Large Format Experimenting
Posted by Chris on August 9, 2012
So I decided to drag out the 4×5 large format camera a few days ago. I had been reading a thread on the large format Flickr group about developing sheet film in what is called the “taco method” and it sounded interesting. I had been wanting to do some experimenting with the Cambo’s tilt/shift abilities on the front and rear standard in portrait work. I’ve used it before and it had some interesting effects but it seemed like the effect on portraits would make it seem more like the shallow depth of field and bokeh characteristics of something like an old 1800’s Petzval lens.
Regardless, this seemed like a good opportunity to try both things so I set up and took two exposures of my daughter in natural light next to a north-facing window and used a large reflector to bounce some light back at her. My Fujinon lens only goes as large as f/5.6 so that’s what I had to work with and the shutter speed ended up being around 1/8th second. I knew there was no way she would sit still enough to get a remotely sharp image at that speed so I bumped it up to 1/30th second and compensated in the development time for the extra 2 stops.
I took the pictures and went to the dark bag to transfer the film from the film holder to the Paterson two-reel tank. This is where everything went wrong – although I would not figure that out until well after the film was developed. The Paterson tank is light-tight because there is a center hollow spindle that goes into the tank. The liquid is poured into a center hole in the lid and then down that spindle and it comes out of the bottom of the tank (inside of course). When I put the “taco’ed” film in, I left the center spindle out so I’d have more room for the film and therefore rendered the light-tight feature of the tank useless.
So the final product wasn’t awful. I actually liked the effect of the light leak although it wasn’t what I was going for, so I’m thinking about re-doing it this weekend without the light leaks and see how it comes out. As far as the taco method – it appears to have worked, so this will make doing large format easier now that I may not have to go through the hassle of making my bathroom light-tight and getting all the trays set up just for a few shots.
The images were shot on Ilford HP5+ 400 with the Calumet Cambo 4×5 monorail and a Fujinon 210mm f/5.6 lens.
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