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LF_NLD
18-Nov-2014, 14:47
Hi everyone!

I'm quite new to photography, and I always wonder how other people started out. For instance: I started with photography because I wanted to document my backpack holiday as best as I could. At first I had the ambition to make a video and photos of the trip, but soon I came to realize that my travel companion didn't like being filmed nor being photographed (besides from the obvious "her posing in front of a building" photos). She also didn't have much patience. So that didn't work as well as I thought it would but I did learn a lot in the mean time.

Now recently I joined a photography group of students, and started with studio photography, which is also interesting. I don't photograph as much as I want to. What I want with my photography is to show how amazing the world is. That means that my photography would be mostly travel related. With my photography I hope to inspire other people to see the beauty in life and to be positive, in part by showing the beauty of imperfection. What do you think of this? And what do you want to achieve with your photographs?

I'm not very good at capturing people and I find it hard to make a photograph that matches the cliché at the moment and I don't have a LF camera, which I guess is fine for now. I do understand a lot of the technical parts of photography, but not to the point that I can for instance immediately see which camera can fit what lens with regard to movements and vignetting.

But how did you start out? How did you decide to invest that much money into a LF camera? What are your reasons to photograph (as a hobby)? And how did you progressed (how much time is needed)?

And what if I would say that "there is nothing to photograph where I come from" (The Netherlands), how would you respond. Because Holland is very flat...

Dan Fromm
19-Nov-2014, 19:13
Where I live in New Jersey is also very flat. Look around you and ask "Would I like to frame what I see and put it on the wall or on my desk?"

The best way to learn about LF cameras and lenses is from a book. Two books often recommended here are Steve Simmons' Understanding the View Camera and Leslie Strobel's View Camera Technique. Interestingly, the French LF forum recommends Jim Stone's A User's Guide to the View Camera. Look for used books on abebooks.com, alibris.com, amazon.com, ...

The goal you sketched can be attained. I have no idea whether 4x5 or 35 mm film or digital is the best image capture technology for you.

When, where and why did I start? Long ago in a galaxy far away. I never got as far as what's considered large format here, shoot 6x9 and 6x12. I went to 6x9 from 35 mm because I couldn't get satisfactory flower shots with 35 mm. I could get fine details in the blooms if I gave up the flower's setting and filled the frame with the flower. Or I could get the flower in its setting and give up fine details in the bloom. In principle 6x9 would let me get the flower in its setting with reasonable detail in the bloom. This is harder than it seems -- wind! -- but 2x3 and 6x12 give more detail in landscapes and such than 35mm. And wind isn't such a problem with landscapes.

LF_NLD
20-Nov-2014, 01:21
Thanks for your reply :)


Where I live in New Jersey is also very flat. Look around you and ask "Would I like to frame what I see and put it on the wall or on my desk?"

It seems that most large format photographers are from the USA. I have never seen such camera in The Netherlands in my entire life! That's why I was beginning to question whether that's because of the lack of beautiful landscapes or cityscapes. But regardless of where you are, you will probably have to travel to your destination anyway. And with Europe easily accessible by car and plane I would have enough to photograph the coming years.



The best way to learn about LF cameras and lenses is from a book. Two books often recommended here are Steve Simmons' Understanding the View Camera and Leslie Strobel's View Camera Technique. Interestingly, the French LF forum recommends Jim Stone's A User's Guide to the View Camera. Look for used books on abebooks.com, alibris.com, amazon.com, ...

I heared about these books and I'm trying to get View Camera Technique at my photography group or buying it myself. It's the most technical book of them all.

Peter Lewin
20-Nov-2014, 07:38
Since I'm also from New Jersey, I'll add my own thoughts to what Dan wrote. I use his "would I frame or hang that image" question as my second question. My first is "Does this interest me?" If you photograph things that in some way resonate with you, you end up with much more meaningful images than if you are out looking for the picturesque. If you look for what interests you, the flatness of the country doesn't matter.

Cameras are tools, and therefore the choice of the tool must match the type of photography which attracts you. 35mm cameras, and their digital equivalents, are best for fast-moving things. That's why sports photographers and street photographers use them. They are also easy to carry, which is why travel photographers use them. Large format cameras (view cameras) are best for stationary things. That's why LF photographers gravitate towards landscapes, portraiture, and still lifes.

Beyond that, there is a question of working style. Small formats lend themselves to off-the-cuff spur-of-the-moment photography, capturing the fleeting moment. Large format lends itself to a slower-paced more considered approach, looking for the precise line-up of details in an image.

I'm not sure that most LF photographers are from the USA, merely that this forum is USA-based. Photography began in England and France, and the two most prestigious manufacturers of LF cameras, Sinar and Linhof, are Swiss and German respectively. The major LF lens manufacturers, Schneider and Rodenstock, are German. And Cambo view cameras, if I remember correctly, were Dutch. I suspect that if you find a European view camera site (I'm pretty sure there is one in French, for example) you would get away from all us Americans.

