4x5 Beginner's Mistakes

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Topni, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Topni

    Topni Member

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    Hey all! Long time browser, first time poster here.

    This summer, I rented a Linhof Technika from the university I work at and took it to my cottage this past weekend to give large format portraiture a try. During my undergrad I probably only made 8-10 exposures on 4x5 film and tended to gravitate more-so towards the medium format workflow.

    Picking up LF again was an incredibly pleasant and satisfying process and to my surprise I managed to make 12 exposures without a single mis-step. Once I was back home I unloaded my holders and transported all my film to a carrying box, unzipped my dark-bag, put away my holders, and for some reason, (blame it on distraction or stupidity) I opened the holding box and saw the bare flesh of my undeveloped film.

    Now I know there isn't much hope for that top sheet, but I've opened up camera backs before mid shoot and have been surprised to find nearly intact images only a few frames down the roll.
    I won't have a chance to develop the film for another 2 days but I guess I'm curious to know if anyone else can share some wisdom or solidarity to get me through the next 48 hours of frustration and kicking myself.

    Alternatively, if you've got any veteran tips to pass along to a beginner like myself, I would very much appreciate your know-how.

    I'm still looking forward to feeding this camera a good number a sheets this summer and I know mistakes are as much a part of the learning-process as anything!
     
  2. Arklatexian

    Arklatexian Subscriber

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    Well, I can't answer your questiion/s about this past photo session other than develop the film and see what has happened. More important, I think, is this mistake is one you probably will not make again for a long time, if ever. I have always found that mistakes cost me money and maybe, because of that, I remember them.....Regards!...At least with the Linhof, there is no rear shutter to consider while shooting.
     
  3. awty

    awty Subscriber

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    Bugger!
    I make mistakes all the time, they usually get fewer as you go. I have managed to load up two sheets in the film holder before, after exposing and finding my error in the dark room simply left the other unexposed sheet in taken a photo and it came out fine.
    I would imagine it would be a case of how much if any light got to the other exposures. Guess you'll just have to wait and see.
     
  4. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG and be sure to let us know the results.

    I suspect you'll have a few good images.
     
  5. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    This gets close to why I put my toe in the LF water and backed off. It just made me too nervous thinking about all the mistakes I could make that I have shot only 35mm and MF for the past 3-4 years. I consider it a life challenge to return to LF.
     
  6. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Kodak and Ilford use 3 layer boxes and a black plastic bag for their sheet films, Arista/Foma uses a 2 layer box and a black plastic bag. If I'm going to store exposed sheet film I use a 3 layer box and a black plastic bag that film shipped in.
    The black plastic bags should be light tight but there is no seal on the open end which folds over. The next problem that can arise with this precaution is that one gets the exposed film box confused with the unexposed box. Painters tape and a sharpie if used helps prevent this.
    The film likely has an antihalation layer that prevented light passing through the first sheet but the subsequent sheets likely have light fogging on the edges depending on how uniformly it was stacked.
     
  7. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Whenever I go on vacation, I have a checklist of items relating to household pre-trip preparations, items to take, etc. I've used this list, and variations evolved from it, for over 20 years.

    I've created a similar and far smaller checklist for using large format.
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    One frequent mistake I make is to forget is that the aperture is still open after focusing and then pulling the dark slide for the exposure too soon, wgich ruins the shot.
    I don't trayprocess 4x5 anymore;the Jobo is best!
    I filed a mark into my film holders to identify in which holder a sheet was during exposure to identify bad holders. I also had a jig built to measure the flatness of holders before I buy them used.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG

    4"x5" photography lacks the interlocks that 35mm and MF cameras have spoiled us with. 4"x5" photography gives us many many ways to make mistakes. Be bold and learn by making the errors we all make at one time or another.
     
  10. michaelorr

    michaelorr Subscriber

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    I have been using LF since about 2005. Just this past weekend i made some exposures and i am nervous as all get-out as to them coming out ok from filmholder - shutter release - to development. A great deal of trouble went into making these.
    I have determined that my previous failures were learning and remembering what not to do - so i keep sticking with it because when it is good it is really, really good! Stick with it. I am now up to 3 cameras that are 4x5 and have fun will all of them for various reasons.

    Good luck to you; and hope i too can post soon a good result from this weekend!
     
  11. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Yeah, it's harder to shoot large format than the smaller formats. A lot more ways to make mistakes. The digital crowd will tell you that it's harder to shoot any film than digital. I don't care. I'm not a pro getting paid for my work. I consider the challenge part of the fun! :smile:

    Welcome to APUG!
     
