Large Format Film Photography In The Studio Large format photography is both challenging and rewarding. The modern world goes on about pixels and the best camera and lenses out there. Well, let's step back in time, and slow things down a quite a bit! This form of photography is SLOW, methodical and precise. If you are a perfectionist and would like to hone your photographic skills, this is the door to knock on. As this is such a large negative, the final image is astounding, in the same breath, your mistakes can be rather expensive at around ZAR100.00 or US $7,50 or more per film sheet before development and scanning, and errors are just as amplified in the final image when it goes all wrong! 4x5in or 10,2 x 12,7cm scanned files are around 150 to 450mb each, and you see every detail! The price is around ZAR5500 or USD $405 for a ULF (Ultra Large Format) 20x24in sheet of film per shot, mistakes are not options here! Noleen - Foma Retropan 320 How It Began My good friend Christopher Hart is a camera repair specialist in Cape Town and the owner of Christopher Hart Camera Repairs. He is also a very talented photographer shooting both digital and film, who also has an affinity for Leica gear and has extensive knowledge in his highly specialised field. I had been to see him about a lens clean and service when he showed me his Shen Hao 4x5 large format camera and gear. I was so impressed by this, and that I asked that should he sell, that he would offer me first option. Some months passed by and he did just that! I bought a complete system and only needed to buy a few additional lenses that suited my style of photography. Shooting large format film is revolutionising my photography, in the way I think, the way I shoot and also the way I approach the shoot at hand. I now shoot to print and aim to make each shot count. I can strongly recommend Christopher Hart Camera Repairs to take care of your CLA (clean, lubricate and adjust) and any other camera and lens repairs that you may have at hand. Chris is one of the cogs in my photographic gears that keeps my business going without a hiccup. The Reasons For The Shoot The reasons for this particular shoot are of a personal nature which I am happy to share. It is very often that we get engrossed in other things, captivated by exciting happenings or just simply distracted by the goings-on of life in general. The adage: a mechanics' car is usually in a worse condition than his customers, simply as he doesn't have much time for his, can well be true. In my case, I often get so caught up learning new ways to edit, preparing new and current workshops, going on photo shoots, that I don't really have much time to photograph those that are close and dear to me. Early October 2018, I decided that I wanted to do something for me. On the 3rd November 2018, we made it happen! My mom is a renal failure patient in need of a kidney transplant, who has been on a waiting list since July 2009. I decided that life is too short to put things off for another day, as there may not be another day to capture these moments again. I flew my mom from East-London to Worcester, South-Africa to have a studio portrait shoot done with me in my home studio, by me and for us. This was a personal project, something that I have to cherish for now and when she is no longer with us. I can look back and recall the moments, and know that I was a part of the process in capturing those moments and memories. There was simply no better way, or no other way for that matter, other than to shoot this on film. I wanted a classic timeless feel for this shoot! I have previously shot medium format in my studio on film with a Yashica Mat using Fuji Acros 120 film with some fairly decent results. It was challenging as the ground glass was not very clear and I did not use a loupe to check my focus with. Based on the results from that shoot, I knew I needed help and called on Chris Hart for advice, direction and assistance; he excitedly accepted! YouTube does not offer much in the line of help when it comes large format photography in the studio. You need to understand that there are NO electronics in large format photography, think of cowboy movies and the cameras they used... or even the 1910's and 20's. Everything must be accurate and precise to capture these shots. This is 100% manual, ALL theory and mathematics. The Preparation For The Shoot I fetched Chris early that Saturday morning from Kleinmond near Hermanus, whilst my makeup artist Anne-Mart was getting my mom Noleen prepped and ready for us. I had already set up the studio the night before. The wardrobe was discussed, more so how colours would look in black and white film and which outfit would be best to wear for this shoot. I approached Anne-Mart Professional Make-Up Artist & Hair Stylist about the shoot and explained my intentions and reasons for it. I am so appreciative that she accepted the task at hand, as she prepared everything as I wanted it, my mom was not made to look 25 years old, she was kept true to age and that goes too for the hairstyling. There was a surprise twist in the shoot, something I did not discuss with her, I had her pose too and she owned those moments like a model! I simply love it when someone can pull something like this off unplanned and unexpectedly! Do show Anne-Mart some love and follow her on Facebook and support her business. Anne-Mart on Kodak Tmax 400 The Shoot We began with natural light, as my studio has lovely filtered light through a large sliding door. The light was metered, test shots taken on digital, the Shen Hao tested dry, everything worked, including the Elinchrom studio lighting on the Shen Hao, focusing set up and bellows factors are taken into account. Remember, I said this was SLOW! Finally, we were good to go, film was loaded and the different poses shown and prepared for each shot. The entire shoot was shot on the Shen Hao 4x5 using a Nikon NIKKOR W 240mm f/5.6 Lens. For natural light, we used f/5.6 at 1/8 sec and with studio lighting at f/45 at 1/125 sec which is also the fastest shutter speed attainable on this lens. In 35mm terms this would the equivalent of an 80mm lens at f/1.4 and f/11. The various films used were Rollei RPX 25, Kodak Portra 160, Portra 400, Kodak Tmax 400, Foma Retropan 320 and Ilford Delta 100. A total of 24 frames were shot, the whole shoot took about 3 hrs to complete. Everything is methodical, settings and frame numbers needed to noted and written down, extra film loaded into film holders as we went along. We were going to develop the negatives after the shoot but soon realised that we didn't have all the chemicals to do so. The black and white films were developed in Ilford ID 11 and the colour in C41 chemicals at Orms in Cape Town. The Scans Raphael Helman is my go-to man when it comes to scanning. His website is LabStudio and is able to do the following scans on an Imacon Precision iii Scanner. 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, and soon wider with the new scanning template, 4x5 100% or 50% 16bit files Retouching available as a separate service As mentioned earlier, the file sizes are very large, around 150mb for monochrome, and around 450mb for colour. The approximate megapixels at this scan is 81mp which I have seen in DXO Nik Collection, this allows for very large prints. The only way to get even bigger than this would be with a drum scanner and larger format like 8x10 inch film and above. Here too I can also highly recommend Raphael for all your film scanning needs, as he is also a photographer. The Gallery Do leave some comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on the various films used and which you like best. I have selected five of my favourite 4x5" prints to showcase the shoot. This was a very special shoot for me, a very rewarding and enriching one too. It is one thing to have a photoshoot done, but it is even better to print those images. There will be large prints made from this series which will be hung on the walls in our home to treasure for time to come. Noleen - Ilford Delta 100 Noleen & Craig by Chris Hart - Kodak Tmax 400 pushed to ISO 800 Noleen - Kodak Portra 160 This is one of my favourite images, even although it is not tack sharp. The reason for publishing this image is to show you that when you get it slightly wrong, it is wrong altogether. This was a natural light image shot at the equivalent of 80mm at f/1.4, which means that the focal plane is a thin sliver. Unfortunately after focusing on the eye closest to the camera, my mom had moved back about 5-10mm when the shot was taken, and we were off on this one. Lessons have been learnt through this, and that is what makes film such a challenge to get it right every time. You cannot look at the back of the camera to know how your shot came out. Portra 160 and Portra 400 are lovely films for skin tones, I have some medium format (120) rolls of Kodak Portra 800 in the fridge which I am keen to test shoot on my next model. Unfortunately, Kodak only makes the Portra 800 in 35mm and 120, no sheet film. Behind The Scenes Gallery These images were taken on an iPhone by Chris Hart as behind the scenes shots. They have not been edited, except for cropping and to show the fun we were having whilst at work, and how we see things from our side of the lens. Finding The Focus And Composition Getting Ready To Load Film Digital Test Shot For Lighting Anne-Mart Relaxed and Posed Through The Ground Glass (rotated) Noleen In The Ground Glass - What We Actually See Under The Dark Cloth Having A Laugh During Composition Setting The Power On The Beauty Dish In Conclusion An enormous thank you to Anne-Mart, Chris, Raphael and my mom Noleen for making this happen, together we have captured a treasured moment in time that won't be repeated ever again!
Why Do I Shoot Large Format Film? Why do I shoot large format film? That question can be also rephrased to why shoot film at all? The problem with the world today is instant gratification. Instant coffee, online buying, instant 24-hour support etc. This also crept into the photographic arena during the time of film photography when people shot polaroid images. The next question that usually comes up is: “Is digital better than film?” The answer to either way of asking this question is… no. Just as one might prefer the crisp, clean sound of a digital song, another may prefer a classic vinyl record for its depth, tone and warmth. In the same way, digital photography gives way to predictable, clean and precise results, while film brings in a warm beautiful imperfection that often times speaks to the romance of a scene. Grain is not noise, grain is film and in the right composition ISO 3200 pushed to ISO 6400 can produce beautiful images. Ever wonder why there were so fewer professional photographers in the days before digital? Photography was a skill, an art and craft to master. Today, every cellphone has a camera, everyone is a photographer, and anyone can walk into a camera store, buy an entry-level camera and announce themselves as a professional! Do they really know their craft, have they acquired the necessary skill needed for the task at hand? With 14fps and high megapixel cameras, anyone can fire away and hope to land 3 perfect shots in that second. Spray and pray they say! With 35mm, 120 medium format and large format film - 4x5" and larger, there is no back of the camera peeping to see if you got it right the first time, every time! You need to wait until the film is processed to know if you got it right in camera! Film slows you down, you need to think about your composition, make sure everything is 100% before you press the shutter button. If you shooting 35mm, you will more than likely have 24 or 36 frames to complete. On medium format, that is 12 frames. Large format and ultra large format film, it is 1 sheet at a time, which are not cheap, more so if you going above 4x5''. There is no delete button and try again, once the shot is fired that is it! It has to count, it has been exposed and you cannot under that, there are no second chances, more so in critical moments. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA When you shoot film, you are rewarded with images that stand out, knowing that you had to go back to basics to create that shot. You captured the moment on an old outdated camera, some nothing more than a wooden box with a ground glass, bellows, lens and no electronics! Large format is a totally manual shooting mode, no autofocus whatsoever the only external electronics is your lightmeter. Seeing the film image come to life in the darkroom before your eyes is something else to behold. Seeing the resolution in comparison to 35mm digital is astounding! This is why I shoot 35mm, medium and large format film, its the challenge of getting a 100% success rate for every roll or film sheet exposed, slowing down, thinking about what I am are doing, capturing images that I will actually print and most of all, to enjoy my photography. The rewards from large format for me is once you get it right in camera, the results are mind-blowing, get it wrong and they are amplified as much! Here are two images from a shoot recently shot in my studio. I had my friend Chris Hart fire the shot for me while I posed with my mom, the other I took of my makeup artist - Anne-Mart. Works like these get me so excited about film! Do look out for an upcoming blog regarding this studio shoot. Noleen & Craig Anne-Mart I began photography in 1998 on a Pentax MZ50 35mm camera after playing around with a few point and shoots. My foundation has been a solid one in film, and I am all the better for it. People with a discerning eye know that digital does not look like traditional film, even with the available film plugins or filters. Both can be beautiful in their own right. The artist needs to decide which method or combination of methods best produces the final work of art. What Different Formats Do We Get? The different size formats are as follows 35mm, medium format also called 120, 220 and 645, large format and ultra large format. 