So, I’m still working on getting our cameras and film ready to take on vacation. Almost everything is done – I’ve got the rollfilm and 35mm film sorted and respooled. Almost all of the sheet film holders are loaded. I remembered to grab an armful of Fuji Polaroid film boxes. I’ve got a few sewing related things I need to get done – the elastic on our big dark bag snapped, so I need to repair that before we go, and I’m trying to convert a big Trader Joe’s insulated shopping bag into a suitable camera bag for our 5×7 camera, Watson.
Yeah, I decided to take Watson instead of hauling around the big-ass 8×10 pinhole camera. The problem with the pinhole camera (besides the fact that it’s gigantor) is that I think I want to eventually replace the pinhole on it. The one that came installed on the camera just isn’t sharp enough for my liking, so I’d like to try to improve on that. Until I do so, I don’t want to waste my precious stash of 8×10 slide film on mediocre pictures.
Watson, however, is a bonafide large format camera with a real lens and everything! Travis and I took a few cameras out the other day to do some final testing before we left, so I grabbed Watson to see how he performed in the field. He weighs about the same, or maybe even a little less than my 4×5 Speed Graphic, and folds up nicely.
The downside to taking Watson is that the only film I can shoot with him on the road is my Fuji X-ray film. I have some old, old Kodak Aerocolor film that expired in 1985 that’s on a roll, but that’s a pain to work with, and I’d be too flustered while traveling to deal with it (also, it’s C-22 or something, so I’d have to develop it in cold chems – not that big of a deal with roll film, but a pain in the ass if I’m trying to do large format film). The Fuji X-ray film, on the other hand, is black and white, but fortunately has a double-sided emulsion, which means I can’t screw up how I load the film holders. That’s nice, because the film doesn’t have any notches letting you know which way to load it.
Anyway, I wanted to try out the Fuji X-ray film one more time before committing to take Watson. We hauled him up to the cemetery and took a few shots.
Okay, not the most interesting photo ever, but still, I was pleased with how sharp the image was. I also tried taking a picture using a yellow filter over the lens. The X-ray film apparently can’t be used with a red filter (it reads reds as black, I think), and I wanted to see if the yellow filter would help bring out the sky and clouds. The resulting picture showed maybe a little darkening of the sky, but nothing really awesome, and was also not as in focus as the above photo. I think that might have something to do with the fact that we had to manually hold the filter over the lens, since I don’t have a proper filter mount for the lens on Watson. I’m probably not going to mess around with filters with this camera for the most part.
So, Watson is a go, but that means I have to cut down a bunch of my Fuji X-ray film to 5×7, since I only have it in 5×12 size. So! Tedious! Hopefully it’ll be worth it, though. Since I’ll be using Watson, I also have to remember to bring a dark cloth to use when I’m trying to focus the camera. I’d love to go full-out Ansel Adams and build a camera platform on top of the truck and take pictures that way. I won’t be a truly hard-core camera nerd until I do that.
I also wanted to test out my gel filters before we left, too. I made some improvements on my Bollywood Pinhole camera to keep it from being lightleaky, and also making it tripod-friendly. So, I was able to mount it on a little tripod and take a few pictures with the gel filters taped to the inside of the camera. Here’s one shot using a turquoise gel filter:
The final thing we wanted to try out was shooting with 4×5 Kodak High Speed Infrared film. I’ve shot a few pictures with it before, like this one:
…but I wanted to try rating it at different speeds. That photo was shot rating the film at 200 using a red 25 filter, and it looks decent, but I wanted to see it shot rated at 100 to see if there was much difference. I also wanted to see if it worked in the Bollywood pinhole camera using the red gel filter, and in Travis’ 4×5 Graflex SLR. We don’t have a filter mount for the Graflex, either, unfortunately, so we shot film in that with me holding the red 25 filter over the lens.
All of this would have been well and good, if we were shooting unexposed sheets of film. However, unbeknownst to us, what we were actually shooting were sheets of film that had already been exposed. I bought a lot of the Kodak High Speed Infrared film off of ebay a while ago, and got a few sealed boxes of film, and a few opened boxes. The film we used came from one of the opened boxes, and apparently the person I bought the film from had stuffed a few sheets of exposed but undeveloped film back in the film box and forgot about them. So, instead of our carefully thought out infrared test shots taken in the cemetery, we got this:
So! That was a surprise! A bit of a bummer about our test shots not coming out, but kind of awesome found photos regardless. Strangely, both of these places, Carhenge and Mount Rushmore, are places that Travis and I went on our honeymoon, and even more strangely, I actually shot an infrared picture of Mount Rushmore then. Not on 4×5 film, though. Still – weird!
I didn’t feel like wasting any more of our infrared sheet film on test shots, though, so I think we’re just going to wing it on our trip. I may try taking a few pictures using the red gel filter and the pinhole camera, but I think I’ll probably just stick to using the infrared sheet film in the Speed Graphic, where I can get a proper filter in place (the shot we took with Travis’ Graflex SLR with me holding the filter over the lens barely came out – I suspect extra light leaked in around the edges).
I’m looking forward to playing with the silly gel filters on vacation. I had the thought to bring my Coronet 127 stereo camera along, and shoot pictures with a different colored gel filter inside each lens.
That might turn out neat. Or obnoxious! Who knows! I respooled some rolls of color infrared film, too, taking the risk that I was ruining them in the process, so I can shoot color infrared with sprocket holes and cameras other than the 35mm. I hope I didn’t ruin them. That would really suck. Oh well. Too late now!
I also ignored the fact that to date I haven’t been too awfully thrilled with the results I’ve gotten when I’ve tried shooting redscale film, and respooled a bunch of redscale film on a whim. I also bought a few rolls of the Rollei Nightbird film, which is pre-flipped redscale film. Actually, I bought a bunch of different rolls of the new Rollei films. I’ve only ever used a roll of their CR200 120 slide film, but I thought that roll came out really well, so I bought some more of their Digibase films to do weird stuff with. The Nightbird film has a variable ISO of 580 to 800, I think, so I might try shooting that with some of the gel filters. Because I really, really want to know what happens if you shoot redscale film with a green filter. Will it all turn out brown? I want to know!!
Oh, and as a point of interest for anyone else who shoots 127 format film, Freestyle Photo is selling the Rollei Nightbird (redscale) and Crossbird (E6 film meant for cross processing, so you can develop it either E6 or C41) in 127 format, so, yay, now there is some fresh, in-date 127 color film available to purchase again. Hooray!
Well, it’s time for me to get my butt back to cutting down more of the Fuji X-ray film. I feel like I’ll never see the sunlight again.