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deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 00:17
My apologies in advance for this rather lengthy post… but I am a man in great need of help! :)

Hello good folk,

As a brief intro, I live in Sydney and am finding myself passionate once again about photography – trying to balance occasional thoughts of irrelevance and redundancy (how many gazillion ‘amazing’ shots are already on the web??) with the great pleasures to be derived from continuing to capture worthy images myself and constantly evolve and engage with new (or in this case, very old) frontiers.

Increasingly I'm being drawn to the idea of actually creating images, not just blazing away with some level of mechanical precision at a scene using a host of automated equipment in the hope that I’ll capture “that shot”, but to settle calmly into the thoughtful manual worlds of MF and possibly LF photography and actually make it happen over time. (Not unlike a parallel passion in making furniture with hand tools).

I’ve photographed 35mm film and digital now for over 30 years and in recent years have been dabbling with a few 645 cameras of mine (Bronica ETRSi and RF645). In recent months, I’ve dialled up the intensity with MF and have experienced a new and passionate love affair erupt with MF B&W – such that my wife is beginning to wonder why I lie awake with a restlessness late every night!

What she doesn’t know however, is that under the surface the evil god of Large Format has begun to lurk – tapping at my shoulder, chipping away at my weakness and fuelling an obsessive desire to plunge headlong into this new and complex world.

So, I come with humility to seek your wisdom in the hope of making some sense of it all before launching into the next likely area of immersion – large format….

Following are questions of a more philosophical nature, so forgive me if I appear to be from another planet… I can easily read up on the “what” and the “how”, this is about the “why” which is important for me to settle before I spend lots of money and apply time I don’t have to something I don’t have a reasonable handle on!

1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most? Is it in the sheer quality of the images you create, is it in the intricate manual process, is it the exclusiveness of the rare breed to which you belong, is it that you don’t get what you want any other way (ie. with MF/35mm etc.) or is it in the owning and using of such classic and beautiful equipment etc.? In other words, what is it most about large format photography that makes you go to all that trouble?

[I suspect for me it will be all of those things, but perhaps with a bias towards the great sense of achievement of creating something beautiful with great effort and painstaking attention at all steps – like hand making furniture.]

2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)?

[I have produced many tens of thousands of images in 35mm (slide and digital) and am struggling to enjoy and even comprehend or manage them all. A vast oversupply with, at times too little effort in the making – has to lower the overall value, right? (My hand-made cot with hundreds of hours in the making is priceless to me – and gives me joy every time I see it!).]

3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?

[I ask this as I feel that the discipline of MF has helped me to engage more with my shooting in other formats.]

4. What do you do with your images? Do you feel the need to print them all at vast sizes so you can “walk into” the details, do you archive the negs/trannies and enjoy them in private with the light-box – marvelling at the detail with your 4x loupe, do you precision scan them and store them digitally (I think 4x5 @ 4,000dpi is about 320 Mpixels, yes?)?

5. Finally, what do your images do to you?

[Perhaps a strange question, but I know after spending a few hours scanning and preparing a 645, I feel a great sense of connection with the capture that seems to last.]

So, perhaps these could be seen as the questions of a madman – I’m sure my wife would concur. However, I am feeling quite drawn into a new world about which I know nothing beyond some technical rudiments and am very keen to know what it is about it all that makes you tick.

If you’ve gotten this far, I thank you and look forward to reading anything that anyone would care to respond with!

Cheers and thanks,
David

Jac@stafford.net
2-Jul-2013, 00:57
In other words, what is it most about large format photography that makes you go to all that trouble?

In my case, I've never made a picture I liked that could not have been made with large format (usually 4x5" or 6x12cm). It is much easier to control and prints are better. (I do not make large prints except when specifically asked to.)

Michael E
2-Jul-2013, 01:30
Hello David,

congratulations, you're asking the right questions.


1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most?

Just like building furniture with hand tools, making images with a LF camera is a lot about the process. Furniture or images can be made with more convenience, sometimes with more accuracy, almost always with more effectivity. Sometimes, your audience appreciates the extra effort. Most of the times, they can't tell or don't care. But as a creator, the process does make a difference. You probably don't make furniture because you need more furniture.


2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)?


Different, yes. Better, not always. When I visited Phnom Penh this spring, I took 150 LF images and 6,000 digital images. The fast versatile digital camera with the ability to capture unlimited sequences did better justice to the lively city than the LF camera (with 6,000 images, good editing is the key). LF photography doesn't work for everything, but for some things it's the only way.


3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?

If you took the effort to set up tripod and camera, you might as well wait for the light, the clouds, the pedestrians. The LF camera teaches patience. The tripod plays a major role, too.


4. What do you do with your images?

I mostly print 5x7" (from 4x5"), or 5x7" and 8x10" contact prints. I hardly ever print bigger than 8x10". Like I said, it's about the process. I show my images in exhibitions sometimes, but mostly they are for myself.


5. Finally, what do your images do to you?


They help me understand the world. They help me to find out what I really care about, what captures my interest and my imagination.

David, I don't think that you are crazy. Sometimes, you just get to a point where you have to take the next step. LF photography might be the next step for you. Just don't get entangled in the mechanical aspects too much.

As for your wife - if you are spending time in a darkroom instead of a dark bar, if you are lying awake dreaming of cameras instead of girls, she should be just fine.