35mm or 135mm 35mm or 135 film, was introduced by Kodak in 1934. Individual rolls of 35mm film are enclosed in a single-spool, light-tight, metal case that allows it to be loaded into cameras in daylight. The standard image size on a 35mm film roll is 24 x 36mm with a perforation size of KS-1870. This standard ensures that the film properly advances eight perforations to allow a two-millimetre gap between frames and eliminate overlapping of images on the film. On my Nikon F5, I have an MF28 databack attached, which allows me to record various fields of information such as date, time, shutter speed, aperture and more between these frames. Nikon F5 Medium Format Medium format film is much larger than the 35mm counterpart and is usually preferred by many professional photographers - digital and film. Of course, due to the size of medium format film, a medium format camera will be needed to use it. Most often, medium format film is 6x6cm square or 6x4.5cm rectangular (commonly referred to as 645). In addition, there are also these following sizes - 6x7cm - 10 exposures and 6x9cm - 8 exposures; and longer if you doing panoramas. Each format creates an image with one side equal to 6cm. Today, medium format photography utilizes the 120 film format and, in some cases, the 220 film format. These formats are nearly identical except that 220 film is twice as long and allows twice the number of exposures. With 120 film, you can get either 12 or 16 exposures and double that amount with 220 film. So if you think that Instagram is a new thing, think again, these are generally square images. Why not give a try and upload these to your Instagram account? One Of My Two Yashica-Mat Cameras Large Format The most common large format is 4×5", which was the size most common cameras used in the 1930s-1950s. The 4×5" sheet film format was very convenient for press photography since it allowed for direct contact printing on the printing plate, hence it was widely used in press cameras. This was done well into the 1940s and 1950s. Less common formats include quarter-plate, 5×7", and 8×10" (20×25 cm). Large format film works a little different than both 35mm film and medium format film as there are no spools used. Instead, large format film is individual 4x5" sheets that are loaded into a special film holder that locks into the back of a large format camera. Film loading using sheet film holders must be loaded in complete darkness, or a dark space to load and unload the film, typically a changing bag or darkroom. The holders will hold two sheets of film on both sides. When loaded into the back of the camera, the light protective sheet or dark slide is removed and will allow you to expose the film, once the shutter is released. The protective sheet or dark slide is then returned to the holder before your film is removed. The film will remain in the holder until ready for development. In May 2017, I had seen a post circulating on social media where Paul Joshua was photographing Formula 1 with a 104yr old camera, a 1913 Graflex 4×5" View Camera, at the time he was on his 5th season of Formula 1. Here are the links to those articles and on PetaPixel, definitely well worth the read! If ever there was a sport that required rapid fire photography, Formula One racing is it. Which makes what photographer Joshua Paul does even more fascinating, because instead of using top-of-the-range cameras to capture the fast-paced sport, Paul chooses to take his shots using a 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera. The photographer clearly has an incredible eye for detail, because unlike modern cameras, which can take as many as 20 frames per second, his 1913 Graflex can only take 20 pictures in total. Because of this, every shot he takes has to be carefully thought about first, and this is clearly evident in this beautiful series of photographs. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Ultra Large Format Above 8×10", the formats are often referred to as Ultra Large Format (ULF) and may be 11×14", 16×20", or 20×24" or as large as film, plates, or cameras are available. These cameras are extremely heavy, and usually made of wood. There is an article on F-stoppers where an 8x10" large format photographer - Ben Horne captures an astounding 709-megapixel image! His 150mm lens is referred to as a wide angle lens! Ben ends up with a digital file that's almost 30 000 pixels on the long side and weighs in at an astounding 4 GB for the *.tiff file, but it appears the unwieldy size is worth it. This image was shot on Velvia 50. The YouTube video is worth watching. What Gear Do I Need? Camera I shoot a Shen Hao HZX45-IIA 4x5" format field camera as pictured below. These cameras new at the time of writing, retail for around $1000 or more depending on where you buy. The tripod in this set up was seriously expensive, more than the camera itself; together they do a very good job as the camera is by no means light. Although the camera is a Chinese make, the quality is very good and I am well satisfied with mine. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA at Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve Specifications: • Made from Black Walnut and black stainless steel. • Format: 4X5" • Movement: Front Rise - 37mm Rear Rise - 45mm. • Fall 32mm • Right Shift rear - 40mm • Left Shift rear - 40mm • Swing 17° +17° • Front Swing 20° +20° • Rear Base Tilt: 90° • Front Base Tilt: 90° • Rear Center Tilt: 10° +10° • Rear Back Front 40° • Back Rear 20° • Forward Rear 70mm • Bellows extension from 50mm-360mm. • Dimensions: 17X17x10cm • Weight: 2.54kgs Tripod And Head The tripod that I am using is the Gitzo GT3542L Long series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod which is designed to securely support professional cameras with 300mm lenses (up to a maximum of 400mm), and to reach eye-level when fully extended. This professional tripod features Carbon eXact tubing with larger leg tube diameters. Its top leg-section diameter of 32.9mm and high modulus carbon fibre lower leg sections make this tripod stronger, more rigid and more lightweight than its predecessors. The Gitzo GT3542L weighs just 1.95kgs, reaches a height of 178cm and folds down to 59cm. This tripod is the perfect choice for professional photographers who want highly resistant, reliable support that is light enough to carry for hours while exploring the great outdoors. Large format gear is far from light, and this is a great tripod for my digital long primes too. The tripod’s rapid centre column is easily removed, transforming it into a ground level set enabling photographers to capture the broadest range of perspectives. It also has a reversible column mechanism. The Gitzo GT3542L four-section legs are secured by G-lock Ultra twist locks, with a built-in O-ring that keeps dirt and dust out of the leg mechanism. The tripod’s top spider is newly designed for extra rigidity, and large leg angle selectors provide broader grip-area for leg-angle adjustment. The tripod features a stabilizer hook on its centre column to add weight and increase stability when required by terrain or equipment weight. Its removable feet enable it to adapt to any type of surface. A wide array of heads and other accessories can easily be added via the 1/4" and 3/8 attachment on the upper disc. It can support 21kgs. Gitzo Tripod Mountaineer Series 3 Long, 4 Sections The Gitzo GH5381SQD Systematic Series 5 Quick Release D Ball Head is a low-profile tripod head that fits into the upper casting of any Systematic Tripod or attaches to any tripod via its 3/8” thread, providing an ultra-stable platform. The D-profile head is supplied with an Arca-Swiss compatible plate, enabling the included Quick Release plate to be snapped into the head from above, which is faster and easier than sliding it in from the side. With the GH5381SQD, cameras can be mounted very close to the top of the tripod for optimal support. It tilts up to 28° in all directions and features a hydraulic locking system for fast control and smooth locking speed. A ring adaptor (GS5300S) is included and is required when using this head with a Series 5 Systematic Tripod. This tripod head model also features the new Systematic safety catch: when used together with the latest Systematic tripods equipped with the safety button, the head is held safely in place until the release button is pushed, so that it stays safe, along with any camera equipment attached to it, even if the tripod’s top casting is inadvertently left open. The tripod head is made of high-quality, resistant aluminium, weighs 930g and secures an impressive payload of 30kgs. It includes a built-in spirit level to facilitate flawless framing. Gitzo Systematic Ball Head Quick Release - Series 5 Cable Release I am using the Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release, this is a standard type cable release plug for cameras that have a threaded shutter. This screws into the Copal shutter that you using with your lenses. It can be tightened at the trigger end to facilitate long exposures beyond the lowest shutter speed supported before using B and T. There are no electronics on my Shen Hao. Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release Lenses Nikon Lenses All of the Nikkor large format lenses are multicoated. Nikon never made any single or non-coated large format lenses. Nikon SW Series The SW-series lenses feature wide covering power and a wide image circle. Maximum apertures of f/4 and f/4.5 assure fast and pin-point focusing and bright images, corner to corner. Covering power can be extended to 105° ~ 106° by stopping the lens down. SW series lenses deliver high contrast and resolution, reduced flare and excellent colour rendition, thanks to Nikon Super Integrated Coating and strict control of aberrations. SW-series lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8 are compact and well compensated for distortion. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 110mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 170mm. The f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 20mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S is excellent; it weighs in at 370g. The f/4S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 126mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 25mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S is excellent; it weighs in at 420g. The f/4.5S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. Like the Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S, it has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5 is both huge and excellent; it weighs in at 600g. I had the opportunity to buy the f/8 version (which weighs 360g), but chose this faster lens instead, as the f/4.5 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. The image circle is at f/4 on the 4x5" format at 154mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 235mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikon W Series Covering power of the W series Nikkors is an ample 70° ~ 73° when stopped down. Lens construction of six elements in four groups in the series gives these lenses an outstanding degree of freedom from distortion, field curvature and chromatic aberration. And Nikon Super Integrated Coating applied to each lens assures high contrast and overall faithful colour rendition. The W series lenses are recommended for a variety of subjects, including landscapes, portraits, architecture, and table-top photography. I am in the process of acquiring these lenses in this series, to complete the large format lens range that suits my style of photography. Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S Nikon NIKKOR-W 135mm f/5.6 S The Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S has an image circle of 156mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 45mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 45mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 135mm f/5.6S weighs in at 200g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 52mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stopped down to f/8 or f/11 it is sharp from centre to corners. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 253mm for 5x7" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 weighs in at 380g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 210mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 295mm for 6.5x8.5" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor lenses in the T-series are telephoto-type lenses which do not require long-length camera bellows. The Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 weighs in at 460g. The f/5.6S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 240mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 278mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 336mm for 8x10" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of an 80mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 80mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 weighs in at 820g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 3 T, B, 1-1/125 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. This is a beautiful lens for portraiture for both the studio and outdoors. Schneider Lenses Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens I do not own a Nikon 150mm lens. At the time of me purchasing my 4x5" system, the Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens came part and parcel with the package. I do not see the need or purpose to purchase a Nikon 150mm lens as this lens does a fabulous job. This is a standard angle lens, all-purpose large format lens which gives the highest image reproduction quality possible in a broad range of applications, equivalent to a 50mm lens in 35mm format. The 75° angle of coverage permits generous shifts on the 4x5" format, which is very useful in architecture photography. The 150mm Apo-Symmar L uses 58mm filters and weighs 267g. It is an ideal everyday lens for users of 4x5" large format cameras. Compact, extremely sharp slightly wide lens for the 4x5 format Increased coverage (to 75°) for the classic 6-element, 4-group optical design Bright ideal working aperture range of f/11-22 for shorter exposures and sharper outdoor images Small and light for unobtrusive use Maximum image circle of 233mm allows ±35.5mm of rise/fall/shift (in both vertical/horizontal composition) for 4x5" format Accepts 58mm filters Standard-style Copal #0 shutter with calibrated aperture scale and maximum 1/500th speed The Apo-Symmar-"L" series of lenses replaces the well-proven original Apo-Symmar. As some glass types have been phased out for environmental reasons, new designs with substitute formations were necessary. Seizing the opportunity, Schneider-Kreuznach has now completely re-designed this successful, all-purpose lens to bring it up to the current state-of-the-art of lens design and fabrication. The covering power has been expanded in nearly all cases and the imaging performance further optimized. The current focal lengths and the principle technical specifications are shown in the table here. Used according to the maximum photo format, the focal lengths between 120 and 480mm offered by the new "L-Series" deliver normal perspective pictures without a wide angle or telephoto effects. This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5 inch photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows a shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5 inch film. Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5" photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5" film. Shutters Copal Manufactured in Japan by the Copal Company LTD since 1946, Copal shutters are widely used on large-format photography lenses. Fully mechanical, very reliable lens shutters, they are quite repairable by many technicians all over the world. There are two types, self-cocking or press shutters and manual cocking. They are basically old-fashioned clockwork systems with leaf blades for the shutter. Copal Shutters Specifications COPAL LENS SHUTTER № 0 № 1 № 3 № 3S Weight 115gr 160gr 372gr 340gr Outer diameter 61mm 73mm 102mm 102mm Lens mounting Front: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Rear: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Front: M 40mm x 0.75 Rear: M 36mm x 0.75 Front: M 58mm x 0.75 Rear: M 58mm x 0.75 Front: M 56mm x 0.75 Rear: M 56mm x 0.75 Cable release nipple M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 Shutter speeds T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30,60, 125, 250, 400 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 Shutter speeds tolerance +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% Maximum iris opening 24mm 30mm 45mm 45mm Minimum iris opening 1.5mm 2mm 2mm 2mm Number of iris blades 5 7 7 7 Synchronization all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds Max. sync delay times before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms Threaded mounting ring M 32.5mm x 0.5 M 39mm x 0.75 M 62mm x 0.75 M 61mm x 0.75 Lens board hole 34.6mm 41.6mm 65mm 64.1mm Copal № 0 This is a Copal № 0 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 500. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 0 Copal № 1 This is a Copal № 1 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 400. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 1 Copal № 3 This is a Copal № 3 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60 and 125. It has an aperture scale range of f/4.5 to f/64. Copal № 3 Film Various Film Formats Alex Burke of Alex Burke Photography a large format landscape photographer from Greeley, Colorado, in the USA has a fully comprehensive blog on various film types, both current and discontinued. Do have a look at his blog and consider buying his informative ebook on large format photography. My choice of colour film is Kodak Portra, I am not so wild about Kodak Ektar 100. My choice for slide or transparencies is Fuji Provia and Velvia. Bellini manufactures developing chemicals that allow you to process your negatives to positives or slides, so one is not necessarily limited to only Fuji for slide films, these can be purchased here. Black and white film, its a mix between Kodak and Ilford, there are other brands on the market like Adox, Bergger Pancro, Fomopan, Arista etc which I have not shot yet. I would like to shoot Rollei Infrared and would like to see how that performs, infrared produces amazing portraits with soft skin textures. Kodak Professional T-Max 100 Black and White Negative Film Film is best stored in the fridge to ensure an even, constant temperature and longevity. To prevent condensation from forming on the surfaces of film taken from a refrigerator or freezer, allow the package to warm up to room temperature before breaking the seal or opening the container. Warm-up times vary with the amount of material, the type of package, and the storage temperature. Typical warm-up times are given in the table below in hours to reach a room temperature of 21°C from a storage temperature of: FILM SIZE -18°C 02°C 13°C 120 01h00 00h45 ooh30 135 01h30 01h15 01h00 135 100' Roll 05h00 03h00 02h00 10 Sheet Box 01h30 01h00 01h00 50 Sheet Box 03h00 02h00 02h00 Film Holder Cases These are very handy, as 10 holders or 20 exposures become rather bulky in one's bag. The need for these to be either attached to your bag in a film holder or kept in your Pelican case helps keep things in order. If you are travelling light, I can strongly recommend these bags. 4x5"Film Holder Bag I have a system in place; all film that is not exposed is sealed in plastic packets, the holders are labelled with the type of film and kept in either my camera bag if I am not shooting a lot of film. The exposed frames are then put back into the opened plastic bags and those film holders placed in this bag which eliminates the mistake of double exposing my film. They are well padded and can protect and carry up to six 4x5" film holders. A mesh pocket on the front provides convenient storage for dark slides or small accessories. Film Holders These hold the same size film format as the camera size you shooting. It is basically a lightproof tray with a darkslide. Once the film holder is in place in the camera, the darkslide can be removed and the film is ready to be exposed. Once exposed the darkslide is returned and your image is safe, as long as the darkslide is not removed before development in the darkroom. I keep the white side of the darkslide facing outwards to show it has not been exposed and doesn't need the darkroom. Once exposed, I flip it around, black side outward. 4x5" Film Holder Camera Bag The made in England, 550 Original Shoulder Bag from Billingham is designed to carry a medium-format, large-format or DSLR camera plus accessories. The case is khaki with tan leather trim. It is constructed from soft-weave fabric which helps eliminate abrasions, combined with Stormblocker dual-laminate waterproof canvas and a heavy-duty, closed-cell, foam-padded interior. It has Superflex 10-15 and 10-18 partitions for organizing gear. There is a large rain flap with buckle fastening. Billingham 550 - Khaki Canvas Tan Leather The 550 bag has two full-height zippered pockets inside the main compartment, double-bellowed front pockets with press-stud fastenings, two removable end pockets, and an external back pocket. It is carried by dual handles with an overlapping leather grip or an adjustable shoulder strap with an SP20 heavy-duty, neoprene-backed leather shoulder pad. This is a really expensive and good quality camera bag. How to shoot a 4x5 camera Here is a breakdown of roughly how one goes about shooting a frame on a large format camera: Choose the camera position, approximate orientation, focal length. Set up and level the tripod and camera. Attach the lens and open it to full aperture. Focus roughly using the focusing knob. Adjust precisely the composition while looking at the ground glass. Focus precisely with tilts/swings. Determine the optimal aperture. Close the lens, cock the shutter, rap and insert the film holder. Determine the shutter speed. Set the aperture and shutter speed. Remove the dark slide. Look at the subject. Fire the shutter with a cable release. Put the darkslide back in with the black side outwards to show it is exposed. Remove the film holder. Pack and move to the next spot. With today's technology, instead of using a traditional light meter to calculate the exposure time, you can simply use an app on your phone. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which are available from the various app stores where you in dial the aperture and ISO, and it calculates the time needed to properly expose your image. I use a Sekonic L-478DR light meter as well as a phone app. Acknowledgements Product information and images have been acquired from the relevant manufacturer websites.
Hantam and Roggeveld - Crazy Daisy and Bitterly Cold Crazy Daisy - Willemsrivier Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South Africa Hantam and Roggeveld Crazy Daisy puts away her nakedness once a year and dons on her best ballgown of many colours for Spring. She fills the air with her perfume, if only for a while. She intoxicates, dazzles and bewilders us. As quickly as she prepares herself for the ball, so quickly does the evening disappear and she returns to be a Cinderella again, once the flower spectacle is over. She can be an icy cold woman, you also will feel her warmth and allure, and her angry heat too. She will certainly charm you in many ways and have you come back for more! The Karoo is a sun-seared, harsh and forbidding land. A hard, tough life are the words that spring to mind when confronted with the vast and forbidding landscape of the Hantam and Roggeveld Karoo. Africa is not for sissies they say, this area is a harsh region, one that shapes you and moulds you, and makes you its own. Change is a hard thing for some, the message it sends out is one of embracing me and I will embrace you, ignore me and I will overtake you! This is the way of the Karoo in an unforgiving landscape, the Karoo cannot be tamed. Northern Cape Tourism Flower Route Map The towns of this region are Calvinia, Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein; Sutherland and Middlepos respectively, with Calvinia and Sutherland being the major towns of each region. We got to explore three out of the five in our recent trip to this part of the Karoo. This is a good thing, as it leaves us with an excuse to return to this beautiful region again. For this blog, I am only going to discuss Nieuwoudtville and Calvinia. Sutherland will be dealt with in a separate blog for good reason, as I held a photographic workshop there at Rogge Cloof Sutherland Private Estate. Rogge Cloof Panorama Nieuwoudtville Nieuwoudtville, locally pronounced ‘Nowtville’, is a tiny village in the Northern Cape province of South-Africa, a place internationally acknowledged as the bulb capital of the world. It really comes to life during the flower season. The Khoi San inhabited this area for many centuries before the first settlers arrived in about 1730, and local rock art in Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and on farms around Nieuwoudtville bears witness to an ancient culture that flourished here. During this period vast herds of game periodically roamed the plains of the Bokkeveld Plateau (Antelope Plateau), after which it derived its name. To get the most out of the Bokkeveld, you must take your time, don’t rush along. It is not uncommon to find up to 50 different species within one square metre of Renosterveld! Believe me, it took us over 3 hours to travel 450m, and that was only to photograph flowers! Namaqualanders, Oorlogskloof Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Approaching Nieuwoudtville one ascends the Vanrhyns Pass on the R27 between Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville which was rebuilt in 1962. It carries heavy traffic from Cape Town up to the Bokkeveld Mountains and Calvinia. There are a few lookout points where one can stop along the way to absorb the spectacular view before you reach the summit and is best photographed in the evening. This is one of the ten major mountain passes constructed by the South African road engineer Thomas Bain, linking Nieuwoudtville to Vanrhynsdorp. In the space of 8km, the pass conveys the traveller across the Bokkeveld escarpment into a startlingly different world – from a semi-desert landscape to an arid plateau with trees and grasslands. One will witness the lifeblood veins of green coursing the Knersvlakte valley below, hinting at the existence of subsurface water below. Knersvlakte - Cellphone Image - Dominique Fouché © 2018 Knersvlakte - Cellphone Image - Dominique Fouché © 2018 During springtime, the stretch of road between Vanrhynsdorp and the pass, known as the Knersvlakte, is transformed into a colourful carpet of flowers. The Knersvlakte is a region of hilly terrain covered with quartz gravel in Namaqualand in the north-west corner of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The name, literally meaning "gnashing or grinding plain" in Afrikaans, is thought to be derived from the crunching of wagon wheels as they moved over the hard quartz stones, or the gnashing of teeth for the hard arduous journey that was required over this terrain. The white quartz gravel reflects more heat than the surrounding regions and one will find endemic succulent leaf plants that are found nowhere else in the world. The Knersvlakte is Succulent Karoo and dominated by leaf succulents belonging to the Aizoaceae and Crassulaceae, with a variety of shrubs spread amongst them. The climate of the region is semi-arid with long dry summers, and rainfall occurring in the winter months. From the look-out point some 800m above sea level, you will have a