Monday, April 09, 2007

View camera news

I took my first view camera shot! Sort of a comedy of errors, really - the Polaroid Type 55 didn't come with instructions (found them later on the corporate website) but I had the directions for the 545 holder and that was nearly enough information. It took two tries but I got a plausible positive and negative out of it - man, those negatives are huge. One problem was that the holder hadn't been used in a long time and was sticking - but by the time I realized I needed to pull things apart a bit and clean it I'd ruined one sheet.

I did a terrible job clearing it - you need to soak the negative in a sodium sulfite solution. I actually use a dilute one to clear platinum prints, but couldn't find my fresh container and of course was in a rush to try it so I made up a dilute solution out of what I had. And of course while handling it I managed to scratch the negative - it's super soft while it's fresh like that and you have to be more careful than I realized. Which is, of course, clearly stated in the manual that I was missing.

That's fine - you want all this kind of stuff to happen right away. It was just a picture of the grill I always use for test shots anyway. And the bottom line is - the camera works, the exposure was decent, the rangefinder and groundglass seem to be in sync, I got a little experience with the mechanics of using the camera, and I know some things to watch out for. Sometime this week when I have a free day I'll take the camera to the local campus, take a couple of shots (Hey, they're $5 each), make up a proper clearing solution, etc. etc.

I also have a roll film back on the way - my intent is to mostly shoot with that a bit until I have more experience with the camera, and then go back to 4x5. I'll probably stick with Polaroid Type 55 until they discontinue it or I get more space for a proper darkroom - it's a high quality negative, and I'm not really set up to develop sheet film. My lab will develop it, but if I use quickloads or readyloads and then pay $3.50/sheet for developing it's actually more expensive than the Polaroid!

Update: OK, just for sake of completeness I scanned the print. Even the print has lots of detail - you can zoom on in and there's lots there. Nothing like the negative, of course, but I'm not really set up to scan those right now. (Initially I'll just be making contact prints in platinum off of them.)

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