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Thread: "share your recent plunge into LF" Hope you're ready to read.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Hockley, Tx

    "share your recent plunge into LF" Hope you're ready to read.

    Dipping my toes in the water, and it feels pretty good. Of course, that could just be because I've lost count of how many days we've hit over 100f here in Texas.

    It took a few false starts, long unused skills, frustration, and throwing more money at it; but I've finally made something resembling a photograph in large format. It all started when my sister-in-law told me she had a 4x5 in her attic left over from an abandoned year as a photography major. I really wasn't interested at first; I was neck deep in trying to master digital at the time. I had sworn off film for several years. I loved the speed, repeat-ability, and lessening the gear load that digital offered. I still do and still do the majority of my work in small format digital. But the digital learning curve lead me back to film. While I can nail colors and lighting and such, there just seemed to be a little lack of soul in some of my digital work. Sometimes it was too perfect.

    I don't really know why, but one day I dug out the film gear I had left from the back of a closet. The old Minolta body I'd used for years wasn't looking too healthy. The 300mm lens I had for it looked like a fungus experiment inside as did one of the 50mm's. The flash had the batteries left in it for the last ten years. But both the Pentax bodies and three of their lenses still looked usable. I didn't even give them more than a minor cleaning before headed to the store to buy a couple rolls of film to try them out. The first false start came when I realized that the first roll didn't catch completely in the winder and never advance through the roll. I was so caught up what I was shooting that I never noticed. I hit 24 and just rolled it up without thinking. Oops. The second roll went a little better, except that I lost it after I was done and have no idea what any of it will ever look like.

    I was having too much fun again to let that get me down. The Big Oil I work for has a internal classifieds forum for employees to sell their junk to unsuspecting co-workers. I took it as a sign that there was a listing for darkroom equipment a few weeks after all this started. I wasn't much, but it was enough to at least let me develop roll film at home. Since I had to drive to the same town my sister-in-law lived in to pick the stuff up, I called her and arranged to get the 4x5. My wife was happy that I was only $25 into this fiasco and she had an excuse to visit with her brother and family while I dug through their attic. It was of course a big clunky monorail with a 150mm Caltar that every student seems to have. At least it had a heavy duty case, a somewhat usable tripod, and three film holders. At least the bellows looked to be in excellent shape and the shutter sounded good.

    Earlier this year I had bought a scanner for a family project I was working on. The V600 worked fine for scanning the old picture postcards my grandmother had from the 30's and 40's. It even worked good for the first couple rolls of film from the Pentax. Of course it's useless for large format film. At the time I didn't have any finds to replace it, so I had to find a work around. I was burning to see what I could do with this thing beyond studying up and trying to make judgement calls on the couple negatives I had developed on it. I wanted a print dammit. I did find a temporary workaround though. I found an offer I couldn't refuse on a large lot of film holders, which included a Polaroid back that would work with modern fujiroid. My instant gratification gland was sated for awhile. Scanning those was a doable thing.

    I finally put all this together and was ready to set off to seriously try my hand at large format. My wife and I had a weekend planned with some friends and their kids at the beach house on Bolivar. (Read up on hurricane Ike if you're not familiar with Bolivar Peninsula) Stocked up on film and ready to roll I planned on making the most of the trip. The fujiroid I had ordered wasn't in yet, so this trip was put it on film and wait. Up on Saturday morning before daylight I headed out. Our friends teenage daughter even wanted to tag along to see what I was up to and amazingly made it out of bed and into the truck at 6am. I already had a plan to get over to the old fort near our place with a creative beach assault over the wall before visiting hours. The morning seemed a success. Even the kid had a good time shooting with one of my digital rigs. But, time would tell how it turned out.

    Sunday morning I crossed over to Galveston Island on an early ferry to get the historic areas of town before the tourists stirred. I'm pretty familial with the area from a few shoots I've done in the area for model ports and personal work. I knew where I wanted to go and the look I wanted to get that only large format would deliver. It was damn hot and muggy carrying that monorail around with the buildings blocking most of the gulf breeze. Having to reload the three film holders in the changing bag while not being able to wipe the sweat out of my eyes was a new test in patience. All in all it too seemed like a successful morning.

    Fast forward a few weeks. A shiny new scanner sits in the office ready to devour any film I can throw at it. I get all excited once it's set up and ready to go. The few negatives that were developed a couple days after the trip are waiting. Only I find that something has spilled on them and stuck one side of them all to each other. Stuck hard too. Most of them are ruined. So I spent several hours yesterday developing what was left. Twenty frames. Some of those were trash. My lack of familiarity with the format rearing it's ugly head. But not all of them. A couple I even like. Not as technically proficient as I'd like them to be, but hopefully headed in the right direction.

    So, here's a shot from that first morning of getting serious. The old watching the new. HP5+ developed in HC-110.
    Last edited by Coelus; 22-Aug-2011 at 12:19. Reason: Image didn't show
    Sarcasm. Frustrating the clueless since 3000 B.C.

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