Michael

Brian Ellis
2-Jul-2013, 06:07
You might keep in mind the fact that having fewer LF photographs than you've had in 35mm and MF doesn't mean they'll necessarily be better photographs. But to answer your questions from my standpoint:

1. Viewing the subject on the larger ground glass, especially with an 8x10 camera.

2. Good question. I don't but then I use a digital camera in much the same way I use LF, i.e. I don't take a whole lot of shots of the same subject and hope that one turns out well. I generally make one, maybe two, exposures and move on.

3. See #2 above. But I don't find the time and effort involved with LF to be unpleasant or something I have to tolerate to get what I want, I find them to be what makes LF photography enjoyable (especially 8x10). With today's technology I see no reason to use a LF camera except for the sheer pleasure of the process. Maybe if I made huge prints it would be different but approximately 16x20 is the largest print I typically make except for an occasional 20x30 that I have made by a lab since I don't have the equipment to print that size myself.

4. In the past I occasionally exhibited, showed work at monthly group "critique" meetings, and of course made prints for myself that I didn't plan to do anything further with. I haven't exhibited in a while because I just haven't been sufficiently motivated to take the time, money, and effort to do so.

5. I get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from making and viewing an excellent photograph that I made. There aren't that many of them but when they do come along it's very satisfying. If I like the photograph it doesn't matter what format camera I've used - 6x7, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, or digital camera (never used 35mm after I became serious about photography many years ago).

Bill_1856
2-Jul-2013, 06:27
It doesn't really matter if your images are Weston quality or not -- the pleasure is in the process of working. Large Format is not a size, but a state of mind.

rdenney
2-Jul-2013, 07:16
1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most? Is it in the sheer quality of the images you create, is it in the intricate manual process, is it the exclusiveness of the rare breed to which you belong, is it that you don’t get what you want any other way (ie. with MF/35mm etc.) or is it in the owning and using of such classic and beautiful equipment etc.? In other words, what is it most about large format photography that makes you go to all that trouble?Yes.

(Actually, it is mostly image management--the ability to control what is and is not sharp, and what is and is not parallel. And the abundant image quality, even with smaller prints, though it makes no less demand on technique. And the ability to get those outcomes using affordable equipment.)


2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)? I wish. The tendency is to do so, but the cold, hard self-editing eye is no less demanding of the large-format stuff just because it was hard to make. Outcome: One must have a high tolerance for disappointment, tempered by elation with it all works well and represents a vision worth achieving.


3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?Learn to see the scene as a photograph, not as a scene. I'm still working on that one, but then I've only been at it for 35 years.


4. What do you do with your images? Do you feel the need to print them all at vast sizes so you can “walk into” the details, do you archive the negs/trannies and enjoy them in private with the light-box – marvelling at the detail with your 4x loupe, do you precision scan them and store them digitally (I think 4x5 @ 4,000dpi is about 320 Mpixels, yes?)?I print at the largest size my printer will accommodate, which is 16x20. That is barely big enough, or maybe not big enough, to really show off what large-format can do. But a 4x enlargement makes it much easier to get the desired results than a 17x enlargement.

The sense of endless detail is fundamentally important to me. I do not want that sense to be violated no matter how closely the print is inspected. Again, that's much easier to achieve at 4x than at 17x.


5. Finally, what do your images do to you?Disappoint me, usually. Fill me with joy, often enough to keep doing it. Generally, though, I give up early with a disappointing image--putting hours into it usually won't make it better. Occasionally, I'll come back to it and see something I missed earlier, but usually it's the other way around. And I've learned that the stuff that fills me with joy often leaves others cold. But my results are mine and mine alone, and I like being in control of the process, so that if it turns out well, I can actually claim some credit for it.

Rick "by the way, welcome" Denney

jp
2-Jul-2013, 07:54
Welcome; do tell us what styles interest you if you get around to asking for camera/lens suggestions.

1. I like to think I have some tastes/loves that transcend time. In photography, this means chasing something other than the newest shiny camera or flash in the pan fad/style. In LF, it's high quality, but I mostly shoot soft focus or triplets or tessars; something mocked by the contemporary technology fans, but I'm after smoothness and styles that were popular from 1900-1930's. No better way in my opinion than to use original tools (cameras and lenses) when practical. I'm not nostalgic; my parents weren't even around then.

2. I don't value it more; I like some of my 6x6 stuff as much or more than LF, not because of the size, but because of the image. Either is of sufficient quality to meet my needs. It's sort of like gambling with higher stakes sometimes. I can really dislike something when I spent big bucks on an 8x10 sheet of film and it was a total flop, like when your bucket of change runs out at the slot machine and you have wasted time and no money to show for it. But I do things with LF that I can't do with MF or digital and when they are done well, I am very pleased.

3. It takes time to setup a tripod and camera, and scope the scene out. That sort of requirement of awareness and thinking ahead is helpful regardless of the camera; it's just more often required with LF. The thin DOF also makes me think more about visual layers and depth of field and making 3d scenes into 2d images to a greater extent than miniature formats require.

4. I'm not into details, so I don't print them much or big. I'm more into tones and mood/feelings, and sometimes details are needed to show that, sometimes not. I would like to print more, but I honestly get behind even contact printing them. I mostly scan a few decent ones, and the rest wait in pages to be contact printed or enlarged if I have time for a special image once in a while. Probably 90% of what I like never gets printed. Photography is more about the seeing and learning than being a caffeine fueled print producing machine. If I didn't have to work for a living, I'd be inclined to spend more rainy days printing in the darkroom, and more decent days out shooting.

