Well, my first ever 5x4 transparencies arrived back from the lab this morning. Good news and bad really, of the 9 sheets sent off for processing only 5 had usable images on them. I had already anticipated this as you may recall from the last installment. The 4 sheets that I exposed after metering on the wrong iso setting were badly underexposed. However the remaining sheets seemed quite good. The 2 bracketed exposures I took on Holme Fell were not to bad at all. One was exposed really well but I under-graded the sky by one stop. It's not too bad at all as there was no detail in the sky at all, just a pre-dawn salmon pink glow I'm happy with the result. The second was overexposed by maybe half a stop. The other woodland shot I made the day before has also turned out quite well.
The first experience of viewing your own transparencies is not to be underestimated. If I was a little unsure if I had made the right decision moving up to 5x4, this was put completely out of my mind on viewing my first results. Sure, the compositions may not set the world alight but they were more to test me and my focusing/metering skills and to try and work out a system or process if you will. The sight of a sheet of Velvia 50, well exposed is a pure delight.
The next step was to scan the sheets onto the computer. To do this I used my Epson V800 scanner and Epson Scan. I used the Professional mode but made no adjustments, just set the resolution to 2400 Dpi, which equates to a Tiff file of just over 500mb. The results are stunning. The amount of detail captured is truly mind blowing. The depth of the tones, tonal separation and colour rendition of Fuji Velvia 50 really did leave me stunned. If you think I'm waxing lyrical, please try and view one on a lightbox or as a full tiff file, awesome.
So, the question is.......has it been worth it so far? That'll be an unreserved YES. Would I recommend it to others............that's a bit more difficult to answer. If like me you wish to slow down, become more methodical in your whole approach, have a boatload of patience........or wish to acquire more patience, like the thought of making your life a whole lot more difficult to exercise the grey matter more..........the rewards are there in the long run. Is it better that digital capture? Well, there are a few benefits, huge image files with the ability for huge prints or crops. Colour Neg film has a very large exposure/dynamic range. Tonal depth and colour separation. But on the whole I don't think it is necessarily better, no more than I think digital capture is better. The Digital age has brought so much to photography in the last decade or so I'd be daft to say it was inferior. What large format ultimately is, is different. A whole new ballgame for myself, so much so it seems a completely different experience altogether. It is this experience, not ultimately any benefits, that I've fallen in love with.