November 27, 2013
These images are from the Large Format course I taught at the Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington, in November 2013. Two 3 hour classes introducing students to the practical use of 4×5 and 8×10 field cameras for fine art photography. Film exposed during the course is scanned and put here for student review.
The ACP has a black and white darkroom so it is easy to expose paper negatives for testing and demonstration. This portrait test was made on Ilford Satin RC assuming about ISO 6. It is obviously underexposed compared to the film version, but has a strong feel to it. There is a lot of potential in paper negatives. If I was doing this as an end in itself I would test some fibre papers and also try pre-flashing to lower contrast. The paper neg was digitised by student Kellie – thanks for sending this to me. The underexposure was probably due to guessing the incorrect ISO of the paper but it also alerted me that we had neglected to consider bellows extension. The lens was a 300mm on an 8×10 Deardorff and measuring the distance from ground glass to shutter showed that we had to add 2/3 of a stop.
This exposure was made on Ilford HP5 at f/8 @ 1/8 of a second. We added 1 stop for bellows extension and one stop because the film was to be processed in Rodinal which tends to not give full film speed. We spot metered the shadowed side of Michael’s face and set that to be one stop darker than a mid tone. Realistically that side of the face has exposed as a mid tone, so we probably slightly over compensated for both bellows and the Rodinal.
Above is a still life made during the second class, using the Chamonix 45N2 4×5 camera with 150mm lens. We lost the best light due to the time taken to set up. Originally there was a vivid strip of sunlight running along the benchtop parallel with the wall, which would have given more drama to the area where the bottle is. By the time we made the exposure it had moved to the windowsill as seen here. This was HP5 exposed at f/64 to maximise depth of field. Processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 11 minutes.
I’ll add more photos as I process and scan the film.
November 13, 2013
Another side by side test of Ilford FP4 and Foma 200 in 4×5. Based on the first test I wanted a subject with a wide tonal range and some fine detail. My neighbour’s motorbike was photographed in open shade on a cloudy day, which was helpful for such a high contrast subject. Both films were rated at ISO 100 and given the same exposure in a Chamonix 4×5 camera with a Rodenstock Apo Sironar N 150mm lens. They were processed soon after in Rodinal 1+50, however I changed the times used in the first comparison, giving the Foma a longer dev of 10 minutes, and less time to the FP4, 14 minutes rather than 15 as given by the Massive Dev Chart. Again, the differences are obvious to the naked eye with the Ilford film showing more shadow detail and more highlight density than the Foma. Overall I would describe the Ilford as looking rich and easy to work with and the Foma as looking a bit thin. They are both easy to scan and adjust for decent results however the Ilford looks like it would be much easier to print in the darkroom. Cropping in to a small area shows again that the Ilford has higher resolution than Foma. Click the images to view full size.
November 12, 2013
Zero Image 2000 6×6 pinhole camera at f/138, 28 minute exposure, processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 14 minutes.
I attached the camera to the ceiling again, this time approximately in the centre. In the lower right I’ve been exposed having my hair washed and rinsed at the start and finish, and in the top left I’m in the chair. The semi-circle blur around the chair is the hairdresser moving around as he works. This film was processed at home in my bathroom – you can do just as good a job with film developing at home as you can in a proper darkrrom.
November 8, 2013
Recently I’ve been trying out Foma 200 in 4×5. I like the Foma B&W papers but haven’t used much of their film; just a few rolls of 120 in a pinhole camera. The reason for testing the 4×5 film was because I’ve been considering buying the 8×10 version as it is available at a better price than Ilford HP5 which is the film I mostly use in 8×10. I’ve paid about $100 for a box of 25 sheets of HP5 (I think it’s more expensive now) whereas I could get 50 sheets of Foma 200 for $140, buying from Freestyle under their Arista label. So that is $4 per sheet vs $2.80 per sheet. I’ve seen some nice results online from 8×10 Foma 200 but it made sense to test it first in 4×5, and I was able to pick up a box of fifty sheets in Sydney for $50.