John Kasaian
2-Jul-2013, 13:57
Welcome aboard!
1. All the above, plus the sensation of being quite literally "hands on."
2. Yes.
3. Never, ever be dependent on batteries. I'd die before consenting to get a pacemaker (not the Graphic one!)
4. Share the really good ones---never on the internet though. If the image is something I enjoy, I figure others will enjoy it too. Bringing happiness to others is important.
5. Take me back to the time they were taken, sort of like time travel.

Alan Gales
2-Jul-2013, 14:21
... but I am a man in great need of help!

I think you just described all of us except for the few female members!


1. For me it's both the process and the result. I agree with Brian about looking at that big 8x10 ground glass.

2. The only 35mm I shoot is a Stereo Realist which I shoot for kicks. I shoot digital for sports, ebay and snapshots. The sport shots can be really satisfying in a different way. I also own a Hasselblad and those images can be just as satisfying. I shoot it hand held. Anything on a tripod I would rather use 4x5 or 8x10. So I guess to answer your question would be to say that smaller formats can be just as satisfying. Each format has it's place.

3. To spend more time on each individual photograph. By slowing things down I find I get more keepers. Of course this does not apply to shooting sports. Shooting at 5 frames per second on my Nikon D300 does have it's place.

4. I own an Epson V750 flat bed scanner so I can scan up to 8x10. I don't do my own printing and the largest that I have had a couple printed is 16x20 so far. I have a small house so I don't have a lot of wall space. One of these days I'll get a negative drum scanned and go really big.

5.My wife half kidding says it's a sickness. Did you notice I said half kidding? Does that answer your question? :cool:

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:14
Many thanks for your generous responses. I'm humbled that you guys have gone to so much trouble and am becoming more and more comfortable with the notion of progressing into this wonderful field.

What I'm reading and sensing is exactly what I think I'm looking for, and that is a move towards more emotive and thoughtful (some might say "Zen") photography. The slower pace is very appealing to me, the necessity to dedicate one's self to an image for a significant time period and the commitment required to bring it all together, before - during and after the actual capture. These are aspects of my photography that in honesty I have allowed to erode with my highly convenient digital gear (D700). With young children, of course the D700 has its place but as has been said above, there are often times where I will shoot something in a beautiful and wild remote part of Australia, wishing I had a more appropriate tool (such as a 6x17).

What did initially surprise me is that some of you have said that you're not detail junkies (but in far more eloquent terms of course). Perhaps this is due to me having spent so many years in the digital world where pixel count takes up a lot of bandwidth and far less conversation around tone and emotion takes place. I will reflect on that one - my presumption was that image detail and quality would be more of an incentive than it appears to be. There is something quite refreshing in that.

In the next week or so I have the opportunity to head out with both an 8x10 and a 6x17 and a few experts in the field to have my first experience. So I think that format will be the next question - 4x5 or 6x17 potentially. Given a love of the natural world and opportunities to travel to remote places (we do a lot of long distance 4wd camping), landscape opportunities are just begging for large format!

Anyway, enough about me. Many thanks folks and no doubt the coming weeks will be exciting as I decide on directions and equipment. I look forward to becoming a member of this reflective community.

Many regards,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:16
In my case, I've never made a picture I liked that could not have been made with large format (usually 4x5" or 6x12cm). It is much easier to control and prints are better. (I do not make large prints except when specifically asked to.)

Interesting point, though with 2 little kids I'm sure my reflexes wouldn't be quite up to capturing them awake with LF! Learning the control aspects will be quite a journey no doubt.
Cheers and thanks,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:25
Hello David,

congratulations, you're asking the right questions.

...

As for your wife - if you are spending time in a darkroom instead of a dark bar, if you are lying awake dreaming of cameras instead of girls, she should be just fine.

Michael

Hi Michael,

some very valid points and they are appreciated. The inwards joy of doing something well for your own fulfilment rather than for an audience all the time is sadly a bit against the modern way IMHO. That's a whole philosophical discussion but one worth pondering. Also not becoming too hung up on the technicalities - this is a natural orientation for some of us but will be good to work on.

I read your note out to my wife last night and she agreed. She is very supportive and patient and we have a lovely collection of reasonably high quality images of our life together as a result - what more incentive??!!

Cheers and thanks,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:29
You might keep in mind the fact that having fewer LF photographs than you've had in 35mm and MF doesn't mean they'll necessarily be better photographs.

...

(never used 35mm after I became serious about photography many years ago).

Hi Brian,

thanks for your reply and more good wisdom. Having realistic expectations will be a good start. As for 35mm, perhaps I will be the same once the kids have grown up. I'll be able to sell my D700 for about $20 by then...

Cheers,
David

Jim Galli
2-Jul-2013, 17:39
Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most?

Relaxation and the creative process combined. Simple enjoyment. Large format, mostly 8X10, is a seperation from the utilitarianism of other "needed" photography. For me at least, the whole soft focus lens thing is a seperate little world (that almost nobody cares about) that computers cannot duplicate. And some of the work is truly lovely.

Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)?

No, not much. The value is in the doing.

Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?

...

Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
4. What do you do with your images?

I print some. I enjoy making up the web pages and showing other folks that way.

Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
5. Finally, what do your images do to you?

Some sense of satisfaction I suppose. Like a journey, it's fun to pause at a hilltop and look behind you at where you've been, and look ahead at all the possibilities.

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:42
It doesn't really matter if your images are Weston quality or not -- the pleasure is in the process of working. Large Format is not a size, but a state of mind.