  12. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Develop them all, even the top one. You'll likely get many good negatives and will also know how many sheets get ruined when you open a box for a short time.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  13. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Habit is your friend with large format. At least you only had an 'incident' with 4x5! I make a point of leaving empty holders open (dark slides in the unexposed position, but the flaps open, and bagged - I once had to reset all the slides on a set of holders because I loaded them as 'exposed!') as I don't want to spend a day with supposedly loaded holders :cool: I do the same with empty film boxes - either leave them open, or tag them expressly as empty. I try to never leave the lids on my tanks sealed tight if they are empty. If you are going to have two film boxes in use in the dark (fresh and exposed), put some textured tape on the exposed film box parts so you can identify it by touch. It is usually better to make two passes - empty holders to the storage box, then reset and load with the fresh film box.

    It's a bit like driving a car. At first there are all these elements to remember, then eventually you hardly think about them.

    Have a system, and stick to it.
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi topni
    sorry to read about your mishap ..
    i don't use a changing bag so i can't say much but
    maybe next time put the box in a ziplock bag or a rubber band around
    the boxes to remind you not to open it ?
    lots of mistakes can be made with a lf camera the trick is
    just to get into a zone & practice, and eventually it all becomes muscle-memory.
    good to hear you are having fun and taking your mishap in stride, that's half the fun :smile:
    john
     
  16. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    When I started with LF I wrote down the necessary steps in sequence and followed them carefully when I went out to shoot. Pretty anal-retentive, I know, but it didn't take long before I'd learned what to do in what order. Tiny steps for tiny minds.
     
  17. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I call that smart!
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I did something similar to that. Build a habit.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Topni

    Topni Member

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    Thanks for all your responses and for your warm welcome to the community!
    I'm still working on pinning down a workflow that suits my style but I really appreciate all of your feedback! I'll be sure to share my images as soon as I get some scans.

    The financial side has definitely been something that's kept me moving slowly and precisely. But fingers crossed this mishap will remain nothing more than a one time mistake!

    Definitely would not have expected that result!

    The film I was using happened to be TMAX 100 that I bought partially used from a friend of mine, and placed them in another TMAX 100 box I managed to get my hands on. I had put the film all back in the ripped open paper/foil package that was in the box and inserted it in the inner-most part of the 3-tiered box. I'm definitely expecting some damage to the edges but was hoping the anti-halation layer would protect at least a few frames. And I most definitely taped the hell out of the box after this incident so I wouldn't open it by accident again.

    Never personally tried tray-processing film and I've heard mixed things about jobo/patterson tank processing 4x5. I was personally taught to use an open deep tank method with hangers in complete darkness. And have found no issues with this method thus far. Would love to try out a few different methods in the future!

    Best of luck to you too!

    Great metaphor and something I'm definitely still developing for myself. Thanks!
     
  20. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    No kidding! Maybe Tessar's method would make up for my scatter brain.
     
  21. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    I think many of us have been there before. I could tell you a few things that I did....Just bite the bullet and develop them. You won't make that mistake again!
     
  22. OP
    OP
    Topni

    Topni Member

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    Hey all, hate to revive an old thread but I realized I forgot to upload some same images from the film in question for those who were interested.
    The shots are ordered in the manner that I shot them but its clear the second contact sheet was from the film at the top of the stack after unloading.
    Some pretty clear fogging around the edges of almost all the frames but there are definitely some usable images here in my opinion.
    Please excuse the scratches and dust, the glass I use for contact prints is shared by students at a university and thus is well worn.

    Thanks again for all your tips and feedback, much appreciated!

    contact003low.jpg contact004low.jpg contact005low.jpg contact006low.jpg contact007low.jpg contact008low.jpg
     
  23. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Thanks for posting..ive been doing if for I've 40
    Years and still learning..its a process once you get the basics down...its all light and chemistry
    And a quite a bit of luck thrown in!!
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi topni
    really nice images ( even the light struck ones ! )
    i love serendipitous image making when mistakes
    and a cold-sweat make great alchemy.
    i hope you have fun with your 4x5 ~!
    john
     
  25. kenj8246

    kenj8246 Subscriber

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    Speaking of mistakes, this is what happens when you load a holder backwards and expose the non-emulsion side of the film. :smile:

    [​IMG]Lee County courthouse by Kenny Johnson, on Flickr

    I've never done that again. So far...

    Kenny
     
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