Loading film for a large format camera can be intimidating, but I am going to attempt to keep the process simple and make it easy to to load the large negatives into the film holders.

First remember that I am showing this in daylight, but this process should be done in complete darkness

Good places are:
  • A bathroom with weather sealing.
  • A dark closet without light leaks.
  • A bag specifically designed for changing the film (These are required out in the field).

Lets start with what you will need.  This includes a working film holder, film, canned air or an air blaster.

First thing to do is to remove the dark slide from the holder.  At this time it is a good idea to use the canned air or air blaster to remove any dust possible.  Removing the dust prevents it from getting attached to the emulsion and messing up the negative.

After the dust has been removed pull the unexposed film out of the box it comes in.  Remember to be gentle with the film and try to only hold it on the sides to avoid getting fingerprints on the emulsion. Note that when you have the film with the notches in the upper right hand corner, the emulsion side will be facing you and that is the side that should be facing up when the film is in the holder.

Next slide the film into the holder with the emulsion side up.  Make sure the film goes under the bottom rail of the film holder.  This is important so the film sits where it should.  This prevents it get in the way when replacing the dark slide.

After the film is fully inserted into the film holder close the bottom flap.  At this point you are almost done.

Now it is time to replace the dark slide.

Lastly, make sure the pin is in place so the dark slide doesn’t inadvertently come out. This will prevent the film getting exposed before you are ready.

Now you can just repeat these steps for the other holders you want to load and take with you.

Note that while out in the field people do many different things to remember which negatives they have already exposed.  My recommendation is to find something that works for you and repeat it every time, making it habit.  More on exposing the film and what to do after in later posts.

Don’t forget to look at the images on my site in the galleries starting at: https://mjvphoto.com/the-art/.  Hopefully you find some of them inspirational for your own photography adventures, or maybe you find an image you want to call your own.

While I share this journey with everyone on the internet, I will attempt to keep explanations simple and easy for everyone to understand.  Many times I get questions from friends and acquaintances based on them reading stuff on the internet and just being more confused.  That said, if anyone has a question about something written here, please leave me a comment with the question.  Maybe that will turn into a whole different post or maybe it will be a quick answer that clears it up. 

Next up is how to use Tilt on the 4X5 Camera.