Hi Wilhelm,

thanks for responding. Back to having realistic expectations - over time no doubt the success rate will increase. However, what you're saying is that it's much more about getting there - I've been looking for exactly this!

Cheers,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 17:47
Yes.

...

Learn to see the scene as a photograph, not as a scene. I'm still working on that one, but then I've only been at it for 35 years.

I print at the largest size my printer will accommodate, which is 16x20. That is barely big enough, or maybe not big enough, to really show off what large-format can do. But a 4x enlargement makes it much easier to get the desired results than a 17x enlargement.

The sense of endless detail is fundamentally important to me. I do not want that sense to be violated no matter how closely the print is inspected. Again, that's much easier to achieve at 4x than at 17x.

Disappoint me, usually. Fill me with joy, often enough to keep doing it. Generally, though, I give up early with a disappointing image--putting hours into it usually won't make it better. Occasionally, I'll come back to it and see something I missed earlier, but usually it's the other way around. And I've learned that the stuff that fills me with joy often leaves others cold. But my results are mine and mine alone, and I like being in control of the process, so that if it turns out well, I can actually claim some credit for it.

Rick "by the way, welcome" Denney

Hi Rick - thanks for the welcome and yet more good thoughts on the matter! Your 35 years comment reminds me about some advice once given to a young woodworker enquiring about how to make good dovetails. The response was something like: "Well sonny, if you work hard at it for 20 years, you'll be able to call yourself a beginner". Beyond the technical aspects, for me I've learnt precious little shooting digital over the last 10 years - my brain needs more time and intensity perhaps.

No doubt I'll be more naturally drawn to the detail too - post-processing will be quite something no doubt!

Cheers and thanks,
David

JW Dewdney
2-Jul-2013, 17:48
simple. tactility. the tactile nature of the resulting images... magic.

welly
2-Jul-2013, 17:50
Hello David from another Sydney resident!



1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most? Is it in the sheer quality of the images you create, is it in the intricate manual process, is it the exclusiveness of the rare breed to which you belong, is it that you don’t get what you want any other way (ie. with MF/35mm etc.) or is it in the owning and using of such classic and beautiful equipment etc.? In other words, what is it most about large format photography that makes you go to all that trouble?


It's what made me become passionate again about photography. I was shooting digital for a number of years and felt like I was going through the same boring processes over and over again. I don't and never will aspire to shoot 1 million photographs (http://blog.flickr.net/2013/02/22/thomas-hawk-im-trying-to-capture-1-million-photos-before-i-die/) in my life. If I capture more than a couple of photographs a week, that I'm happy with, I'm happy. Large format photography suits me. I like being part of a small community. I like the technical challenge that large format photography offers. I love how my photographs look. I recently printed my first 8x10 contact print and while the result isn't perfect (it's a little dark), I think it's a beautiful thing. I can now see what people refer to when they talk about the wonder and beauty of a contact print. It really is quite something and my contact print is terrible, in the grand scheme of things!



2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)?


Absolutely. I have some digital images I've shot in the past which I love and am very proud of but the large format images I've captured that I'm really happy with, I'm very, very proud of them.



3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?


Slow down.



4. What do you do with your images? Do you feel the need to print them all at vast sizes so you can “walk into” the details, do you archive the negs/trannies and enjoy them in private with the light-box – marvelling at the detail with your 4x loupe, do you precision scan them and store them digitally (I think 4x5 @ 4,000dpi is about 320 Mpixels, yes?)?


I print the best. I usually scan at 800DPI and that still gives me a digital image that's big enough to print nicely at 8x10 and I've printed many of them at as big as 13x19. But now I'm more or less set up for 8x10 contact printing, I'll be doing more wet prints and I'm very excited about it!



5. Finally, what do your images do to you?


As another Sydney resident, give me a shout if you want to head out with a 4x5 or 8x10 camera sometime to give it a go!

Cheers,

Welly (Alastair)

ps. I'm running a large format blog aimed at the Australian community at http://largeformatphotography.com.au - take a look if you so desire!

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 18:22
Welcome; do tell us what styles interest you if you get around to asking for camera/lens suggestions.

...

If I didn't have to work for a living, I'd be inclined to spend more rainy days printing in the darkroom, and more decent days out shooting.

Hi JP,

thanks for your response - being drawn to owning lots of nice stuff is dangerous, not always fulfilling when you make the acquisition and can be confusing! Too many cameras, lenses, formats, film types etc.

So then, about my next camera... :)

With our family's natural outdoor orientation, we do get to enjoy some lovely places in solitude - perfect for taking some time for landscape shooting. I love beautiful big and perhaps oddly, dead trees. They have a story that goes back sometimes hundreds of years and so learning to capture them well and tell some of their story is of interest. 6x17 portrait style?? Yikes!

As for working for a living... I'd better get back to it! Very easily distracted...

Cheers and thanks,
David

Lachlan 717
2-Jul-2013, 18:30
ps. I'm running a large format blog aimed at the Australian community at http://largeformatphotography.com.au - take a look if you so desire!

Beat me to it!

(Another hello from another Schkip.)

jp
2-Jul-2013, 20:09
What did initially surprise me is that some of you have said that you're not detail junkies (but in far more eloquent terms of course). Perhaps this is due to me having spent so many years in the digital world where pixel count takes up a lot of bandwidth and far less conversation around tone and emotion takes place. I will reflect on that one - my presumption was that image detail and quality would be more of an incentive than it appears to be. There is something quite refreshing in that.