sweeping view of the Knersvlakte, the Hardeveld and the Maskam region. The Bokkeveld Mountains contribute to the 180-degree panoramic view, the Bokkeveld Plateau is reached at the top of the pass. This Knersvlakte region is found north of the Olifants river and the towns are Klawer, Bitterfontein, Vanrhynsdorp and Kliprand. All Roads Lead To Home Evidence of the extensive sheet glacier that covered much of South Africa about 300 million years ago can be seen south of Nieuwoudtville where grooves formed by rocks and pebbles carried in the ice sheet were left behind on the glacial floor after the ice sheet melted. These glacial pavements tend to impede water infiltration and damp patches result, which are favourite habitats for some of the lovely local geophytic plants. With the arrival of European settlers in the early eighteenth century, the vast herds of wildlife were replaced by herds of sheep and cattle which belonged to the settlers. The settlers established themselves in the well-watered western edge of the Bokkeveld close to the escarpment and the village of Nieuwoudtville was established in 1897 on land that was purchased from H.C. Nieuwoudt - after whom the town was named. People now make their living from sheep, wheat, rooibos tea farming and eco-tourism. Nieuwoudtville Church Plain Nieuwoudtville’s public fame started, arguably, with a sheep farmer, the late Neil MacGregor, who on his farm, Glenlyon, took down all internal fences and opened the area to his livestock. The livestock practically ate all the plants and trampled the seeds. He left the diggers, foragers and plant predators, especially the porcupines, to open the earth to rain. He was later rewarded with the flowering of an extraordinary biodiversity on his 6000ha farm. The sheep also flourished, botanists and even Sir David Attenborough came to visit. Tourists have not stopped coming since to view this spectacular event. His farm was later declared the Hantam National Botanical Gardens. The Garden comprises a vast area of over 6000ha which includes representative patches of Nieuwoudtville Shale Renosterveld, Nieuwoudtville-Roggeveld Dolorite Renosterveld and Hantam Succulent Karoo. Nine different trails can be followed covering the variety of habitats and soil types which make this Garden so unique and different. Namaqualand is the home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than a 1000 of its estimated 4000 plant species are found nowhere else on earth! It is so true when we read in the Scriptures and we see this flowering spectacle, how can we not say: Isaiah 55:12 "The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!" Psalm 65:12 "The pastures of the wilderness overflow; the hills are robed with joy." Glenlyon was sold to SANBI in 2007 and has now become the ninth National Botanical Garden managed by SANBI. 1885 Hulpkerk At Willemsrivier Lit by Moonlight, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Geelkatsterte / Yellow Cat Tails Willemsrivier, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Quiver Tree Forest / Kokerboom Forest The kokerboom in Afrikaans, quiver tree in English or choje to the traditional San peoples of Southern Africa, belongs to the group of plants known collectively as aloes. Both the Afrikaans and the English names are derived from the San people’s practice of making quivers from the branches of the trees. It was a practice diarised by then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel in 1685 while on an expedition searching for copper in the Northern Cape. Nieuwoudtville sports the largest Kokerboom Forest in the Southern Hemisphere. This tree is essentially an aloe plant reaching up to 9m tall and 1m in diameter at the base, it is thought that they can live between 80 and 300 years. It takes about 3 years for the kokerboom to reach 5cm, another 15 to 20 years to reach flowering maturity at about a meter. It is rather obvious that these desert giants are slow growers. The existence of a naturally occurring forest with hundreds of adult trees at 3 metres plus, is therefore truly a sight to behold! The slow rate of growth has its downside and these plants are extremely vulnerable to various vegetation predators, birds and climatic changes. On The Road To Gannabos, Kokerboom Forest, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa To find the forest, you travel north on the R357, past the 90m high Nieuwoudtville waterfall (which currently has an entry fee of R30 pp if you wish to visit before 17h00) on the Doorn River, you arrive at a turnoff to Gannabos farm. You will find the Nieuwoudtville waterfall, decidedly underrated despite it being one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. I was impressed by the sheer size of the waterfall, and the gorge that it tumbles into, even although it wasn't in full flow at the time of our visit. Nieuwoudtville Waterfall, Nieuwoudtville South-Africa On our previous visit to the Kokerboom Forest, the small bushes were in full purple glory, these being the Ruschia caroli of Rushia extensa, the local name in Afrikaans is the Beesvygie, and the Quiver Trees in yellow bloom. What a stark contrast this time, flowers everywhere else and in abundance in the district, but nothing here! Here, again the stark rawness and harshness of the Karoo reminded us that this is a tough region to survive in. In spite of that, I was not disappointed as I preplanned an evening shoot which went on little further into the night and included some star trails. Kokerboom Forest 2014 Kokerboom Forest 2014 Kokerboom Forest 2014 Milky Way and Star Trails During Moonlight over a Kokerboom Tree Quiver Tree Solitude and Barrenness Quiver Tree Forest / Kokerboom Forest at Sunset I also shot my new Shen Hao 4x5 large format camera here for the first time, this was a learning curve for me as it is slow, methodical and time-consuming to have all the ticks in the boxes completed before you fire the shot. It is so different from the normal 35mm format in many regards, I am however happy with the results and will be using it more often for various shoots that I have planned. If you don't know what this camera is about, think of the black-cape-over-the-camera and photographer in 1910 and wet plate glass images, except this is film and the results speak for themselves! I will let you decide and it would be great to have your feedback in the comments below. Kodak Portra 160 4x5 Kodak Portra 160 4x5 Crazy Daisy - Willemsrivier Farm, Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa Seas of Yellow - Nieuwoudtville, South-Africa So What Else Is There Besides Flowers? It is not all flower power in Nieuwoudtville, pedal power is the name of the game here too! Hosted on Brandkop Farm since 2015 by Nieuwoudtville Akademie, a small private school in town. The first and only one of its kind in the area, a professionally organised event with challenging tracks for the cyclists, high prize money for the winners, attract riders from both near and far alike. The 28th August 2018 saw the Hantam MTB Challenge offering a choice of either 20, 40 or 80km in the saddle on a MTB, a tantalising ride that I have not done yet! Whether you looking for peace and quiet, this is the place to do just that! Other activities like photography, local sandstone ruins, the glacial pavement, the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and a myriad of activities that include bird watching, hiking and a lot of star gazing (light pollution in Nieuwoudtville is minimal) are some of the attractions to this region. Also visit the small towns of Loeriesfontein, for the windmill museum, and Calvinia. Calvinia Is that just a dot on the map you may ask, or perhaps you have heard it mentioned on the weather forecast? Or is that a platteland dorpie somewhere in the Karoo? This was our first visit to Calvinia on a going-nowhere-slowly drive in search of more flowers from the region. Calvinia is the principal town of the Hantam Karoo and lies at the crossroads to a number of towns and villages scattered across the wide open spaces of Bushmanland and the Tankwa, Roggeveld and Hantam Karoo. It is pleasantly situated and is dominated by the high ramparts of the Hantam Mountains to the north and surrounded by hills and mountains such as the 1 657-metre high Rebunieberg and the Keiskeiberge to the south. The town lies on the banks of the erratically flowing Oorlogskloof River over which one will cross a few times on the R27. It was founded in 1845 on the farm Hoogekraal which was purchased by the Dutch Reformed Church in order to establish a parish for the far-flung community of the Hantam Karoo. The original name of the region and the village was Hantam. The name Hantam has its origins with the Khoi people and it is believed that the name refers to "the hill where the red nut sedge grows". On the R27 to Calvinia near the Oorlogskloof River The town features a number of fine Victorian and Edwardian era buildings. I was pleasantly surprised at how neat and tidy it is. One of the oddities of the town is the giant post box, which was converted from a water tower in 1995 and is probably the largest post box in the world, which measures 6.17m high and has a circumference of 9.42m. Calvinia was the terminus of the branch railway line running from Hutchinson through Carnarvon and Williston, which was completed in 1917. For many years the railway was the primary conduit for the transportation of agricultural products from this remote corner of South Africa to the main railway network linking Johannesburg and Cape Town. Sadly, so many of these little towns in the Karoo have declined since their lifeblood of the South African Railways gave way to goods trucks. We were a week too early for the annual Hantam Meat Festival, this is sheep country, and the last weekend in August in and around Calvinia, everything is in an uproar when the annual Hantam Meat Festival takes place. This year, it was already the 29th time that the festival had been run and its main purpose is still, as when it started in 1990, to promote the delicious, fragrant mutton of the region. Definitely a highlight on the calendar. Lovers of mutton and lamb will enjoy a wide variety of different cuts of meat, prepared in different ways, and all in "tasting" portions to enable more tasting. Your taste buds will experience meat braaied, stewed, curried, in pita, on sosaties, in potjies - you can even pick up a done-to-perfection sheep's head! ! Besides eating your fill of your favourite meat there are numerous demonstrations, farm products for sale and somewhere to have a coffee and take a break. In true Karoo fashion, there is all sorts of entertainment and things to do. Five Simultaneous Rainstorms on R27 Near Calvinia In Closing... The best way to explore the region is to get in your car and find a base to work from. Head out to the next town, tune into an unfamiliar radio station, meet and speak to the locals either next to the roadside or interact with them at the local general dealer or ko-op. Get to feel and experience the soul of region and the Karoo. The Karoo to many, maybe a sparse and empty place, to me, its a place of discoveries and memories waiting to happen and no doubt, we will return again to enjoy this very special region. So many discoveries, so little time! Acknowledgements Resource information found at the following websites: Karoospace, Nieuwoudtville, Africa Geographic, SANBI, The Great Karoo, SA Venues. Click on the images to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 About Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800 film from Fujifilm is a high speed daylight-balanced colour negative film offering a vivid tonal palette with accurate color reproduction in a variety of lighting conditions. It features a nominal sensitivity of ISO 800/30° along with a wide exposure latitude for use in an array of conditions, even under fluorescent lighting. The fine grain structure and high degree sharpness are well-suited to scanning and enlarging for printing purposes. In addition there is a good exposure margin, a good sharpness for this sensitivity, a decent grain and strong colours. This Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film has made a good impression on me when shooting in a low light situation, in indoor areas or with a short exposure time. I usually shoot Kodak ColorPlus 200 colour film as my general go to film for everyday shooting of a wide variety of subjects. In 2008, Fuji made a revision to their earlier films, by adding in an extra layer to their films, a fourth layer called 4th Color Layer Technology. This works to faithfully bring out subtle shades of color and complicated patterns as the human eye sees it. All of the Fujicolor Pro films incorporate Fujifilm’s proprietary 4th Color Layer Technology, adding a cyan-sensitive layer (to the conventional red, green, and blue-sensitive layers) for a more natural rendering of delicate skin tones and neutrals, just as the eye sees them; and a more natural and balanced reproduction of color in varied lighting whether daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, or mixed lighting. