Paper Shooter

5x7 Eastman wooden View Camera

5×7 Eastman wooden View Camera

Well here it is 2016 and I am finally able to get my New/Old fully functioning 80+ year old Wooden 5×7 camera out on a test run with some Harman Direct Positive Paper loaded in the Holders (I had to refurbish those film holders as well) and make a few test shots . . . The day was cold and overcast (good for the test run and Harman HPP), so with a couple of film holders loaded I headed just out my back door and . . . set about making a few test shots.  The first set (2 shots per holder) was a bust with both shots badly under exposed, the next set was better.  You see the paper is rated at about 3 ISO, I decided to up it and shoot near ISO 6 instead . . . my bad.

1st shot out of the new setup, f/8, @1 Sec Bausch & Lomb 210mm lens

1st shot out of the new setup, f/8, @1 Sec Bausch & Lomb 210mm lens

OK let me set up the scenario . . . I have several variables (NOT GOOD) that I am dealing with.

  • OLD – Refurbished Wooden Large format camera
  • OLD – Refurbished Film holders
  • OLD – Bausch & Lomb Lens with shutter (questionable speeds)
  • Paper high contrast positive (Low – ISO rating)
  • un tested Caffenol developer recipe

So ok I make a couple of shots and they bomb (the first two), back-step to a known ISO value, exposure time and  f/stop and make another test shot, since there are two sheets in the holder I flip the holder and make a guess and another shot.  Now let me say this about the Harman HPP . . . it being a positive material it acts different to over or under exposure then when one shoots negative film.  It acts as follows to over exposure (the more you over expose the lighter it gets) . . .  under exposure (the more you under expose the darker it gets) . . . hey Just like shooting slides 🙂 . . . I can handle that.  Ah the caveat . . . it is High Contrast with a short tonal range (you can somewhat give it a bit more tonal range and less harshness by pre flashing it before you make your exposure (I will talk more about this at a later date), for now we’ll just stick with getting the exposure dialed in and how this material acts.  As you can see by the photo above the 1st exposure was usable, but let us replace that questionable lens with a known good lens (Nikkor 150mm) and make another shot . . .

same setup as before except with a Nikkor 150mm lens

same setup as before except with a Nikkor 150mm lens

As you can see the shot is a bit brighter and shows the higher contrast (the lens also lends to the higher contrast being it has coated optics which the previous lens did not have) that the paper has.  I prefer the Old 210’s coverage over the wider angle of view the 150mm has for this subject.

Several things where obvious after making these shots, the camera and bellows are sound and light tight.  I really enjoy the 5×7 format, it is so easy to see and compose on (it is also the same dimensions as what I shot with when shooting 35mm).  I found that loading/unloading the film holders under subdued Darkroom lighting a very nice change, and Developing under the red glow was really nice, Lots of memories surfaced. Most of all it was enjoyable and slow.

ready to unload a set of exposed paper Positives

ready to unload a set of exposed paper Positives

The processing variable . . . Caffenol !!!! yes I chose to use Caffenol for my first tests of this paper, why you ask? well I have loads of pets, and grand children . . . I do not want anything or anyone poisoned by chemicals, so for the time being both developer (Coffee, soda & Vitamin C) &  stop bath (Vinegar & Water) are the least of the evils and yes I know they can be bad as well, anything can if enough is consumed.  The Fixer I am working on but for now a commercial brew will have to do.   So! how did it work? Great I think . . . I am very satisfied and that is what counts.

Basic Caffenol recipe I used (I halved this to make only 500ML for my small tray). This will do four 5×7 sheets before it is exhausted. Replace all 3 Developer, Stop and Fixer after 4 sheets are processed.

  • water                         1000ml
  • Instant Coffee         45g
  • Washing Soda         24g
  • Vitamin C                20g
out of the Wash, The Harman HPP is Fiber Base so it takes longer to clear

out of the Wash, The Harman HPP is Fiber Base so it takes longer to clear

How satisfied am I with the outcome of today? VERY satisfied.  I am able to work with this material and the process with minimal impact on people,pets and household.  With some adequate testing and usage I should become familiar enough to make this work for me and lastly it provides me with loads of satisfaction . . . and that was and is the point of all this and my New/Old 5×7 Wooden View camera.

Hey it’s January 2nd, 2016 . . . I have a whole year to get used to and play with my toys.  Oh and I’ll be shooting some Ilford MG IV paper negatives soon, they will hit the Caffenol as well. Not bad for a a first photo shoot of the year with my LF camera.  Stay tuned for more and HEY . . . go make a picture.


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