Large format photography

Posted by Ota

It has been almost a year since I started with Ebony RSW 45 camera and I am finally getting to the point when I do have better control at least over the technical part of large format photography. During the year I have been facing some challenges, partly due to wrong purchases of used equipment or due to my own mistakes and lack of knowledge.

I had the first problem with frame spacing of the 6×7 roll film back I got together with the camera. Therefore, I decided to buy another one. Unfortunately the new roll film backs are quite expensive so I bought a used one. This time the frame spacing was fine, but on the other hand the light sealing was quite bad (which I did not noticed) and I lost some important negatives because of it. The third problem was totally my fault. I was struggling with the sharpness of some images. Especially those taken with wide angle lens, which I am using together with the roll films. I was so frustrated that I almost gave up on this 6×7 system. But luckily the problem was not the lens itself, but my own creativity. To make image composition a bit easier since I did make a beautiful 6×7 mask, to see just the appropriate part of the image on the ground glass. Unfortunately, I did not realize the basic fact, when this mask is inserted between the camera back and the camera itself, the focusing plane is also changed, and therefore the sharpness on the negative is bit different from what can be seen on the ground glass. For the last issue I can also blame only myself. I really do regret the fact that I did not read carefully the instructions for the developing tank I am using to develop 4×5 sheets films. I lost few of them just because I did not insert them correctly into the reel.¬† Now I will always remember that the sheets should be facing with the emulsion side to the middle of the tank and I should use only four sheets instead of six at a time.

On the positive side I was very much surprised how high quality scans I can produce with Epson V 700 scanner. I did also make a special drying system for the 4×5 sheets, thanks to which¬† I do not have any dust on the negatives and there is no damage done to negatives from the drying pins.

I have to say it was quite interesting year for me with the large format camera. So if I ask myself, do I regret the fact that I got involved with it? Not at all!!! Photography for me is about emotions, both positive and negative and using large format camera and film is giving me a lot of them. Hopefully there will be more and more of the positive emotions in the future and I will have fun using this set up for long time. I also hope that I will not have to face the same sad news like Marek mentioned here, and my favorite Kodak T-Max films will be produces forever. The other thing which makes me feel right about the direction is the fact that I was awarded 7 honorable mentions at 2012 International Photography Award competition.

So here is the latest photo taken at the end of this summer holidays here on the Lake Geneva. I hope you enjoy it.

Title: What Remains, Camera: Ebony RSW 45, Lens: Schneider Super Angulon 90 mm, Filter: Lee Big Stopper, Film: Kodak T-Max 100, Exposure: 120″ , f 16, Lac Leman, France, 2012

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4 Responses to “Large format photography”

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  2. Cedric says:

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  3. Adam says:

    I, too, am an Ebony convert, shooting sheet film and 6×12 roll film. I would like to make the switch from color to B&W emulsion and ultimately, scan them too.

    I am planning on purchasing a Lee Big Stopper, which is how your blog came up, and was curious what part of the composition do you meter for the proper exposure?

    Also, Have you ever used a BS and a graduated ND filter together?


  4. Ota says:

    Hi Adam,
    thank you a lot for your comment. Ebony cameras are great:) Lee big topper is great filter and I do use it together with graduated ND filters. Instal the graduated filter first and at the end place the big stopper to the first slot (nearest to camera) in holder. For BW films I do measure the exposure from darkest par of image and than place it to appropriate zone. it is not easy to explain, but I am currently writing a spot about BW film exposure and development. I hope I will have it ready tomorrow, so please come to have a look:) Thanks again for your interest.

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