April 2016 had been the most productive month for lotophotos. Here are some large format portraits done for my visitors this month.
First one is Joseph Wei, a drummer and music producer from Hong Kong. The photo is taken inside a studio (with multiple flashes) from Kodak 2d 8×10 camera + Fujinon 250mm f6.3 lens + Kodak B/RA x-ray film.
The second one is of Michael Ho taken with Graflex Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens + Expired (1993) Kodak Plus-X Pan 4×5 film. The Kodak aero ektar lens is always my preferred lens for 4×5 portraits. I am also happy that the very expired plus-x film still very useable despite metering it at ISO 50 (instead of the stock 125).
The following one is of Richard Fung in deep thought. Also shot with Graflex Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens + Expired (1993) Kodak Plus-X Pan 4×5 film.
My friend Pouya Ashtiani models for the next shot. He was enjoying the warm San Francisco weather in this photo shot from Graflex Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens + Kodak Plus-X Pan film.
Graflex Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 + Kodak Plus-X Pan film
The last set is from the lovely couple Marko Kudjerski and Yandra Lluch. These polaroids were taken from Graflex Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 lens + one big 1000 LED panel as light source.
Here are the portraits taken from April 2016 and I hope the models are as happy with the images as I was!
Two weeks ago, I took the Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic for a spin in the Gold Coast. It was a bright sunny day and I thought would be perfect to try out the machine with some el cheapo Shanghai film. Pointing towards the hotel as shown below, I was shooting at f11, 1/50. From my experience with the Polaroid 800, these Shanghai 4×5 film is light hungry. Even though it’s rated at iso 100, you have to compensate this by at least one click (shoot this at iso 50). Most cases, I even have to shoot at iso 25 for low light conditions. I got the most success when I compensate this by 1.5 clicks.
This unit is from 1955 and the ground glass is full of dirt. Right in the middle of the glass, the fresnel is coming off. I need to take the ground glass out and have a good cleaning of it and maybe replacing this. I didn’t have a focusing cloth and I just used my dark bag which worked ok. It was tough to focus in the 35C weather and the sun shining right at you. On top of that, you have to bandage your head with the focusing cloth. I should look at an angled viewfinder! The Graflok worked perfectly and so did the Grafmatic film holder.
After the shoot, I quickly developed the film at home with my Paterson system 4 tank which came with my Paterson Colourtherm machine. It was a really hot day and the water was at 28C. I developed the Shanghai film with Kodak HC110 dilution H in 14mins and Kodak Rapid Fix for another 4mins. I scanned the photo with my Epson V700.
When I looked at the negatives, it was fine. When I scanned it, I looked at the top part and I was like, it looks a lot more cloudy than it should? It was a bright sunny day. Looking closely I can see water bubbles! This was the first time I developed 4×5 with the taco method in the Paterson tank. The Paterson tank top is slanted, which allowed some movement of the 4×5 while developing. The AP tank that I used before, the top part was relatively flat and it was fine. Next time if I am using the Paterson tank, I have to use 900mL of solution rather than 650mL. It’s these unexpected “boo-boo”s that makes analog film interesting. The photo really has a vintage feel to it. I look forward to another shoot soon!
After some practice with the Polaroid Land 800, I was at a point of no return. I finally drown myself in the Large Format world. After seeing some photos from the Kodak Aero Ektar lens, I have decided to get a Graflex Speed Graphic. A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to acquire a 1955 Graflex Speed Graphic from the US. In the original box of goodies, from the expired pack film inside, it seems like the machine had not been used since 1967.
The machine was in mint condition and was definitely taken care of. From the warranty card inside, I traced back to the original owner named Charles H Marshall, whom purchased this from McCurry Foto Co in Sacramento, CA.
Prior of receiving this brick, I purchased a Polaroid back which was proven to be super handy for testing out this beast. When I was back in Toronto early this year, I attended the yearly auction from the Photographic Historical Society of Canada. There, I picked up three Grafmatic sheet film holder for a great bargain!
When the camera arrived, I was faced with another issue, a super solid tripod for focus and film pack insertion. The Speed Graphic, I weighted it on the scale to be 3kg. The film back adding another 0.5kg. The Kodak Aero Ektar lens (which will arrive soon!) coming in at 1.5kg. This totals to 5kg. My old Manfrotto tripod can only support 2.5kg and a new tripod has to be purchased before I can go out and shoot! After some research, Gitzo is out since what I needed cost around $7k HKD. My beloved Manfrotto was also out since it will cost around $5k HKD. I am not too kind to my tripods and I can’t justify spending so much on it. Finally I settled on the Benro C-2570T + B-2 head. The tripod itself only has three sections and can support up to 12kg. The B-2 head supports 20kg. This combination is rock solid and the carbon fiber tripod only weight in at roughly 2kg.
I need a cloth for focusing badly in bright outdoors. I substituted that with my film dark bag for the time being.