In the next week or so I have the opportunity to head out with both an 8x10 and a 6x17 and a few experts in the field to have my first experience. So I think that format will be the next question - 4x5 or 6x17 potentially. Given a love of the natural world and opportunities to travel to remote places (we do a lot of long distance 4wd camping), landscape opportunities are just begging for large format!


The detail things. It's like if we were all car junkies. We could be street racers BS'ing each other all day about whether we had 800HP or 900HP on our nitrous blown engines; It's all sufficiently overkill to be enjoyable. With LF, we use overkill to address concerns about grain, detail, etc.. An 8x10 camera with a 100 year old uncoated tessar and normal film is going to be overkill for detail, as long as we do our part right. At a certain point you get like rolls royce and simple call the power from a 6L V12 "sufficient".

You can photograph landscape with either system, and 6x17 will be more portable, and portable cameras are more apt to get used. But 8x10 you can photograph your children; just in a different way that complements the d700. With the 8x10, I setup the camera and scene, and then bring in the kids and put them in a pre-focused and composed spot. I don't make them stand around while I adjust things and figure out what I want for a photo. You can look through my posts to see 4x5 and 8x10 images of my daughters. It's a nice challenge; everyone did it that way at one point in history. You can have many lenses choices to feed the sickness with 8x10 as well.

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 23:32
Welcome aboard!
1. All the above, plus the sensation of being quite literally "hands on."
2. Yes.
3. Never, ever be dependent on batteries. I'd die before consenting to get a pacemaker (not the Graphic one!)
4. Share the really good ones---never on the internet though. If the image is something I enjoy, I figure others will enjoy it too. Bringing happiness to others is important.
5. Take me back to the time they were taken, sort of like time travel.

Hi John,

yes, I'm also drawn by the appeal of hands on. More and more I see we live in a world of abstraction, where much of what we attend to appears "real" until someone turns a big switch off. I love the concrete, physical world and perhaps a big 4x5 in my backpack will feel like a block of concrete after a while... (or my wife's backpack!). :)

As for your nostalgic comment in 5, I love the potential to create timeless images - especially of my kids where nothing in the frame (other than clothing no longer made of rawhide) suggests a particular time-frame. Looking at many of the shots posted in this forum gives me the same sense - especially the soft focus variety.

Cheers and thanks,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 23:38
... but I am a man in great need of help!

I think you just described all of us except for the few female members!


1. For me it's both the process and the result. I agree with Brian about looking at that big 8x10 ground glass.

2. The only 35mm I shoot is a Stereo Realist which I shoot for kicks. I shoot digital for sports, ebay and snapshots. The sport shots can be really satisfying in a different way. I also own a Hasselblad and those images can be just as satisfying. I shoot it hand held. Anything on a tripod I would rather use 4x5 or 8x10. So I guess to answer your question would be to say that smaller formats can be just as satisfying. Each format has it's place.

3. To spend more time on each individual photograph. By slowing things down I find I get more keepers. Of course this does not apply to shooting sports. Shooting at 5 frames per second on my Nikon D300 does have it's place.

4. I own an Epson V750 flat bed scanner so I can scan up to 8x10. I don't do my own printing and the largest that I have had a couple printed is 16x20 so far. I have a small house so I don't have a lot of wall space. One of these days I'll get a negative drum scanned and go really big.

5.My wife half kidding says it's a sickness. Did you notice I said half kidding? Does that answer your question? :cool:

Hi Alan - yes, yes and yes! I've shot sports professionally (motorsports) and these days prefer to wander around for my own benefit with a hand-held meter and a 645 with waist-level finder, hand-held. I need to buy a 4x5 or 6x17 to make use of all those lovely tripods I've bought over the years...

Glad I'm not the only crazy one here. In fact I've just returned from picking up an almost mint Bronica 100-220 PE lens from KEH to add to my MF collection. On camera it looks like I'm carrying some kind of missile launcher - will have to be careful if I'm ever near the airport! I must be mad... nothing convenient there.

We too are running out of wall space. We went a bit silly some years ago with large canvas prints of the kids/holidays. Maybe one day they'll have to give way to some spectacular enlargements, if I'm ever able to take a few!

Cheers and thanks,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 23:44
Quote Originally Posted by deldridg View Post
1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most?

Relaxation and the creative process combined. Simple enjoyment. Large format, mostly 8X10, is a seperation from the utilitarianism of other "needed" photography. For me at least, the whole soft focus lens thing is a seperate little world (that almost nobody cares about) that computers cannot duplicate. And some of the work is truly lovely.

...

Some sense of satisfaction I suppose. Like a journey, it's fun to pause at a hilltop and look behind you at where you've been, and look ahead at all the possibilities.

Hi Jim,

there's a great calmness in your words - this I seek! Leave those swarming crowds in their frenzied digital world and find a quite place of reflection and live in the process. Sounds good to me.

I'd love to see some of your soft focus images - having just done some image retouching for my in-laws of family photos from the early 1900s and before, I found myself gazing in wonderment at the character and life in those old shots.

Thanks for your words,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 23:47
simple. tactility. the tactile nature of the resulting images... magic.

Hi there JW,

I've never really thought of it that way. Perhaps it's a bit like the kind of reaction I have when looking through a viewfinder camera at the beautiful three-dimensionality of the projected image on the ground glass, but having that level of image on paper. Sometimes I get very lost in that viewfinder - it's a beautiful thing. If that tactility could be hanging on a wall or two, I'd be very satisfied.

