Tag Archives: flowers

Winter Tulips Study

Winter Tulips 2013 StudyFor the Winter Tulips Study I ordered 50 fresh white tulips from a farm in San Francisco California. Upon arrival I put the fresh tulips in a vase of fresh water and sat them in the daylight studio to settle in and begin the blooming process. Single tulips have six petals. Variations today include lily-flowering types, double flowers, fringed petals and ruffly parrot varieties. Tulips also come in a wide variety of colors to include: white, yellow, pink, peach, orange, red, lavender, purple and bi-colors.

You can view all of the plates in this study by clicking on the main image to the left and you will be taken to my online gallery.

Tulips are originally native to Eurasia. They are believed to have been brought to western Europe in the mid 1500’s and they were called “Tulipa”, which is Latin for Turban. History tells us that demand soared for tulips after this and historians have dubbed the 17th century in the Netherlands as “Tulip Mania”. The price of a single tulip in the Netherlands soared so high that it caused markets to crash.

In Victorian times, flowers were used as symbols and gestures to communicate something that words could not. I like that tradition because I am drawn to peace and quite and often find times when words are not suffice. Just like roses, tulips represent perfect love and I think that is why people are naturally drawn to them. Forgiveness and worth are said to be exclusively associated with white tulips.

The tulip is thought to be the world’s most favorite flower only behind the rose. The white tulip is the national symbol for four countries: Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Study Information

I used sheet film in a large format camera for the images in this study. For the color plates I used Fuji Provia 100F slide film and for the black and white I used Tri-X.  I watched and studied the tulips in my daylight studio over the course of 10 days and when I felt there was something worthy of expressing, I captured the moment. For collectors I am offering artist original darkroom gelatin silver prints on gallery fiber paper ranging in sizes from 4×5 contact prints from the original negatives to 20×24 gallery enlargements. I process all of the artist original prints for archival permanence and selenium tone them. I hand print each image in my darkroom on demand and ship to any location with a valid postal address. If you are interested in a print, use my contact form to connect with me.

Tim Layton


Phalaenopsis Orchid Instant Film Study

In this one day project, I setup my Ebony SV45U2 large format camera with an instant film back using my last box of Fuji FP-100C45 color instant film.  Yes, I said it was my last box.  I am very sad that Fuji no longer makes this film because I would use it all the time for a variety of reasons and projects.  I use the FP-100C version, which is the same film, just physically smaller (3.25″ x 4.25″) on my RZ67 Pro II, Hasselblad 503CW and on my 4×5 view camera using a Kodak 405 back.  Fuji also makes this film in an ISO 3000 (FP-3000b) Black and White version.  I have been waiting for a compelling project to use my last pack of 4×5 instant film and when my orchids were in bloom, I knew it was time.

When I display or talk about my art, I never mention equipment used, however for the readers of this blog I know the details are interesting and relevant because most readers are photographers and we like to share details about our approach, equipment, and processes.  This project was conducted in my studio using continuous daylights rated at 5500k.  My lighting setup was a three light configuration that included a key light in the front right that was up high and pointing down at the subject at about a 45 degree angle and then two lights on opposite sides of the subject in a clam shell configuration.  I used a 150mm Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S f/5.6 lens at f/32.  The Fuji instant film is rated at ISO 100, but I have found that I rate it at ISO 40 (2 stops slower) for best results in my environment.

Phalaenopsis Orchid Instant Film Study

While this was the last box of the 4×5 instant film, I plan on continuing the study with all of the same equipment and configuration, but I will be using the FP-100C version of the same film as discussed above.  As I add more to the study, you can view them on my gallery.

Tim Layton

Purple and Yellow Orchids – Wet Plate Collodion

Continuing with my pictorialism, soft focus, and wet plate collodion floral still life study, I photographed two different orchids today, purple and yellow.  These orchids are of the phalaenopsis genre.  The phalaenopsis orchid is the most popular orchid in the world today and there are many different species of this orchid.  These orchids are natively from southeast Asia and northern Australia, but are very hardy for orchids and can be grown and cared for in a normal home.  The word phalaenopsis means “mothlike” in Greek, and refers to the large flowers that look like hovering moths.

