Tag Archives: Photo Techniques

Evening with Large Format Cameras (1) – Work without compensation

I went out shooting with oopoomoo (Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett) and Janice Meyers Foreman in May. We chose Cohcrane Ranche Historic site as a location. The rule of the photography outing was using only film cameras, especially large format or medium format cameras. Sam, Janice and I brought 4 by 5 large format cameras and Darwin shot with his Lenny, Linhof Technorama, which is medium format panorama camera. I think 6 frames can be shot with this camera. Actually Janice was large-format-camera virgin before this outing. Digital is convenient; we can take as many frames we want, and we can check results instantly. But I still use my 4 by 5 camera occasionally for some reasons, especially I like the “rituals” I have to follow by the time I release a shutter. Let me show you how Janice handled the rituals for her first time.

Shooting with 4×5 camera starts from assembling a camera. A steady tripod is essential. Janice’s tripod is like machine-gun stand.

Composing and focusing are usually done under dark-cloth. Photographers have to compose with the image projected on ground glass (upside down) and focus with a loupe.  You can easily imagine how difficult to compose an upside down image. One reason I still use a large format camera is I can utilize various bellows (or tilt and shift) techniques. I am sure some readers know about Canon TS lenses or Nikon PC lenses. Large format cameras are perfect tool to get the same effect since the primitive large format cameras allow more free movements of not only lens side but also film side. Please take a look my previuos post Panorama by 4×5 camera. Having said that, I guess tilt –shift lens for DSLR would be more practical in the digital age. I would recommend Darwin’s eBook “Tilt-Shift Lens” if you would like to know about the bellows techniques.

Now she is setting aperture and shutter speed after measuring exposure by a “lightmeter”. obviously, Ansel Adams did not know TTL or aperture priority. Then close the shutter.

Sheet film is kept in a film holder which is tightly shielded to prevent the film from exposing to light. She is inserting the film holder to film board of the camera. One advantage of the large format camera is you can choose any types of film at each shot. Janice tried Polaroid as a test shot.

Now remove a lid from the film holder. Now ready to expose the film.

Now she is releasing shutter. I use the lid of the film holder to make shade on the lens while exposing film. It works as lens hood.

Reinserting the lid to the film holder. The test shot is done.

While she was waiting for the Polaroid to be developed, she was snapping with her 5D Mk II. Hey, it was supposed to be film evening!

She was happy with result of the test shot. Now she is trying slide film. I did not capturing perfect moment but she was covering the lens with the lid and blocking direct sun light to the lens.

After 1 hour of struggle, her first 4×5 shot was done. 1 hour seems long but even I spend usually 15-20 min for one shot. So it is not so bad for the first time. It requires a lot of practices for sure. However, I actually like the primitive manner of the large format cameras. I don’t have to read a half-inch thick manual and memorize all functions. I do not have to worry about a compensation for auto functions.

Well, the sun quickly disappeared and I could take a couple of shots for that evening. I will post Janice’s and my results in the next blog post. Lastly, here is group shot at the end of the evening.


Calgary stampede – Chuck wagon race

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a chance to visit backstage of Calgary Stampede. I could see chuck wagon race at close range and I tried to capture the powerful horses running hard and working together.

My camera gear was my everyday set, a rangefinder camera and I used 135mm and 90mm this time…No auto-focus nor huge 300mm 2.8 lens.  Elamrit 135mm is quite sharp even though the lens was designed 35 years ago. I often think what the evolution of camera technology for these 20 years is. I started shooting with shutter-speed fairly first, 1/250 sec.

Chuck wagon race 2012 -1 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K) on 500px.com
Chuck wagon race 2012 -1 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

I do not shoot sports photography so I thought this was a good opportunity to practice panning. It was pretty difficult to get idea how first I should move my camera to follow the horses running first. I tried the shutter-speed 1/15.

Chuck wagon race 2012 -3 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K) on 500px.com
Chuck wagon race 2012 -3 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

Chuck wagon race 2012 -4 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K) on 500px.com
Chuck wagon race 2012 -4 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

The impression of the image is completely different from the first one. I got some ethereal images with 1/15. But it was a little too blur so I tried 1/30 and changed lens to 90mm. I think this image is dynamic enough and not too artistic as the 2nd one.

Chuck wagon race 2012 -5 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K) on 500px.com
Chuck wagon race 2012 -5 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

Please click the images for larger sizes.

Longer than usual – LEE Big Stopper

This time is a kind of the sequel from the last post.  I always take my smart-phone to back county. Not for phone calls obviously, because it is handy when I use LEE – Big Stopper filter. Big Stopper is 10 stop neutral density filter. 3 or 4 steps are commonly used to slow down shutter speed. But it is 10 stops; you can achieve minutes of exposure time! Here is the easy calculation for exposure time.

  • 10 stops is the tenth power of 2 = 1024.
  • So “Exposure time (sec) without Big Stopper” x 1024 = Exposure time with Big stopper.

For example, You have 1/125 of shutter speed before setting up Big Stopper, the final one will be (1/125)x1024=8.192 (sec). When you have 2 sec of shutter speed initially, you will have 2(sec) x 1024=2048(sec), 2048(sec)/60=34.13(min). Savvy! Now I set a timer and read an eBook. That is why I need a smart-phone all the time for the calculation, timer and eBook. One tip is, when you shoot with auto-exposure and Big Stopper is attached to a lens, you may need to compensate exposure to +1.5 to 2.0.

Melancholic - Bow Lake, Alberta

This photo was posted in my last blog post. The Bow lake in Alberta looks really calm in this picture. But in reality, the day was pretty windy and  it looked like the picture below. The 45 sec of exposure totally calmed waves on the lake. Big Stopper adds a tinge of cyan; this may be problematic for some photographers. But I like the cool tone, which often adds ethereal feel to the image.

Here is other examples, shutter speed 30 sec and the bottom one is 3 min.

Kananaskis big sky

Lastly, I should be honest and share my inspiration of the long exposure. Please check out amazing, Michael Levin. Since I saw his works 2 years ago, they have been big influence on my images.