ventura, California

    Re: How to shoot HABS/HAER projects without Polaroid or Fuji in 2020

    Hi Terry,

    Like Jason and Willie said, you could use a meter, but I haven't used my meter in five years. Since it's HABS/HAER, and you are being paid for the service, and you need to produce 20+ technically perfect images a day without the possibility of a reshoot, it makes sense to be sure you have the goods before you leave the site and they demolish the building. You have one shot with HABS/HAER (pun intended).

    I have shifted from Polaroid/Fujiroid to "Digiroid". My HABS/HAER/HALS clients are required to get large format negatives but they like the added flexibility of having digital too. So in the field, the digiroiding lets me fulfill my instant need for a meter reading while seeing an instant histogram and getting a subjective small digital preview of the exposure, AND I can get a digital 'duplicate view' that the client can use for interpretive panels, marketing and planning presentations or sometimes as nomination photos for the National Register of Historic Places.

    I used to meter with spot meter and then use Polariod religiously to preview the photos. Now, I have my Ilford HP-5 film tested and rated at 200ASA ... and I have matched that exposure/neg density to the preview of my 24MP Fuji XH-1 -- my digiroiding camera -- to preview the outcome. I set the Fuji to ISO 200 (sometimes I use my Canon or Nikon and I set them at 200-ISO as well). I set the digital camera preview to Neutral-Grayscale, and capture a RAW file. (the RAW file maintains the RGB info in case I ever want to use the image in color, the monochrome Jpeg discards the RGB and leaves no flexibility later). The preview screen on the back of the Fuji gives me a Polaroid-esque, grayscale representation of the scene at f16 or f22 (my usual HABS apertures) and sometimes I use the histogram to decide between two similar exposures. I do a 3-image bracket +1, N, -1 and then I can flip back and forth in the playback mode and see which exposure most closely fits the scene. Since HABS work requires mostly wide angle lenses I use a 10-24mm lens (APS-C) for most of my Digiroiding. If I am using a filter on the camera, I also use the filter on the Fuji so I don't need to do math to calculate filter factors. I have found the math isn't applicable to the polarizers, graduated neutral density filters and attenuator/blender filters I tend to use, I have a filter holder ring on all my LF lenses and also the Fuji lens so I can move the 100mm filter holder back and forth in a flash. I have rigged a bracket to the side of my tripod head to hold the Fuji along side the Cambo (you can see this on a few of the BTS photos on my Insta: )

    Another plus side of the digital dupe preview is that you can submit the digital images as draft photos to NPS to approve the coverage and scope of the documentation while you take your time developing, washing and scanning the LF film.

    Good luck on that HABS job!

    Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California |

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