Photographing the Swiss Time Trial Championship with a large format camera has been on my mind for a long time. Large format sport photography opposes the slowness of a 4×5″ camera to the speed of the athletes. Opposites attract.
Yesterday, I finally had the opportunity to set up my Graflex Crown Graphic camera and tripod at the roadside and wait for the athletes to rush by. The 40-kilometres time trial parcours takes place in my quasi-backyard where I like to cycle myself through picturesque farmer villages. The shortest shutter speed of the Optar f4.7/135mm lens is 1/200th of a second – not short enough to freeze the racers. Blur is good, and you cannot have too much of a good thing!
I used two kind of films: Kodak Tri-X 320 4×5″ in wooden film holders, and Polaroid 55 film. The Polaroid 55 black and white film sadly is not produced any longer and has expired a decade ago. I was curious and anxious to see how the film would turn out. Unfortunately, it didn’t develop anymore – the chemicals have probably dried out as I’ve waited too long using it for my photo project. However, I still had the the Kodak Tri-X film developed in HC-110 developer (about 4 minutes at 20°C, difficult to achieve during the current heatwave). One of the film holders has a light leak, and unfortunately I do not know which one… The 4×5″ wooden film holders each hold two film sheets, and I have to preload them at home in total darkness. That’s four exposures for one bicycle race.