Cheers and thanks,
David

deldridg
2-Jul-2013, 23:59
Hello David from another Sydney resident!

...

Slow down.

As another Sydney resident, give me a shout if you want to head out with a 4x5 or 8x10 camera sometime to give it a go!

Cheers,

Welly (Alastair)

ps. I'm running a large format blog aimed at the Australian community at http://largeformatphotography.com.au - take a look if you so desire!


Hey there Welly (or "g'day" as every Aussie is expected to say...),

Thanks for the shout and kindly invite. I will take you up on your offer when I get a chance between running my business and managing 2 little kids (and my wife of course...). (For the record, I'm not really a bored homebody posting endless messages on forums - it's that I'm not 100% well today so am taking it a bit easy and attempting to respond to everyone's generous words.) :)

Thanks for the tips on printing - post production is a whole other area. Fortunately I'm pretty well connected in that department with access to fabulous advice and printing so fingers crossed I'll one day shoot something worth the effort and cost. Otherwise it would be far too much for me to learn at the level I'd expect of myself.

As for your site - I will be mentioning it to some of my fellow photographers, many of whom shoot LF at the Primrose Park Photographic group in Cammeray. You've put a lot of effort in and I'm going to enjoy reading it - hope to be crook again tomorrow! Hehe

Cheers and chat soon,
David

deldridg
3-Jul-2013, 00:06
The detail things. It's like if we were all car junkies. We could be street racers BS'ing each other all day about whether we had 800HP or 900HP on our nitrous blown engines; It's all sufficiently overkill to be enjoyable. With LF, we use overkill to address concerns about grain, detail, etc.. An 8x10 camera with a 100 year old uncoated tessar and normal film is going to be overkill for detail, as long as we do our part right. At a certain point you get like rolls royce and simple call the power from a 6L V12 "sufficient".

You can photograph landscape with either system, and 6x17 will be more portable, and portable cameras are more apt to get used. But 8x10 you can photograph your children; just in a different way that complements the d700. With the 8x10, I setup the camera and scene, and then bring in the kids and put them in a pre-focused and composed spot. I don't make them stand around while I adjust things and figure out what I want for a photo. You can look through my posts to see 4x5 and 8x10 images of my daughters. It's a nice challenge; everyone did it that way at one point in history. You can have many lenses choices to feed the sickness with 8x10 as well.

Hi JP,

Loved looking at your posts just now. Being able to successfully and beautifully portray children in such a unique and emotive way is very inspiring. A great selling point for my beloved - thanks!

Lately we've been trying to live to 'sufficiency' but my crazed passion for acquiring lovely old gear is proving difficult to overcome...

Cheers,
David

JW Dewdney
3-Jul-2013, 01:11
Hi there JW,

I've never really thought of it that way. Perhaps it's a bit like the kind of reaction I have when looking through a viewfinder camera at the beautiful three-dimensionality of the projected image on the ground glass, but having that level of image on paper. Sometimes I get very lost in that viewfinder - it's a beautiful thing. If that tactility could be hanging on a wall or two, I'd be very satisfied.

Cheers and thanks,
David

Oh yes! Most DEFINITELY you can get an incredible sense of tactility in a well done photographic print. After many years of working with larger format cameras I've decided this must really be the aspect that keeps it magical for me. The sense that you could almost reach through the frame and touch what's there - of course I can only say this for myself - for others - other things may draw them in. Contact printing is even better this way I find too.. (more dimensional to me somehow)...

cosmicexplosion
3-Jul-2013, 01:25
i just plain do not like at all one bit, not even for a second, the digital look blown up.

small it all looks similar to me, digital printing has come a long way, and i cant see pixels in small prints, amazing really,

but poster size and yyyyyyyuuuuuuuuukkkk


you can achieve great things, but you must be prepared to wrestle!

Halford
3-Jul-2013, 04:59
Hi David, from another Southerner -- this one based in Cape Town, so warm greetings on this beautiful winter's afternoon!

Thank you for posting such thought-provoking questions. As a relative LF newbie, they've made for an interesting reflective exercise, both looking at others' answers and thinking about my own:




1. So, my first question is – how does large format photography satisfy you the most? Is it in the sheer quality of the images you create, is it in the intricate manual process, is it the exclusiveness of the rare breed to which you belong, is it that you don’t get what you want any other way (ie. with MF/35mm etc.) or is it in the owning and using of such classic and beautiful equipment etc.? In other words, what is it most about large format photography that makes you go to all that trouble?


Some of your replies to earlier comments really resonated with me. I spend 8 hours a day working at tasks which are totally abstract -- they have no reality in the physical world and exist only as transient states in a computer. For some people, this is fulfilling, but for me it leaves a hunger for the physical, tactile and embodied that verges on a spiritual hunger. We relate to the world as physical bodies with physical senses, and it means so much to me to be able to relate to my hobbies / crafts / wannabe-arts in the a physical, tactile way.

For me, LF presents opportunities for this kind of physical involvement in imagemaking that digital tools (or, for that matter, relatively automated smaller-format film photography) do not. I feel much more responsible for the image that gets made on and from a piece of LF sheet film, when I have -- using my judgement, my will and most importantly my body -- chosen exactly how the image gets made, down to and including precise control of the plane of focus.

Of course "owning and using ... classic and beautiful equipment" is part of that too in a sense. My 4x5 monorail was built in the 1940s and has crossed the world, and been part of the life of photographers before me. There is a kind of transcendence of time and a sharing of experience that goes with that. OTOH I have placed an order for a new 8x10 field camera that, although new, will be built by hand by a craftsman, creating another human connection that a consumer commodity -- no matter how high quality - just can't.



