4 x 5 magic – toyo 45a

Every time I take a 4×5 image and it appears on my computer screen I am left in a breathless state. There is a quality to these images that is not achievable in any other medium I have access to. Perhaps the new medium format digital marvels equate, but that experience is missing the pensive process of making a 4×5 image. Even a mundane scene is rendered to majesty if the stars align.

The Toyo 45A is not a fancy camera, but it has all of the movements and controls I need including easy transition from landscape to portrait mode. My camera’s bellows was bad, so my friends at Midstate Camera (the best) in Warwick RI installed a new one, purchased from E-bay, sourced from Japan.

This is an image shot yesterday.   Toyo 45A, Schneider 135mm Super Angulon F5.6, Acros (original) F8@500.  Stand developed in HC 110 4ml HC110 to 496 water.  Agitate gently 30 seconds, stand 30 min, agitate gently 4 X, stand 30 min.

I don’t know what I lost from development using this chemical process, but I had no choice (highlights?). The problem was I did not know what film was loaded in the holder. It could have been color. So I opted for stand development and its across the board development time.   I have seen lots of different methods for stand. I opted for simplicity. HC110 is an uncommon chemical for stand to my knowledge. It certainly is an easy method.

I have driven by this scene several times and thought it would make an interesting image. After scouting around, I returned to it – and the light was good, off of my right shoulder.   My mind was in the theme of layers when taking the shot.   The lens saw more layers than my naked eye ever saw or ever could see.

Reduced to a jpg, the image is 165 megabytes.  I have not checked the size of the TIFF.   I ended up scanning this with Epson V800. Curiously, my scanner does not have a film setting for Acros 100 so I randomly used Ilford Delta 100. Aside from the changes made by the scanner and a minor crop on the top of the image, there are very minor post processing edits. I could not load the humungous .jpg onto this page, so this is a downsized (35 megapixel) representation of the image.

The detail from this combination is very pleasing. The 135mm Schneider lens is very small and light. I went through the usual 4×5 foibles from not shooting this camera enough. First was the element of nervousness since there is not a lot of room for error. Next was leaving the rear lens cap on and not seeing the scene through the viewfinder. Then my shutter remote cable broke. Lastly was how to get the focusing bed moving.

I did not critical focus this one. I positioned the bed until the image looked sharp to the eye, then locked the bed and pressed the shutter. I used a bath towel as a dark cloth. That was a pain in the ass since the wind kept sloughing it around. The towel did smell good from being freshly washed!

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