Large Format Photomicrography part: I

Scope and Intent

This series is going to be a bit of a departure from the usual around here, by which I mean that I’ll be covering something I know perishingly little about; namely photography. The practical upshot of which being that I learn something, while the corresponding hazard must necessarily be that I spend a great deal of time, well, screwing up! It’s not even going to be my intent to avoid failure, which can be as enjoyable as success if one has the right attitude. Rather, my goal will be simply to end up with a 4×5 print. I’ll of course shoot for a properly exposed, in focus negative, but in all honesty I fully expect to end up with a blurry, underexposed, wretchedly vignetted negative and an overdeveloped, streaky print if I end up getting that far at all. I’ll claim right now that either way I’ll be throughly enjoying myself. Here’s hoping someone or other out there does as well!

Right, so I’ll be doing an insane amount of referring to R.M. Allen’s monograph Photomicrography I’m sure, anything else is liable as not to be found here or there on the web. I’ll try and link to the sources for the materials and chemistry as they come up and at the end I’ll mock up a quick one-sheet for the practicum and supplies; something without my tedious verbosity! This is apt to be a long one as multi-part series go so don’t be surprised if I toss something else in here or there. All the photos on this site aside, I’ve never really gotten the shutter “bug” and still much prefer an awful little sketch in the margins of my notes to roll after roll (or card after card) of whatever full color high resolution photos I manage to snap. If I ever need a belt of good photography I’ll pop over to Dr. Robert Berdan’s site, see what someone who enjoys it can do!

For this series I’ll be using the BalPlan, and I’ll spare a few lines to say why. I’ve got the equipment to shoot large format on either the BalPlan or the phase contrast DynaZoom, I don’t have the space or the chemistry on hand to process or print color though. It seems a shame to pass up phase contrast, but I just haven’t got a clue how that would look in black & white. The other factor is field flatness. The BalPlan has a full compliment of planachromat objectives; just the thing for a 4×5 negative right? Maybe not though, how much of the visible field transfers to the negative, would spherical aberration be noticeable if I used an apochromat, a fluorite?

Once I end up with a negative I’ll process it. I haven’t got a dark room, and can’t be bothered to take over even my own bathroom for the purpose, so drum processing it is! Then I’ll try and contact print it onto some very slow paper and drum process that. I’ll try not to act like I know what I’m doing (because I don’t) and I’ll look at how to rig something up from available materials so anyone with the photography resources (but maybe not the same microscope collection) can maybe get something out of this.

One thought on “Large Format Photomicrography part: I

  1. Pingback: Large Format Photomicrography part: V | vade mecum microscope

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