I made a big mistake when photographing this old shack, but thankfully film is so forgiving and I was still able to get a usable image. 4x5 Large Format landscape photography. Read the blog for all the details.
I was fortunate enough to come across a great deal and as an end result I am now the happy owner of a 50+ something year old Crown Graphic 4×5 camera. Simplicity itself to use, it’s basically a light tight box with a lens attached and a ground glass at the back for framing and focusing. It does have some other dohickies to help with that as well but I want to keep everything simple.
This camera takes 4inch x 5inch sheet film (HUGE!) or I can also use 120 Medium format film with a rear attachment for 8 shots in 6cm x 9cm size (again, still massive). This gives me the best of both worlds really. I can shoot 6×9 and keep costs down and go for the 4×5 when only the best quality will do.
Currently I’m only geared up to do 4×5 in black and white, but will be working to get colour home development sorted in the next month or so, then I will probably shoot more 4×5 than anything else.
Why 4×5? There are several things really that I wanted. One, is huge size/great quality, you get this in spades with the negatives. You also shoot one at a time and can change between different films on the fly as long as you have them loaded in a holder. A lot harder to do with medium format where you must finish the current roll, or carry multiple (and expensive) backs.
You can develop 1 photo at a time, especially nice with black and white as you can then do neat tricks with developing to change the end result/contrast etc.
The other is movements. This is a biggie for me. Out of the box with the 90mm lens my Crown Graphic has, movements are pretty limited, some rise, tilt upwards and shift left right. What I really wanted was lens tilt forward, this really helps with landscapes to get close focus and distant focus all in the same shot, while keeping everything parallel. Only cameras with movements or very expensive shift lenses can do this.
A quick modification to the front standard (reversing it) and I now have lens tilt forward along with rise, just perfect for landscapes. The rest of my kit is pretty budget, I’m just using an old black short as a dark cloth, and I have 5 holders (10 shots), more than enough really as I only plan to shoot 1 to 2 photos each time I go out. So 2 shots b&w and 2 shots colour loaded.
Well it was time to go and play so an early start saw me at the top of Mt French, getting slightly wet from the odd shower, and cursing the lack of the real light I wanted. Note, I also had not reversed the front standard yet, it was only after developing this photo I realised I really needed front tilt for focus control.
Anyway, there is a great spot in the middle of the heather where you can sit and chill. With the slightly gloomy conditions I just knew that black and white was the way to go. I had 2 sheets of Kodak Tmax 100 loaded and I exposed both, one as I metered and 1 a bit over exposed. I then developed both at home using the same time and went with the negative I was happiest with, which was the normal exposure. A good learning experience.
The level of detail in the photo blows me away, zoomed in you can see the individual rain drops on the chair and all the branches, leaves, rocks etc have wonderful textures. I even like the focus fall off into the distance even tho I really wanted it all sharp.
I also captured a few 6×9 frames in Kodak Ektar 100, a wonderful colour film, looking the other way from this view over the heather and nearby mountain. Those will have to wait for another day as I’ve not yet finished that roll, the joys of film 🙂
For anyone wondering why do all this, film is dead etc, go visit Alex Bourke. Alex is my inspiration in 4×5 photography, his images are just outstanding and he teaches a lot. I’ve purchased his Ebooks and regularly read them and his knowledge works. If I can get photos of Australia half as good as his USA photos, I’ll be in heaven.
Until next time, take care!
On this morning I loaded up my Mamiya 1000s 645 medium format camera with a roll of Fuji Acros 100 Black and White film. Now sadly discontinued, this is a beautiful fine grain film that I find perfect for landscapes.
I’ve posted a full video of the morning on my facebook page, please be sure to watch, comment, like and share.
Below are the photos from the video in detail for you to view. I developed the film myself at home using R09 Adinol which is a modern version of Rodinal. Using a semi stand development time of 18 minutes and 30 seconds. I then scanned the photos into my computer using an Epson V550, did some clean up of dust and final tweaking in photoshop and done.
