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View Full Version : First time ever!

NedL
23-Aug-2015, 14:12
Just got home from making my first two photos with a LF camera with movements. It was a bit of a comedy. I was trying to follow the focus and check (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/bond-checklist.html#fc) method I read about here on LFPF. I think I have pretty strong spacial sense ( I studied mathematics and physics in college ) but it was easy to lose track of what I was trying to do, especially while attending all the other details of composing and exposing....

I went to a park with oak trees and a large open field where I could move around. My first subject was a tall live oak tree, and it did not take long for me to realize that the upper part of the tree was closer to me than the base. I decided to try to tilt the plane of focus... of course I've been imagining tilting the other direction, and I immediately got confused about whether the near point in the upper branches or the far point at the base was the focus point or the check point. Eventually I picked the near point to focus on and the check to be the base.... and then I wasn't sure if I had to crank the front standard further out if that meant I needed more or less tilt....

All this was being done using base tilt and then re-plumbing the rear standard. At one point I am positive I went through the correct amount of tilt, but then lost track again of which direction of focus check corresponded to more tilt or less :). And I lost track of which was the PF and which was the PC, so I made exactly the mistake that the article says newcomers usually make and started focusing on both as I went back and forth.

Finally I realized that when I got the plane of focus close to the plane I was trying to achieve, the very top of the tree against the sky was out of focus and that's a high contrast and noticeable place in the image. In the end I chose an amount of tilt where it seemed like the base, near high branches, and top of the tree were about equally fuzzy and then I stopped down.

I learned a lot. I learned that a small adjustment of tilt makes a pretty big difference, but also that if you are careful you can start to get a sense of what a small movement will do. I can also tell that the movements are not too sensitive to control and that with experience it will work well. I need to develop some better spacial sense of the angles in the camera, so I don't lose track of what the focus checks mean. There were birds flitting around in the trees and I was astonished how well I could see them... on the ground glass the detail is pretty amazing.

In my second photograph, most of the trees were about the same distance away, and I just focused into the middle of them and stopped down a bit.

All in all a fun day and I have a lot to learn!

RSalles
23-Aug-2015, 20:47
Ned,

It takes time, it was a new school for me also a couple of years ago.
As I make studio also, some experimentation indoors gave me even more the feeling I was searching for about camera movements. learnt a lot, and still doing it,

Cheers,

Renato

Vaughn
23-Aug-2015, 20:59
I have gotten the bellows into a knot before finally realizing less is more! Good luck!

NedL
23-Aug-2015, 21:01
Thanks Renato. I'm thinking of taking it out in my yard and just setting up different shots that require different movements. I can tell, like anything else, it will take some time for it to become intuitive and get a feel for it.

Thanks Vaughn!

tgtaylor
24-Aug-2015, 09:29
Assuming that you're standing on the ground, the base of the tree can't be further from you than the top: Draw a right triangle with the y axis representing the tree. Then the SqRt of x^2 + y^2 is the distance from you to the top of the tree. Using some numbers, suppose you were 10 feet from the base and the tree was 20 foot tall. Then the top of the tree would be ~ 22 feet from you.

Also, I don't think that a lone tree is a good subject for lens tilt since most are basically in the same plane. When you tilt, you create a plane of focus from the far to the near. I would have used front rise, focused on the bark, and stopped-down until every leaf was in focus.

Thoomas

tgtaylor
24-Aug-2015, 12:23
Here's a good example of using front lens tilt to bring an image into sharp focus:

http://www.spiritsofsilver.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Dunsmuir_House.230222550_large.jpg

I started out with front rise to bring the foreground and background to where I wanted it. Three points determine a plane and the trees above the house on the far left are furthest from the camera and I wanted them sharp along with the grassy lawn and driveway in the immediate foreground. I focused to bring the further tree in to sharp focus (one point on the plane) and tilted to bring the foreground (the 2d and 3d points on the plane) into focus. After 2 or 3 iterations all points were in sharp focus on the ground glass with the house a tad soft. So I stopped down to f45 which brought everything into sharp focus on the ground glass and on the print.

Thomas

NedL
27-Aug-2015, 18:13
Assuming that you're standing on the ground, the base of the tree can't be further from you than the top: Draw a right triangle with the y axis representing the tree. Then the SqRt of x^2 + y^2 is the distance from you to the top of the tree. Using some numbers, suppose you were 10 feet from the base and the tree was 20 foot tall. Then the top of the tree would be ~ 22 feet from you.

Also, I don't think that a lone tree is a good subject for lens tilt since most are basically in the same plane. When you tilt, you create a plane of focus from the far to the near. I would have used front rise, focused on the bark, and stopped-down until every leaf was in focus.

Thoomas

Thanks and sorry for the late reply, I need to get used to this forum software too. The tree was a big wide oak tree, so the body of the tree was probably 30 or 35 feet closer to me than the base, and when I said the "top" I meant the part of the tree that was outlined against the sky from where I was standing. That was intermediate, maybe 10 or 15 feet closer to me than the trunk. The most obvious fine details were small branches were near ground level behind the trunk, on the body of the tree closest to me, and where the tree was silhouetted against the sky. So I thought if the plane of focus was tipped back toward me a little, it might be appropriate.

