View Full Version : How many of you were taught (in LF) ?

Ken Lee
8-Sep-2017, 17:22
Since there is already an interesting thread entitled How many of you are self-taught (in LF)? (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?141273-How-many-of-you-are-self-taught-(in-LF)) perhaps we should ask the complementary question: Have you been taught in LF ?

Some of our members have had the good fortune to study under or become acquainted with influential photographers: some well known, others just influential to them personally. Even a critique of one's work or a single photo can be influential and instructive.

Perhaps this would be a good place to share: inspiring and informative anecdotes as well as stories of disappointment or surprise.

8-Sep-2017, 17:33
Hi Ken,

I've never had the opportunity ($$) to study under anyone expert in the field.

I'd certainly like to. Perhaps one day.

- Leigh

8-Sep-2017, 17:41
I studied Professional Photography at RIT and received a Bachelor's degree in 1980. A majority of my work was shot on 4x5, both in studio and on location. One of my first year Professors was Les Stroebel, who taught a class called Materials and Processes of Photography. He was also the author of our textbook! Wish I had asked him to autograph it...

8-Sep-2017, 17:42
There was no access to mentors when I began this never-ending learning process, especially since my interest was truly kindled at age 13... quite a few years ago.

8-Sep-2017, 18:52
i was an apprentice to a portrait photographer who shot 5x7 before i got a lf camera. as a result
i processed sheet film, retouched negatives ( with lead ) and enlarged/contact printed sheet film. she didn't
teach me LF technique but portrait technique and using a studio shutter ( and loading lf film/using a carriage back ) ...

8-Sep-2017, 20:00
I took classes in high school and college with 35mm and some darkroom classes later, but I've never had a chance to take a class on large format. I'd love to, but it's tough to find one I can squeeze into my life with a busy husband and child.

8-Sep-2017, 22:59
In 1979 I had a photo class that had a 4x5 assignment -- and I started to use one pretty consistently after that (and my Rolleiflex). The university had a few monorail 4x5s to check out...which I did regularily. After that initial 4x5 assignment, I was more or less on my own with LF. Some help from other students. The photo program covered technical stuff well, but the main purpose was the art side of photography.

I took a week-long LF workshop in 1985 (Bruce Barnbaum/Jay Dusard/Harrison Branch) and it was great to be exposed to great work and different ways of working. Soon after that I got a couple scholorships to attended Friends of Photography workshops, then was a workshop assistant for them for many years. So I was exposed to a lot of practical and artistic information from a large variety of major LF users. Watching Richard Misrach use his 8x10 Deardorf was educational!

In 1991 I became the darkroom tech for the university, and I would lead field trips on using the 4x5s, and help students with their 4x5 processing, etc. Again -- teaching is the best way to learn! Retired a couple years ago.

Then this forum has filled a lot of gaps in my knowledge.

9-Sep-2017, 06:32
No matter what format you are using -- from 8x11mm to 8x10" -- if you don't set everything on AUTO, whether you learn from reading a magazine article, a book, joining an Internet forum, taking a workshop/seminar, or matriculating a degree program, you end up doing some tests/experiments. It might be as simple as taking several pictures of the same scene with different camera settings on the same roll of film. It might be building your own lens, or trying out a new mix of chemicals for fiilm development.

The college degree program that I signed up for was in the Art Department, which had two photography professors -- both named Ron, which always lead to a lot of confusion. One was a soft-spoken, artistic-type, who always encouraged everyone to try whatever they could imagine. The other was a Marine Sergeant-type who wanted everyone to follow the "rules" of the great Masters. They could not have been different, and I have no idea how they could possibly work together. For example, Sergeant Ron wanted all photographs to be mounted on white, museum, archival board. I always displayed my prints on foam-core with a 18% gray mat board. I always pissed him off, and he always gave me low grades -- but I always passed. It didn't matter to me. At the end of every Sergeant Ron class, some of the students would tell me that they learned more from me than they did from Sergeant Ron -- but I must admit, he knew his stuff!!!

Mark Sawyer
9-Sep-2017, 11:18
I learned large format in the 1970s in a university fine arts photo program. Well, I learned while I was in the program. No one else there did large format, all 35mm and a few medium format, and I was the weird one wandering around with an 8x10, so I learned from books. During my junior year, Todd Walker joined as a professor, but by then I had a few of the basics down, and all he told me was "you're doing fine". And over the years I developed my own ways of working that gave me what I wanted pretty consistently.

A decade or so ago I finally decided to get some serious instruction from a couple of well-respected large format photographers to see what I'd been doing wrong all these years. They though I was doing everything completely wrong, and I thought they were doing everything completely wrong, but we all had very good results. We both had our systems, and they worked for us.

On the teaching side, I taught a somewhat simplified system to my high school students and they did excellent work with it. I'm not sure they understood the why behind what they were doing, but the work came out well. I taught practice and practical theory, (how the practice works), but the kids wanted the pure practice part, just enough to do it, so that's what we concentrated on. I'm guessing those few who pursued it since will have picked up more on the technical along the way. And they've probably developed their own systems of doing things, completely wrong, but giving them very good results that work for them...

bob carnie
9-Sep-2017, 11:20
Yes at Photo College but absolutely hated anything to do with a large format camera... fast forward a century and I am indeed only using large format.. to figure.

