So I just recently finished up a class on View Camera Theory and after seeing some of the work by famous photographers who used these cameras, I decided to pick one up off of eBay. At this point, I didn't realize how hard it is to find 4x5 sheet film for these cameras or how expensive it is. For example, the 4x5 Polaroid 55 instant film runs around $200 for 12 sheets. No thanks, I'm good. The single sheets that are not instant are MUCH less expensive and in most cases expired. I am good with expired and I actually prefer it due to some of the cool artifacts you get once it isdeveloped.
It took me only a few minutes to figure out how to work the camera since I have not seen one of these beasts up close. The are not exactly portable and it is hard to believe that photojournalists carried these things around reporting the news. The film was easy to load since it came with a 16 sheet pack which has these tabs that you pull to expose the film to the image coming through the lens. This was the easy part. The hard part came when I tried to open, separate, and load the film into the tank inside of a developing bag made for 35mm or 120mm film. I was using a three reel Paterson tank with a MOD 54 spindle. It was VERY difficult to work inside such a small space. The MOD 54 only holds six sheets of film so I had to stuff the other 10 back in the holder and hope that I closed it enough to keep the light out.
Once I had the film in the tank, I developed like I normally would. Come to find out that I was agitation the tank with too great of force and the sheets slipped off of the spindle and stuck together on the inside of the tank. The caused some of them to stick together which made for some trippy looking images.
I have since then decided to use my studio which has four window wells that are covered with blackout blinds. This allowed me to set up a table and red safe light to work with. This time I only used two sheets of film as a test to see if the red light will negatively effect the film. I will be posting the results soon!