This first photograph, I love the sidelight coming across the scene. It’s a simple rural view that could be anywhere.
With this next one, I love the contrast between the tree and the sky. I’m going to have to invest in some orange and red filters I think, they would really make the blue in the sky pop out as well.
I just love this photo of the sprayers. I had a vision when I saw this scene and it came out exactly as I hoped. Minimal depth of field, gives such a cool feeling to a simply but great scene.
I cropped this next one to a panorama, the whole view just looked amazing to me, light breaking through in patches, cloud hugging the top of the range. Being medium format film, I can still print this huge with a good scan, some things Digital can’t fully compete with yet, for the same cost at least.
I love love love this one, printing it now, wall hanger. Just waiting for the light to come across, checking my exposure every time it did change, the anticipation, and then nailing the shot, but you don’t know it until the film is developed, dried and scanned…wow, what a rush. Really nothing more to say about my thoughts on this one 🙂
Another one for the wall, again, it came out exactly how I hoped. Mind you, I thought I’d lose detail in the trees. Nope! The film captured the full dynamic range of the scene, blew my mind.
I always love a walk through Purga reserve, it’s such an interesting place and doesn’t take long to get through but you can spend hours here checking it all out.
And the last shot of the morning, again, it came out exactly as I hoped, really minimal focus area, light making the fallen tree pop. Happy.
I’m so happy with the results from this morning. These photographs look amazing, I’ll be printing out a couple of these for my wall at home, if you’d like to purchase a copy for yourself, simply contact me and we’ll make it happen.
Again, thanks for watching and reading!
Well another roll of Kodak Ektar 100 Film in 120 Medium format done and dusted. I was very much looking forward to seeing how the shots on this roll came out. I actually had quite a variety of shoots on this one, a few photos I bracketed, or forgot to lock the mirror up and retook and one I completely stuffed it up by setting the shutter speed wrong..and still managed a recoverable shot, blew my mind! With my Mamiya 645 Medium format camera I get 15 shots per roll and with this one I got 6 photos I absolutely love and a few others that came out nice as well. I think it’s my best hit rate to date on film.
Starting with an overnight stay up at Redcliffe Peninsula north of Brisbane for my wedding anniversary back in October, I took the opportunity for an early start to capture sunrise over the water. I was really looking for just simple compositions here, nothing fancy at all. My thoughts at the time was if I got a good one, I’ll have it printed and matted and send it to my Parents as a gift, they have very much an ocean theme through their house.
This first shot was captured well before sunrise, when the first colour of dawn was hitting the sky. I used a 2 stop Graduated ND filter to keep the brightness of the sky close to the water. Those colours were just amazing, but I could have exposed a little bit longer to get more detail into the rocks.
Next I waited around until the sun actually rose. There was some great cloud around the horizon and it was filtering the sun, throwing out colour. Again I used the 2 stop hard grad ND filter, exposed for the water and just let the Ektar 100 film do it’s thing. It has an amazing ability to get so much detail into the highlights even if they are many many stops brighter. I really liked how this one came out, and those colours, wow! Pretty sure I’ll be sending this one to Mum & Dad for Christmas. I’ve added this photograph to my Landscapes Portfolio, it’s simple, but I really like it.
Next it was time to head back to the country. This time I was experimenting with time of day, a different lens here and there. This next photograph was over some corn almost ready to harvest near Kalbar in the Scenic Rim. I used the Mamiya 80mm lens at F4 (think I will try F2.8 next time) to focus only on the closest corn and let everything behind fade into blur. It kinda worked but not 100% the result I was aiming for, I think my biggest issue was I was too low, need to get higher and show the depth in there to give that blur a more noticeable effect. Still, the early morning side light was wonderful and I like how peaceful this photograph feels.
