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nimo956
10-Jan-2015, 22:31
I've just started using my LF camera and I'm having trouble photographing architecture. First, I have trouble figuring out how to position the camera to get the composition that I want. For example, I always want to have the same amount of space on either side of the building. I end up constantly playing around with tripod height and orientation and having to relevel everything over and over again. I'm wondering if there's an easier way to do this.

Second, I have trouble focussing the camera. How do you know if the lens plane is orthogonal to the facade of the building? Is it correct the I should only be using swing and no tilt once I've leveled the camera. In one example, there was a plate with some text for a historic building and I was having trouble getting both that and the center of the subject in focus while not disrupting the composition too much (the space on either side if the building).

In the end, I just stopped down to f22 and hoped that one side won't be too soft. Sorry, if this is a bit of a ramble, but it just seems like I'm constantly adjusting different things and keep throwing the composition out of whack. I can't seem to get exactly the image I envision.

Thanks for your help.

Robert Opheim
10-Jan-2015, 23:02
For my basic methods to shoot a building I level the front and rear standards and use rise most often. it is typical to move the tripod around, raise the tripod etc. until you are happy with the composition. Often there are things in the way that you want to avoid having in the composition - such as: lighting poles, trees, wires, things in the background, broken things (I once hid a broken light fixture on a frat building I was shooting so I hid it behind a tree truck in the image). I have always had to re-level everything when the camera is moved - I suppose if your tripod had levels built in you could come close when resetting s new location but checking the level just takes such little time. One of my teachers taught me to cut down a bullet pocket level to about 4 or 5 inches - this method is much quicker. The rule of thumb for focusing is focus in 1/3 and then stop down until the foreground and background are in focus. This can be tricky to see - a point source flashlight pointing toward the camera can help (located in the scene as you stop down and look at the ground glass). Most architectural images are 3-point perspectives - where the front and rear movements are used to make the vertical lines not converge but be vertical becoming a 2- point perspective. (this is changed often to make exaggerated converging lines for impact). There are scales that you can buy that give you the depth-of-field for different lenses for different f-stops. If the building was built level and the rear standard of your camera is level then the image should be orthogonal. If the front standard is level also then the building should all be in focus. Then if you stop down until the foreground and background are in focus (if that is your vision) - then you should achieve what you are after.

Heroique
10-Jan-2015, 23:07
That's a lot questions, and they make it clear you're ambitious to build a solid understanding of LF camera technique. Understanding how various camera movements affect each other, and learning how to manage them so they don't throw each other "out of whack," as you say, is certainly an important part of the game.

Have you tried to reinforce your field experiences with some good reading?

Any of the following oft-recommended books will help you understand any of the "problems" you've described:


1) The Camera, by Ansel Adams
2) View Camera Technique, by Leslie Stroebel
3) Using the View Camera, by Steve Simmons

The first one, The Camera, covers LF movements in splendid fashion its photos, diagrams, and explanatory captions are super helpful. It's a classic for good reason.

Are you near a local library? The titles above are common in most libraries. That way, you can "test-taste" a book before committing to a purchase for your permanent home shelf.

But the more you get out there, the better, and it sounds like that's your plan.

Speaking of architecture, I love Photographing Buildings Inside and Out by Norman McGrath -- but I'd still start with AA's The Camera.

Michael E
11-Jan-2015, 06:34
You seem a little overwhelmed, but you're asking very specific questions. That's good. I will try to answer a few.


First, I have trouble figuring out how to position the camera to get the composition that I want. For example, I always want to have the same amount of space on either side of the building. I end up constantly playing around with tripod height and orientation and having to relevel everything over and over again. I'm wondering if there's an easier way to do this.

No. It's called the photographer's dance - one step left, two steps forward, one backward... With practice, this will become more intuitive. When you get to know your equipment, you will find it easier to judge camera position and composition, before you even set up. It takes a while.


Second, I have trouble focussing the camera.

For architecture photography, you rarely need tilt or swing. It just gets important parts of the image out of focus. Stopping down to the usual LF f-stops is usually sufficient (my experience).


Sorry, if this is a bit of a ramble, but it just seems like I'm constantly adjusting different things and keep throwing the composition out of whack. I can't seem to get exactly the image I envision.

Try to keep it simple. Set up the camera with every movement set to zero. Find the right spot and height for your camera without worrying about leveling the camera yet. Don't touch the movements, either. When you have found your composition, level the camera, then correct the framing with rise/fall (and shift, if necessary). Use camera movements as little as possible.

