Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Day Today

Well it's a Happy St Patrick's Day to one and all.  In Chicago, where The Brother lives, they dyed the river green last Saturday ('cos they just couldn't wait).  All around the world millions of people are Irish for the day and sure if you're not Irish, well have a Guinness anyway - it's good for you, or so they told us back in the day.

So in celebration of Yer Man, here's a Celtic Cross for you, Sinar-style, on Kentmere VC:

This was inside the old ruin of Ballywillan Church, just outside Portrush - I liked the way there is ivy on the cross and ivy growing all around it.  If you look closely, you'll see where I dodged a bit and maybe where I burnt some in.  I think I was down around 1/8s and there was a bit of wind swirling around so you've got a nice bit of motion blur on some of the ivy leaves there for free.

And just for the record, it was absolutely freezing that day inside the church ruin.  It's hard to remember to do everything in the right sequence when you can't feel your fingers...but it goes something like this:

Take gear - tripod and rucksack containing 'The Camera' - from back of car, which you have parked as close as humanly possible to the desired location.  Lurch to the required place (which ideally you have recce'd previously).  Set up tripod.  Take front standard out of rucksack and mount on rail fixed to said tripod.  Similarly for the back standard.  Take off the back lens cap and stuff in pocket.  Remove bellows from rucksack and fix to both standards.  Attach remote release to the shutter.  Take off front lens cap and stuff in different pocket.  Open the lens up fully (otherwise it's difficult to compose on the ground glass).  Check that the shutter is open (otherwise it's even more difficult to compose, right?).  Point the camera roughly in the right direction for the subject. Take out darkcloth (i.e., old towel) and drape over back of camera.  Have a peek.  Loosen appropriate clamps and move front and/or back standards to get the focus more or less right.  Re-compose - move camera if necessary.  Check levels against guides on the ground glass - if required loosen off rail clamp and adjust.  Also if required consider using front/back rise/fall to correct verticals/distortion.  Fish around in the rucksack for the 'loupe' - in my case, an old Practica 50mm lens turned back-to-front, which works perfectly well with a bit of cardboard fastened to it to avoid scratching the ground glass.  Adjust focus over the ground glass using fine focus wheel.  If necessary (and it usually is), complete the following steps:

1. Focus on near point
2. Zero the dial on back standard which will calculate tilt/swing angle and direction
3. Focus on far point
4. Check reading on dial and set tilt/swing angle and direction as indicated

Adjust focus again over the whole frame.  If you need to, check the depth-of-field scale on the focus wheel for the minimum aperture required for both near and far points to be in focus - or like I usually do stop down to f/22 or beyond and hope for the best.

Next, remove meter (i.e., the Nikon) from rucksack and take reading.  Adjust reading for film currently loaded in Sinar as it nearly always differs from that loaded in Nikon.  In your head work out the shutter speed for f/22 or whatever aperture you want to use.  If you're not at the edge of a cliff walk round to front of camera and stand on tiptoe in order to see what you are doing when setting appropriate aperture on lens.  Similarly, set appropriate shutter speed.  Flick switch to close the shutter.  Double-check shutter is closed by looking through front of lens.  Cock and release the shutter a couple of times to exercise it at the chosen speed.  Fish around in the rucksack for a film holder - ideally one with film loaded.  Check that you are inserting an un-exposed side to the lens. Cock the shutter.  Pull out the darkslide.  Breathe.  Wait for any wind to calm and then release the shutter via the cable release.

Enjoy the moment.  Congratulate yourself on another masterpiece in the making.  Think how wonderful life is in the world of Large Format.  Suppress feelings of superiority over all those other so-called photographers who have never experienced the rush that is LF photography.

Insert dark slide, remembering the code (white side visible=unexposed, black=exposed).  Swing clip over darkslide to prevent accidental removal.  Remove film holder - place carefully back in rucksack.  Make careful note of aperture and shutter speed settings in notebook, as these things seem to be important - personally I tend to leave this bit out.

Now dismantle the whole thing and put carefully back in the rucksack - essentially the reverse of above.  Spend at least 5 minutes trying to find the lens caps that you stuffed in different pockets about half an hour ago.

As you are carting everything back to the car, think again about buying a more portable field camera.  Then remember how expensive they can be.  Then think seriously about just being happy with the rangefinder, or at least the Nikon next time you go a-huntin'.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, Happy St. Patrick's Day to yourself and your family, Michael, and to all other Irish people out there. And to the rest of us as well, of course. I have to admit, a tiny bit ashamed and sorry to say, I was not aware that this was the Day. Not when I woke up, that is. I am, however proud to say that after reading your post this morning I immediately changed to greenish t-shirt and very green headgear. There's absolutely no Guinnes on board, but maybe we should apply for a dispensation for next years celebration? I could need a couple of those right now, to be honest.

    And the useful description of the Sinar "User Manual"... priceless, my friend!! I love good laughs, and this one I really liked. I will surely read it quite a few times for sure. Just fantastic.

    Have a great St. Patrick's day over there, and we will try our best out here at sea as well.
    I might even find a snap of a Celtic Cross inside my hard drive somewhere to post a bit later today. Stay tuned!