Big Eye Gets 4x10

I had thought up an idea of modifying a dark slide to allow me to make two 4x10 panoramas on a single sheet of 8x10 film. I found this is not a new idea. It is referred to as an L-shaped dark slide. I cut it using a utility knife. It is shown below.

L-shaped Darkslide

First the scene is composed on the ground glass to fit either the upper or lower half of the ground glass. The L-shaped darkslide is inserted after you remove the normal dark slide before the shutter is opened. Slide the L-shaped dark slide in to cover the opposite half that was composed on the ground glass. Snap the photo then remove the L-shaped dark slide  and insert the normal full sized darkslide. The tricky part is remembering which half has been exposed.

I took it out today to try it and got a couple of photos. The best one here. Contact printed on a half sheet of 8x10 Ilford MGIV Deluxe RC paper.
4x10 Print (note geese in lower left corner)
Here is an 8x10 of essentially the same scene for reference.
8x10 version of same view.


Still Life with Big Guy and Fomapan 100

Some more experiments and photos with the Big Eye (Big Guy) . Again on Fomapan 100. I don't really have the means to lug the camera about yet so having found Jim Galli's website he does some simple still life images which I find inspiring to give it a try.

The first is a small bronze horse statue on a table. I lit it with room light which was a mix of artificial and natural light. Basically I turned on the lights and opened the drapes! I metered it at ASA 80 and f8 at 4". For Fomapan the Reciprocity failure is very high. See the table below.

Reciprocity Failure for Fomapan 100
For 1-10 seconds I need to multiply the exposure by 2 so that makes it 8 seconds at f8. I developed it again in HC-110 this time I moved from 6 ml to 5 ml as there are different opinions on the amount of HC-110 required to develop a sheet of film. I mixed this at the same ratio as before (1+63) and so added 320 ml of water.  The development time was 8:06 minutes. This is the resulting negative.
Negative at f8 8 second exposure ASA80
Very good I think not too contrasty. Printing I started with test strips at f16 and an enlarger height of 31cm. These again are contact prints. I tried just the #5 filter at 23 seconds first. The contrast is strong and works and most of the carving detail on the horse is clear. The blacks are deep.
Chinese Horse f16 #5 23 sec #0 0 sec
I made a number of other prints and was most satisfied with this one. A more gentle tonal range though the scan does not do it justice..
Chinese Horse f16 #5 16 sec #0 8 sec
Again the depth of field is very small. At f8 and 3 ft from the subject it is 4/10ths of an inch in front and 4/10ths of an inch behind the subject. Hence the right front foot is out of focus. There is an aberration in my printing process however. Below the horse's rear leg is a white spot also on the left side of the paper and one or two harder to see areas. These are not present on the negative and not on the glass I use to make contact prints. They are seen consistently on all prints even with different negatives. The must be some kind of internal reflection. More investigation required.
Update: Further investigation shows some dust in the empty negative carrier. I thought I raised the enlarger head high enough to make the dust diffuse. Clearly not the case.I discovered it my placing a white card under the enlarger and moving it slowly towards the lens. Soon the dust came into focus and was more obvious.

The next photo is Cow Kachina. Unfortunately the camera shifted, perhaps during removal of  the dark slide so composition is poor and  crops the top of the Kachina and is off center. I also had to move  the camera back about 6 inches. This photo I shot at ASA 80 f22 which metered at 30". The Fomapan 100 reciprocity chart indicates 8x so 4 minutes. I ran the same developer (HC-110 5+320) but went back to the original Massive Dev Chart time of 9:00 minutes. I did this to see if the reduced developer content made a difference.
Cow Kachina Negative at f22 4 minute exposure ASA80
The negative shows denser with the extra development. I then printed exactly as my best Chinese Horse print.
Cow Kachina f16 #5 16 sec #0 8 sec
Under exposed now due to longer development time. Next one is more like it.
Cow Kachina f16 #5 23 sec #0 11 sec
The depth of field is somewhat better but still only +/- 2.5 inch. The result of more development time was a negative with higher contrast I will go back to my old time of 8:06 minutes.


The Big Eye Camera:Testing with Negatives

Previous posts showed how I built and tested my 8x10 camera. Ugly but it so far works quite well. I have more work planned for it (blackening the interior, adding a landscape mounting, shutter etc) For now I wanted to try real film. As mentioned before 8x10 film is expensive which is why people often use paper negatives or ortho lith film for economy. Silverprint had some Fomapan 100 8x10 on sale so I got a pack of 50 sheets.

Fomapan is popular because it is so economical. It has trouble with being contrasty and it has very high reciprocity failure so is difficult for long exposures. Many people like it in fact and I have learned recently how to tame contrast in film.

