Thursday, March 25, 2010

Four By Five

My friend Mike Wilson was recently given a Linhof 4x5" view camera by a friend who didn't want it anymore, Mike in turn gave me his well used & trusted Toyo 4x5" view camera explaining "I aint got no use for two". I was pretty excited to say the least. For those of you who don't know a 4x5" view camera is a type of of camera that uses either negative or positive film that is 4x5 inches in size (as opposed to traditional 35mm which is 24x36mm), now what that means is that when it comes time to print you get pristine detail & clarity because you have more detail in the film to work with and therefore there is less enlargement required. Not only that, but you are also able to control perspective and manage focus areas extremely well due to the cameras ability to tilt, swing and shift its focal planes. Many of the photographers I admire shot/shoot with the medium (at lease partially) Ansel Adams, Stephen Shore, Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall to name a few.

 - Various photographic film formats

Shooting on large format camera does have its challenges, you have to load each frame by hand in the darkroom. Everything you shoot is flipped and reversed on your focus screen. You have to use a tripod which rules out any "off the hip" shots. Its heavy & cumbersome to carry around as well as being slow to set up and focus. Its one shot at a time with a limit of 6 frames in a day (I only have 3 film holders). You also end up looking like a time traveler from the 1940's with massive old school camera perched on a tall silver tripod, your head tucked under a black cloth trying to get composed & focused. I love it!

- Oasis Car Wash, North Vancouver, 2010 (poorly re-photographed negative)

After testing my film holders for light leakage I set out to make my first picture. I used to live near the Oasis Car Wash in North Vancouver and I always wanted to do a shot there. Its reminds me of a golden age when having clean, shiny well polished car was of paramount importance to you status in society. The place doesn't seem to have changed that much over the years, it still very much has an art deco aesthetic to it with its palm trees and employees dressed in matching orange suits. It is still considered one of the best places to get your car washed and polished in the city, often with line ups stretching ten to fifteen cars long. As I arrived at the car wash I noticed an interesting looking Chevrolet for sale in the parking lot. It took me about ten minutes to set up (mostly because I was testing out the various camera movements available plus the reverse/flipped image is tricky to get used to). After double checking my focus and carefully draping a black cloth over the aging bellows, I slid in the film holder, set & cocked the lens and removed the dark slide. After pausing for a second or two waiting for a car to pass I made an exposure of f/6.3 @ 1/500th of a second on Ilford FP4 125 film (processed in Kodak T-Max 1+4 @ 20 degrees C).What you see below is the negative I re-photographed and converted to a positive in photoshop (not printed in the darkroom. So the quality isn't that great but least to get to see it.

- My 4x5" Toyo View Camera with an old school Seiko/Congo 150mm f/6,3 Lens (Thanks Mike)

The End.

1 comment:

Vast Avenger said...

Wicked Shaun! I wanna take a shot or two with it.