Close Up Photography with Eastman View Camera No 2D and 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film

While my wife was sewing curtains for our front room I decided to play around with the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film and some flowers. This green-sensitive film renders the color green much lighter than we would see it and gives plant life a rather odd look. I was curious to see what type of effect it might have on a vase of flowers. One of the wonderful things about view cameras is that you can focus very close up and make photographs that are even larger than life size. If your camera has the extension rails to extend the bellows all the way out, you can do amazing macro shots. The Eastman View Camera No 2D has a detachable rear extension rail that gives you 30 inches of bellows extension. When I found my camera I made sure that the extension rail was included. It's not necessary for everyday shots, but if you want lifesize or larger then you need the rear rail.

8x10 Eastman View Camera No 2D Almost Completely Racked Out 8x10 Eastman View Camera No 2D Racked Out

Fair warning: what follows is probably either overly technical if you are not interested in how a view camera functions OR not precise enough for those photographers who have to have everything perfectly measured and exactly so… But if you are interested and not wedded to a slide rule then read on.

There are compromises (three of them, really) when you extend the bellows this far out. First, the depth of field is incredibly shallow at full or near full extension. My Schneider 300mm f5.6 lens at f5.6 gives less than an 1/8 of an inch of focus. At f8, f11, and f16 you may get a 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. To shoot a vase full of flowers you need at least a couple of inches of depth of field. And for that you would need to shoot at f48 or f64. I shot this at f64.

Ranunculus Flowers, 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film Ranunculus Flowers, 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film If you click on the image you will see a much larger version.

I lit the vase from the side with my Westcott TD6 Spiderlite (1200W) through a medium-sized softbox. This gave me an EV value of 7.5, which at f64 called for a 30 second exposure. But then you also have to consider the second compromise. You've racked your bellows out to 28 inches and this means less light will hit the surface of the film - i.e. bellows compensation factor. To figure your bellows compensation factor there are a few mathematical equations you can use. I've studied all of them, and understand the concept, but I simplify it as follows: I have a 12" lens. If I double the length of the bellows from the normal 12 inches to 24 inches I add an additional stop or so of exposure. Extended fully to 30 inches I add a stop and a half. This is close enough for me. It might not be for others, but it's what I use. At this point, I've almost arrived at a correct exposure.

Photographic film also has this weird property called reciprocity failure that means that the film actually needs more exposure when you expose it for an extended period of time. Films differ on how well they handle reciprocity. My favorite B&W film for long exposures, Fuji Neopan Acros, doesn't require any adjustments for exposures up to 2 minutes. That's fantastic and it makes things much easier. Other films need more exposure time if your shutter stays open for longer than a few seconds. For example, if I was shooting Kodak Tri-X film, I would have exposed the film for a full 5 minutes to get a true 1 minute and 30 seconds exposure. Since I was shooting X-Ray film and no one really has published a reliable table of its reciprocity characteristics, I just went by my own experience. My experience has shown me that Fuji HR-T X-Ray film needs a little bit of added exposure, but not nearly as much as traditional films. I gave this shot an extra 30 seconds.

And just for the fun of it, I focused this next shot with the bellows stretched completely out to 30 inches. I shot it at f64 for a full three minutes.

Ranunculus Flowers Closer, 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film

I tray developed the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film in Rodinal 1:100 for six minutes. I used normal trays and lined the bottoms with glass. My only remaining flaw in X-ray film development is that I'm using 8x10 trays (because I happen to have a few pieces of glass cut to 8x10 for contact printing.) Even with very minimal agitation (rock all four sides of the tray every 30 seconds) I still get surge artifacts on the edges of the negative. This makes the edges of the negative darker (lighter once scanned or printed). My next step is to get 11x14 pieces of glass to line the bottoms of my 11x14 trays. This will give me a more even development across the entire negative.