Shot in Norris, TN, this was the first 8×10 negative I exposed after acquiring a Sinar P camera last year. Shooting such a large format camera requires a completely different approach than medium format or 35mm and, as I was so new to it, I was very pleased with the outcome of this shot.
The sky was heavy with the threat of rain as I carried my gear along the stream to the small waterfall, and I knew that I wouldn’t have too long to set up and expose my film if I didn’t want to get caught in a downpour. I spent a few minutes setting up the tripod, trying to find a stable position for it on the muddy bank, and then quickly unpacked and set up the camera.
The only lens I had at the time was a 305mm Schneider G-Claron with a slow maximum aperture of F/9.0 which, given the murky light, made for a very dim view on the ground glass, even with a heavy focusing cloth to block out any stray light. This made focusing and composition tricky, but I eventually got it set and all locked down tight. It then became apparent, however, that I would have to use some tilt on the front standard to get the required depth of field to keep everything in the scene sharp, even with the lens stopped down, so I adjusted that and refocused to compensate. Point and shoot this is not!
The rain clouds were gathering rapidly now, and the light was fading by the minute, so I grabbed my light meter and took a few readings of the scene. I performed some quick calculations to allow for the bellows extension, set the shutter to it’s taking position, stopped down the aperture and inserted the film holder. After removing the dark slide and allowing the camera to settle down for a few moments, I pressed the cable release to make the exposure.
I only had one double-sided film holder with me, so I replaced the dark slide, flipped it around and took another shot as a backup. As I went to replace the dark slide, a fat raindrop hit the slide and ran down in to the holder! Time to go! I didn’t bother packing the camera down, just slung the tripod with it still attached over my shoulder and ran back to the truck.
A few lessons were learned that day. One, take a trash bag to put over the camera in case of rain, and two, always take a backup shot; when I processed the sheets of film, the second shot had a big streak down it from the raindrop!
Streamscape – Sinar P view camera, Schneider G-Claron 305mm F/9.0, Adox 100 sheet film, 6 Seconds at F/32. Processed in HC-110, dilution B.
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