Shooting mushrooms with the Schneider Tele-Arton 270mm f/5.5
By Dirk Dom
I bought this lens for my Linhof Technikardan 23 to be able to shoot close ups. This is a big lens, and the optical system is a tele, so that bellows extension on the camera is a good deal less than 270mm at infinity. It’s also an older lens, the shutter times go 1 sec, ½, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and there it stops. I paid $200 for the lens.
Diaphragm is thirteen leaves, which makes it pretty much round all the time, the lens stops down to f/32. It’s a big lens, weighs more than a kilo.
With the Technikardan I shoot 6×9 rollfilm. The 270mm is equivalent to 115mm on full frame.
Today I tried it out, on mushrooms.
I shot my beloved Kodak Tmax 400, pushed to 800, no filter.
Two things were new in my outfit:
To be able to get very low, I had put the ball head of my big tripod on a wooden board, so I could shoot from about 23 centimeters (nine inches) high. Normally, to get that low with long shutter times, you’d use a beanbag, but with the Linhof I have to exchange the ground glass for the film holder and I need to keep the camera absolutely immobile.
The second new thing I tried was the Gitzo GT 1543 T 6 layer carbon travel tripod. This tripod, which had cost me $400 used, I had taken in the Redwood forest in the vicinity of san Francisco, proved incredibly sturdy for its two pounds and a half and I decided to try it with the Tele- Arton at full extension of the camera.
My ball head-board and the Gitzo tripod worked beautifully, and the lens is like a dream come true. You haven’t seen bokeh until you try medium and large format.
But no doubt you’re waiting for the photographs. In three hours I shot sixteen images, six mushrooms. I bracketed a bit because the light was difficult and I shot in rapidly changing light under trees. Here are the good ones:
The nice thing about film is that even very high contrasts don’t burn out. It’s all smooth and creamy. The mushrooms in the hollow of the tree were real dark and I had difficulty focusing. (It was a 8 sec exposure at f/5.5) You have to know my name “Dom” means “stupid” in Dutch. Well, I earned my name this time. I got the marvelous idea to put something contrasty and shiny at the mushrooms. So what did I do? I took the stainless steel dark slide out of the film holder and put it there. Putting it back, I discovered the naked film. Woops! Shot ruined. Next time I’ll take my car key or bring a small torch haha!. Shooting a technical camera is full of such things. There are no safeguards, everything that happens is your own fault.
Scanned on an Epson V750 flatbed at 2,400 PPI, Silverfast software, which works great.