busch pressman


Adventures in Failing

I have many thoughts about these photos. Feelings, too, like frustration and anger and despair. So, let’s do this logically, from the start. Explain away the madness. Get to the bottom of it all.

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate photos like the ones above. What I mean is that they’re sloppy. And unpolished. Pinholes. Scratches. Bad development. Sand? Sand. It’s the mark of an amateur. All of it. I’m not riding a very tall horse when I say that I’d consider myself a bit higher than some of the work I’ve shown lately.

I got some money for Christmas, so I bought a Schneider Super-Angulon 90mm F8 on eBay. Came with a UV filter, front and rear caps, and a Wisner lens board, which is useless to me, but for a great price. Aperture blades move freely, lens is in amazing shape, and the shutter speeds appear very accurate. But it baaaaarely fits through the front standard of my Busch Pressman Model D (4x5). But this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades, which means that barely is well enough!

So, I gotta try this lens out.

Picture three is in the driveway. It was the first. I was sick and wife was washing our (super awesome, all-wheel drive, turbo Subaru) wagons. I metered the scene with my iPhone app with Fuji Neopan Acros at F8. This is where the laziness comes in. I wrote notes on the dark slide. The scene was contrasty, and I knew the light on my daughter and the brick wall behind her would blow out, while the part of the car in shadow would be too dark. So, I was going to adjust the development by a half stop. 

I didn’t do that. I just threw them in with the two others and developed normally.

On Tuesday, for work, me and a co-worker drove to Tatooine (seriously; aside from Tunisia, it’s where they filmed scenes from Return of the Jedi) in the California/Arizona desert to photograph the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor in the sand dunes. Perfect time to get some more shots, right?


I forgot my filters, my cable release, and my loupe. But I made do. 

Did I mention that sand dunes are sandy? And that they’re windy, too? And that that sand gets everywhere? Even inside film holders? Because, they do. Especially when you set up the tripod and camera, and the driver in the monster truck starts goofing around in the sand, sending dirt everywhere. 

Also, I punctured a dark slide, ruining one of the three remaining exposures (2 holders, 4 shots minus 1, from the car wash, picture 3). 

I developed these last night. I do it in the guest bathroom behind the kitchen in my new house. The bathroom is more like a powder room with a toilet, and it’s the size of a closet. Also, the window doesn’t have a window. It has these metal lattice things and a screen. We put a piece of cardboard in the window. When I go in there at night to load and unload film, I put a towel at the crack in the door. It’s not ideal. 

So here’s the technical details:

- Busch Pressman Model D (4x5)

- Schneider Super-Angulon 90mm F8 at F8, F64, and F64

- Fuji Neopan Acros at box speed

- One desert photo with my digital polarizer; one desert photo with a graduated neutral density filter; driveway photo unfiltered

- Developed in Rodinal 1:50 at 22C in the cheap as shit Yankee Daylight Tank

- Very light Photoshop for exposure


1. I need an alternative 4x5/LF developing tank/method

2. I need a better environment to load and unload film

3. I had hate issues with my Leica. I was patient even when I didn’t want to be, and I have resolved those issues. I should do/act the same with this 4x5, despite wanting to just kick it to the curb and spend the money on my Hassy and Leica.