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Grant Narrows Marsh with large format

Submitted by keithloh on Wed, 2009-10-14 17:39.

Grant Narrows

Grant Narrows Marsh | Kodak 160NC 4x5 on Kodak Anastigmat 166mm f/4.5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic

This was probably the only decent shot I took "out of the box" per se with my large format setup after a long drive out to seemingly the edge of civilization to meet the waking of dawn.

Although in my mind I treated the taking of a large format sheet as simply a matter of focusing to infinity and then chimping the exposure with the digital camera, my results were really not good -- not discouraging -- just another note that I needed to be more careful with what I was analyzing from the LCD of my 30D before committing a large sheet of film to light.

Changing light at dawn

When we arrived at Grant Narrows park we were surprised to find the parking lot nearly full to capacity at 6am. It was dark and cold and I wondered if we had come upon a vampire convention. The mystery was solved an hour later when dawn broke and the air was filled with the sound of hunters blasting away at unfortunate ducks who had strayed out of park boundaries. If only they could read maps they would have been safe from everything but cameras.

Changing light is a reality even more so at dawn and sunset. Because of this I was forever trying to get a proper reading with my digital but I think where I got it wrong was really figuring out the reading from the areas which would be underexposed. In daylight there would be no problem since the exposure would be more even but in morning light there would be more contrast in the scene. Even my digital pictures really were not balanced. Of the six 4x5 sheets that I had developed most were noticeably under or over exposed except for the one above. (One was entirely unexposed and I don't remember what in my process I screwed up there.)
Grant Narrows Sunrise Provia 100F-50%

Grant Narrows Sunrise Provia 100F at 50%

I shot two sheets of expired Provia 100F RDP (slide film) and it occurred to me that one advantage of shooting slide is that you know right away whether to bother scanning it or throwing it in the garbage.

The Provia shot I added above is not nearly as good as I would want normally but I decided to make a good attempt at reclaiming what I imagined in Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom initially wanted to surrender because of the size of the file and even crashed a few times. I eventually reimported it at 50% and Lightroom stopped complaining. By then it was already midnight and I decided to upload it as is without clean up. One of these rainy days I'll spend the hour or so needed to clean it up in Photoshop.

I actually did spend last evening cleaning it up. There was a small stitching error and loads and loads of dust and hair to clean up. Looks a bit better now, doesn't it?

With my negatives (shooting Kodak 160NC as the first shot above) I was tempted to scan them anyway in the hopes of resurrecting something from them. I do actually have a couple shots that could be saved I feel but are no indicators of the better exposures I was imagining as I was peering into the faded ground glass of my vintage press camera.

Focusing, ground glass and fresnel

Speaking of that, I was envious of the view from the fresnel of my friend's rented Sinar F2 rail camera. While I was cupping my hands and attempting to see the edges of my composition in the old ground glass of the Pacemaker, the view from his fresnel through his ground glass was clear and sharp . He also had a focusing cloth which made viewing the image much easier.

Here's a good page on Fresnels and ground glass.

I have no idea how old my ground glass is but I've since ordered a new one so hopefully there is an improvement. Actually, I don't believe there were any focusing problems at all (since I only really needed to get the center of the image in focus) and as you can see from above I was able to get a good foreground subject sharp enough. My Pacemaker seemed to need some infinity adjustment, though, as I had to back off a bit from the infinity mark when focusing through the ground glass.

Still stitching

Incidentally, the shots above were stitched again using Microsoft ICE. As I wrote before, it does a fast job of stitching the double scans I have to make with my Canoscan 8400F and seems adequate to the task. I'll continue doing that since a large format scanner is far off in my laughable financial plans.

When I finish scanning the rest of my shots I will post the better ones here. I also shot some regular 35mm slide but had the luxury of bracketing my shots so I will also compare once I finish that roll off.

Posted in Submitted by keithloh on Wed, 2009-10-14 17:39.
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