How good is your collodion color skills?  Can you tell me if the top photo is purple or yellow? For both of these plates I used a vintage Rodenstock 7″ F3.5 soft focus lens and my wet plate camera on black glass.  I used different development techniques and fixers to get the colors that you see in the two images.  Send me an email and share your comments.


Tim Layton

Need some Inspiration Today?

Do you need some inspiration today?  A friend sent me a link to the TED movie, Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.  This movie struck a cord deep inside me on many levels. No matter what your passion is in your photography, there is something special about nature and why so many people are drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  The natural beauty around us is literally everywhere.  As photographers we have a special gift of being able to break a scene down in to smaller parts and find several scenes within scenes.  When I am out hiking a new trail, or even my regular trails, but in a new season, I typically like to do this alone because I would be really bad company otherwise.  I get lost in the natural beauty of our world.  I take the time to slow down, sit, and really look at the miracles right in front of me.  Hopefully this video from Louie Schwartzberg will inspire you to go take a walk today and look at the world with fresh eyes as if it was your first day as a human being.

As many of you know I have an affinity and fascination with the ethereal beauty of flowers and flora.  I have wildflower galleries in color as well as black and white.  This should be your first clue that I have an obsession with flowers!  My obsession with flora could not possibly be complete without color and black and white still life galleries. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that using one medium (film) was not enough for me, so I had to explore wet plate collodion in my Missouri Wildflower Study.  If that were not enough, I felt the need to focus on one flower, the lily, and create a monograph, Lilium Unum.  I even have a website dedicated to my fine art flora projects.  Enjoy this inspirational movie and let me know your thoughts and how it impacted your thoughts today about your photography.

Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

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Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

Using Large Format to Photograph Wildflowers

© Tim Layton Sr.Most people never put the words large format and wildflowers in the same sentence.  Call me crazy but I do it all the time and love it.  I was recently out with my 4×5 large format camera mounted with a standard 150mm lens and 400mm of bellows draw at my disposal.  So much of my work in large format is at maximum depth of field and so I thought it would be fun to share some shallow depth of field photos for a change.  I will list the apertures that I used above each of the photos below.  One of the things that you will notice when looking at the apertures is that large format needs about 2 to 3 stops more than you would use for small format.  For example, in the second photograph below I used an aperture of f/5.6 and you may guess this for f/2.8 if I hadn’t told you the aperture I used.

I am an avid wildflower hunter and Missouri has more variety and species than I could ever hope to master or likely see.  For my outing today I just used my standard 150mm Rodenstok lens and some bellows draw to take these photos.  I used my standard Tri-X 320 sheet film rated at EI 250 and developed in my normal HC110 when using the zone system. The flowers that I wanted to photograph were a little smaller than I anticipated and unfortunately I did not have my 250D or 500D diopters to fill the frame up as I originally intended.  After reviewing the negatives I am glad I didn’t use the diopters because it forced me to get out of my normal routine.

One of the things that I like about photographing wildflowers is just the simple pleasure of being outside and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  I also like the natural light and try and use it to my advantage any way that I can.


In this first photograph of the Black-eyed Susan’s I used an aperture of f/11 and based on placing the yellow petals on zone 5 1/2 I got a shutter speed of 1/30th. Black-eyed Susan is the common name for Rudbeckia Hirta and they are a member of the daisy family.  These flowers grow to about 2 1/2 feet tall and measure about 4″ across.  They are typically seen in open woods, prairies, roadsides, rock outcroppings, along the railroad tracks and it is not uncommon to spot them statewide across Missouri.

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For the second photograph  of the Jerusalem Artichokes I used an aperture of f/5.6 and based on placing the yellow part of the flower petals on zone 5 1/2 I got a shutter speed of 1/60.  These flowers have sunflower type heads with an array of 12 to 20 florets.  The fun thing about the Jerusalem Artichoke is that it has a distinct chocolate smell.  The Latin name for the Jerusalem Artichoke is Helianthus Tuberosus and belongs to the Daisy family.  It is common in Missouri from August through October. This wildflower was eaten by Native Americans and is still cultivated for human and animal food today.

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I photographed the White Crownbeard flower at f/11 and 1/15.  I metered on the white flowers because I was most concerned about getting this correct.  I placed the white flowers on Zone 6 1/2 and I think they turned out perfect.  I still got decent bokeh at f/11 and since the second and third flowers had a little separation from the main subject that helped as well.  This is a perennial that is in bloom from August through October in Missouri.  It is very common along streamsides, open woods and valleys.  The Latin name is Verbesina Virginica.  This wildflower is unique because it is only one of three plants in Missouri that during hard freezes water is squeezed out through the cracks in the stem, freezes and then forms ribbons of ice. Now that is pretty cool!

