The learning curve steepens.
When I purchase the Chamonix 5x4 camera I was very fortunate to be able to acquire 6 double dark slides, which for those who don't know are film holders which hold a sheet of film on both sides in total darkness until you withdraw the slides to expose each sheet individually. The bonus was that these came pre-loaded with Fuji Velvia 50 sheet film. Now as they have to be loaded in complete and total darkness the first issue I came across is what an earth can I unload them into when exposed? Not having bought any film yet I do not have any film boxes. A quick scour on Ebay turned up nothing so I put a call out on Facebook. After as little as half an hour I received a message from a photographer whose work I have been admiring for many years and who posted 4 empty double sealed film boxes to me at no cost. I am very grateful to Richard Childs for his generous donation and if you have never seen his work I promise it is well worth a look as to me it's quite amazing indeed. Richard shoots Large Format as well as digital and is a source of constant inspiration. His website can be found at www.richardchildsphotography.co.uk and is worth visiting for the cover picture alone.
Earlier this week my first lens arrived from Japan. I ordered a 180mm f/5.6 Nikon as it looked in great condition used. It took a mere 3 days to arrive in the UK but was then stuck in customs for a week or so. On arrival I eagerly opened the box and found it to be virtually pristine, no marks/haze/fungus at all. After checking the aperture and shutter were working ok I proceed to set up the Chamonix in eager anticipation of getting my first view on the ground glass of my very own 5x4 camera. Ah.......the lens does not fit.....bugger. It seems that although it was supposed to be fitted with a Linhof style lens board the one it arrived with certainly wasn't. A quick scour of ebay again and yet another purchase looms. I have to say I was quite disappointed as I would have liked to have exposed my first sheet of film before the new year. Once again Tim Parkin from OnLandscape magazine (www.onlandscape.co.uk) has come to the rescue. Tim has kindly offered to loan a darkcloth and loupe and has a spare Linhof board so next week I'm off to visit and hopefully I'll be all set.
I have chosen a Nikon 180mm f/5.6 as my normal lens which is slightly longer than the usual choice. Normally the usual choice is 150mm but I chose the 180mm based on the lenses I like to shoot with my digital camera. In the future I figure that I will purchase something in the region of 105 - 120mm as a moderate wide angle lens and something around the 250mm mark as a short long lens. This very roughly compares in 35mm terms to a focal length setup of 40mm/60mm/85mm.
Well, after all this you may be thinking "oh what a palaver......" but the truth is that I am so excited by the whole Large Format thing that although it may have stalled me slightly, it has in no way dampened my enthusiasm or determination. With a little more research I could have made things a little easier on myself I suppose............but then if I wanted easier I'd have just stuck with digital capture.