My first testing was to find the effective ISO of the film in Rodinal which is the dev I use at home. General opinion seems to be that the film should be rated around 160 or 125, even as low as 100. I found that I had to expose at 100 to get decent shadow detail in Rodinal (bearing in mind that most films need a bit more light when being used in Rodinal.) Around the time I was making these first exposures it seemed like a good idea to compare it to a similar ISO film and Ilford FP4 125 ISO was the obvious choice. I was able to get a box from Freestlye at a reasonable price using their FIMS shipping option. FIMS is a delivery service that uses a mix of courier and local post – it generally takes two to three weeks from LA to Sydney. It cost close enough to $50 for 25 sheets, so double the cost of the Foma, but still cheaper than any local sources for FP4. FIMS can be a good option if you are not in a hurry for the items.
Above are the results of the first comparison – you can click on the image for a larger view. Ilford FP4 on the left and Foma 200 on the right. Both were rated at 100, exposed one after the other in a Chamonix 4×5 camera with a Rodenstock Apo Sironar N 150mm lens. Light conditions were classic sunny 16 and the exposure was f/22 at 1/60 for both. Both films were processed a few hours later in Rodinal 1+50 at 20 degrees. The FP4 I processed for 15 minutes – I haven’t used this film for years so took the time from the massive dev chart. The Foma was processed for 9.5 minutes which is the time I have arrived at but seems close to the dev chart recommendation. I process the 4×5 film in the standard two reel Paterson tanks, one sheet at a time with the film sitting against the inner wall of the tank, emulsion facing in. (I tried the taco method once but found the film gets scratched easily where the sharp corner of a sheet can be rubbing against the emulsion). There is 800ml of water to cover the film plus 16ml of Rodinal. I agitate for the first 30 seconds then for 10 seconds at the start of every minute. In 10 seconds I will get through four inversion cycles.
On removing the films from the wash it was obvious that the Ilford result was better than the Foma. With my eyes I could see more shadow detail and a longer but correct looking tonal range. The Foma looked a bit thin and flat by comparison. To have a more detailed look I scanned both sheets on an Epson V700. I adjusted the histograms to be pretty much the same which had the effect of evening out the contrast range of the negatives somewhat. The FP4 has more density in the highlights so without adjustment the Foma would have greyer highlights – making the highlight points on the histogram the same was similar to printing the Foma at a higher contrast filter.
Looking at the films at 100% it was obvious that the Ilford has superior resolution. The area above was where I first noticed this, again you can click on the image for a larger version. There is more detail and sharpness in the branch on the roof as well as in the grooves of the tiles.
The above detail shows the increased shadow detail of the FP4 vs the Foma, quite surprising considering the Ilford was exposed 1/3 over it’s box ISO whereas the Foma was one stop over. I would probably have to expose the Foma at 80 to get the shadow detail of the Ilford.
I also noticed this area of damage on one corner of the Foma. I’ve noticed things like this on a few of the sheets I’ve exposed. I don’t think this is from my handling as I use a lot of HP5 and Tri-X in 4×5 and have never seen these marks with those films. Obviously this is just a rough, unscientific study for my own purposes, but I do suspect these marks of being factory quality control lapses.
Based on these first results I plan to do some more comparisons between the two films. I’ll be looking for subjects with fine detail and wide contrast range and will be trying things like rating the Foma at EI 80 and increasing the development. However I have gone off the idea of buying any more Foma. Apart from the obvious quality differences, I like how easy it is to make FP4 work the way it is meant to, without having to do a lot of speed and development tests. It’ll be interesting to see if further testing shows similar results. I also think that FP4 might be a good film for alternative processes such as salt and platinum printing that require negatives with good shadow detail and long tonal ranges.
November 2, 2013
I like the figurative work of the mid 20th century USA artist Richard Diebenkorn. These few are from the book called ‘Richard Diebenkorn, Figurative Works On Paper’. The monochrome ones are generally a mix of charcoal and ink and wash, while the colour ones are gouache and watercolour. They look loose, but there is years of study and training behind these.
November 2, 2013
November 2, 2013
August 2013, I was going to try another one from the ceiling, saw he had a lot of wigs in for washing and styling so made an exposure that included them.
24 minutes, Tmax 100, Zero Image 2000 6×6 pinhole. Meter reading suggested 3 minutes, Reciprocity calculator extrapolates this to 13 minutes. 24 is just one stop more than 13 so should be within the exposure latitude of this film. Processed in Rodinal 1+50.