I took two photos in my back garden. The first I focused on the chair back and the second the brick wall. I wanted to see about depth of field. I metered the scene at ASA 80 to help with the contrast I would give a slight over exposure and then under-develop the film. Both shots were the same exposure 1/2 sec at f45. I don't have a shutter so again I used the lens cap. This is very inaccurate at this speed.

To develop them I put the negatives one at a time into a Ilford Cibachrome developing drum I bought online. They can be found cheap and will take an 8x10 sheet of paper or film. After the film is loaded and the lid screwed back on the lights can come on for the development process. This style of drum has one problem to be aware of. It is made to work with only 3 oz of chemistry. This means that if you add more the chemicals may leak out of the grey cap which has a hole in the top. I remedy this by putting a piece of tape over the hole.

I decided to us HC-110 developer because I have it and it has some effective high dilution recipes. I looked in Massive Dev Chart and adopted a Fomapan 100/HC-110 recipe. The dilution was dilution H which is 1+63. HC-110 needs about 5-6ml for a sheet of 8x10 film. (6ml developer and 279ml of water.) It called for 9:00 minute development time. I deducted 10% to get 8:06 development time. I was concerned that because the drum must be continuously agitated to cover the negative evenly that this would increase the contrast unacceptably. The result was however good. A scan below attempts to show the density of the negative.
Garden Wall #1 f45 1/2 sec ASA 80
I then went to contact print the negative. I ran the usual test strips under my enlarger light at f16 and an enlarger height of 31 cm with my 150 watt enlarger lamp. My first print was straight #5 filter for max contrast.
Garden Wall #1 #5 54 sec #0 0 sec f16

Looks pretty good. I like the range of textures and shading. I also tried for a lower contrast
Garden Wall #1 #5 23 sec #0 23 sec f16
 A different look.

I then printed the second negative. At first I tried the same straight #5 filter at 54 seconds like the first assuming the exposure was the same. This came out very under exposed,
Garden Wall #2 #5 54 sec #0 0 sec f16
 The negative was quite a bit denser. Not sure if the light changed or if I kept the lens cap off slightly more. So I went up 1/2 a stop and got something closer to my liking.
Garden Wall #2 #5 76 sec #0 0 sec f16
Looking at zoomed images (800dpi) of the two prints reveals their relative depth of field and focus. The chair was about 10 feet away from the camera the wall another 10ft further. A 300mm lens at f45 focused at 10ft gives a little over 4 ft behind the subject and a little over 2 feet in front of the subject.
Garden Wall #1 zoom

Garden Wall #2 zoom
It is interesting to compare this giant negative to the smallest I have. Here is an 8x10 vs a 16mm scan. the small rectangle on the upper left is the 16mm negative.
8x10 vs 16mm negative
These are two similar crops from 8x10 and 16mm negatives of the same subject, both at 800 dpi. The difference is the distance.

Crop from 8x10 at 20ft

Crop from 16mm at 3ft


Paper Negatives Revisited

I first explored paper negatives when I wanted to print a color slide and needed to create an inter-negative in this post. I have since made an 8x10 large format camera and made paper negatives to test it.  Andrew Sanderson at thewebdarkroom has written a nice treatise on the paper negative and I highly recommend buying it. It is available on Blurb.

Andrew's book introduced me to new ideas about paper negatives. Surprisingly for me he moves beyond contact prints and suggests loading paper in a medium format or 35mm camera. This can then be put in an enlarger. The result while not as crisp as a film negative has its own quality that he shows suits some subjects. I was inspired to try this out. Some time ago I found a good price on ebay for a rolleiflex/cord back that takes dark slide glass plate holders along with 4 plate holders. At the time the price was negligible and I  thought it might come in useful if I got into making glass plates.

It sat in the shelf for some time but I thought this the perfect venue to trying out paper negatives.
Rollei Plate holder system
It fits both my Rolleicord and surprisingly my Yashica MAT124-G. Each plate holder holds a 6x9cm glass plate but only a 6x6 image is exposed. It is a simple matter to cut your photo paper to fit the glass plate slot. I use the dimensions of 6.2x8.7cm. The plate holder has a clever spring loaded element to help with loading and once in place and the darkslide removed to press it against the film plane. Andrew speaks of the difficulty of loading individual paper pieces in to a camera in a dark bag in order to take each photo. With these holders one can take a number for photos before digging around in in a dark bag.

I cut up some old Fohar paper for use in this. This version is called 'raster' as it has unique dimpling pattern and I can only think it was inspired by television at the time. I write a little about it here. I chose Fohar because 1) I have a lot of it, 2) Andrew mentions that different papers given different effects, 3) it is 13cmx18cm meaning I can get exactly 4 pieces from one sheet.

I ran some bracketed exposures on the paper. I assumed ASA 3 which is the lowest setting on my meter and exposed there, one stopover and one stop under. It was a bright though cloudy day. At f11 I ended up at 1 sec, 1/2 sec, and 1/5th sec exposures.

