Photo Notes

November 12, 2012

Shooting Large Format at Indiana Landmarks


Since I’ve been writing about architectural shooting lately, I should start off by mentioning my book Photographing Architecture. Available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

Of course my other book: is also available, why not get the set?

And my classes continue at BetterPhoto.com. I’d like to meet you in class.
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting,
Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio,

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

I’ve been continuing to shoot architecture with the 8X10 camera, and I must say I am having a fabulous time doing it. I did a shoot at a building called the Indiana Landmarks Center, which was formerly the Central Avenue Methodist Church. After restoration the facility is just stunning. I did several shots with the big camera. Two of my favorites are reproduced here. These are scans of the Vandyke prints. As I mentioned in previous blog entries the reproductions are very different from original prints. I will be selling originals soon, so you’ll be able to have an original for yourself. I am going back to the Indiana landmarks Center, probably tomorrow, to do some more shooting.

I should add a few technical details, in case anybody is keeping track. Both these images were made with my widest lens: a 165mm Angulon. This lens has about an 85º angle of view, which is very wide for large format, but not quite as wide as a 20mm lens on full frame 35mm film. I’m continuing to process in a two-bath version of D-23. The first bath is 5 minutes and the second just 3 minutes. I’m pretty happy with this, but I do need to increase the exposure a little. I’m using HP-5 film from Ilford currently, but I’m looking at other options. A box of 25 sheets of 8X10 film costs almost $90, so I want to be careful about what I choose. I’m actually shooting two 4X10-inch images on a single sheet of 8X10-inch film. I use a dark slide I’ve cut in half to protect the unexposed side of the film in the camera. This works really well, but I have to be careful not to double expose.

The image on a Vandyke print is made from silver, like modern black and white photo papers. However the light sensitive coating is mixed by hand and the chemical reactions are very different from modern photo papers. The coating is then brushed onto watercolor or other fine art paper. I’ve been having some difficulty coating the paper, but I think I have it figured out now. If you’re interested in more information about hand coated papers and the chemical/mechanical history of photography you should check out The Keepers of Light by William Crawford. Since it is out of print a new copy can be quite expensive, but Amazon offers used copies at reasonable prices.

After shooting digital for the last few years it is really interesting to travel back in time to large format cameras and older printing processes. As always shooting a big camera makes me a more careful shooter when I return to shooting digital.
Please consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

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