This is what I was thinking… “Golly, that 5×7 camera is going for a good price. Anyway, I can always sell the lens (who am I kidding… I’m not going to sell the lens) and make some of my money back. Who cares that I’ve never shot 5×7 and don’t know if I would even like the format.”
So now I have this 5×7 Linhof Technika.
The thing is a boat anchor. It makes my 4×5 Technikas come off as small and dainty. But it fits with my philosophy that the only cameras that you should buy are ones you can use to fend off an attacker and still be able to continue taking photographs with afterwards.
But now I’m stuck at home with this whole quarantine lockdown thing.
I’m an urban-landscape, found-composition kind of photographer. I don’t do still life photography. I don’t dump a pile of onions on a table and add a vase to call it art. But the virus is dictating my self-expression so here I am shooting a pile of onions.
5×7 is the smallest of the large formats where a contact print is an acceptable display size. No enlargement needed and you’ve got yourself a print suitable for framing and nailing to the wall. It also fits another of my philosophies; that anything worth doing is worth over complicating. Now I regularly spend 20 minutes in complete darkness shuffling film that feels like a fish struggling to escape my grasp.
All of these images are shot on Freestyle Photo’s house-brand Arista EDU Ultra 100 — rebranded Fomapan 100 Classic. I rate it at EI 200 and develop it in Rodinal 1:50 for 8.5 minutes. This improves the contrast and also gives me an extra minute and a half in total darkness to contemplate my questionable life choices.
The lens I used was a Nikkor-W 240mm (Copal #3 shutter). This nice thing about this shutter is that it can double as a spare wheel for a small car. The lens is a bit longer than normal for 5×7 which suits these still lifes nicely.
Instead of using the usual 5×7 film holders, I acquired glass plate holders with metal sheaths to allow me to load film. This creates a more complex, and to my eye, more interesting rebate border.
I like exploring what an image can be. I’ve shot in many formats and processes, but most of what I’ve done in the past three months has been 5×7 or 8×10 film. It limits my choices and enforces a methodical quality to how I compose the image.
I’ve still made plenty of lousy photographs, but I keep learning.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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