This next one was the same morning but during dawn and I think is my favourite photo from this roll. I was really hoping for clouds, but now the film is developed and I see those colours, wow! Eye popping stuff. Kodak Ektar 100 is a very saturated film, and I’m finding the dawn light, before the sun gets up, has slightly lower contrast, but simply amazing colour results. Definitely need to shoot more at this time of day with this film. Again I used a 2 stop ND grad to control the brightness of the sky, this was around a 90 second exposure at f/16. I’ve added this to my Landscapes Portfolio. This location is Kents Lagoon north of Kalbar in the scenic rim of South East Queensland Australia. I’m standing on quite an old, single lane wooden bridge to get this photo, praying the locals all decided to sleep in so I wouldn’t have to run off the bridge with my gear, and then set it all up again! 🙂 Except for one fella plowing his field, I was car free for an hour thankfully.
Finally I decided to try this film at night. The results were good, at least my metering was right and I didn’t stuff up the photos lol! That’s the hardest part, you have no idea of you got it right, so you check, double check, check again, think about taking the shot, wait for a car to move that just pulled up, start again in case the light changed. Honestly, I loved every minute of it, it’s so much fun, and you really REALLY slow down and think about every press of that shutter button. All of that happened with this first one, but finally everything was clear and the shot taken. This is a pub not far from home, right next to the highway at Haigslea. Very happy with how much latitude I captured between the dark shadows and the bright highlights. I think I need to revisit this one, maybe with some Portra 160 film which has a much more soft pastel pallet, and do it at sunset for some colour and go wider with the view.
Finally I dropped into Marburg just up the road the same night. The post office there is very quaint and I quite liked the look of it at night. I had to shoot a fairly tight crop to avoid the parked vehicles from the pub goers. Again, I used the 80mm, around f/11 to keep some depth of field. Ended up being around a 80 second exposure. I just love the bail of hay out the front, really lets you know this ain’t no city post office!
I’m going to get my hands on some Cinestill 800T film soon, that stuff looks just amazing for night city and architecture photographs, it blooms around light sources with a super interesting colour pallet.
I’ve got plenty of film in the fridge now to shoot. This roll was really about trying different things and gaining confidence with the equipment and the results. I’m extremely happy with how it all went, and I can quite confidently now go out and shoot on film and not be too concerned with the results as long as I remember to do all the steps. It’s a very manual process, and I absolutely love it. Looking forward to doing some more black and white film soon too.
Let me know in the comments below which is your favourite shot!
Thank you so much for reading and getting to this point, I really really appreciate it. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date, and visit again soon. I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.
Finally got around to getting a roll developed and I’m 3/4 of the way through shooting another roll. I’m starting to get the hang of shooting film. For my film of choice for landscapes, Kodak Ektar 100, I’ve found you really have to nail the exposure for your subject (usually the land) and then filter the sky to keep it to say within a stop in brightness. Film will handle a much brighter sky, but you then have to try and pull it all back in post production on the computer.
Getting it right in camera using filters etc really pays off with film and saves you a bunch of time on the computer at a later date, when you’ve forgotten what you even shot lol! I’m using a Mamiya 645 1000s medium format camera, my go to landscape lens for the wider scene is the Mamiya 45mm. Film is Kodak Ektar 100. I have a local lab develop for me (just normal develop) and then I scan the negatives at home using an Epson V550. From there it’s really just getting the colours right and some sharpening in Photoshop, as well as removing any dust and scratches, probably the worst part of film.
This first photograph has to be my favourite film photo to date. I also shot this on digital, and I’ve even done Astro photography here, but the way this has come out, the colour, the soft glowing light, yeah, really happy with this one.
I was pretty much treating this roll of film as a test case, I was bracketing most photos to see which exposure would work best (take good notes!) and photographing landscapes in various lighting conditions. On one recent storm chase I had some time so I broke out the film camera once again and captured this photograph. Those Ektar Reds are really popping in this one and the light that broke through the clouds really made this photograph work for me.
Finally, after another chase, I decided to see what I could do with a reverse sunset, that is looking east as the sun was setting west. This one didn’t quite work out for me, the main issue being if I kept colour on the landscape, none of it was up in the clouds yet, and if I waited for it to be in the clouds, it wasn’t on the landscape anymore. So this was more of a test/compromise shot, however I do know in this kind of light it would be much better to find an amazing subject I can get very close too and really highlight those colours on the landscape, wow golden hour smacks you in the face with this film!