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film multi-purpose color negative film, with fine grain and outstanding color and sharpness. Ideal for fast-action sports, non-flash stage photography, and general use with compact zoom lens cameras. If you want something with more sensitivity, you can always grab a roll of Fujifilm Superia 1600 which can be pushed to ISO6400, depending on the results you would be looking for. I intend to shoot a roll or two of this film on some night time and Milky Way shots; at the moment, it is kept in the fridge until the conditions are right to do so. It is the fastest multi-purpose color negative film in the SUPERIA line and has a wide exposure latitude. Click here for the data sheet in a pdf format. My Experience with Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film Two weeks ago, I went out for the day with Kirsten Frost to do some bird photography at Intaka Bird Island and Rietvlei Nature Reserve Cape Town. I took along my Nikon F5 film body and a Nikon D4 digital body mated with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III. We arrived early in the morning around 07h45 and the sun was just getting up for the day. The hide was not busy at Intaka at the time, and we were able to set up in a nice spot inside the hide. The light was very pleasing with a warm yellow glow over the ponds as the sun started to shine passed the buildings in the background. I swapped between both bodies during our shoot there, first with the Nikon D4 as the film speed was too slow for any action shots above 1/500 second. I waited for the right opportunity to switch to film, and began using my Nikon F5 film body. Although I own the Nikon F6 as well, I really do like using my Nikon F5, and find myself using it a lot more than the Nikon F6. This was THE film body of professionals, press photographers and the like in that era, a truly robust workhorse. People ask me, "Why film?" It is a simple answer. Anyone can shoot 14fps go back and check their memory card, click delete, and maybe keep one image out of that burst! But with film, you need to slow it down, think about your shot, compose, and make it count! From this roll of 36 shots, one was a complete miss when a Pied Kingfisher launched from a perch. I was not on continuous drive, and missed that shot. Instead I ended up with an empty perch! I paid NZ$25.00 for this roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film which is around ZAR240.00 for a roll of 36 exposures, development and scanning gets done at Orms in Cape Town, which translates to around R110. Using rapid fire on a roll of film is nonsensical and a complete waste of money. I do have quite a few keepers from this roll, that I would consider printing on canvas, and overall are very happy with the results of every single image. Click on the first thumbnail to activate the gallery. " template="/www/htdocs/w012c428/craigfouche.co.za/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/ngglegacy/view/gallery-carousel.php" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] What impressed me as well, was the backwards compatibility of the modern Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens to the Nikon F5. This is the first time that I am shooting a long G-series prime lens on an older generation body. I do own various D-series lenses, both primes and zooms, but nothing over 200mm. This was also the first time I got to shoot a roll of ISO 800 film and Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film. In the earlier days I used to use Agfa Ultra 50, Optima 100, 200 and 400 professional film, and slide film as well, that being Agfa RSX 50 and 100, Fuji Velvia and Sensei which produced fantastic results. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film With digital images one tries to shoot the best quality images with the least amount of noise at any ISO, and that is what you get at high ISO, noise! Film has grain, the higher the ISO the more grain you will get. Grain can add much texture, grittiness and feeling to an image, particularly in monochrome at ISO 3200 or higher if you push it that far. As this was the first time to use Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, I was not sure how much grain I would get. I edit my images in Adobe Camera Raw (ADC) and Photoshop. To satisfy myself and the purists, I edited with and without a noise reduction plugin (it is plain to see which were edited), my go to plugin for noise reduction is Imagenomic. The results speak for themselves, the Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film performed very well, is able to give amazing colour results under any lighting conditions, with and without the grain. I intend to shoot another roll of this film in the near future, but at night for astrophotography, hopefully I get some amazing startrails and Milky Way images from this film. Keep an eye out for my next blog on that review! Where to buy film? I have been importing film from both B&H in New York, USA; Nik & Trick Photographic Services in Kent, UK; Auckland Camera Centre in Auckland, New Zealand; and locally from Orms, and now particularly from The Film Guy who has a very wide range of lovely films in various formats available locally in South-Africa. If you haven't tried a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, or any roll of film, give it a try, your photography can only improve, don't just take my word for it, try it yourself! Disclaimer: All watermarked images are © Craig Fouché Photography 2017, other non-watermaked images are manufactures' images. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. 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Rooftop Photography in Dubai 2017 Background After about 3 years of planning, it finally came to fruition. I had seen many a great image being posted on Facebook's Landscapes / Seascapes / Cityscapes page, the shear grandeur of skyscrapers, the modernity of the buildings, and the ethereal beauty, more so when photographed at night, and especially so when shrouded in the late winter mists. I decided that, I too, wanted to fill my lenses with such amazing imagery! The rooftop photography in Dubai bug had bitten me! I transit regularly through Dubai - UAE; Istanbul - Turkey; Amman - Jordan; and Doha - Qatar to my end destinations, but never really get to spend much time exploring these cities due to layover times. This year, I took my wife Dominique, along to experience this shoot in Dubai with me. The Right People I was delighted to see that Daniel Cheong was running the first ever legal rooftop workshop in Dubai in association with Nikon School on the 28th October 2016; subsequently, ALL his workshops were fully booked until the end of 2016, with photographers flying in from Singapore, China, Netherlands and the GGC / Gulf States! I was also excited to be the first fly-in South-African to attend a workshop with him, which was held in January 2017! I am also the first to shoot film from the Cayan Tower; I used my Nikon F6 with Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros Black and White Negative Film with a variety of older Nikon D-series lenses, including the rare Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D Lens and the very new Nikon 19mm f/4 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens. The Tilt-Shift Lens is an awes0me lens, however does not have an aperture ring like the 24mm, I was forced to shoot all my film images at f/4. As per Pete DeMarco's Photography Blog - The Nomad Within, Daniel Cheong "is the original Dubai rooftopper. He usually shoots from high vantage points, especially during blue hour or in the fog." There are some photographers' work that one easily recognizes; Daniels' hallmark is definitely rooftop photography in Dubai. There are a few other well recognized photographers that shoot rooftop photography in Dubai, namely Dany Eid, Alisdair Miller, Beno Saradzic, Sajeesh Shanmughan, Mohamed Raouf and Zohaib Anjum. All their work can be found in publications, newspapers, personal websites and on Facebook. Dubai Photography Workshop Contacting and finally meeting Daniel online was great. My time constraints were limited during my stay in Dubai, as I was also committed to shooting the 24H Series - Dubai motorsport event. Daniel was unable to attend the workshop with me due to a family emergency, I was however very fortunate to have spent quality time with Dany Eid. The world is a much smaller place now with social media in play, and so much easier to meet the right people! Knowing the right people in any circle is beneficial, this made all the difference for my architectural, cityscape and rooftop photography in Dubai experience. When To Go The best time is in the winter from December to February. It’s much cooler. This is also when you’ll have your best chance of catching the elusive fog. I am not a humid climate loving person, I prefer either very hot and dry, or very cold! This is one occasion that I was prepared to make that sacrifice for the possibility of shooting the fog in Dubai. We had fog a few days prior to my shoot, on the day it was very windy, obviously no fog, which made for challenging long exposure photography. This is amplified on the skyscrapers. Where To Stay This is the peak season, flights are very expensive and usually fully booked. One should always be on the lookout for various specials, be that flights and or accommodation. Lodging in Dubai is not cheap. Most of the cheaper hotels and guesthouses are located around Deira. We chose to stay as centrally in the city as possible, that being close to the Mall of Emirates. This afforded us many opportunities to view the city and its delights either by foot, taxi, Red Bus, local bus and skytrain. There are apartments, budget hotels and mega expensive hotels to choose from, it all depends on your budget. I would suggest reviewing your stay on sites such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Agoda.com to see how people have rated your choice of stay. What I Shot Make use of the interactive map to see where the various landmarks are in Dubai. Cayan Tower The Cayan Tower is an easily recognisable tower as it is spiral shaped, offering a safe 360º view of the Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Port Jumeirah, Emirates Hill Golf Course and Jumeirah Lake Towers. Cayan Tower at Blue Hour, Dubai, UAE Cayan Tower, known as Infinity Tower before it was inaugurated, is a 306-metre-tall, 73-story skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development. The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill SOM architectural group, the same group who did the concept design for the Burj Khalifa, also in Dubai, and Trump Tower in Chicago. Upon its opening on 10 June 2013, the tower became world's tallest high-rise building with a twist of 90º, this has been surpassed by the Shanghai Tower. Daniel has exclusive permission to shoot from this location as access to rooftops in Dubai can be a nightmare! Dubai Marina Dubai Marina is an artificial canal city, built along a 3 km stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline. When the entire development is complete, it will accommodate more than 120 000 people in residential towers and villas. Dubai Marina from Cayan Tower at Night, Dubai, UAE It is located on Interchange 5 between Jebel Ali Port and the area which hosts Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and the American University in Dubai. There have been many instances of marine wildlife (especially whales and sharks) entering the lake, because of its proximity to the open sea. Dubai Marina from Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE The Tallest Block The tallest block is located on the western side of Dubai Marina, the block is also known as the tallest block of supertall skyscrapers in the world because it contains some of the world's tallest residential towers, including Princess Tower, which is the tallest residential buildings in the world completed in 2012. Tallest Block, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE The high rise buildings, are mainly clustered into a block, with the majority of the skyscrapers ranges between 250m to 300m, which includes Emirates Crown, Infinity Tower, Ocean Heights, Marina Pinnacle, Sulafa Tower, Al Seef Tower, Le Rêve, Marina Crown and few are taller than 350m and 400m, which includes Elite Residence, 23 Marina, Princess Tower, Marina 101, Marina 106, Damac Heights, The Marina Torch, and a supertall Pentominium, which rises to 516m, if completed it will become worlds tallest residential building surpassing Princess Tower. Palm Jumeirah The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago in United Arab Emirates, created using land reclamation by Nakheel, a company owned by the Dubai government, and designed and developed by Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects, Inc. It is one of three planned islands called the Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira) which would have extended into the Persian Gulf, increasing Dubai's shoreline by a total of 520km. Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE Palm Jumeirah, East Side, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE The Palm Jumeirah is the smallest and the original of three Palm Islands originally under development by Nakheel. It is located on the Jumeirah coastal area of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Palm Jumeirah, Nakheel’s flagship project, is the world’s largest man-made island and is comprised of a two-kilometre-long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent. Palm Jumeirah, West Side, JBR Towers - Dubai, UAE Atlantis, The Palm Atlantis, The Palm is a UAE luxury hotel resort located at the apex of the Palm Jumeirah in the United Arab Emirates. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is themed on the myth of Atlantis but includes distinct Arabian elements. The resort opened on September 15, 2008 as a joint venture between Kerzner International Holdings Limited and Istithmar. The 1,539 room nautically themed resort has two accommodation wings, consisting of the East and the West Tower, linked together by the Royal Bridge Suite. It is complemented by the Aquaventure water park and the Nasimi Beach, which frequently plays host to concerts and other events. Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE Burj Al Arab The Burj al-Arab or Tower of the Arabs is a hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the fourth tallest hotel in the world; however, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. It stands on an artificial island 280m from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210m above ground. The hotel is described as the first seven star hotel by a journalist who was at a loss for words when he first saw the hotel. We were treated like royalty during our four hour brunch at the exclusive Al Muntaha Restaurant. The Al Muntaha ("The Ultimate"), is located 200m above the Persian Gulf, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends 27m from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator. The views from the exclusive Al Muntaha Restaurant & Skyview Bar, and the architecture of the Burj Al Arab are nothing short of opulent and spectacular! This was such an amazing experience that I have created a separate gallery for the Burj Al Arab in this blog. Burj Al Arab, Interior View of the Atrium, Dubai, UAE Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa or "Khalifa Tower", known as Burj Dubai before its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the tallest artificial structure in the world, standing at 829.8m. Construction of the Burj Khalifa began in 2004, with the exterior completed 5 years later in 2009. The primary structure is reinforced concrete. The building was opened in 2010 as part of a new development called Downtown Dubai. Dubai Skyline with Burj Khalifa from Skyview Bar, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE The Y-shaped plan is designed for residential and hotel usage. A buttressed core structural system is used to support the height of the building, and the cladding system is designed to withstand Dubai's summer temperatures. It contains a total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators. Due to time constraints, I was only able to shoot the Burj Khalifa from the interior of the Burj Al Arab, and the private road leading to the island. That is the beauty of "incomplete" work, there is always a reason to return to such an amazing location such as Dubai, with fresh inspiration and ideas! Dubai Skyline - Burj Khalifa from Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE What Camera Gear I Used As I shoot both film and digital, I brought along the following gear: Film Nikon F6 Body Nikon AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Lens Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D Lens Nikon AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED Lens Nikon 19mm f/4 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros Black and White Negative Film Digital Nikon D5 Nikon D800e Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 ZE Lens Nikon AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Lens Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens Nikon 19mm PC NIKKOR f/4E ED Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens Tripod Conclusion Although I titled this blog - Rooftop Photography in Dubai 2017, I have included other imagery depicting the cityscape and architecture of Dubai. More of those images can be seen on the relative pages of my website. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience, one I will never forget! I am also very excited to be the first fly in South-African to shoot with Dany Eid, that is a humbling honour and privilege, as well as the first to shoot film from the Cayan Tower! I look forward to be able to do this again, and have had my eye on the high rises of New York, USA for the same amount of time as Dubai. I hope to fulfill that experience of shooting in the Big Apple soon! Thank-you A big shout out to Daniel Cheong and Dany Eid for such a fantastic product and for being pioneers in opening up the way for others to experience rooftop photography on Dubai. Thank you for affording me this opportunity, a lot of personal firsts for me and to have been able to capture the images I did. I look forward to returning to shoot with you again. A big shout out to my friends Dirk and Zena, for your friendship and assistance with our stay in Dubai, we appreciate you! Acknowledgement : Dubai Workshop Photography advertising image - Daniel Cheong Photography, some content information sourced from various websites. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe 2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT - FILM - FUJIFILM NEOPAN ACROS 100 2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT If you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments below. I would really like to hear from you, and the experiences you may have had, both good and bad in Dubai. 2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT - BURJ AL ARAB If you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments below. I would really like to hear from you, and the experiences you may have had, both good and bad in Dubai. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Scanning without a Scanner: Digitizing Your Film with a DSLR By Bjorn Petersen There is no doubt that digital photography is here to stay, and film has certainly seen better days, in terms of availability and affordability. However, what if you’re a digital photographer who simply wants to shoot a roll of film every once in a while for fun? Film photography has a distinct look that, even with the latest and greatest 50MP cameras, cannot be duplicated by digital imaging. It’s subjective to say whether one look is better or worse, but there is no denying that there is a unique quality to film. Back in the halcyon days of film photography, you could easily drop your rolls off at the local lab or drug store, come back an hour or day later and have nice 4 x 6" prints along with a sleeve of negatives. Nowadays, this simple convenience is becoming harder and harder to acquire, and even if you’re able to find a professional lab to develop your film, you usually won’t want to pay the premium for all of those prints to be made. This is where being able to scan your negatives makes practical sense. A common process that photo labs have been using for years, as well as nearly any kind of printing production process, a scanner acts much like your regular camera; its job is to record an image. The difference is that the scanner is a very specific image-making device, designed only for reproduction. Scanners come in many sizes and are able to perform a range of functions, some of which are able to scan film. Split into two main categories for consumer use, there are flatbed scanners and film scanners. Flatbed scanners have a large glass surface and can record reflective materials, and some incorporate a transparency unit for scanning film and transparencies. Film scanners, on the other hand, are primarily dedicated to only scanning transparent originals, albeit usually at a higher quality than a flatbed scanner. "Luckily for most photographers, a truly sound tool for digitizing your film is something you likely already have: a digital camera." Scanning is a common process that most film shooters in the last 20 or so years have come to incorporate into their practice in some manner, whether it is for scanning film or your prints to share online or make digital prints. While a scanner is certainly a sound investment for those who shoot and need to scan large amounts of film, sometimes it is not the most practical investment. If you’re the type of photographer who will only shoot a handful of rolls a year, or if you’re the type of photographer who enjoys using medium and large format films, finding a suitable scanner can become a greater expense. Most dedicated film scanners seldom accept medium format film, let alone sheet film of any size. Luckily for most photographers, a truly sound tool for digitizing your film is something you likely already have: a digital camera. As previously mentioned, a scanner functions much like a regular picture-taking camera, and likewise a camera can be used to perform similar functions as a scanner. Chief among these is the ability to re-photograph or duplicate your film for digital use. And with DSLR and mirrorless cameras’ resolutions on the rise, you now have the ability to produce high-resolution digital files of your film for printing and simple online sharing. As someone who primarily shoots film, this was a technique I have wanted to try for quite some time. I’ve already become accustomed to working with both flatbed and dedicated film scanners for some time, but I had been hearing about a number of potential advantages for using a camera to digitize film. Chief among them was the possible dynamic range, and the ability to extract greater shadow and highlight detail from negatives than a scanner. Modern sensors are often touted to have a wide dynamic range, and you frequently hear claims such as, “this camera has a 12-stop dynamic range.” Assuming this is true, this range often exceeds the amount of detail in most film and, as such, should be a good match for gaining as much detail as possible from the film. Another advantage is the ability to shoot raw files for greater flexibility when processing images. Just like normal shooting, the greater range of information in a raw file even benefits working in controlled situations. One of the drawbacks I foresaw, however, was the resolution. Even though DSLR and mirrorless cameras are at an all-time peak in resolution, the highest native file sizes still produce images of around 24 x 30", at best. This is a number that is pretty easily matched with a scanner. However, this is a non-issue if simply digitizing your film for Web sharing or some smaller prints, which is the same practical limit of most flatbed scanners, in actuality. The Process With these ideas in mind, I set out to do a fairly non-scientific comparison between three classes of image-capturing devices to test the viable limits of each, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of one process versus another. For the camera setup, I worked with a Nikon D800 fitted with the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens, and was backlighting my film with the Logan Electric 4 x 5" Slim Edge Light Pad. For the scanning portion of the test, I worked with both a flatbed and film scanner: an Epson Perfection 4870 flatbed scanner and the Imacon Flextight 646 virtual drum scanner. While it is possible to scan reflective material with the Imacon, it is primarily a film scanner by reputation. Black & White 4 x 5" and 6 x 7 negatives photographed with a Nikon D800 and AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8GIF-ED Lens Before delving into the comparison, I first wanted to give a breakdown of the process I used for photographing my film with the DSLR, along with the steps I took to convert my out-of-the-camera files to usable images. The basic premise of this method is to photograph your film against a backlit surface using a macro lens. The closer you are able to get to the film, the higher the magnification you can achieve, and the higher-resolution results you’ll have for your file. Without working with a copy stand, the next best method to ensure consistency and accuracy is to photograph atop a tripod and, in my case, I worked with the tripod pointed straight down at the film. I also decided to work with the film holders from the flatbed scanner for easier handling of the film and to slightly elevate the film above the light box to avoid picking up any texture from the Plexiglas surface. If I were planning on making this a more full-time, repeatable operation, I would likely look into something that would guarantee me consistent registration and a more taught film surface that the holders provide, but in a pinch this solution worked well. For the image settings in the camera, I wanted to record the absolute highest-resolution, most detailed files possible. I photographed at the full 36.3MP resolution, set the lens to its middle aperture to get the greatest combination of depth of field without diffraction, shot in raw+JPEG, in the Adobe RGB color space. I bracketed my exposures in ⅓ EV steps for a stop or two on each end, and also worked with the self-timer to lessen any chances of causing vibrations. From here, the process was very straightforward: with each negative, I would take the same precautions to eliminate dust as I would during scanning, which included a firm wipe between layers of an anti-static cloth, then position the film inside the film holder, give some final quick bursts of air to both sides, and place the film holder on top of the light box. With the negative in place, I would adjust the height of the camera on my tripod, using the center column, and would try to fill as much of the image frame as possible with the film. Finally, I would manually focus using the rear LCD of the camera when working in live view; I would magnify the image and usually pick a sharp edge within the film image or just focus on the text on the side of the roll of film. Next I would record my series of bracketed exposures and move on to the next piece of film. Post Production Armed with several versions of each negative I re-photographed, I imported my files into my computer and sorted them according to the corresponding negatives. Throughout the shooting process I photographed both color and black-and-white negatives, and I primarily photographed my medium format, 6 x 7 film. Besides these being my personal tastes when shooting film, they also seemed to be a prime area to investigate using this new technique—35mm film scanners are fairly prevalent and slides or positive film would not require the same scrutiny during post production, unlike negatives (especially color negatives, due to the orange mask). Medium format is a size of film that is more difficult or more expensive to digitize, just due to the more specialized equipment needed. When converting the negatives to positives, I chose to work in Adobe Camera Raw with the NEF files, prior to doing any fine-tuning in Adobe Photoshop. Beginning with the black-and-white film, I knew ahead of time this would be the easier of the two, since there would be no color cast to deal with. Here are the basic steps I used to convert the black-and-white negative to a positive grayscale image: 1. Since color casts aren’t going to affect black-and-white imagery as much as color images during post production, I moved straight to the curves in Camera Raw and inverted the curve. 