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.

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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.