So the plan is now to keep shooting more film and really start working on the composition and subjects. My confidence has increased a lot thanks to some major trial and error, time and of course, money, film costs every click.
Thank you very much for ready my blog this week. If you’d also like to check out a very short cool video I made yesterday with some slow motion lightning captures click below :
I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.
Until next time, enjoy!
I’ve finally gotten around to getting my first two rolls of colour film developed. Both of these are Kodak Ekatar 100 film. One roll I shot with my Lubitel 166u square format twin lens camera, the other roll I shot with my Mamiya 645 Medium format camera and a variety of lenses.
I used Fotofast in Brisbane for the development, very fast (2 hours) and well priced, best benefit is not too far from home either saving postage costs. Both rolls came out well developed and I think I only underexposed a couple of frames, both on the Lubitel which was before I got my spot meter. All the photos on the Mamiya using the spot meter came out perfect.
It’s certainly a huge learning curve. Not only do you have to get exposure right, but you then have to learn how to scan, how different films react to different light. I’m using an Epson v550 Photo scanner which does both 35mm and 120mm film well.
I’m still working my way through scanning the photos and putting the final touches on them but wanted to share with you what I have captured so far. None of these are earth shattering photos, they are about the learning process, trying different subjects in different light and learning all the steps with an aim towards knowing the whole process inside and out. Only then will I truly start to capture what I think will be very unique and stunning film photographs.
I actually love how this first photo came out. Using the Mamiya and the longest lens I have for it, a 150mm, shooting with the aperture wide open, the shallow depth of field is amazing with medium format. This is something I going to have to explore a lot more of. These lilies are not far from home in a little hidden pond, a nice discovery that I’ll be visiting again for sure.
This next photograph is my favourite so far from the Lubitel. It shoots in square format which really changes how you end up composing a photograph. I captured this at Governors Lookout near Spicers Gap in the scenic rim of South East Queensland Australia during the photowalk a little while ago. That early morning soft light, the slight imperfections of the camera softening the edges. I really like the feel of this, can’t wait to try it in some mist and fog. Pretty dang good for a $40 medium format camera from Russia!
Next is another Lubitel shot. The light was pretty harsh and I did underexpose this a bit. What it shows is if this film is underexposed, you still capture all the detail perfectly, but a blue cast that is not easy to get rid of can appear across the image. Especially in the shadows. Better to overexpose a touch and really get those wonderful Kodak Ektar colours.
This next photo, shot on the Mamiya, shows what colour you can get when you get the exposure bang on. It also blew me away how narrow the depth of field is with the 150mm when used in close, I’m really going to have to watch that, but it will be fun to use it on the correct scene as well!
Finally a photo of what I’m hoping to really use my Mamiya setup for, landscapes! I found this young tree showing some nice colour in a park near home. The golden hour light was falling across enhancing the gold even more. The lack of clouds wasn’t ideal but I do like the contrast of the blue on the gold.
Let me know in the comments below which is your favourite photo from this weeks post, and if you shoot film, let me know what you are shooting gear and film wise, drop a link to your work, I always love to be inspired by others!
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Over the last year or so I’ve been playing around with film, in black and white which is the cheapest option I’ve found as I can develop at home quite easily.
It’s surprisingly a bit of a learning process. Digital cameras these days make life so much easier. My Olympus has live view in the view finder, will show me under and over exposed areas in real time, with a histogram overlay so getting exposure wrong is pretty much impossible. I’ve shot in RAW format for years which means every photo has to be post processed to bring back the contrast and colour and tweak it to show what I want to represent. I spend more time in front of the computer than behind the camera for sure, and I enjoy that process.
With film I’ve found I have to really slow down. Are my settings correct? Is my exposure right? I’ve had to re-learn measure exposure all over again. Every click of the shutter costs real money so you are double and triple checking every step, and also really considering the photograph, is it worth taking? It’s quite enjoyable and I find the results very rewarding.
