4×5 Roses: HP5+ vs. FP4+

A couple of months ago, I loaded up a bunch of film: 3 holders full of HP5+ and 2 of FP4+.

I shot one holder of HP5 maybe a month ago, but they were horribly mis-focused and not correctly exposed.

The rest have been sitting, wrapped in zip lock bags, not refrigerated, just waiting, waiting.

Well, all that changed on my birthday early last month. I managed to work enough hours early that week to take the day off, and after playing with the Diana Mini for awhile, I drug the Graphic View out front and shot the rose bushes.

Our house faces west, so for the first round of shots, I went with the HP5+.

The HP5+ did fine, as usual, even if this one is a bit soft. The focus wasn’t spot on, I guess. And there’s some strange flare coming in. I think maybe a bit of sunlight was bouncing off the car and into the frame. Allahu Alim. And I need to go a bit slower with the 4×5, slower even than with 35mm, and I definitely need to slow down there too, check and double check, and for the 4×5 get a proper dark cloth and a loupe, and really take this seriously if I’m going to do it.

I was a bit slower with this next one, but it has some strange things going on: pronounced grain running in a broad sort of strip down the middle of the frame, and some strange banding or something going on. It could just be nervous bokeh from the mulch, but the pattern looks a bit more regular than that.

The rose came out ok, though, focused well enough, good sharpness and all that.

I developed these straight away and hung them to dry while I continued playing with new toys, having lunch, and going off to the Jummah prayer.

When I returned, I pulled the 4×5 out again, straight away, and shot a couple of frames of FP4. This time, though, I borrowed one of my darling, adorable wife’s hijabs and used it as an impromptu dark cloth. It worked remarkably well, and made the view much clearer, though it did get really hot under there, really quickly.

Apologies for the scratches… I dropped this on the floor a couple of times between the developing tank and the wash tub, and while dry 4×5 negatives seem remarkably stable, wet emulsion is fragile, no matter the format.

I’m quite liking the FP4+. low grain, decent sharpness and contrast, who could ask for more?

We have this crazy rose bush… It’s a knockout rose that decided to become a climber. One stalk shot out last year after all the big rains, so I gave it a bit of support. It’s grown a bunch more recently, so I need to get out and probably install some hooks in the brick and string it up properly…

My first thought was to go for a bit more depth of field, and to test out the tilt/shift and see if I could get the house square in the background. But after about 10 minutes under the improvised dark cloth, I was sweating so much I could barely see, so I backed off that idea and just shot.

By 3:30pm, I’d shot and developed 4 sheets, two were dry and ready to scan, and two were hanging in the shower… I think it’s about time to add another couple of hooks: I want to be ready when the SP-445 processing tank gets through all its R&D and production and all so I can stop shoving exposed negatives into open vats of R3 in the dark bag, risking all kinds of splashes and sloshing and getting chemicals all over my fingers…

That said, the R3 works great this way. I still want to try it with 35mm again: fill the tank, put the tank in the dark bag, load film on the reels and plunge into the monobath, tap a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles and walk away for 6 minutes… Maybe I’ll try that with the next roll of the Ansco: that should eliminate any developing issues, and leave it down to my exposure alone.

Hummm.

Anyway. Shooting 4×5 is fun. I need to get up the nerve to go out in the field with it. I had a crazy idea to try to hook up with Ted Forbes or some local people and go try to do some 4×5 street photography… Maybe one day.

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