First Time Shooting and Developing 4×5

The other day I had a chance to finally shoot my Omega View 45c that’s been sitting for about a week. I hadn’t been able to get a hold of film holders at the time of purchase, but I did have everything thing else. My coworker gave me three film holders and has since given me one more, but along with those holders he gave me some HP5 for testing purposes. HP5 is like an old friend that you haven’t seen in years, but you also saw ten minutes ago; it’s just so familiar and second-nature to be around.

For the shot set-up, I ran a single soft box and a black backdrop to keep a clean aesthetic that complimented the BW nature of HP5. The first shot I attempted was a two second exposure of our fig leaf plant which subsequently failed due to proper planning. The leaf itself was well exposed, however the remainder of the frame was blown out. I’ll include that lost shot below. The second and best shot I took out of my three was of Leigh. I found out the hard way how f/5.6 on large format is equivalent to f/1.2 on full frame/35mm. In other words, an extremely small portion of the shot was in complete focus.

For the development process I decided to try a rather unorthodox method, and maybe not completely archival method for that matter. By using a Patterson 3-reel tank with a Mod 54 insert, I loaded up my film in the dark bag and prepared everything else. The only chemicals I used were Cinestill’s monobath which yields some pretty neat results albeit quite contrasty and grain intensive. I unfortunately forgot to insert the black plastic spindle that sits into the center of the mod 54, preventing any unwanted light leaks between chemicals and water washes, etc. This error caused a very slight light leak in the upper right corner of the shot of Leigh, just a part of the learning process.

The development steps I use are pretty straight forward:

Step 1: increase temp to 80 by flowing warm water over

Step 2: fill tank with water at temp to warm the tank

Step 3: pour the Cinestill monobath into the Patterson tank, beginning the timer once poured

Step 4: agitate tank evenly for 2:40, pour back into Cinestill container for future use

Step 5: by following these agitations steps, fill with new water in between each set

5 agitations

10 agitations

20 agitations

5 agitations

Step 6: remove film, dry, and enjoy!


Hope you all enjoyed this short article, I’ll continue documenting the large format process as I improve both in composition and development skills. As always, keep shooting film!


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