2. I had a pretty flat image, mainly due to the overcast lighting conditions and the development process I use for my film. Much like when recording video or even shooting stills, a flat image is much easier to work with than an overly contrasty one. Here I just bumped the contrast some and tinkered with the other exposure controls before opening in Photoshop. 3. I still have an RGB image when I start working in Photoshop, so I use the black-and-white conversion tool to bring a bit more contrast out of any remaining color in the file prior to converting the image to a grayscale working space. 4. I use a curves adjustment layer to fine-tune the contrast and brightness of the image. Overall, this is a pretty simple process with nothing too special going on. The tonality is really nice and the photograph of the negative has contained the highlights and brought out the shadow details well. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Moving onto a color negative, I knew the process was going to be a bit trickier to deal with the orange mask of the film. Scanners are tuned to deal with this mask already, so the effect of it is pretty moot when using a film or flatbed scanner. When photographing the negative, however, it became my main concern. 1. The most effective way I found to negate the orange mask was to treat it almost like it was a strong color cast, so here I pull the color temperature slider down to 2000K to compensate for the overwhelming orange tone. 2. I then move over to the curves tab and invert the curve to give me some semblance of a positive image. 3. My first attempt to bring a bit of contrast to the image here—notice how much more dramatic the shape of the curve is compared to the black and white one. 4. Moving back to the exposure tools, I add a bit more contrast and tinker with the exposure, highlights, shadows, blacks, and whites sliders. Note that since you are now effectively working with a negative image, as in how Camera Raw sees it, the exposure controls are in reverse (i.e. moving the exposure slider to the left makes the image brighter). 5. Finally, I open the image in Photoshop, flip the image horizontally since I shot it backward, use a curves adjustment layer to fine-tune my contrast, and move on to working in the individual color channels to keep working at getting a neutral color balance. When comparing color balance between the three capture methods, it is noticeable how each process negotiates the orange mask of the color negative film in a different manner and requires a decent amount of fine-tuning to balance the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows across the spectrum. The variance in color casts is mainly present due to the comparative nature of seeing three different versions next to one another, but it should be pointed out that none of the images are unusable or show gross, uncorrectable false colors or irrecoverable details. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Comparison Now that I’ve produced some working examples of photographing my negatives with a DSLR, I wanted to see how they stacked up to both a flatbed and film scanner. With the flatbed scanner, the Epson 4870, I used a method where I chose the output size (16 x 20") when scanning, along with the printing resolution (360 dpi), rather than going for simply the highest dpi possible. I have had better experiences in the past using this method of choosing the output size and a smaller resolution, since there is less chance for the scanner to up-res or interpolate resolution. With the Imacon 646, I chose to scan at the highest resolution for my film format, which is 3200 dpi and, for comparison, gives you approximately a 20 x 24" file at 360 dpi. Looking at the 100% crops of the black-and-white image, my first impression is that I’m truly, pleasantly surprised with how well the DSLR’s detail holds up when resolving the finer details of the image. While the flatbed scan looks fairly muddy and none of the grain detail is really resolved, the DSLR was able to pick up some of the acutance of the film and separate similar tones more clearly. However, comparing the DSLR image to the scan from the Imacon is again a pretty dramatic difference, with the Imacon able to fully resolve grain detail to provide a much sharper, clearer appearing image. However, the DSLR certainly is no slouch in making out the minute details. In the end, the Imacon scan offers a lot more room to adjust the image before it degrades, and will hold up better to printing than either the DSLR or flatbed scans, but for Web and portfolio purposes, the DSLR is a definite contender. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Moving to the color image, some more differences between the various tools become more apparent. For one, it is difficult to achieve the same color balance between all three scans, which I feel can only be attributed to the handling of the orange mask, since all images were processed using the same screen. Beginning with the flatbed image again, the colors appear to be the dullest, and it has trouble holding onto detail in the highlights and shadows when trying to add a bit of contrast to the midtones. Conversely, the DSLR image of the negative shows a pretty tremendous dynamic range with detail in the shadows near the wheel, as well as some highlight detail. The Imacon scan loses a bit of detail in the deepest of shadows, but does show an extended range throughout the midtones, compared to the other two. The colors, to my eye, appear truer and the highlight detail is best. In regard to edge detail, the results are the same as the black-and-white scan, with the flatbed not being able to preserve the same edge detail as the DSLR, which is not able to produce the same sharpness as the Imacon. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Overall, I will admit that I was surprised with how well the DSLR held up when photographing the negatives. The detail was immense, and I feel like it could be pushed even further if you were to adopt a process where you make multiple images of the negative in smaller segments and stitch them together during post production. However, the process I used was very easy and fast, and the results certainly outperformed my flatbed in a number of ways. The two main drawbacks to photographing your negatives, to me, are the difficulty in achieving a truly neutral color balance and the limited ability in making larger prints; once you develop a system to overcome these challenges, or are just working for smaller output applications, a digital camera can certainly be the new unlikely addition to your bag of film tricks. Acknowledgement Written by Bjorn Petersen Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Professional Films vs Consumer Films By Jim McGee In general professional film have more saturated colors and finer grain than consumer film. But photographers are often surprised to learn that many professional films have consumer counterparts that have identical emulsions. The difference in name and price refers to the quality control of how that film is produced and handled before it gets to you. Kodak ColorPlus 200 Professional photographers need to know that a given emulsion will always produce the same results with no surprises. This can be particularly important for catalog and fashion photographers where accurate color reproduction is a must. Film ages. That can lead to subtle differences in shades and grain. Imagine a fashion photographer shooting for a magazine layout. Let's say he shoots fifteen rolls of film with a model in several locations. Now imagine if the model's dress is a different shade of blue from one roll to the next. You'll have an unhappy editor and a very unhappy photographer (because he'll have to re-shoot the layout). Fuji Natura 1600 Film also has a peak where the colors are the most vibrant and accurate. Refrigerating film dramatically slows the aging process and preserves the film at it's peak. Professional film is manufactured to tighter tolerances and is kept refrigerated from the time it is produced until it reaches the photographer. The idea is that by slowing the aging process and manufacturing to tight tolerances you are assured that every roll of brand X pro film will produce results exactly like every other roll of brand X pro film. Fuji Professional Films In reality today's films are much more accurate and temperature tolerant than the films of yore. They also age better with fewer noticeable shifts in color, contrast, and grain. Films like Fuji Superia and Press are identical emulsions. The difference is in the handling. The same is true of some slide films. Kodak Ektachrome 100 ExtraColor and Kodak 100VS for example, are the same emulsion. Whatever film you buy it's a good idea to throw it in the back of the fridge if you won't be using it for a while. This slows the aging process and assures that you'll get the best performance from your film.
Family Portraiture Shoot - Parish Family My long standing friend Brett and his family had been putting off a family shoot for quite a while now. I approached him regarding a sport shoot, which went in a totally different direction to a family portraiture shoot. This was inspired after seeing a fantastic photo of his daughter on Facebook and suggested they come over to my studio and do a family shoot. Craig Fouché Photography Studio They a fun, spontaneous family to shoot and for me was so much fun! I have known Brett since 1994, as we used to cycle together. Family portraiture is fairly simple to do, those being photographed need to be themselves, relaxed and to simply have fun behind the camera. The Parish's were just that! We are capturing a moment in time that can’t be repeated, however, that moment can be returned to in the form of photographs and treasured forever. Brett's children are so easy to work with, active, excited and fun children to be around, that being said, kids should be kids and left to be who they are. I was able to capture some really special, natural moments that required no effort from my part to capture the very essence of who they are, that they can treasure for time to come. This is the part of photography that I really enjoy, when going to work is fun and not work! I REALLY enjoyed this shoot! His family are just such lovely people to photograph and to be around. Thanks for this opportunity Brett, the response to your sneak-peek images on Facebook was fabulous! My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D800e which is great as a studio camera at 36.3mp, and my 1957 Yashica-Mat TLR which is great as a studio film camera at 6x6cm, the negative allows for massive enlargements and details. I also used a 185cm shoot through umbrella by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio kit with a 165cm grided strip box and a 150cm softbox by Phottix. There will be a follow up shoot to this soon, watch this space. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.
Focal Length of 6×6 compared to 35mm Lenses By Ken Williams Yashica Mat TLR How does the focal length of standard lenses for medium format cameras (75mm/80mm) compare with 40mm-58mm on 35mm cameras? When I was younger, I just accepted that the 75mm lens in my Rolleicord was equal to the 50mm lens in my Praktica. This is not so, nor is it clear cut. It depends on how you calculate it. The focal length of a ‘standard’ lens is calculated by measuring the diagonal of the film format. As every schoolboy knows that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. From the diagonal of a film format can be easily calculated. For those who have forgotten: to calculate the diagonal of a 35mm negative use the following formula. (24 x 24) + (36 x 36) and find the square root of the answer. You can compare the focal lengths of 6 x 6 and 35mm by: Leaving the formats as they are. Making the 6 x 6 format the same proportions as 35mm format, Making the 35mm format the same proportions as the 645 format. Let’s look at leaving the formats as they are. 6 x 6 is actually 56 x 56 from which the diagonal is 79.20mm. This means that 80mm is about right or maybe 75mm. But when it comes to 35mm the diagonal measures 43.2666153055mm – So a focal length of 45mm would be closer to the medium format standard lens of 80mm. There are some cameras with a standard lens of 45mm – notably the Contax G series. The popular Rollei 35 series used a 40mm as did the Leica CL and Minolta CLE. But most 35mm cameras used the 50mm.But even this doesn’t work as the 6 x 6 format is really meant to be 645 which is 41.5mm x 56mm, unless of course you take pictures for calendars. I am assuming that Rolleiflexes/cords use a square format, as the right-way-around pentaprism had not been invented when the cameras were introduced . The TLR can be turned on its side to get a vertical format but it is scarcely convenient. From that, you think in 645 terms when taking the picture but can have either vertical or horizontal at the time of printing. So with that in mind, the diagonal of 645 is 69.70mm so a 70mm would be closer to the correct standard lens. Even this is not quite right as the 35mm format has a ratio of 1:1.5 whilst 645 is about 1:1.35. So now you could alter the 645 format to 35mm proportions which works out as 56mm x 37.33mm. The diagonal of which is 67.30mm making the standard lens as 65mm possibly 70mm. Now, for those who like the 35mm format in those proportions then this is a correct comparison. From that you can calculate other focal lengths. Medium Format TO 35mm Format Equivalent (Divide by 67.3 and multiply by 43.26) 40mm 25.71mm 50mm 32.13mm 60mm 38.56mm 75mm 48.20mm 80mm 51.42mm 90mm 57.85mm 120mm 77.13mm 150mm 96.41mm 180mm 115.70mm 250mm 160.69mm 35mm Format TO Medium Format Equivalent (Divide by 43.26 and multiply by 67.3) 21mm 32.67mm 24mm 37.33mm 35mm 54.44mm 40mm 62.22mm 50mm 77.78mm 90mm 140.01mm 135mm 210.02mm 200mm 311.14mm From this you can see that 80mm is roughly equal to a touch over 50mm in 35mm terms, which is probably how the factory arrived at these focal lengths. IF YOU DO IT THAT WAY ! Now, I don’t like the proportions of 35mm. It is OK for landscapes but portraits look odd, as the picture is too tall. On top of that very few sizes of standard B&W printing papers are of the same proportions. None conform to 35mm format with the exception of the enprint size of 6 x 4 recently available for that very purpose. 