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If you find the information I produce useful or helpful, consider making a one time donation or regular subscription.

Subscription Options

You can also make a one time donation of any value to help support me in this journey and commitment to photography and nature.


Tim Layton
Analog Film Photography Blog

All text and images copyright © Tim Layton Sr. 1983 – 2014

Large Format White Lilies in the Studio

© Tim Layton Sr.I get a lot of questions about doing closeup and macro studio photography with large format camera systems so I decided to write this article and walk you through a typical process.  First, I went down to my local florist and picked up some large white Calla Lilies that I thought would make interesting subjects.  For this project I decided to use my 8×10 large format camera with the Fuji 300mm lens and Tri-X 320 film.  My Tri-X 320 sheet film is rated at EI 250 based on my testing procedures.  My normal development time in D-76 1+ 1 is 8 1/2 minutes.  I use the 300mm lens on the 8×10 because this is the standard lens for 8×10 and it makes for great closeup and macro work.  I have over 800mm of bellows draw on my camera so I can go up to 2+ on my magnification ratio if I want.  I also use a +2 diopter for super macro work.

Setup and Artistic Choices

After looking at the lilies I decided to take advantage of the beautiful white flowers and use a black background to add more drama and contrast to the scene.  Then I decided to use a tall rectangular vase because it felt modern and contemporary to me.  I thought the tall white Calla Lilies looked sophisticated so I wanted to take the scene in that direction. If I had used a vase with softer or more round lines it would have produced a much different result.

I used natural light from a window on the right side of the flowers to hopefully allow the translucent flowers to radiate as well as create a natural shadow from right to left.  For this particular scene I had limited space between the background and the subject so I had to make a decision what zone to place the background on vs. the white portion of the flowers.  I use the Zone system in my black and white fine art photography so my metering, development and printing is based on this system.

Technical Details

With large format you have to account for your bellows extension because your film gets further away from your lens and it needs more light to properly expose the film.  This is commonly referred to as bellows factor.  There are a number of ways to approach this but I have a method that I have been using for a long time that is very accurate.  In my case this time I was using a 300mm lens and had 400mm of bellows extension.  I simply take a soft tape measure and measure the distance between the lens and film back.  I divide the bellows extension (400) by the lens length (300) and square that to get the bellows factor (BF).  The calculation is as follows: (400/300)2.  In this case my BF was 1.77.  In order to get the amount of exposure compensation I need to perform another calculation using the log() function.  This may seem complicated but it really isn’t and is actually very quick.  I take the log() of my BF log(1.77) and divide by a log() of 2 log(2) and I get my exposure compensation.  The calculation is as follows: log(1.77)/log(2) = .82 which is a little over 2/3rd of a stop.  Two-thirds exactly would have been .75.  In this specific case since I didn’t have a full stop of exposure comp I decide to open up the aperture 2/3 stop from f/45 to f/32 1/3.  You can probably figure out that for a BF of 2 you need 1 stop of exposure compensation or double the exposure time.  For 1 stop you could open your aperture up one stop of double your exposure time.

Next, since I am using Tri-X I have to factor in reciprocity failure and add adjust my exposure time.  The baseline recommendations for reciprocity corrections can be found in the Kodak datasheet for Tri-X.  Over time I have built my own tables based on experience starting with the Kodak guidelines.  You need to calculate your total exposure time including reciprocity only after all corrections are made (e.g., bellows factor, filters, etc).  My metered exposure for the first photo was 2 seconds and for reciprocity I had to add three seconds for a total of 5 seconds.  For the second exposure my metered exposure was 8 seconds and my reciprocity correction was 29 seconds for a total exposure of 37 seconds.  With reciprocity you also have to reduce development time based on the degree of failure.  For the first exposure I reduced my normal (N) development time by 10% and the second 15%.