Also I'm new at this and I used some of the wrong lingo. I wrote "base tilt" when what I meant is that I tilted the tripod so that the whole camera was pointing up a little, then I plumbed the back. My camera has back tilt but no front tilt. It did work: at one point the base of the tree and the branches nearest me were in the same plane of focus, but as I said, I lost track of what I was doing. :)

Also, when I wrote "closer to me" I meant from the plane extending vertically up through the trunk of the tree, the plane of focus that would be parallel to the film without any movements. ( a picture is worth 1000 words! )

NedL
27-Aug-2015, 18:16
Here's a good example of using front lens tilt to bring an image into sharp focus:

http://www.spiritsofsilver.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Dunsmuir_House.230222550_large.jpg

I started out with front rise to bring the foreground and background to where I wanted it. Three points determine a plane and the trees above the house on the far left are furthest from the camera and I wanted them sharp along with the grassy lawn and driveway in the immediate foreground. I focused to bring the further tree in to sharp focus (one point on the plane) and tilted to bring the foreground (the 2d and 3d points on the plane) into focus. After 2 or 3 iterations all points were in sharp focus on the ground glass with the house a tad soft. So I stopped down to f45 which brought everything into sharp focus on the ground glass and on the print.

Thomas

Thanks, that's useful!

Lenny Eiger
1-Sep-2015, 09:47
In my second photograph, most of the trees were about the same distance away, and I just focused into the middle of them and stopped down a bit.

It's great to learn all this stuff... I would add a couple of points. The first is that there is always a trade-off with tilts and swings. As you have already noticed, if you focus on the ground, the things that are higher up will be out of focus. Sometimes you win and sometimes it makes it worse...

I have found that you can stop down to at least f45 on most good LF lenses, with excellent quality. This is NOT a game of seeing how wide open you can be with the swings and tilts - it isn't necessary to do so. Many images are just fine without swings and/or tilts. I would say that most images shot with LF cameras over the past 200 years did not use movements.

Finally, instead of setting the focus in the middle, I would go for the first third, then stop down to get everything you want. I would suggest you do that, get your shot; and then try something with the movements for fun...

tgtaylor
2-Sep-2015, 10:46
I've always been a stickler for having a sharply focused image throughout unless, of course, I'm using a soft focus lens. I personally dislike images that have a mushy/fuzzy component like a lot of landscapes that you see with the immediate foreground blurry. Even with 35mm and MF I have learned how to bring the immediate foreground and background into sharp focus by finding the hypo-focal. With everything else being equal, it is a pleasure to look at a sharply focused image.

The image whose link I posted above didn't start out that way. Initially I shot it more face-on with a 300mm lens on an overcast day with, if you can imagine in this drought, rain drops even hitting the bellows. While the house and lawn came out sharply focused, the very tops of the background trees came out blurry or slightly out of focus. So I went back a second time when the sun was out but didn't take the camera out as the sun had moved to an unfavorable position. So I used an outstretched closed fist to approximate the time of day when the sun would be most likely illuminate the front of the house, and looked for a better composition which I found and came back the next day and shot it with a 360mm lens as shown in the print which I am very pleased with.

That said, it may be possible to improve on this print by using my 480mm lens from a point further back if there is enough space between it and a tree which would otherwise block the view. Why? Just visible on the third story on the right side of the house is three gables of what apparently is three separate rooms each having a double window which just visible between the railings of the porch from that location. One of these days I'm going to check that hypothesis out.

Thomas

NedL
2-Sep-2015, 19:12
Thanks Lenny and Thomas.

Randy Moe
2-Sep-2015, 19:36
It's great to learn all this stuff... I would add a couple of points. The first is that there is always a trade-off with tilts and swings. As you have already noticed, if you focus on the ground, the things that are higher up will be out of focus. Sometimes you win and sometimes it makes it worse...

I have found that you can stop down to at least f45 on most good LF lenses, with excellent quality. This is NOT a game of seeing how wide open you can be with the swings and tilts - it isn't necessary to do so. Many images are just fine without swings and/or tilts. I would say that most images shot with LF cameras over the past 200 years did not use movements.

Finally, instead of setting the focus in the middle, I would go for the first third, then stop down to get everything you want. I would suggest you do that, get your shot; and then try something with the movements for fun...

Really good advice. Historical fact. Should be a sticky...

tgtaylor
2-Sep-2015, 22:44
Actually it's very poor advise and should be disregarded by anyone seriously looking to improve their photography - especially large format photography. If camera movements are as superfluous as Lenny and Randy believe, then why invest money in a camera that is designed to deliver movements? The fact is that cameras with movements were always designed for those photographers who seek to maximize the potential of an image and not for the masses that come to photography simply because photography is cool and never progress past that initial infatuation. Cameras with movements are designed for those that go beyond the initial infatuation and become serious image makers. And that has been the case historically. Not long ago an article was published, in View Camera I think, that revisited and re-photographed William Henry Jackson's compositions to determine the camera movements Jackson employed.

Thomas

Lenny Eiger
3-Sep-2015, 08:59
Hilarious! In one moment advice is worthy of a sticky, the next it is poor and useless! The vagaries of time....

Of course, it is just advice, which is one man's opinion and it needs to be judged on whether or not it works for whoever decides to try it
.
My suggestion isn't that people do NOT learn these techniques, quite the contrary. I learned them a very long time ago and do them without thinking about it. Excellence in technique is always an admirable goal.

However, the mark of a great image isn't necessarily it's plane of focus. It's only one very small aspect of what one can do. Further, stopping down to a reasonable f stop takes care of many of the focus concerns. The last time I was in the field shooting I remember tilting the lens down just a bit and when I got it right it was a tiny amount of tilt.... we aren't talking about 20 degrees here, more like 1 or 2. Was it useful? Maybe. Other times it was quite useful, especially using the front shift to move things in and out of a frame. Is it a factor as important as learning to expose and develop just right for the shot? I think not. That's also subjective, of course.

I didn't get into LF for the swings and tilts. I got into LF because of the print quality. The delicious tonality of a large negative. The ability to expose and develop for one sheet of film was a huge bonus.