Some Recent Large Format Photos

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my 4×5 cameras lately. Most of the images have been made using a Crown Graphic set on a tripod in my basement “studio”. I quoted “studio” because it’s really just a bedsheet hung as a backdrop and a couple of floor lamps for lighting. Not an ideal setup by any stretch but it works for now. I don’t have a way to trigger flashes with the Crown Graphic so I’m using poor-man’s continuous lighting.


My “studio”


New55 1Shot Film

Jess and Katie. Crown Graphic. New55 1Shot.

This is my first exposure using New55’s 1Shot 4×5 Negative film.

1Shot comes packaged as individual negatives in “Readyload” type sheets. They’re meant to be used with the Polaroid 545 film backs. The film is New55’s “Atomic-X” which they describe as:

This 100-speed panchromatic black and white 4×5 sheet film offers a classic tonal range from deep blacks through sublime mid-grays to soft and striking highlights.

Of course I had no idea how to use the things so I botched it. Here is the full negative.


I grabbed it by the metal tab and accidentally pulled the backing away. Whoops! I quickly slid it back in but the damage was done. Live and learn.

As a backer of the original New55 Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been rooting for them. I bought the 1Shot as part of their fundraiser so paid quite a premium. I couldn’t justify shooting regularly at that price.

While writing this I discovered that New55 is selling Atomic-X in boxesrather than as 1Shot holders. It is much more affordable so I bought a box. I’ve never shot 100-speed film so this will probably need to wait until the weather improves.

The above image was processed using New55’s Monobath developer as well. I had some troubles with it earlier but the new formulation seems to have worked them out.

Large format photography is slow, expensive, and can be frustrating, but I’m learning to enjoy it.

First attempt using New55 R3 Monobath Developer

That didn’t go well.

This was my first time using the R3 Monobath Developer from New55. Other people have great results with it but I’ve obviously done something wrong.

The image above is a scanned 4×5 negative (HP5+) shot using an ancient Crown Graphic. Many things can fail when shooting large format film that I’m certainly not ready to blame the developer. I’ve never seen this sort of ghosting effect before so it’ll be fun tracking down what went wrong.

Another thing I learned is that I’m finally going to need an exhaust fan in the darkroom. The R3 contains ammonia and phew it’s strong. Probably not good for me to stand there for six minutes in the dark just breathing it all in.

I love the idea of a monobath developer, especially for large format so I’m going to keep trying.

My life with large format photography so far

I’m wrestling with an old shirt in the wind as a focusing cloth while using the loupe to view the ground glass and trying not to drop the loupe when I discover I left the film holders in the bag so I stuff the loupe uncomfortably into my pocket, wipe the sweat from my eye and almost choke myself when the strap from my meter catches the tripod as I reach for the holders and now the t-shirt has blown away and so on oops I forgot to pull the dark slide.

Large Format Color

Ron Baty (2013). Crown Graphic. Self-processed.

It’s nice that my family puts up with my requests for them to model all the time.

After making a number of successful black and white photos using the new Crown Graphic I finally had the nerve to try some color. The above image of my dad was shot on Kodak Portra 400 and processed in the JOBO using the JOBO C-41 Press Kit and scanned with the Epson V750 and SilverFast.

I really like how the 4×5 negatives look, but I’m still struggling with color rendition. Scanning is hard, especially with color. Epson Scan’s color came out all washed-out cyan. Vuescan was closer, but still a bit weak. SilverFast did the best overall job but it’s still off somehow. I don’t have a great eye for color so I find it difficult to judge the output on screen.

But it’s a lot of fun. Processing color is not terribly difficult, and I have been surprised by how much I enjoy color images. They’re so, uh, colorful. I hope to shoot more, but with the cost per 4×5 exposure pushing $5.00 it’s not something to take lightly.