/View Camera Photography

View Camera Photography

Wooden view camera in field.
Zone VI 4×5 view camera with 240mm Fujinon lens.

After a long hiatus from shooting film I’ve put my Zone VI 4×5 view camera back into service for a new project.  It’s too early to describe what I’m working on other that to say trees may be involved.   Just not sure of much other than I’ll be focusing on view camera photography.

View camera photography is a departure from the process involved in making digital photographs for Scooter in the Sticks.  The pictures I make while riding generally are completed in less than a minute.  Often in seconds.  The small digital camera can be put into action quickly due to it’s size, weight and how it functions. 

The view camera is a different story.  It’s slow to use, cumbersome to carry, and resists speed and haste.  Those characteristics are exactly why I chose to use it.  Often, in discussions of the relative merits of digital versus film photography, I hear people express that there’s no need to go through the trouble of film when digital can make the exact same print.  While I agree with that statement that a similar print can be made, my feeling is that without that slow deliberate process, I never would have arrived at the image using digital equipment.

The process of production affects what I feel and see, and ultimate affects the image I create. 

For the near future, I’ll be working with the view camera.

4x5 negatives hanging to dry
4×5 TXP320 black and white film negatives hanging to dry.

4×5 Film Negatives

This week I’ve shot and processed eight sheets of Kodak TXP film.  The developer of choice is HC110 Dilution B and using a Stearman SP-445 Compact 4×5 film processing tank.  The developer is simple to mix and use and the tank allows for daylight processing once the film has been loaded into the tank in the dark.  So far it’s working well.

Darkroom sink with stainless steel trays
Darkroom trays filled with chemicals and ready to produce contact sheets and prints.

Printing in the Darkroom

Working in the darkroom has been a series of fits and starts.  I’ve lost the routines from mixing chemicals to working in the dark.  It’s coming back but slowly.  For now, I need to make sure I close the paper safe before turning the lights on.  Or remembering a 1:2 mixing ratio for Dektol developer means one part developer and two parts water and not, as I did, the other way round.

Working in a darkroom is a physical act compared to digital post production.  And it demands patience.  Time and temperature are dominant factors.  Sitting in the darkroom is quiet and allows time for a lot of thinking.  I’ve resisted playing music or the radio while working just so I’m forced to stick with the thoughts in my head.

Black and white print in processing tray.
8×10 contact sheet with two 4×5 images.

Making Prints

It’s been satisfying to see images emerge from the chemical soup.  The same feelings I had when I first started printing so many years ago.  This first batch of contact prints were made on some leftover Ilford Multigrade RC paper that is fine for contacts but is showing some edge yellowing that makes it dubious for anything else.  

I have a hundred sheets of fiber-based paper that I want to use up.  Hopefully it will be in good shape.

As I continue to shoot and produce contacts and prints, I’ll determine a way to share some of the project here.  Between scooter pictures.