Social media, youtube, and podcasts hold no secrets for grain-expert Timothy Ditzler. But no matter how tech-savvy he might be, his heart belongs to the grainy analog world he has been a nurtured for years, as A co-host of Analog Talk Podcast with Chris B. He was one of the first testers to try out the LomoGraflok Instant Back.
What did he have to say about it? "I’m in love with this back, I can’t wait till it gets out!"
From still life to landscape, the versatility of the back with a 4x5 camera is made to shoot everything and anything, anytime and anyplace, even if like Timothy, your only outing is a run to the post office!
Hello Timothy! It's great to have you here at Lomography. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Timothy Ditzler, also known as Timothy Makeups on Social Media. I co-host the Analog Talk Podcast with Chris B. and I are film photography nerds, which is probably why I’m here right now.
For how long have you been shooting large-format?
Let's start at the beginning. I have this Guru, we call him Mr. Bob. He won’t tell us his age but he’s about 80 or 90 years old and he owns a couple of buildings here in Franklin, Tennessee. He used to be a wedding photographer back in the day and he knows that I am into photography. One day he said, I have something for you, and he brought me a box of an old Toyo Rail System Camera but it was broken. I used ducktape and zip ties to hold that thing together. I didn’t know anything about Large Format back then, so I was just kind of figuring it out as I went. That was probably about 6 years ago. And with that camera, he gave me two boxes of Polaroid Type 55 film. It’s the 4x5 black and white peel apart. And that was my intro into 4x5!
What do you like most about the shooting experience with a large-format camera?
Oh man, there are so many things. Usually, when I shoot 35mm I like to push the film for the contrast. 35mm has its own little thing going on, it can be low-fi, kind of crunchy, and cool looking. But then when you move to large-format, it's something else. I like shooting ISO 100 speed film for beautiful clear images, the resolution is insane and you get all these movements too with the lens. It’s just so crazy to think that you can get, down to a pinpoint of focus with all the swirly and weird in the background. There’s just so much creative stuff you can do with 4x5. Of course, you could do that with some kind of tilt-shift lens or even photoshop manipulation, but I’m not part of that world, I like doing it in-camera.
The fact that Lomography is making a back for this now is crazy. I started off shooting instant with a 4x5 camera and that just felt so natural. At that point, packfilm was not yet crazy overpriced, so I got a peel-apart back for the Toyo. I just wish back then I would have known what I had. I was just shooting cats or whatever, not taking it seriously because I didn’t know that that film was gone. So just the fact that now there’s an option for instant photography with a 4x5 camera is amazing. I almost cried when you emailed me about the LomoGraflok.
How do you like using the Instax wide film as opposed to peel apart film for example?
I feel like the colors on the Instax wide film are very similar to the old 100C Peel Apart film, the greens are the same, the shadow details are the same. It doesn’t have those hard blacks but more brownish tones, which I really like. Instax is a little smaller, but that’s okay with me. It’s still instant! You can also get really good scans of Instax shots, which is really important to me.
It takes so long to set up a 4x5 shot, to load the film, shoot the shot – and then you only have two shots in that negative holder. And then you gotta develop it, scan it – there’s so much waiting and anticipation for that one shot. I’m sure that’s what a lot of people also love about 4x5 but then again, there’s nothing like literally just pressing a button and seeing that shot you just shot. I think it’s really cool.
Can you tell us about your experience using the Lomo Graflok Instant Back?
Tennessee is currently in its rainy season, so unfortunately I was only able to leave the house with it twice. I shot a lot of still life instead. I have a little nook in the corner of my office with a white background. I’ve been shooting my camera collection because I’m in a little bit of a purging portion of my camera-hoarding these days. I am starting to get rid of some because I’m running out of room. I’ve been taking pictures of my favorite cameras with it.
I didn’t have any problems figuring it out. The only issue I had at first was figuring out how to get the LomoGraflok in the back because I don’t have a back that disconnects, mine’s spring-loaded. And it was never used for anything thicker than a negative holder, so I had to work it in a little bit but now, five packs later it works smoothly.
Other than that, it worked seamlessly from the start. I really like the placeholder piece as well. I’ve done so many DIY polaroid and Instax shots, where you put the film in a film holder and it’s always been super hard to figure out where the polaroid is going to be and what way to set it in. This thing makes it so much easier, I thought that’s a genius idea for framing up your shot.
How would you integrate this new tool in your photographic workflow?
I’m the kind of person that takes 3 cameras with me no matter where I go. Even if I’m just going to get the mail, I’ll throw a bag over my shoulder, just in case. One of them is already always an instant camera. I got a new SX70 Sonar, which has been my go-to instant camera. But now that this is going to make large format photography so much easier and quicker, I can see this being my instant camera of choice. I’m in love with this back, I can’t wait till it gets out!