First outing with Large Format

wrigles

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Finally assembled the basic equipment for my first outing with the Toyo.

Experiences / Lessons learned..

1, people are way more interested in funky looking cameras than I thought.. I was caught off guard with just how many people want to ask questions about the kit. Most asked question.. “how old is your camera“ I will probably choose a much quieter location until I’m more proficient at this.. Having people around definitely made me rush a few steps.

2, Choosing a composition from an elevated position on a hill was probably not the best decision... I’ll stick to easier compositions until I’ve mastered the basics..

3, I rely far too much on a cameras inbuilt meter.. I used a Minolta Spot Meter F for this little outing... I found it a little intimidating... definitely need more practice with this.

4, I’m away on holiday with only 3 film holders. I have no light tight bags or boxes to transfer exposed film. I’m itching to get back out and shoot more.. so kicking myself at not considering the storage of exposed film.

5, Composing & focussing is way harder than I thought it would be... I’d purchased a focussing hood which turned out to be useless.. I took it off within 5 mins.. I’m guessing a fresnel will improve that. A 50mm lens was ok for the fine focus.. but I think I’ll be looking for a simple loupe for future use. I found centre brightness ok.. but edge composition was a challenge.. even at 5.6 it was dull..

6, This is a biggy... I didn’t take notes... I had it in my head I was going to use the phone for voice memos... but alas.. the excitement of the moment caught up with me and I totally forgot.. I think a notepad on view in my bag will be a good visual reminder next time..

7, Viewfinder apps are great.. however I still found myself lugging the tripod with camera attached up and down the hill.. I’ve got a standard arca plate on the toyo.. I suspect I need something a little more substantial.. The toyo is light enough..and it maybe a confidence thing.. I’ll need to research.

8, I have three lenses. 90mm/150mm/203mm.. they all conceal within the camera when closed.. I didn’t need to take all three lenses.. they just got in my way in the bag.. I think I’ll just keep the 150mm attached and leave the rest at home until I’m confident with the process.

Well I’m hooked.. just need a little more practice. I won’t know how bad the photos are until I get back home at the weekend.. if anyone has any ideas/hacks for storing exposed film whilst away on holidays.. I was hoping I could just order some light tight bags off Amazon.. but can’t see anything..

Cheers, Steve

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Bill Martindale

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The “normal” method is to take an empty film box and internal black bag and store in those. Complication can arise if you use more than one film type when ideally you would have a separate box for each type or if using the Zone System for each development need either plus or minus. However until you have used the first box you don’t have an empty one. Perhaps an appeal on here would work to get a box. Unfortunately I recently gave my spares away.

However enjoy the learning experience, it does get easier with practice (or so I keep telling myself.)
 

Stephen Batey

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Until I finished my first box of film, I put exposed sheets in a Paterson tank pending development. This won't help you if you're on holiday though! The last holiday I took 12 film holders, so I could empty a box with one filling, which meant I didn't need to take an empty box. An empty box takes up less space than 12 13x18 film holders...

On the technicalities - I used a 150mm lens for a long time until I eventually got another. I've never used the zone system, and gave up on spot metering, finding that a reflected reading from the palm of my hand plus one stop gives me the negatives I like. So, a very simple expose and develop routine for me.

It's fun though, as you've found.
 

wrigles

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Thanks for the insight Stephen..
I bet the 12 film holders needed their own suitcase.. :)

The last holiday I took 12 film holders, so I could empty a box with one filling, which meant I didn't need to take an empty box. An empty box takes up less space than 12 13x18 film holders...
 

Stephen Batey

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They weren't too bad, being small... The 8 or 10 (appropriate figures :)) 10x8 film holders required their own box. I only took two cameras though...
 

David M

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It sounds as though you have done well on your first outing.
Soon you'll have an excess of useful boxes. Metering skill will come with a little practice but nobody gets it exactly right all of the time. Most errors can be corrected in printing, as long as some kind of image has been caught by the film. In any case, printing is when you may change your mind about what you want to see, so there's no such thing as a perfect exposure.
A notebook is a good idea. There are special notebooks for this purpose (see Intrepid for instance), but they sometimes encourage you to record too much. Easy enough to devise your own form and print off a few when you need them. A4, folded twice to give A6 is a good size to slip into a shirt pocket. Pencil won't run in the rain.
Some people stick a small post-it note or a bit of masking tape to the holder to record essential details.
Nicely composed picture of your camera, by the way.
 