The Photographs

In this first photograph I metered the background for Zone 0 which is -5 stops of exposure compensation from Zone V.  If you are not aware of it your meter measures your scene at Zone 5 (18% gray) by default.  If I had left my meter as set without dialing in -5 stops of compensation the background would have been neutral gray and that was not what I wanted.  This is mainly because of the short distance between the subject and background.  However, I was worried about my whites and where they would fall based on making the decision on placing the background on Zone 0 (pure black). My background was pure black as expected on the negative and my white and mid-tones were probably about a stop below where I would have intentionally placed them.

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For the second photograph I went the other direction and metered the white part of the Lily and placed it on Zone VII which is +2 stops of exposure compensation and let the shadows fall where they wanted.  As you probably expected I got better whites and mid-tones and my background showed texture and detail and was not exposed properly.

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You might be asking yourself what the solution is?  There are a number of options that I could have pursued depending on my workflow and local variables.  If I were scanning and printing digitally either of the two exposures would produce a professional quality print because of the power of Photoshop and  the use of layers.  If I had to pick one exposure over the other I would probably go with the second exposure because it had better detail and I could always burn the background to be black as intended or layer in mid-tones and shadows.  If I were in the darkroom I would also probably go with the second negative and start with a number 2 VC filter and find the proper exposure for the whites in my flowers and then deal with the shadow detail and background my changing my VC filters until they looked right.  More or less an optical approach to the Photoshop method.


Based on my above session I made some adjustments and took a new exposure early the next day.  I moved the flowers about eight feet from the background and leveraged the morning sun coming through some blinds.  By moving the flowers further away from the background I used the principle of light falling off and being able to get the black background without having to meter for the background at -5 stops (zone 0) and then deal with the flat mid-tones.  If you compare this to the first two exposures above you will see a significant difference.  There are no right or wrong answers in art, just differences.  I wanted to use the blinds to create shadows across the vase and flowers and still hold good highlights and shadow detail.

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Nikon F5, T-Max 100 and D76 – An Awesome Trio!

I normally use my large or medium format equipment for any serious work but I recently was reminded of why using film is so awesome.  Besides the obvious benefits such as having a timeless analog backup of your images and total control over the entire photographic process I was reminded of another great reason to use film as my medium.   One of the benefits that I listed in a previous article about why I use film I talked about film being the perfect master.  The reason it is a perfect master is because of the incredible amount of detail that it can record and as technology continues to evolve over time with scanners you can go back and scan in your masterpieces with the latest technology and no worries about file formats, RAW file compatibility nightmares, software plugins, etc.

I recently learned that West Coast Imaging can scan a 35mm negative at 5200 dpi with their Tango Drum Scanner allowing a professional print to be made that is 40″ or even 50″.  Now that is pretty incredible if you ask me.  You can pick up an old full frame 35mm camera for less than $100 today and using the WCI Tango Drum Scanning services you can print about anything you want without the historical hurdles of of 10 or 14 inch prints normally associated with 35mm.

What’s it all mean?

For me personally this won’t change too much, however I will bring along my F5 on trips or assignments when I normally would have left it at home.   I will continue to use my F5 as I normally do for my birding and sports adventures, but with this latest advancement new possibilities are now available.  Knowing that I have that option in my back pocket is a huge advantage.  When I am shooting large format it might make the difference between missing a shot if I couldn’t get my large format gear setup fast enough.

It is all relative in my mind.  Let me explain.  If I shot a landscape with the F5 and wanted to print in the darkroom, not much has changed for me.  If I wanted to scan it with a high end service from WCI then it could be a game changer.  It all depends on my workflow and final output requirements.  Also, if I shot the same scene in large format and laid the prints side by side there would not be any comparison.  In fact you may have to wipe the tears from your eyes when you looked at my large format print.  All kidding aside, it is all relative because we don’t view prints like this.  Only crazy photographers think like that.  People view our art and appreciate it for what it is and most could care less what format or how we even made the print.

The high end scan from WCI runs about $40.  Assuming you only had your homerun negatives scanned you could do a lot of scanning before you ever spent $8k on a high end DSLR that will be outdated within the year.  For some photographers that need maximum portability or don’t shoot medium or large format the WCI scan could be a huge benefit to them.

The Photo

For today I decided to load up the F5 with some Tmax 100 and a 105mm Macro lens and went outside to my flower garden.  I mounted the F5 on a tripod and focused and pressed the cable release.  I used spot metering and never gave it a second thought.  I developed in D-76 1+1 for 7 minutes.

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