One of my New Year’s resolutions is to use my Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail large format camera more even though it is a pain to transport being a monorail camera and requiring the heaviest of tripods. The photos above were shot on New Year’s Day and I’m enjoying the process of Large Format.
My Large Format photography checklist for my Cambo SC 4×5 Monorail camera.
- Insert all dark slides with ‘silver’ side showing into the film holders.
- Load film, the side with the notches goes to the upper right.
- Make sure the dark slides are pushed back all the way.
- Set up tripod, one leg towards the subject.
- Put camera on the tripod, point it roughly to the subject.
- Use spirit level to make sure that the camera is level and that the film plane is vertical (if desired).
- Attach dark cloth to the camera, open the lens and focus using the loupe.
- Move the tripod connector on the monorail if it’s not possible to focus correctly.
- Use tilts and swings to fine-tune the focus desired and composition.
- Close the lens.
- Measure light and decided on exposure.
- Take reciprocity into account.
- Set aperture and exposure on the lens.
- Insert film holder using the lever, release the lever again.
(This lever may be specific to my Cambo camera)
- Make sure the camera hasn’t moved on the tripod.
- Pull out the dark slide.
- Expose the negative.
- Put back dark slide with the black side showing to indicate that this side has been exposed.
- The Mod54 holds 6 sheets max.
- Align the notches of the film sheets to the top left.
- Make sure the centre column of the tank is aligned correctly so the agitator can be used.
I wrote an Android App last year that I felt I needed myself when I was out and about in the field photographing long exposures. I’m happy that it has now more than 2000 active installs and I have taken all comments into account and released an updated version.
As you are well aware of, most films do need correction of the exposure time for reciprocity failure to avoid underexposing your negatives for exposure times of over a few seconds. This really gets important for night photography, when using filters and for Large Format or pinhole photography. All information is contained in the App so no data connection is needed when you’re on a photo shoot abroad, on top of a mountain or in the deep countryside without any connectivity.
I do not miss the folder with printed and weather-beaten PDFs with tables of exposure correction information for the different films that I had to rely on before. 🙂
The Reciprocity App has the following features:
- Easy to use and usable on Android devices of most sizes.
- Lots of B&W, colour and slide film included in the App, and this list is growing with every update.
- Include filter factors in the exposure time calculation.
- Include bellows extension in the exposure time calculation.
- Built-in timer to use the calculated exposure.
See the screenshots below.
Ease of use:
Growing number of films supported:
Details about the calculation:
In addition to the film manufacturer supplied reciprocity information, I used the findings of Howard Bond from his article in the Photo Technique magazine which had been formulated into an easy formula by Patrick Gainer.
It is a simple App, but packed with the reciprocity details of most black and white films currently being sold and a growing number of colour and slide films. Works fine on new and old Android phones as well as on Android tablets.
It’s free, make sure to grab it!
Sort of a new project for me, the different water tower designs here in Luxembourg. Shot on my Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail Large Format camera with Rodenstock 150mm f5.6 Sironar N lens, a combination I really start to like.
The water tower on the left is on my way to work and I have had now several weeks to see what light would work best. A sunny early morning seemed the best and that is what I went for: the light would not be too contrasty yet and the sun would still touch the tower horizontally without throwing a shadow downward. The light-play makes these photos interesting.
I spotted the water tower on the right on Google maps and will try this one again after the corn has been harvested so I can get a little further into the field to avoid the narrow crop.
I really need a better scanner that can handle the large format 4×5 inch negatives that I’m working with now, but at the moment I have no choice but to use my Epson V500 PHOTO.
For the moment I found the following solution: I scan the negative in parts and use the Photomerge feature in an old version of Adobe Photoshop Elements to stitch the parts back together. Not a great way, probably not recommended, but so far it has done the trick. 🙂
Update: I’ve now obtained an Epson V800 PHOTO scanner and get much better results.
I bought a second-hand Cambo SC2 4×5 large format camera, see here for an image of one just like it, and a Rodenstock Sironar APO N 150mm lens, see here. The 150mm lens is on the 4” x 5” negative format similar to a 50mm lens on an 35mm SLR.
Not an overly interesting scene but important to me in any case as everything worked out. Large Format photography is quite different from using an SLR or a medium format camera: so many things can be adjusted. In this shot the camera is facing down a bit and I tilted the lens even more forward to increase the DOF. The back of the camera is kept vertically so the vertical lines wouldn’t fall ‘backwards.’
The image is composed on the ground glass with the aperture open using the dark cloth to actually be able to make out the details. When you’re happy, you close the aperture, meter the scene and set the exposure on the lens, insert the film holder, cock the shutter, remove the dark slide, release the shutter, reinsert the dark slide, preferably with the black side in front to signal that this side has been exposed and remove the film holder. That’s one photo done!
I posted it on Facebook and a bloke immediately jumped to the conclusion that the white reflections on the water was dust and treated me like a film newbie. So cute when that happens. 🙂