Finally, I first got involved in photography because I was doing a lot of backpacking and rock climbing, and wanted to have pictures of the places I visited and the people I was with. My second camera was a Leica with a collapsible 50mm lens, since it was small, easy to pack, and pretty much indestructible. But early on I fell in love with landscapes like those Ansel Adams was making (this was in the 1960s, he was not yet a cliche) and found myself attracted to large format. So for a very long time I was very much multi-format, 35mm for my outdoor pursuits, and LF when I wanted to do photography for photography's sake. Then for a long time I became involved in competitive running and bicycle racing, where as a competitor I was no longer a documentarian, so I found myself using the view camera more and more, the small camera less. Until about 2 weeks ago I would say I was doing 99% of my photography with the view camera, but having just bought a good digital camera, my new toy may change that balance a bit, particularly since all my LF work is black and white, and the little digital has re-opened the world of color.

LF_NLD
24-Nov-2014, 02:45
I'm not sure that most LF photographers are from the USA, merely that this forum is USA-based. Photography began in England and France, and the two most prestigious manufacturers of LF cameras, Sinar and Linhof, are Swiss and German respectively. The major LF lens manufacturers, Schneider and Rodenstock, are German. And Cambo view cameras, if I remember correctly, were Dutch. I suspect that if you find a European view camera site (I'm pretty sure there is one in French, for example) you would get away from all us Americans.


I only know English and Dutch, and there are no Dutch forums dedicated to LF. So I do think I came to the right place :). And I'm very convinced that LF is much bigger in the USA. Cameras in the USA are much cheaper as well. I'm actually interested in Cambo view cameras, just because they are Dutch and it would be fun to have a Dutch product, I like how they look, and some of them are in my budget range.




Finally, I first got involved in photography because I was doing a lot of backpacking and rock climbing, and wanted to have pictures of the places I visited and the people I was with. My second camera was a Leica with a collapsible 50mm lens, since it was small, easy to pack, and pretty much indestructible. But early on I fell in love with landscapes like those Ansel Adams was making (this was in the 1960s, he was not yet a cliche) and found myself attracted to large format. So for a very long time I was very much multi-format, 35mm for my outdoor pursuits, and LF when I wanted to do photography for photography's sake. Then for a long time I became involved in competitive running and bicycle racing, where as a competitor I was no longer a documentarian, so I found myself using the view camera more and more, the small camera less. Until about 2 weeks ago I would say I was doing 99% of my photography with the view camera, but having just bought a good digital camera, my new toy may change that balance a bit, particularly since all my LF work is black and white, and the little digital has re-opened the world of color.


Very interesting. I do think the digital camera will be your new favorite toy, because it's very fun and interactive to work with a camera that lets you immediately see the results. And a whole new world of lightroom and photoshop will open up to you, if you have never used a digital camera. I have a 550D and a tiny tiny Pentax Q7. And it turns out that whenever I go somewhere, and I just want to be able to take a couple of quick photos to bring home, the little Pentax is my choice! It's so fun to play around with :). So in those cases you want as much as possible in as small as possible. But eventually I want to be able to take amazing photos with which I can decorate my house in the future. And for that I would like to have a view camera, because I won't compromise on quality. The fact that I would have to use film (because digital backs are extremely expensive in LF) only adds to the artistic value of the pictures. The idea that the picture is based on 1 hard copy and that there are no easy backups, and that you can't just photoshop everything into a 'perfect' photo, just makes it more rare and valuable.

Peter Lewin
24-Nov-2014, 05:46
LF_NLD: 2 quick comments: (1) You mention lack of back-up. I often expose both sheets of film in a holder when making an image so that I have two identical negatives. The second is a back-up if I mess up the first sheet in development (scratches, etc.) and to allow either expanded or contracted development (or a different developer) if I am not completely happy with the first negative. (2) Many of us use scanners (typically the Epson 7xx series, just replaced with the 8xx series) to scan our 4x5 negatives, thus opening the world of Photoshop. While I am still a darkroom printer, many on this forum get wonderful results with inkjet printers from their Photoshop files. (I scan my negatives for proofs, and play with Adobe Elements to get a better idea of what manipulations I will make in the darkroom. I have not yet jumped into a completely digital workflow (from scanning onwards) due to the costs of a good quality printer and inks, concerns about my low volume of printing & clogging, and the new learning curve.)

DrTang
25-Nov-2014, 10:44
my brother signed up for a summer school class in basic photography in H.S. and they were one student short of making the class a go - so he talked me into taking it too

well..37 years and about a zillion dollars later


here I am


I started with Large Format when I bought a beat up Linhof Tech III and lens from a friend while in college who got it out of a dumpster when a astranged wife was tossing all her husbands stuff away

Andrew O'Neill
25-Nov-2014, 11:00
And what if I would say that "there is nothing to photograph where I come from" (The Netherlands), how would you respond. Because Holland is very flat...

Welcome to the forum. I'm from Saskatchewan (Canadian prairie province) originally and it is known for its flatness. I've taken some of my best there. If you look, you will see.

willy0102
27-Nov-2014, 03:54
hello ..

LF_NLD
28-Nov-2014, 13:51
Welcome to the forum. I'm from Saskatchewan (Canadian prairie province) originally and it is known for its flatness. I've taken some of my best there. If you look, you will see.

Yeah, I do think that Canada is slightly less populated than The Netherlands. :D There virtually no places in The Netherlands where you can see far away without seeing electric wires, cities or villages. So for photography I would prefer Canada, but who knows. I'm not buying a LF camera yet anyway, because I don't believe I have already got the best out my crop-sensor digital camera and it would be silly to think that upgrading to LF would suddenly make my photos any better. Perhaps by the time I'm confident I will be able to handle a LF camera I will be able to drive around Europe a lot, and there is plenty to photograph in Europe.