wrigles

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Thanks David.. every day is a school day.. :)

It sounds as though you have done well on your first outing.
Soon you'll have an excess of useful boxes. Metering skill will come with a little practice but nobody gets it exactly right all of the time. Most errors can be corrected in printing, as long as some kind of image has been caught by the film. In any case, printing is when you may change your mind about what you want to see, so there's no such thing as a perfect exposure.
A notebook is a good idea. There are special notebooks for this purpose (see Intrepid for instance), but they sometimes encourage you to record too much. Easy enough to devise your own form and print off a few when you need them. A4, folded twice to give A6 is a good size to slip into a shirt pocket. Pencil won't run in the rain.
Some people stick a small post-it note or a bit of masking tape to the holder to record essential details.
Nicely composed picture of your camera, by the way.
 

Marley

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Registered User
Great to hear about your first shoot in the great outside. Personally, It's all a learning curve, and I always have a list of stuff I could have done better. On my own first shoot on 5x4 I had a Jack Russel pee on my tripod, fell over a huge tuft of grass, and ruined three sheets of film by forgetting to stop down to taking aperture! People do love an old looking camera, and answering daft questions can be a pain, but you never know, someone who asks questions may become a new convert to film ,,,
I use post-its on each double dark-slide with any notes on development exposure etc - I always misplace a notebook. These post-its then go on the outsides of the neg sleeves once processed. I don't tend to travel too far with LF ... so the 10 DDS that I have suffice. I usually carry medium format (an RB67) or digital as well as my 5x4 for if I get too extravagant on film. Metering wise, although I have a spot meter ... like Stephen Batey, I tend to use other means ... usually my old Weston Euromaster meter in incident mode. I probably should use the zone system more ... and perhaps I will now I have 7x5 as well.
 

David M

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For almost all scenes, the Weston will work very well. The Invercone’s particular shape isn’t just a bit of cute styling; it’s designed to give more realistic readings. Even the fact that the cone seems to be a bit too big is deliberate. That tiny overhang is there to compensate for the effect of backlight.
It’s when a scene isn’t “normal” that a spot meter comes into its own. It might have a wider brightness range (cathedral with stained glass windows; funeral on the beach) or be very dark (black cat in coal cellar) or very light (bride in snow). We often want to make a print that isn’t a simple transcription of the scene’s tonality. You might have some specific process in mind, or need to check that the highlights in your tranny are not burnt-out, or you might simply be writing a novel about the private life of some particularly fascinating developer.
…or you might simply enjoy the enhanced play value of a modern digital spot meter.
 
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Sandokan

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Hi Steve,
I have just got the Arca Swiss Universal Plate 3/8" (8x6cm) and it is large and flat enough for a 4x5. I use a Kirk QRC 4.2 clamp which has a 10cm jaw which provides a good stable grip on the plate.

I look forward to learning from your experiences.
 

PaulNWE

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I'm a bit late to this one - but I used the zone system quite effectively in the days when I used to print in the darkroom. Always based on using FP4 rated at 80ISO and a Weston Euromaster, measuring from the back of my hand, plus one stop - as mentioned earlier. I used Ilfosol - 5 minutes and later Rodinal at 9 minutes.

Currently returning to 5x4 after a bit of a gap. No darkroom these days - negatives will be scanned and then processed on the computer.
 

Alan Klein

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I started LF last year. I use my micro 4/3 camera as a viewfinder zooming to the right crop which then tells me which lens to use. If I'm shooting BW film, I set the digital camera for BW. I also use it as a meter. Then I switch to video and record the settings, movements, and other details that then get transcribed when I get home. The video also provides a record of what I shot on the film. Good luck.
 

Marley

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Registered User
I started LF last year. I use my micro 4/3 camera as a viewfinder zooming to the right crop which then tells me which lens to use. If I'm shooting BW film, I set the digital camera for BW. I also use it as a meter. Then I switch to video and record the settings, movements, and other details that then get transcribed when I get home. The video also provides a record of what I shot on the film. Good luck.
I love the 'mixed technologies' approach.
 

PaulNWE

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Same here. For a number of years I didn't participate in any photography - I feared I had left it behind. Then digital photography opened up new ways of working - now I have gone back to 5x4 but without, for me, the need of a darkroom. It makes it so much more accessible.
 
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