These are the three negatives I got. If you look carefully your can see the 'raster' pattern in the paper.
f11 1/5 sec

f11 1/2 sec

f11 1sec
I printed the f11 1/2 sec version as it had the most detail. And this is where the process got difficult for me. The image is quite dim as the enlarger lamp has to penetrate the double weight paper. (Single weight paper is not made any more.) I opened the lens up to f4 and my enlarger is sporting a 150W lamp instead of the default 75 watt lamp. I could compose and focus only under complete darkness.

Next I made test strips. I wanted to stop the lens down a bit so the focus would be sharp. I chose f8. This resulted in no image on the #5 strip even at 64 seconds. A faint image appeared on the #0 filter at 45 and 64 seconds. I next ran strips at f4. A good range on the #0 filter but nothing on the #5 filter. (The #5 filter blocks an addition 1 stop of light compared to #0.) I next ran a #5 test strip in 64 second intervals (64, 128, 192, 256). I finally got images at 192 and 256.

I set up the print at #5 215 seconds (1/2 stop between 128 and 256 seconds) and #0 at 32 seconds.

The result is below,
8x8" Print on Ilford MGIV
The rater pattern is more pronounced. Also the image away from the center is not in focus. I attribute this mostly to the softness of the lens at f4. It is possible that the paper was not flat in the negative holder but it is a glass negative holder and as such clamps the paper strongly. The paper negative is very blue sensitive so the sky is blown in a way that orthochromatic film gives. Curiously though the brick path is reddish-orange and I expected it to show as black.

I may persist in this approach. I was disappointed though. The difficulty of long exposure in the darkroom makes the technique a little tedious. The result is not really to my liking . I have to say the little paper negative is a gem to hold.


Galaxy Direct Positive

I had joined the original Galaxy Kickstarter campaign for direct positive paper and bought a pack of 8x10 paper. I generally support new film activities (for instance I also support the Ferrania Film Project as well.)

It turns out Galaxy convinced Slavich to repackage their photo-booth paper into larger formats and perhaps reformulated the reversal chemistry. As annoying as the website is I think it is all to the good that they are generating interest and support in traditional photography.

The biggest complaint I have is there is very little technical information about the product and as such one is reliant on their chemistry which is fine but never seems to be in stock at least in the UK. (This seems due to some restrictions on shipping some of the chemicals in Europe.)

Having a 8x10 large format camera now I want to use the paper so I suppose I need to create my own reversal chemistry.

Reversal is a clever process used in slide film and black and white and colour movie stock. It consists of a normal exposure and development. Next a bleach (non-halation) is performed to strip away the developed silver. What is left is undeveloped silver with a density that varies inversely with the amount that was stripped away. Previously dense areas leave thin silver and vice versus. Next the film is re-exposed and then redeveloped. Done right one gets a positive image with good contrast and tonal range.

Of course one can see getting the correct amount of silver to remain behind and the re-exposure done properly introduces a lot of sensitivity to the process.

I researched what I could based on Potassium Permanganate bleach. Dichromate seems much more popular but I have none the consequence of having already sided with the less toxic Potassium Permanganate. (A debate has raged on forums about the relatives dangers.) I had to researched formulas and settled on one from Liam Lawless and Ed Buffaloe who are referenced a lot for reversal processing.

  • Permanganate Stock
    • 25g Potassium Permanganate
    • Water to make 500mL
  • Sulphuric Acid Stock
    • 25mL Concentrated Sulfuric Acid
    • 475mL water
Some Warnings on above   Potassium permanganate is an oxidizer and therefore a fire hazard.  Dispose of carefully.  Dry crystals and concentrated solutions are caustic.  Do not breathe dust or fumes.  Handle with gloves.
       Concentrated sulphuric acid must always be added to water slowly, never water to acid.  This chemical is highly corrosive and may cause severe burns if it comes in contact with skin or mucous membranes.  Wear eye protection at all times and handle with extreme caution.  Do not breathe fumes.  
I then make a working solution at 1+9 by adding 50mL of Permanganate Stock with 50mL Sulphuric Acid stock and 900 mL of water.

A clearing bath is needed after the bleach to remove the bleach by products. There a few of these. I opted for Sodium Sulfite (Sodium Metabisulphite is popular) as I had some of this as well. I hunted around and found a simple formula

  • Clearing Solution
    • 10mg Sodium Sulphite
    • Water to make 1L
What I learned however is it doesn't work. I found this thread that indicates it needs to be acidic. I then would use 200ml clearing solution (100ml is supposed to be sufficient) per print and added some stop bath (acid) at 50ml of 1+9 stop bath. This is single use for me.