2. Secondly – given the amount of time and effort required to produce a single frame in LF, do you find that you value your work in different ways to the outputs of more conventional (and convenient) approaches (ie. 35mm)?

Hmm, I'd still say differently rather than more. I still think that my all-time favourite personal image is one I took on HP-5 in 35mm, so of course compared with any LF image it's grainy as hell and lacking in detail, but encapsulates the way I like looking at and experiencing the human relationship with the natural landscape.

But -- the LF picture-making (and I'm still very much a newbie, so there's every chance that something new in LF will displace my little grainy 35mm frame as a personal favourite) encourages me to see more photographically, to see better, and hopefully to use digital and smaller-format cameras better too. I hope. Maybe it's too early to tell.

Of course I have been absolutely awed at the tonal subtlety that can be captured on a big piece of film compared with a little one :)


3. What are the main (perhaps “artistic”) lessons you have taken from LF which you have been able to apply elsewhere?

(Okay I think I accidentally answered that one early)


4. What do you do with your images? Do you feel the need to print them all at vast sizes so you can “walk into” the details, do you archive the negs/trannies and enjoy them in private with the light-box – marvelling at the detail with your 4x loupe, do you precision scan them and store them digitally (I think 4x5 @ 4,000dpi is about 320 Mpixels, yes?)?

Well I don't yet have the means to print them at vast sizes. In fact at this point I still don't have a LF enlarger of any kind (hoping to change that soon), so I'm stuck with scanning, and/or contact printing which isn't all that satisfying for 4x5 negatives. I have contact printed a couple on Ilford postcard paper and mailed them to people, which is a fun way to share them.

To the horror of purists, I do put some up on flickr to share too -- I have friends all over the world and it's a handy way to share them.

I am hoping to have a LF enlarger later this year - hopefully then I'll give some larger prints a try.


5. Finally, what do your images do to you?

Well as another poster said, lots of them disappoint me -- but even the disappointments can (and should) help and guide us toward improvements in both technique and vision.

More seriously, I find that imagemaking can be a contemplative -- almost a devotional -- task. It helps me to be more closely aware and mindful of my relationship with the world -- both human and natural.

Also, it's geeky and involves fun toys.


Also, David, I propose a toast to your supportive wife, along with my patient and supportive partner, who puts up with my endless photo-mumbling :)

Have a great day / evening,
Hal

deldridg
3-Jul-2013, 18:48
i just plain do not like at all one bit, not even for a second, the digital look blown up.

small it all looks similar to me, digital printing has come a long way, and i cant see pixels in small prints, amazing really,

but poster size and yyyyyyyuuuuuuuuukkkk


you can achieve great things, but you must be prepared to wrestle!


Yes, I must agree with you on that. Certainly not always, especially these days but often digital prints can tend to the clinical, character-less, doctored or just plain bland [ducks and hides...].

Some film shooting character once said that they had decided to leave the digital work to the proctologists! :)

Cheers,
David

deldridg
3-Jul-2013, 19:06
Hi David, from another Southerner -- this one based in Cape Town, so warm greetings on this beautiful winter's afternoon!

Thank you for posting such thought-provoking questions. As a relative LF newbie, they've made for an interesting reflective exercise, both looking at others' answers and thinking about my own:

...


Also, David, I propose a toast to your supportive wife, along with my patient and supportive partner, who puts up with my endless photo-mumbling :)

Have a great day / evening,
Hal

G'day Hal - you live in a beautiful city. I remember a few years ago walking up Table Mountain with a sack full of gear - XPan + lenses, 2x35mm bodies and another 3 lenses + tripod. What a view though! I can see you marching up there with a huge tripod and massive 8x10... Hehe

Hey thanks for your kind words and eloquent response to my ramblings. I'd love to see some of your shots - your country has many similarities to ours** and I'd love to experience some nostalgia through your lens (**other than our 'dangerous' creatures are more likely to sting you than eat you...).

The post shooting side of the equation worries me too - not being able to scan the big 4x5 easily (without taking them to an expensive lab) worries me and I don't have easy access to a lab (or the skills) required for printing them. My scanner will scan up to 6x17 (Microtek 120tf) so have been looking at a 6x12 back that can go into whatever 4x5 I purchase. Aaaagh - more decisions, learning and $$$!! Good luck with your LF enlarger!

As for toasting our other halves - yes, by definition, they are long suffering but as with mine, I'm sure your partner is always very grateful to have such a lovely record of your lives together!

Cheers and thanks,
David

cosmicexplosion
4-Jul-2013, 05:13
PS

you can get by cheap with contact prints.... i have a dark room for hire;)

Ray Drueke
5-Jul-2013, 05:34
Hi,
Welcome to the world of LF. I hardly feel correct making that statement since I've done so little in that format.

I noticed you mention more than once using hand tools to create furniture. You also mention soft focus images.
I also enjoy both - I always try to use at least one hand tool in every woodworking project I undertake. Sometimes I make (shop) furniture, sometimes I make a music box, I always make sawdust.

I recently went to a week long photography class here on the East coast of the US (Maine Media Workshops) and learned the difference between taking a picture and making an image. If you move anything into or out of the frame or even within the frame or change your position you are making an image.

I'll try to attach my 1st LF image to this post but the value (or reason) for the image is:
I built the camera (4x5 monorail) and the tripod,
I built the shed in the image,
I built the light post in the image, and
I created this image.