I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at photographs I really enjoy, landscapes that inspire me, works that draw me in, and something I’ve discovered is the majority of those photos have been captured on film, and on large film to be precise. My recent trip to visit my family on the Central Coast of NSW saw me drop in to Ken Duncan’s Gallery (again!) and really spend some time viewing and looking at his works. They are printed big, on beautiful hahnemuhle paper, and framed wonderfully. These are the types of photographs I love. And it’s really interesting, you can spot the digital photographs he has taken with his awesome digital medium format cameras a mile away, they are sharp as a tack, amazing detail, but I kept leaning towards the photographs captured on film. They have a bit more glow, are usually a longer exposure, some of the details aren’t quite as sharp, you can see where the exposure had to be nailed to get it right at point of capture. And the colours..film has colours I don’t think digital can reproduce, they are just stunning.
I have two film cameras at the moment. A lovely Olympus Trip 35 point and shoot style 35mm camera that I generally load with black and white and use for street style photography or family snaps. It’s almost set and forget, just pick a focus zone and don’t worry about exposure, it nails it every time, yes, every single time, it’s an amazing piece of kit.
My next camera is a new purchase, a Russian made Lubitel 166 Universal. This is a twin lens reflex (TLR) medium format 120 film camera. It’s extremely simple and extremely manual in use, creates either a 6×6 or 6×4.5cm negative per photo (there is a mask you can change but you are looked into that option for each roll. You look down through the top to work out your composition, and use a little magnifying glass inside to get the focus correct.
I’m working my way through a roll of black and white Fomapan 200 creative at the moment with this camera and absolutely loving the process. Working on a tripod (as I always do) getting the composition just right (the view is back to front so it makes you work for it!), measuring the exposure of the scene (I use a simple phone app), putting your settings in, cocking the shutter and then taking the photo. In 2 hours on the weekend I took two shots, total! And I loved it! The whole process of slowing down, really looking at the light of a scene, double checking exposure, framing, settings, and finally committing to the shot is really amazing to me.
My first roll is almost finished and this weekend I’m taking another little step in my film journey and shooting some Ektar 100 colour negative film. This is the modern landscape film of choice. Velvia 50 is what Ken Duncan uses a lot but it’s a lot harder and more expensive to use. The Ektar is very forgiving if you don’t quite get the exposure correctly and gives amazing colour and contrast. I’m really excited to see what results I can get from this film.
Medium format film, scanned in properly, will give a photograph file far larger than anything you can get from any DSLR digital camera, I’m talking hundreds of megapixels of data with a massive range of tones. I can scan a 35mm negative in at around 60mp, I can scan a 6×6 negative in at around 6 times that! The trick I use is I actually use my Olympus OMD Em5 MarkII digital camera, with a macro lens to take a photo of the negative, in hi res mode! Works startling well if you prep everything right.
All of this has me thinking about the next step in my photography. I really want to capture more landscapes with film, and I really want to have the full ability of selective choice in composition. I want big negatives that can give incredibly huge prints, I want the colours and tones that film gives with that beautiful fine grain. And I want bigger than 120 medium format! So now I’m saving, I’m working on getting a 4×5 field View Camera, a modern day version of what Ansel Adams used to use (although he was shooting bigger again with 8×10 I believe). A camera where it’s one shot per film, you need a dark cloth over you and the back of the camera just to compose, but you have the amazing ability to change the lens height, angle, swing for amazing depth of field, or custom focus bands. And a negative that is 4inch x 5inch in size, scanned size? @#%#@ huge!!
So I’m not quitting digital, I love my Olympus and it’ll be with me this weekend. But I’ll have the Lubitel and Olympus Trip with me as well, and they’ll be taking photos in a different way, it will be very interesting to see the results. I think film has a future in my work, some of the results that can be achieved with film are astonishing, and the process of slowing down, the time involved means more investment personally with every photograph taken. I look forward to a hybrid future of digital and analog.
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