8 x 10 needs only 30 x 24 as does 16 x 20. I have found that 24mm x 32mm would be better. It is interesting to note that the original Nikon cameras, made just after the war, were this very size. The USA forbade their import as it didn’t suit Kodachrome processing mounts of 24mm x 36mm. It is also interesting to note that 24mm x 32mm conforms to this 4/3rds format frequently mentioned in the photo magazines in relation to digital photography. It is also interesting to note that the 645 format is all but the same ! If you want to be awkward then 42mm x 56mm IS the same proportions rather than 41.5mm x 56mm. So the calculation now alters as the diagonal of a 32mm x 24mm is exactly 40mm. Perhaps that is why the famous Rollei 35 series had a 40mm lens ! Medium Format TO 35mm Format Equivalent (Divide by 69.7 and multiply by 40) 40mm 22.95mm 50mm 28.69mm 60mm 34.43mm 75mm 43.04mm 80mm 45.91mm 90mm 51.64mm 120mm 68.86mm 150mm 86.08mm 180mm 103.29mm 250mm 143.47mm 35mm Format TO Medium Format Equivalent (divide by 40 and multiply by 69.7) 21mm 36.59mm 24mm 41.82mm 28mm 48.79mm 35mm 60.98mm 40mm 68.70mm 50mm 87.12mm 90mm 156.82mm 135mm 235.23mm 200mm 348.50mm So there is not a lot of difference between the two. Making the 645 format the same proportions as 35mm is roughly in agreement with the manufacturers. 50mm being slightly less than 80mm and slightly more than 75mm in medium format terms using the first method. Using the second method which fits the paper better anyway changes the situation making 90mm the equivalent focal length of a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. It is also interesting to note that a 50mm lens is based on a 2” lens which is a hint longer in focal length. The theoretical focal length of a Zeiss (Kyocera/Contax) 50mm f1.7 is actually 51.9mm making 51.64mm even closer to 90mm in medium format terms. It is interesting to note that a 42mm x 56mm format has a diagonal of exactly 70mm so calculating becomes easy to remember and easy to do. So it is up to you whichever format suits you best as to which are the correct equivalent focal lengths.
Scanning and Editing Color Negative Film By Alex Burke A lot of people have come to me over the various online photo sharing sites - especially flickr - asking me how I get the colors the way I do on my scanning and editing colour negative film. People have been most curious about my color negative film shots, particularly the ones taken on Kodak Ektar film. For an overview of the various film types I use, see my blog post here. I've been wanting to do this for a long time to help everyone out and here it finally is! There will be a lot of photos and a lot of text, and if everything goes right I will help a few people out. At the very end I will have a Photoshop file with all the layers for you to play around with and learn! Disclaimer: This is not necessarily the right or only way to do anything, this is just an outline of the general workflow I use. The photograph - This image was taken in rural Pennsylvania last month about an hour after sunrise. The light filtering through the trees was still very warm and pleasant, and there was a hint of haze in the air making for a wonderful sense of atmosphere. The leaves had just sprouted on the trees and were very green in person. I planned on cropping the image to a panorama while framing it, but I don't crop an image until the very last step. All of these things are important to keep in mind as you scan and edit the film. The image was shot on Kodak Ektar 4x5" film, and the exposure was 1 second at f32. The film was developed at home with a C-41 press kit. Scanning - First off, I want to say that scanners don't really seem to care how your film looks. They don't know where you were, what you were photographing, or what your vision is. They just want to turn that sheet of film into data and they do it well enough. For those of you who don't know, I photograph primarily with a large format 4x5 inch camera that produces wonderfully large negatives with incredible detail. The film records all the details and rich colors, but it's up to us to pull those colors back out of the image after it is scanned. Epson Scan with no color corrections I use an Epson V700 flatbed scanner for all of my scans. Of course it is not as good as a high-end drum scanner, but it is a fairly popular home-use scanner among large format photographers and great results can be had from it. I start by using the Epson Scan software that comes with the scanner in "professional mode," which just means that you have more access to features and color correction options while scanning. I make a preview scan with the film type set to "Color Negative Film." You will end up with some very cyan colored rough scans. This is more or less just an inverse view of the orange-brown colored sheet of film. Not very pretty to look at. I click the "Configuration" box (marked above with the red arrow) and then go to the color tab and click on the "Continuous Auto Exposure" checkbox, set the slider to low (see image below) and click "OK". All I want at this point is to get the image looking a little more color-correct without the scanner messing up my image by stealing precious details. Epson Scan with auto color correct Unfortunately, even with the slider set to low, it still manages to clip some of the highlights and shadows. I still use the auto exposure feature because it typically does a good job of getting the colors somewhat right. Now we need to bring back those details that Epson Scan wants to take from us. Click on the levels adjustment button on the left of the screen (see below). Epson Scan Levels Adjustment Now you'll see the histogram and will be able to tell where Epson Scan has clipped the shadows and highlights. We're going to want to make some adjustments to this to make sure we aren't missing any details in the shot. A small adjustment goes a long way (see image below). As a warning, the histogram displayed in Epson Scan does not seem very accurate, and you may decide to not move the right marker all the way to the edge of the graph. If you do, the image will become incredibly dark, and the software will quite often really mess up the colors. For this reason I leave it a little bit away from the edge but the highlights are still safe and not blown out. I move the shadows marker quite a ways past the end of the histogram, I want to be able to set the black point later on. See the image below to get an idea of the adjustments I made on this image. Epson Scan Levels Before and After This image had fairly accurate colors so I didn't mess with them in Epson Scan, but if you need to you can select the various color channels and move them around a bit. Quite often, Epson Scan will add a lot of red to the image when you mess around with the levels adjustment. This can be fixed by sliding the right slider in the red channel just a couple of numbers to the right. No need to get anything perfect yet, we'll save that for Photoshop when we can see the image in full size. Right now we just want a flat, low contrast image with all the highlights and shadows still intact. Go ahead and scan as a *.tiff file. Editing - Now comes the part where we make the image look the way we want. You need to picture the scene as it was and remember how you wanted it to look. With color negative film, there really is no "correct" color. If you were to make an exact inversion of the film it would just be a cyan colored mess. You need to choose the way you want the colors to look, just as someone would when making traditional darkroom prints. A few years ago, I borrowed a digital camera from someone and really enjoyed the easy adjustments that Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has to offer, especially for simple global color correction. It got me to start opening up my scans in ACR by going to file>open as and selecting "Camera Raw" from the drop down list and then opening the tiff file. If you have Lightroom, it's probably a much better program than ACR. I just use ACR because it's what I have. Use whichever you prefer here. Adobe Camera Raw Before and After There isn't really much rocket science to what I do in ACR. I use the tint and color sliders to help get the colors close. The scene as I remember it was very warm and there was no need to have any blue in the road, so I moved the slider towards the warmer colors and the tint slightly towards the green. Other very handy features in ACR are the "recovery" slider to help with overly bright highlights, "fill light" to bring up the shadows, and the "Graduated filter" button up top. The graduated filter lets you easily adjust parts of an image that need extra contrast, more exposure, or maybe have a slight color cast. Play around with every button in this program. I also use the "vignette" slider in the lens correction tab to help get rid of the the vignette that happens on most wide large format lenses. This image was taken with a longer lens so it didn't really need it. As you can see above, the image is still not very contrasty and I haven't adjusted the saturation at all. Now it's time to open the image into Photoshop and make the final adjustments. Photoshop - The very first thing I do in Photoshop is make a copy of the background layer. I use this layer to remove any dust and scratches using the healing brush tool. After that is done, I move onto luminosity masks. You may or may not be familiar with luminosity masks, but they are a very handy feature in Photoshop. I will only explain them briefly for now, there are many other resources on the internet that can explain them in greater detail for you. Please let me know if I lose you here, I'd be glad to re-word or explain things for you. Luminosity Masks - an important tool for editing Luminosity Masks - By pressing Ctrl+Alt+2, Photoshop will create a selection similar to what you see above. Pixels will be selected based on their brightness, with a pure white pixel being selected 100% and a pure black pixel not being selected at all. Everything in between is selected proportionally based on its brightness. Once you have this selection, I like to start by making a curves layer with it by going to Layer>New adjustment Layer>Curves on the top menu. Now you have a curves layer that will mostly just adjust the highlights in the image. I then Ctrl+Click on the curves Layer to get the same selection again and inverse the selection by going to Select>Inverse on the menu at the top. I then make another curves layer just as I did before with this selection, only now it will mostly adjust the shadows. When you Alt+Click on the image for this new layer, you will see something that looks like the image above-right. This is more or less a black-and-white negative of your image, where any curves adjustment you make will affect white areas the most and black areas the least. Red channel curves adjustment made to the shadows I find that a curves layer that adjusts the shadows is a great way to remove some of the unwanted shadow color casts that film scans tend to have. Ektar likes to have too much red in the shadows, while some of the slide films like Provia will quite often have way too much blue. This has been one of the main keys to getting the colors right on my scans. Once you get the hang of these selections, there are all sorts of things you can do with them. You can use the brush tool to cover part of the mask with black, or use a white brush to increase the area that will be affected by the adjustment layer. You can do a whole lot more that just curves adjustments, using the masks to apply contrast, levels, saturation, vibrance or whatever to a specific part of the image. I you want a particular patch of trees to be brighter, just mask it off and make your adjustment. Really feel free to bring the image back to the way you wanted it to look when you took the photo. Hue/Saturation Layer - I have found this to be a necessary adjustment for color negative films. This image didn't need it very badly because it didn't contain and blue sky but I have found that I typically need to remove a significant amount of cyan from skies to make them look natural. Color negative film really seems to have an excess of cyan, and to be honest it's not my favorite color. I will likely make another tutorial just about this with a different image just to show you what I'm talking about. It's not uncommon for me to adjust the cyan slightly towards blue with the hue slider, and then desaturate it as much as -50. For now, just go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation and play around with it. It is really easy to go over the top with saturation so I like to keep it subtle. Sometimes I will walk away from the screen and come back later to let my eyes re-adjust. Here's the final image! Pennsylvania County Road For now, I think I will turn you all loose with the Photoshop file that has all the layers in it so you can see exactly what I did. It might be the easiest way to illustrate my workflow. If you have any questions about what I did, feel free to ask me in the comments and I'll try to explain or add it to the tutorial. Click the button below to get the .psd file. Download Photoshop File Thanks for looking, I hope this helps some of you out there! Used with kind permission, check out Alex's website, click here. Since the time of writing, Adobe has updated Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, the sliders in ADC have changed.