Then I found Jim Galli's work and I really enjoy it. Now I just need to find the time to create more 4x5 images.
As others have said, the process of creating the image in the camera really slows me down and I enjoy that.

Welcome to this slippery slope!

Ray.

(Now how to attach that image...)
982209822198222

DrTang
10-Jul-2013, 12:09
well..lets see


#1 everyone else is taking pix withtheir little look at the screen o nthe back digitals and I'm out thre with a big old 'obsolete' camera taking pix - - I like to be different


#2 I don't know..never thought about it... maybe

#3 check and re-check

#4 all my photos end up in boxes in my closet

#5 well.. I must enjoy them on some level as I keep taking them

deldridg
11-Jul-2013, 22:36
Hi Ray,

thanks for your response and wow - your work is beautiful. Clearly you enjoy the satisfaction that painstaking effort brings and it's also clear to me that you don't have a couple of under 3's to occupy your head-space and woodworking time! Fortunately they are a good excuse to make images! :)

What a treat to be able to combine your passions as you have done. Thanks for the post (and the incentive...).

Cheers,
David

deldridg
11-Jul-2013, 22:38
Hey Dr Tang,

I too have a closet full of boxes full of images (along with too many terrabytes on too many hard drives...). I also like the idea of doing something different to the crowds along with being immersed in the process (ie. such as the passion for woodworking) and I suspect that will be the same for working under the hood.

Cheers and thanks,
David

Alan Gales
13-Jul-2013, 21:56
Well David, with all our responses I hope you realize that large format is not an evil god but a warm friend. Now all you need to do is to buy a large format camera and lens and in the immortal words of Pawlowski, "Grow a pair and go shoot!". :D

Welcome to the forum. I think you are going to fit in fine!

Robert Oliver
14-Jul-2013, 00:21
it's about the process to me... I find it way more enjoyable.

I'm still excited every time a watch a print develop in the tray or get to see a negative for the first time out of the chemicals....

good luck!

deldridg
14-Jul-2013, 02:15
Well David, with all our responses I hope you realize that large format is not an evil god but a warm friend. Now all you need to do is to buy a large format camera and lens and in the immortal words of Pawlowski, "Grow a pair and go shoot!". :D

Welcome to the forum. I think you are going to fit in fine!

Hi Alan,

I just popped down to my computer to tempt myself into taking the plunge and saw your words... A couple of clicks later and voila! One mint Schneider APO 150/5.6 Symmar MC is mine, all mine! So thank you for 'tipping me over the edge'! I'm close to doing the same with a Schneider 90/5.6 APO Symmar... Yikes!

The next step is to commit to a camera - I'm 95% ready to buy a Chamonix 4x5. Mmmm - looks so good and reads so well.

So I have one foot through the door and thanks for giving me the right words ("grow a few")!!

Cheers,
David

David Schaller
14-Jul-2013, 19:00
My advice would be to get the camera and use it before you get the 90mm. Learn the process first, then decide which lens to buy next. Your thoughts may change.
Dave

Alan Gales
15-Jul-2013, 12:52
Hello David, I'm glad that I could help. We all need a little push now and then.

Check out post #41 for David Schaller's excellent advice on an additional lens.

Alan

deldridg
16-Jul-2013, 13:58
My advice would be to get the camera and use it before you get the 90mm. Learn the process first, then decide which lens to buy next. Your thoughts may change.
Dave

Hello David,

and thanks to you too Alan - I will be taking your advice. I'm sure initially the whole process will confuse, frustrate and dishearten me somewhat and best to keep it as simple as possible.

No doubt a 'normal' length lens will make for a less complicated entrée - leave the big wide stuff for you gurus for now! In time, my soon to arrive Chamonix will tempt me on that score no doubt, capable of taking 65mm and even shorter lenses I'm told (with the standard bellows). Wow!!

Many thanks and cheers,
David

Alan Gales
16-Jul-2013, 16:44
Trust David and I. You really don't know what focal length lenses you want yet until you shoot 4x5 for a little while.

I made that mistake of buying lenses first and then learning the camera.

By the way, a Chamonix is a great choice!

David Schaller
16-Jul-2013, 21:02
My comment above comes from finding that it's frustrating to quickly run out of coverage with shorter lenses in large format. Whereas in 35 mm or medium format a wide angle can seem easier to use than the normal focal lengths, in that you can often just preset to hyperfocal distance and blast away, when you are using large format in the field, often you plant your tripod in one place and then use camera movements to get the image you want. Most of my photography is landscape, and often where I set up cannot be other than where my tripod will be secure -- the same also occurs in architectural situations, where you can't move. That's when more coverage is more better, just using simple movements like rise and fall or shifts.

On a normal or longer lens it will also be easier to learn how to use the movements of a view camera to achieve the depth of focus that you want. Some of the great images on this forum, I'm thinking now of portraiture and still life, are taken with very wide apertures, and would not be as successful if they had been taken with a fixed lens on a smaller format. In many situations, skillful use of movements allows you considerable latitude in choosing aperture/shutter speed combinations to achieve your envisioned image.

Dave

Alan Gales
16-Jul-2013, 22:26
My experience came with buying a 75mm lens expecting it to be like my 25mm Zeiss on my 35mm Contax. After using it the lens felt too wide (it felt like a 20mm on a 35mm camera) so I ended up selling it and buying a 90mm which feels right to me. Of course that is my opinion about these lenses. Some people agree and others don't.