My first serious landscape shots with the Linhof Technikardan 69
By Dirk Dom
So I wanted to do serious black and white landscape. After almost having gone the digital route with a Sony A7R and a Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens, I decided I’d go with film and a technical camera. I chose a 6×9 rollfilm format camera because I’d have lots of movements with ultrawide lenses and I wanted to do those shots with crazy perspective and depth of field.
It became a Linhof Technikardan 69. So far I have a 150 and a 65mm lens for it. The Linhof is extremely high quality. It feels like Leica. I got it used for a very reasonable price.
After some trying I figured out how to lug the camera around without getting tired (backpack and un- and repack every shot) and I got familiar with how to work it.
Now, it’s midwinter here in Belgium, real dark, and my folks have a place in Spain, at the Coste Blanca and there it’s sunny and T shirt weather most of the time even now; I got so fed up with the Belgian darkness and frustration not to be able to shoot (exposed a shot eight seconds at 2PM, for God’s sake) that I drove there (1860km) for a week. I’d do my first serious black and white landscape with the Linhof and see what it’s actually worth.
Well, I can tell you, it was sort of a ultimate experience. Now I understand why people lug around with 8×10 camera’s, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually got one of these things. Only thing I have to figure out is how do you get such a beast and 50 8×10 plates through the airport security.
They say the main charming thing about a technical camera it that it slows you down; that’s perfectly correct, taking a shot takes five minutes at the least and even shooting a turtle on a Sunday stroll would be problematical. But the real thing is that you make the image happen in a way you don’t experience with any other camera. I’m at a loss for words here, be it said that I have a Canon F1, an Olympus PEN, a Hasselblad Xpan, a Fuji GX 617, a Mamiya C330, a Mamiya 7. All magnificent camera’s which are a profound joy to image with. But I can tell you now, that concerning the joy in picture taking not one of these camera’s comes even close to the Linhof.
This is all of course highly personal. Lots of people may absolutely hate the cumbersome technical camera workflow.
I shot one film (Eight images) a day.
Well, came back yesterday, with 40 images, developed, scanned and postprocessed today.
Here ‘s some results, scanned with an Epson V750 at 2,000 PPI, more than enough. For printing I’ll spend some weeks finetuning the postprocessing. I print 30 x 45cms.
The first day: no clouds! For good black and white you need some clouds. All shots Tmax 400, red filter. In Belgium I had some trouble focusing the 65mm, but that was due to the very low light level. Here it went like a breeze.
I had overexposed two stops the first day, (forgot to put 400 ASA in the light meter) so I had to go back. I pulled that first film two stops (20% less development time) and it came out perfect. The next day nice clouds.
I took this shot two years ago with the Mamiya 7, but this one came out nicer.
An extremely windy day. I was afraid my filters would blow out of my hands and over the cliff, let alone that my tripod and camera would fly off and I’d find it back thirty meters lower. Didn’t happen. I did lose my wire release, though, luckily I had two with me. I have to figure out which spare parts I need, like the dark slide is absolutely essential and I might drop it and not be able to recover it.
I’m crazy about skies taken through a red filter. 150mm.
Here I used tilt for more DOF. DOF from 30cms to infinity. Yum, yum… 150mm. Try that with a camera without movements.
Film doesn’t burn out highlights. I learnt not to compare film with digital or try to emulate digital with film or vice versa. I enjoy the different media for what they render in their own characteristic way.
Plenty of mountains in the Costa Blanca, right next to the coast.
And finally, a really overcast day. I discovered these houses and waited until a little spot of sun shone on them. It took four shots and over an hour until I got it the way I wanted it.
I’m doing this multiyear project, shooting San Francisco. This Easter I’d go there for two weeks to shoot the city and its people in springtime. I’d take the Xpan and the Olympus PEN; in the Summer I’d spend six weeks there with the Linhof and some other gear. Now I’m so hyped I want to take the Linhof with Easter, too. I ‘ve never done this kind of intense shooting for a long time and I don’t know if I ‘d get fed up after a few days. In the summer I’d do different kinds of shooting and take a day off if it gets too crazy. The Linhof with Easter might get too intense because of the limited time. I have to make up my mind.