Large Format Diary
Some more images and thoughts.
Here are a few more images taken in the last couple of weeks, on a mixture of Velvia and Provia (in fact, all Provia except the bluebells woodland shot). The Provia really is the go-to film when the light drops, since the reciprocity failure times really add up massively with either Velvia 50 or Ilford Delta 100.
Shots taken in Bernwood Forest, at Broughton Church, and at Hook Norton, three go-to locations for me in (what I consider for landscape work) a relatively barren surrounding in north Oxfordshire. These include, at the end, my first vaguely proper landscape shot on large format colour film, which I think we can all agree is pretty terrible. I shot this at 210mm without any grads, just to see what would happen. The result tells me that I should use grads even when the sky appears to be not too bright! I’ve no idea what my exposure reading was telling me, but this is just wrong. I’ve acquired a set of Lee hard grads, but haven’t used them as yet. But I will need to get practicing if I’m going to spend some time in Scotland later in the year, especially if I’m planning to expose lots of colour slide film.
Hope you like: they’re in some ways better than I expected. Another thing my recent experience as proven to me is that shooting 5×4 macro is difficult, even for setting up compositions(!)
I’m still very much set on continuing with large format work, so long as I can keep stocked up on colour slide film (not running low quite yet, but may have to put in another order from Japan for Velvia quite soon). What I am continuing to think about is what else I can do to complement the 5×4 setup. It’s great for 5×4, 1×1, and 5×7 ratios, but anything wider than that is a bit of a waste of the film area. Currently either in my Lowepro Whistler bag or attached to it in a ThinkTank skin pouch I often carry my Canon A-1 film camera and my Nikon D800E with 85PC-E. But I haven’t used the Canon in a while since my two zoom lenses for it are pretty soft; while I use the Nikon for macro, I’m increasingly less likely now to use it for shots that I can take on large format; any setup or scouting compositions are usually now made with my iPhone 6 plus using the Artist’s viewfinder app.
One of Ben Horne’s videos I often return to makes me think of a pano setup: Day 4 of his 2012 California White Mountains trip (you may have to scroll through to get to it).
Just an amazing video, isn’t it? Inspirational for the wonderful GX617 shot at the end. I think a large pano camera of this sort would be nice complement to my 5×4 setup, though I guess it would need a bag of its own. I think I understand why Ben let it go given his focus on 8×10. But either this camera or maybe a Hasselblad XPan would be nice. Xpans should only 35mm film and tend to be about as expensive in good second-hand condition as the 120-film Fujis. Something to mull over next year, especially if I happen to be in Japan en route to a visit to my brother in New Zealand…
GX617 with 105mm lens (the option I’d want given it’s the closest focusing among the lens options available):
Total weight: 2.3kg without film
Canon A-1 with 35–70 zoom: ±850g
Nikon D800E with 85PC-E: ±1.65kg
Total weight: 2.5kg
Hasselblad XPan II with 90mm lens: about 1.1kg
XPan is smaller and lighter, but won’t provide as much detail in the images. Also a more complex camera, when one of the qualities I’m enjoying about film is the simplicity of the process once you get your head around it. The GX617 is such an odd shape with lens attached that you’d either need to keep it in a bag with the lens off, or find an innovative way to carry it with lens attached to minimize wasted space.
I agree with the commentary of Joe Cornish and Tim Parkin in Onlandscape recently, that modern digital camera makers have a long way to go to satisfy users with the full range of traditional aspect rations.