First attempts are always rough

I finally had the opportunity to shoot with my friend’s Zero Image 4×5 during my trip to the Hoh Rainforest. This is something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for some time now.

Over the last few months I made several attempts at shooting sheet film but camera weight and size always prevented me from moving forward with it. I love the power of a 4×5 image but have begun to understand that portability is absolutely essential to me as a photographer. Medium format seemed like the best compromise.

Having said that, the Zero Image 4×5 may be a serious contender. It is light, small, portable and capable of producing some truly fantastic images. Take a look at this picture Espresso Buzz took at Burning Man with this camera. The 4×5 holders do require a bit more room in my camera bag, but that’s nothing compared to the gigantic suitcases I’ve seen my large format friends tote about.

The day before we headed out for the Olympic Peninsula, I grabbed my box of film, 6 of my holders and headed for the bathroom aka my super fancy darkroom. My first attempt at loading the holders was awkward and as I emerged triumphant with my loaded 4×5 holders to watch another quick tutorial online, I realized I’d loaded them all backwards and headed back into the bathroom, head down.

Once we reached the rainforest, I had to keep talking myself through the steps to expose the film. Luckily we were quite alone in the woods, though there were other adventurous souls who walked through. I made a few exposures without removing the dark slide. I temporarily forgot my system for separating exposed from non-exposed holders and nearly made a double exposure. I was nervous about losing the rubber bands which hold the holder in the camera.

Luckily, the rest was somewhat familiar to me. I metered the scene and exposed the film. When we got back, I had Panda Labs develop the film for me.

The resulting set exposed more than just the film. They exposed my laziness in not opening up the pinhole all the way! Those dark corners, I have it on Espresso Buzz’s authority, are from the slider not being opened fully when the pinhole was exposing the film inside the camera. Ack! Something as simple as that. But that’s what I love about shooting film and pinhole, especially. I can’t cheat myself with re-taking a shot. I have to be confident about my camera, my exposure and everything that making a picture requires.

I’ve got a few more sheets to expose over the weekend, so I’ll look forward to reporting back with those results. Meanwhile, I know several of you shoot large format and would truly value your input. It also seems inevitable that a Zero Image 45 will make its way onto my Christmas Wish List this year.

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7 thoughts on “First attempts are always rough

  1. Jana, go for it!!!
    While reading your story I was laughing of myself remembering my first experience with the Zero Image 45. I made more or less the same kind of mistakes but, once you have taken a few pictures trying to remember the steps to follow without forgetting any detail, you have practice enough as to take the pics without thinking!!
    Sometimes I use a small level to be sure that I place the camera in a perfect horizontal position and in some case I forgot to remove it resulting in a “low-level” pic[].
    Be confident, you will learn quickly and enjoy your camera and pictures; I am sure!!!

  2. Great work Jana! Love the low angle, the trees are amazing, and the sky in the first one is marvelous!
    It always happens something, to me anyway, but that is part of the fun, just as you say.
    In one of my first 4×5 images, I did everything, checked everything, put in the film holder and exposed. Later when I scanned it, a little dog head showed in the bottom of the image….. I didn’t see her coming in to the image… Just had to crop, it wasn’t even funny, but it sure looked funny on the negative….
    Go for the Santa wish list! ;-)
    Have a nice weekend!

  3. Pingback: Taking the plunge into 4×5 « jana obscura

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