Sunday, August 07, 2016

Graflex Second Test and brief update on Viddy

I realize I'm overdue for an entry here... too much experimenting, projects with the house, and travel and not enough time to sit and analyze.  In short, I did finally resolve the light leak on the Viddy and took it with me on a vacation to California.  I discovered new quirks with the camera, however, and have overall felt more frustration than accomplishment in my shooting with that particular box.  It was certainly fun to build, and I'll do full write up some day when I reach that mythical land of "having time on my hands".  Until that day, however, I have my second test of the Graflex.

I loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 400 speed in the converted Graflex (now nick-named "Clunky" due to the relatively cumbersome shape) back in May and headed out for some photography time.  Unfortunately we drove around for so long that by the time we found a location, the light was fading and my calculations with the meter reading and reciprocity failure gave me a 15 minute exposure... which was all the time I had that evening.  After that outing I shelved Clunky while seeking the resolution to the Viddy Light Leak.  My logic was that the Viddy, made of cardboard, would be lighter and easier to bring on the airplane to California, so that is where my concentration centered.  I'm now prepping for a road trip to the lovely Olympic Peninsula, and after the shady results from the Viddy I'm circling back around to the Clunky Project.

One thing I learned along the Viddy trail, however, was to switch my DSLR to spot metering, so that I could better target my photo subject for a light reading (as opposed to the entire scene) and then in theory I would target the specific area I wanted for "middle grey".  This is one of those steps I've lost over the years of the instant feedback of digital.  My next adventure will be in the forest, and since I have one quite literally out my back door, I decided to burn up the rest of my roll this evening practicing exposure readings on Clunky.

My process is this:  Set my camera to aperture priority, F/5.6, ISO to the film speed.  Get the reading, convert it to the camera's F/stop via pinhole calculator (app on my phone), then calculate the reciprocity failure for the film... this equals the actual exposure.

In my first roll test I'd had my DSLR set to full scene metering, however on my last trip I switched it to center point spot metering instead.  This made my experiment easier to control... for my first example here I was exploring the light and dark textures of the woods.  I metered the fern for middle grey and based my exposure on that reading.

For my second example, I turned the camera slightly to the left and up, the sun became obscured by clouds, and I took a meter of the main moss-covered tree (roughly down the left 1/3d line of the image) to make that middle grey.

Overall I'm very happy with the results... neither of these scans were edited in Photoshop beyond blocking out a couple of dust spots.  No contrast or exposure adjustments at all.  The spots I metered did, indeed, come out middle grey and the surrounding foliage exposed as it appeared.  The focus of this camera is quite nice as well, even with the slight motion from the wind with the fern.  Clunky is going on my road trip for certain!

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