I found a WWII British Air Ministry Pentac 8 inch f2.9 lens in a second hand store about a year and a half ago. It was made under a military contract during the war and a number of British manufacturers filled this contract. The best of the lot were made by Dallmeyer, the original designer of this lens. This lens sample isn’t marked to indicate the manufacturer, and it doesn’t have a traceable serial number, so the maker remains a mystery. Like many lenses that were made for aerial reconnaissance work, they were intended to be mounted on a camera with a built in shutter. To make this lens usable in a modern sense would involve controlling the timing of an exposure. Mounting this lens in a large format leaf shutter can be an expensive undertaking, and due to it’s size, the shutter options are somewhat limited. Because I’m of dutch descent (thrifty, cheap, frugal…), I took it upon myself to find an inexpensive solution to this particular problem… Bonjour Marie Antoinette.
Most of us hold our cameras. Or mount them on a tripod. Either way, most of us are on the outsides of our cameras. For Canadian photographer Ross den Otter, though, stepping inside his camera is exactly how he makes his portraits. Needless to say, it’s a rather large one.
Ross uses a camera obsurace. Essentially a large room with a hole in one wall. In this hole a large format lens is mounted, which projects the outside scene onto a wall on the inside. Using photographic paper, one can capture that projected image. Because of the nature of a camera obscura, Ross was able to also use it as his darkroom. This meant that paper could go straight from the wall to the developing tray. A few minutes later, he could emerge with the finished print.
These days, making a landscape appear as if it were inside a jar would typically be relegated to Photoshop. In the past, it was done by the use of double exposures. In a double exposure with analogue, you’re shooting twice without advancing the film. So, you’re basically adding one photograph on top of another (like Photoshop’s “Add” blending mode).
But there’s really no substitute for doing it in-camera. You can do this with modern DSLRs, but it’s a little more tricky than it was with film. In this video by Anders Lönnfeldt, photographer Christoffer Relander shows us how it’s done. Done well, it’s an amazing and fascinating technique. But, it is not one that’s easy to master.
The Ironman Kona Championship is one of the toughest races on the planet. With over 200km of swimming, cycling and running, it’s pretty challenging. The strong wind, lava, and high temperatures add extra risks. Some people just like to really push themselves, I suppose. The same is true of photographers. Like Czech photographer Dan Vojtech.
Working with Red Bull Photography, Dan chose to photograph the Kona event with a large format Polaroid camera, and the results are quite intriguing. Dan shot the Polaroid camera alongside a Nikon D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to confirm lighting and exposure. He tried to create the exact framing between the two cameras at the same distance for comparisons.
Sometimes, the stories behind why we may own a certain piece of kit can be more interesting than the item itself. This short film from Andrea Casanova of Branco Ottico embodies that idea. Called “The Camera Collector”, the mysterious narrator recounts his tales of gear acquisition over the past half century. The beating his father gave him after purchasing a Leica, and his determined response to make a living from photography.
He doesn’t collect just kit, though, but all kinds of photographic history. It really is a fascinating look at how we perceive things. What makes something special to us. Is it the item that’s special? Or the story behind it? The unknown collector does finally make peace with his father, in the end, too. The video is in Italian, but has English subtitles.
There’s little question that getting into film photography can still become rather expensive, especially if you’re going large format. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, you can spend a fortune on a large format view camera and complete darkroom setup, but do you really need it? I’ve been following Joe Van Cleave’s YouTube channel for a while now, and in this recent video he’s going to help answer that question.
Joe regularly posts videos documenting his adventures with film, with some great tips for the rest of us. From compact darkrooms to DIY 35mm film canister pinhole cameras, Joes videos cover a wide range of film related topics. In this video, Joe takes a look at the minimum requirement required for shooting 4×5 large format Harman Direct Positive Paper.
Looking back through my archives, I realized that I’ve covered topics like film selections and scanning film but to date I’ve skipped one really important part: metering and exposing color film. This is something I get quite a few questions about so bear with me while I try to be very thorough and cover topics from different lighting conditions and how I would meter with the various film types, both color negatives and slides. While graduated neutral density (GND) filters deserve an entire post for themselves, I’m going to have to touch on that topic as well since they are a critical part of my film exposures.
As a disclaimer, I’m going to be covering my methods for metering. These may not be the methods you’ll read about in most books but I’ve found them to be both effective and extremely quick which is crucial when the light is changing dramatically. It’s come to a point where metering is mostly second-nature to me and takes up a very small portion of my workflow.
Shooting film is often seen as more of a novelty these days. Once, it was just the way photography was done. For those who started off in the digital world, the idea of shooting film can feel quite alien. Understanding the different formats and the effect they can have on the image can be difficult concepts for beginners to wrap their head around. And when it comes to developing their own film, that’s just too much for some folks to handle.
In this series of videos from Stefan Litster, we’re taken through the basic process of understanding different cameras & formats, as well as how to develop our own film. The series started about three years ago, with sporadic updates, but was recently revived on Reddit, and it appears that Stefan has started posting to YouTube again in the last few months.
Recently, I was tasked with shooting a hotrod. It was exciting from the beginning, because these kinds of cars are pretty rare here. The owner also wanted his dog sitting on the fender. When you hear that (from a photographer’s point of view), it does not sound that difficult to do. But the picture also has to be huge – 100 megapixel are too few.
Three times of that is the minimum requirement for the print. A digital medium format camera gives you 100 Megapixel, maximum 200 in one shot. These are not that easy to rent and they are very expensive too.
My solution was to do a stitched panorama digitally with Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 100mm Macro and the Nodal ninja. Additionally, I shot with my large format camera, a Linhof Mastertechnika with a Kodak Portra 160 VC sheet film.
For those that shoot film, developing and dealing with chemicals isn’t usually the biggest hassle. Often it’s scanning the resulting film into the computer. Many lower end scanners simply don’t have the quality. Higher end ones, even flatbeds like the Epson Perfection V850 are out of the range of many film shooters. Drum scanners like this Hasselblad are even more expensive. And that’s their cheaper model.
So, what else can we do to digitise our film shots? Well, in these two videos, we see how we can use a lightbox, copystand and DSLR to bring our film shots into the computer. Such a setup can be had relatively inexpensively if you shop around. Or you could pay an absolute fortune for one if you wish. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, though, I still think I’d go with a scanner.