View Camera Experiments; or Boba Fett? Where’s Boba Fett?

Today was an interesting day. I spent my break heading over to Northern Artists Image Lab to pick up the second experiment with the Linhof Color 45S camera, and to grab a series of BW photographs that V. took with her Diana camera using a fisheye lens. As I have said before, I really enjoy going in to deal with these guys, because they have such a unique view of the industry. One disconcerting tidbit was that Kodak was in bankruptcy protection until a few business issues get taken care of. Talk of losing Kodak always brings conversation to the question of when will we lose film altogether and how big of a fridge will I need to buy? The death of film is not an event I worry about. I have taken a few thousand film photographs, and will learn how to use alternative processes to compensate. The fringe film aficionados will find ways to keep the analog available; cost will be the only real problem. I think I have another good five years before processing and supply become a true problem. Until that day I will keep working the best I can while I can.

Looking at these first C41 Process negatives it is clear that depth of field is MUCH different [shockingly shallow] on a monorail camera than even on a medium format camera. I am positive that V. and I carefully focused on the ground glass, but I can clearly see the thin line of focus [check the top of the food featured and where the placemat is clearly in focus]. I am going to assume that f.5.6 in 4×5 cameras is close to a f.1.8 in these images – the tilt and shift of the view camera adds to the blur, and it the real draw for portraiture using the view camera.

What do we do? I could feel defeated and forget about using the camera, claiming that it is just too manual to be of use, but I know better than that. The results from these quick shots of V.’s birthday dinner do possess the mood that I am seeking for both my food photography and portraits on 4×5 film. I think that V. might equally be keen on the effect for landscape photographs, but I might be wrong. Like every other camera that I have used, the Linhof is going to take about two more rolls to get the technique close to be able to produce the accuracy we get from our digital cameras.

The exposures on all three of the photographs are also off. Without any lights and not considering how bellows distance might affect what my Sekonic 758DR meter provides must be changing the exposure values. Funnily enough, I said the same thing to V. when she shot her first roll of film on the Diana camera in Havana. Taking a look at her recent negatives using the Fish-eye lens and a ISO 400 film and the quality of the negatives is miles ahead from where the originals were. I hope to scan and showcase those photos tomorrow night.

 Regardless, I love the feel of the photographs, and seeing these test shots makes me feel like the view camera has hundreds of new techniques and possibilities to explore. Now we just need to work on the technical aspects…

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