Format Reflections

I was scrolling through my library last night, looking at images I have captured with various film stocks, cameras, mediums and so on. I decided to pull an image from each format I have used as ones representing my "highlight" shots from them. Maybe not the most technically sound images, or the perfect everything - but if I could show one image from that format and how I feel it should be represented, these are my results and why.

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Chamonix 45n-2 Review (Large Format)

Behold the Chamonix 45n-2. After just a few rolls last December on the Graflex Century Grafic (a 2x3 view camera) I was hooked on movements and wanted to progress to the real thing (proper 4x5 view camera). I was working on a 6-month plan to get there. Then I went to play with Johnny and Rebecca this winter in the darkroom and I knew it was time to make the jump to large format. I had been secretly researching large format view cameras for about 6 months and knew I was leaning towards a wood-framed bodies. Functionally, view cameras all do the same basic things. Some have more movements, some have less. But in a nutshell, they are nothing more than a light tight box to carry light from your glass to your sheet of film. Money is well spent in a great lens and a holder that keeps the sheet perfectly flat.

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Sink Development Push/Pull Charts

As I get more organized, I am starting to create some push/pull times for development based on film stock and developer. These calculations are related to developing sheet film in a large tank or tray. Development times for small formats (35mm / 120) will be different. I plan to update with more stocks and chemical recipes as I go. In the charts below, n is the recommended normal development time at 68°F. The +/- of n is the amount needed to push/pull based on the Zone Metering difference between highlights and shadows (roughly 20% per). There are many methods for determining the n and many variances within similar methods. So, you may read many different things on the web. But this is how I have been doing this, and I have been very happy with the results.

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Pulling Ilford HP5 Plus

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 (4x5) is very new to me, but I have heard how well it works with portrait work and how nicely you can push and pull it. This weekend I wanted to put it to the test by shooting a situation where I would need to pull it in development. I ended up shooting a few situations (just three different shots) and developed each sheet differently (ranging from n-0 to n-2 development times), but this turned out to be my favorite example.

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Exposure Values for Zone III and Reciprocity Calculations

A couple weeks ago I began to talk about my metering technique for the Zone System. I use exposure values for the shadows when metering and always adjust the metered value to Zone III. As I find myself using longer exposure times, I realized I needed to start adjusting for reciprocity rates of film as well as making a quick cheat sheet for using other meters for EV. I am only using Ilford Delta 100 and HP5 Plus right now, so they are the only charts I have added for my personal use and thought I would share them out. I actually have them bookmarked on my cellphone if you want to bookmark as well, or download these images below for quick reference.

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Large Format View Camera Movements

To continue with my adventure into large format photography I will be stepping into the camera movements. I plan to keep this post in practical language, not technical mathematical proofs as those are plentiful on the web. I do want to dig a little into the Scheimpflug Principle and how I use it to guess-and-adjust my focus, but again, I'm not getting nerdy with it. Various large format cameras have various movements. Usually, the studio ones tend to have em all while the others have a selection. It's something to consider if you're in the market for a body. For my Chamonix 45n-2, I selected it based on all the movements on the front standard and the tilt and swing of the rear standard (no rear shift). For the style I shoot, this was meeting my demands. Some cameras will have more or less, depending. What you choose is ultimately dictated by what you're really trying to accomplish.

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Zone Metering with the Pentax V Spot Meter

Zone Metering was a technique made famous by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. It's fairly new to me, so I am using it in a very simple format which I'll go over here. I plan to update this post as I learn to use it better. This will be the most basic overview possible to reflect the minimal extent to which I am using the system. We'll call it overly simplified.

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