There will be images where you need more elaborate movements. You'll know when you get there. Don't overdo it at the beginning.

Best,

Michael

Nigel Smith
11-Jan-2015, 16:21
First, I have trouble figuring out how to position the camera to get the composition that I want. For example, I always want to have the same amount of space on either side of the building. I end up constantly playing around with tripod height and orientation and having to relevel everything over and over again. I'm wondering if there's an easier way to do this.


You could try using a 'window' in a card. If using 4x5, cut a 4x5 rectangle in a piece of card. Affix a piece of string with knots the distance from the card the same as your lenses. So 150mm lens, 150mm knot. Frame your scene with the card and use the knots to decide which lens to use. Once happy, set camera up at that location. There's probably a website with diagrams that would explain better :)

Lenny Eiger
11-Jan-2015, 19:15
Stop down way more than 22.

Lenny

ic-racer
11-Jan-2015, 20:39
I was having trouble getting both that and the center of the subject in focus while not disrupting the composition

Neither front swing or rear standard focusing change the composition or the relationship between objects in your scene. Check out the books mentioned in post #3.

John Kasaian
11-Jan-2015, 20:46
Lots of good advice.
If you're just starting out, it is confusing but with practice it will get easier.
You might use the grid on your ground glass if you want continuity in the spacing left and right (or right and left, since it's reversed)

Jim Jones
12-Jan-2015, 08:31
Front rise is often the only movement needed. If the negative is to be scanned and then edited, perspective can be corrected in a photo editor. This permits tilting the camera upwards and using lenses of less coverage. When doing this, a reference photo in correct perspective of at least part of the building helps in precise editing.

Robert Opheim
14-Jan-2015, 14:40
For tall building shots: If you have a longer lens or have a bag bellows with a wide angle lens - for lenses with a lot of coverage -you can tilt the camera upward from level, and level the front and rear lens boards to vertical - this will often give you more rise that is built into your camera. I have used this technique for taller exterior building images.

Preston
15-Jan-2015, 09:04
If the negative is to be scanned and then edited, perspective can be corrected in a photo editor.

I use Photo Shop to do this with some LF and digital images. The best tool I've found is the Skew Tool under the Edit menu. It's best to create a copy of the background layer and then use the skew tool to adjust any linear distortion before any other adjustments are made.

If you suspect you'll need to use this tool, it's a good idea to leave extra room in the frame when you take the photograph because the skew tool will add, or subtract image area. You'll then need to use the Crop tool to set the final crop of the image.

--P

Drew Wiley
15-Jan-2015, 09:34
It might help if you were a little more specific about exactly what camera and lenses you are using. Some LF systems are more adapted to architectural shooting
than others, and I think it is good to learn how to take the shot correctly on site in the first place rather than trying to salvage it afterwards, though certain tricks
do exist. I'd agree with others, that a basic view camera text is a good place to start, unless you have someone who can demonstrate this stuff to you on
location, which is always the best way. Back to equipment: generally for architecture you need lenses with quite a bit of extra coverage, and a camera with
quite a bit of rise, and sometimes swing. But anytime to can back off and use a longer lens to home in on some feature, it is generally the preferred strategy.

Rayt
21-Jan-2015, 17:08
What drew me to LF was because I like shooting old buildings and I didn't want converging lines. It just takes experience to do all that in the OP's post. After a hundred sheets or so it will just come to you. Shooting architecture is where the right tools are important. For example can your camera take a really wide lens with unrestricted movements? Do your lenses have enough coverage if you use a lot of rise?

Peter Lewin
21-Jan-2015, 19:48
In some ways some of the responses seem almost over-complicated. Since most buildings are vertical, use the bubbles on your rear standard to make sure it is vertical. That takes care of perspective. Similarly, use the bubbles on the front standard to make it vertical. This won't effect perspective, it ensures that the plane of focus is vertical (i.e. Having both standards vertical means the plane of focus is vertical). You are correct in using f-stop to control depth of field. If you have rear shift, you can use that to fine tune the space on either side in your image. In terms of overall position for your tripod, an old Fred Picker trick was to put the tripod where your instinct tells you, and rest your chin on the tripod before mounting your camera. That gives you a pretty good idea what the camera lens will see. It's easier to move the tripod at this point, before you spend time levelling things.