A day's experimentation gave me results but I needed to make sure the paper was initially exposed at ASA 16. I tried bracketing around the box rated 120 ASA but everything turned mostly black with a faint image (after reversal). I reasoned I need more exposed silver to bleach out hence more exposure. I also needed to be careful even then with flashing the paper after bleaching. Initially I would turn the room lights on  during the clearing phase and afterwards. This overexposed the remaining silver making the image very dark. I ended up gradually flashing the paper as it developed in the developer. Once this is dialed in I think consistent prints could be made. 

Another thing to note is a dim red safe light was invaluable and I found sparing use of it did not fog the paper despite the paper's speed. 

Finally I guess there are some substantially different aspects of the Galaxy chemistry that make the results easier to get consistent and resolve the difference in speed I experienced. I know they chemically fog the paper (sepia toner?) to eliminate the difficult light flashing. This may be setup to yield the higher paper speed as perhaps it exhausts the fogging agent and has developer and fixer included in the same bath. (There are only four baths apparently.)

So my steps I ended up with were. 
  • Expose paper at ASA 16
  • Develop Ilford Universal PQ 1+9 2 minutes (1 minute is probably sufficient but I want all exposed silver developed) 
  • Water stop bath 1 minute (could be acid but I lacked room for the tray and you would want to wash after acid stop anyway.) 
  • Bleach (as above) 1 minute. A faint image is still visible, not to worry the clearing bath will remove what is left. 
  • Wash 30 sec
  • Clearing 2 minutes (or until clear by inspection under dim red light)
  • Wash 30 sec
  • Flash (tricky part as my light and timings are not calibrated.)
  • Redevelop 2 minutes Ilford Universal PQ
  • Fix! 1 minute rapid fixer
  • Rinse 5 minutes. 
  • Dry

The results of tests below... 
ASA 16 flashed with lights on during clearing and developing
ASA 16 flashed with room lights for 7 seconds during developing
ASA 16 flashed with enlarger for 8 seconds during developing
The final image is pretty good. It lacks some contrast however. Besides I ran out of time by the time I finished it. 


Kodak XX Film for the Minolta 16mm spy Camera

After a failed attempt to use old Russian 16mm film I decided to get new stock and after perusing ebay and reading up on B+W film the obvious choice was Kodak XX (Double X) 7222 16mm movie film. It  is a proper negative film and has a fan base that admires its speed (200 in Tungsten and 250 in daylight) even tones and low grain. 100 ft (a lifetime supply for my purposes, About 1300 photos.) set me back £42. The subclub has tons of resources for these small cameras. The loading for Minolta cartridges is covered here.

I loaded about 8 inches into one of my film cartridges and took some quick test photos with my Minolta 16PS. I shot the photos at ASA 200. I developed the film according to Massive Dev chart in my normal film developer Ilford LC29. The timing for this development was for ASA 250. For properly metered shots the negatives came out well balanced.

Scanning 16mm is difficult as I don't have a proper holder and I could not locate the small glass plate i use for this. Both images look soft though scanned at 6400 dpi, the first is probably and the closeup limit of the camera but I suspect the negative was also not laying flat on the scanner.

Scanned negative inverted and level adjusted. 

Scanned negative inverted and level adjusted. 
I then set about making prints to better evaluate the focus and grain. I print these on half sheets of 8x10 paper (8x5) which gives a nice border.

Ilford MGIV Print f8 #5 32 sec #0 16 sec
Ilford MGIV Print f8 #5 32 sec #0 22 sec
These still look soft in terms of focus. The next set with the trellis are very sharp confirming my suspicions. The first is high contrast filter only which emphasizes the grain.
Ilford MGIV Print f8 #5 53 sec
Ilford MGIV Print f8 #5 32 sec #0 16 sec
The second version mixes some low contrast filtration for a smoother range of tones. These negatives are 10x14mm so very small hence the obvious grain. Below is a zoom on a portion of the first trellis photo with the high contrast filtration.
Zoom to show grain
In conclusion I think the film works well. Enlarged to this size on 8x5" paper with a 6"x4" image makes for a really nice print.

The Big Eye: Portrait Test

I wanted to run some more tests and settled on a portrait (myself) for a subject. I set up the Big Eye in the driveway and would use the sunny day to keep the exposure reasonably short. I would use my Ortho Lith film as I did in a previous post and try and adjust for what I learned. I rate the film at ASA 3 this time and a metered exposure at f45 called for 2 seconds. My wife ran the shutter. I developed it in HC-110 1+165 (6ml+994ml water) for 14 minutes. I got this on the film.

UltraFine Ortho Lith Negative
A print revealed something workable. However the strong sunlight and Lith film makes it high contrast and the background is completely black being entirely in shadow. I used only a #0 filter given the high contrast of the negative and exposed for 23 seconds for good density of black.
Final Print f16 #0 23 sec Ilford MGIV Deluxe