What’s cool?

It was a much simpler time.

Yup. That’s a pony, my sister, and I on the driveway of our home, sometime around 1961. It was summer, I’m pretty sure.

Pretty funny now, but very cool when we were kids.

We lived on Fairwood Street. On the corner at Cedarwood. I was eight, maybe nine, my sister five or 6 years old.

A guy, his pony, and a big camera and tripod wandering the streets of suburbia, leaving behind bucket-loads of memories in his wake.

These pictures are precious to me.

Little did I know how obsessed with photography I’d be later in life.

Make it yourself.

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Large Format Notebook.

Here’s a little hand-made project I just finished. It’s a paper log for keeping track of large format images. A useful record keeping tool while out shooting with the Shen Hao.

The 4.25″ x 5.5″ booklet has a cover, a title page, 24 log pages, and 2 pages for notes.

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I saw a nifty product online called Analogbook and thought about making something myself, simpler and tailored for my specific needs.

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The booklet was easy to produce, with most supplies on hand and a few Adobe Illustrator files, although to be honest I did spend $13 on a long-reach stapler to bind them.

Nothin’ fancy, but quite functional.

Could not resist.

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5 seconds.

I won this absolutely mint Minolta Spotmeter F in auction on eBay last week, it showed up in the mail yesterday.

Compared to what they go for if purchased from Japan, I got a really good deal.

Happy to report the meter is in fine working order.

I even managed to out-bid a few other folks and won it with only 5 seconds left. That can be tricky, as I’ve lost more than I’ve won using that particular strategy.

It came with a strap, a lens cap, and a case. All pristine. Happy to report the meter is in fine working order.

I was even able to download and print an English version of the manual from Michael Butkus’ Film Camera Manual Site.

Now I need to get Ansel Adams’ The Negative to complete my education on zone metering.

 

Use what you have.

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Spot on.

I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-blown spot meter.

The model I’m interested in, the Minolta Spot Meter F, has a price range of roughly $100-$300 US on eBay depending on condition, seller, and shipping.

I spotted (!) another option on eBay. It’s the Minolta Viewfinder II 10 Degree Spot attachment for their Minolta Auto Meter IV F. It just so happens that I have one of those little gems. The Auto Meter IV has been in my kit for many a year.

The attachment goes for around $50. I figured it’d be a good investment and learning tool. There were enough decent reviews in forums to convince me to give it a try and since the cost was reasonable, I went for it.

I’ll look into a Spot Meter F again next year, but for now I think this attachment will be useful.

I’ll be loading up the 4×5 film holders with Fomopan 100.

I’m looking forward to getting out with the Shen Hao.

Research.

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… and Discovery.

One of my favorite things about photography is learning new methods and techniques.

For example, my return to large format has uncovered a multitude of new tools and toys while combing the internet for info about the process of developing 4 x 5 negatives.

I don’t have a darkroom, so I’ll be using a dark bag to not only load and unload film holders, but to transfer the film from the holders to a nifty new device I came across online, called B’s Reel.

I’d been looking at the Stearman Press SP-445 Compact 4×5 Film Processing System to handle the task of development. And I’d pretty much settled on the SP-445 until I came across a YouTube video made by Dave Rollans titled Developing 4×5 at home with B’s Reel.

Good video. Convinced me to change gears and go with the extremely cool and useful B’s Reel.

The SP-445, because of its small in size, can only develop 4 sheets at a time. B’s can develop 6, using a standard Paterson 3-reel tank.

And with 6 Lisco film holders, this developing system will work just perfectly if I head out to shoot with two different types of film.

Check out Benoît Barbé’s website and goodies shop.

Goin’ large.

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But not quite 4 x 5. Yet.

I’m fiddlin’ ’round with large format photography again.

I broke out my Shen-Hao 4×5 field camera with the Rodenstock 150mm lens, the Polaroid 405 film back, and an expired pack of Fuji FP100c – 12/2011 vintage.

The Polaroid back comes with a mask, but it’s just a little bit off. I’m drawing one in Illustrator that’ll be more accurate for the Fuji 3.25 x 4.25 size.

The first shot was a success, a straight-on photo of the night stand in the war room, with the front standard tilted forward slightly. The point of focus is the lamp switch. It’s just a little fuzzy, I know. My choice of tripod is the cause.

I have an older Calumet tripod with a 3-way head that I should’ve used. I used a Giotto with a hefty ball head that’s hard to manage with the Shen-Hao sittin’ on top of it.

Not bad for the first shot and the film seems to be okay. I’m saving the negatives for reclaiming later on.

More to come.