Jerry Bodine
9-Sep-2017, 11:58
With several years of 35mm experience and acceptable darkroom results, I decided to find out what I was doing. In 1966 I began with an AA Yosemite workshop for two weeks (every 3rd day off to do as you please); I didn’t know enough to ask an intelligent question at that point, but befriended and learned from several of his assistants. I came home with a stack of his books (autographed) to learn on my own. The seed of LF was planted. For the next five years and three more of his workshops (each one specializing in different aspects of b/w) I gradually assembled my kit of Sinar Normas (4x5, 5x7 and 8x10) and added to my apartment darkroom a 5x7 Omega E6 enlarger, Kodak densitometer, and simple setup for 8x10 contacts. The densitometer died in storage during a move into my first house and was happily replaced by a much better modern unit. The house was bought specifically with a new darkroom envisioned and has been functioning for years now. In the meantime, all 35mm and MF (Hassy) equipment has been liquidated. Yet the unending learning has continued to this day as materials/processes change. I was amazed once when encountering a frustrating problem and picked up the phone to call Ansel and ask for his help (workshop participants were encouraged to do so); he answered the call and gave an immediate solution to the problem – still hard to believe being as busy as he was that he was so accessible. I think I was just lucky.

Peter Collins
9-Sep-2017, 14:16
After developing and printing 35mm film exposed in a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP1000, I took a course in the Zone System taught by Howard Bond of Ann Arbor, MI. The text was The New Zone System Manual. I acquired an Arca Swiss basic 4x5 (shoulda never parted with it), and took part in a workshop with Howard in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario. The workshop was in 1974. Then, I was off on my own, more or less. Maybe a lot "less" because I have learned so much from other members of this Forum.

My oh-my-gosh experience was seeing Ansel Adams' work at the 831 Halstead Gallery in Birmingham, MI. Blown away. Riveted. Prices were $400 - $800. I think this was 1970 - 71. I was a poor graduate student living off my wife's full-time job. No prints.

9-Sep-2017, 14:36
My career has been in accounting. In the 80's, I started playing around with photography. I lived 2 blocks from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, so I took some photo classes. I was in their photo program, full time for 1 semester, otherwise part-time for about 6 years. OCC had an outstanding photo department, led by Rick Steadry, who I took a very intense commercial photography class from. He was an outstanding professor, as was Ken Slosberg, Ken Steuck, Walter Urie (advertising photography), Jack Boyd (architectural photography), and at least one lady, and one other guy, whose names I can't recall. Irini Rickerson was great teaching art history, as was John Upton (history of photography.) My beginning art professor (can't recall his name) had sold his advertising agency and decided to go into teaching. He was very good teaching us contrasts, and how the mind looks at things.

The OCC photo program was superb.

I do landscape photography, and, mostly, what I do with it is to publish an annual calendar for my clients with my pix. I don't have the skills that some of you do, but I wouldn't have the skills that I have without all the men & women at OCC that taught me. Thank you!

Apologies for the names that I'm certain I've mis-spelled, and for those that I've omitted.

9-Sep-2017, 15:38
I remember seeing a nice large 16x20 or 20x24 inch framed AA print in a gallery in New Mexico back in approximately 1983-86. It was marked $16,000US which, of course, I didn't have. What struck me odd was the print had drips from being sprayed with a clear coating of some kind.

Peter Lewin
9-Sep-2017, 19:35
I can expand a bit on my post in the other thread Ken refers to. While, like most of us, I learned most of my photography from books, I have had the good fortune to take a number of workshops.

The first was with Fred Picker in Vermont, during the period when Fred was probably "the" LF guru, publisher of the monthly ZoneVI Newsletter, and manufacturer of quite a few LF products, many of which I still use in my darkroom. While his week long class covered developing, printing, and view camera use, what sticks in my memory was Fred's collection of prints. Among his favorites were Paul Strand, Paul Caponigro, and Oliver Gagliani; I still remember those prints well. This would have been, IIRC, in the 1970s.

Morristown NJ had one photography gallery in the 1980s, and the Woodman Gallery ran workshops. Bill Abranowicz was George Tire's assistant at the time, and gave a course on printing. I think we met once a week for a month or two. Bill taught us both technique, as well as a love for lower-contrast printing. By that I mean he taught that while higher contrast may be the easiest way to make a dramatic print, his approach, which I follow to this day, was to make the lowest contrast print that still conveyed whatever message or feeling we were trying to convey. So the final print may not be low contrast in absolute terms, but it still defines an approach to printing.

And later in the 1980s I had the good fortune to take a course at the Maine Photography Workshops with a then less-famous Sally Mann. At the time I knew only a little about Sally, having one of her family monographs, but I wanted to learn from someone who was clearly comfortable with using a view camera to make pictures of living people, rather than "rocks and trees," the static images I was most comfortable with. Sally was a wonderful teacher, and possibly the least inhibited person I have ever met. Her favorite word was "quotidian," meaning the things that happen in everyday life. As those of you who know her work are aware, her children spent a lot of their time running around the family farm with little to no clothing. Towards the end of the week our entire class, without Sally's knowledge, made a nude group portrait of ourselves, and one of the other workshop teachers made a platinum print from the LF negative, which was our gift to Sally. Unfortunately I still tend to make static images (old buildings, architecture, etc.) but many of Sally's comments still echo; of course there are many of "us," and only a few of "her," so I don't feel too bad about it.

My closing comment is triggered by a couple of earlier posts about people having had a chance to buy Ansel Adams prints at, by today's standards, bargain prices. When I started working for Exxon Corp. around 1970, there was only one photography gallery in Manhattan (I just can't remember the name now) and I would occasionally walk over during my lunch period or after work. I remember that when I got my first raise, they were selling AA prints for something like $300-$400. But with the egocentricity of an early 20-something, my logic was that I could spend that amount either for a print by one of my heroes at the time, or go to Olden Camera and buy a view camera, and if I had the camera, I could make the equivalent prints! So I made the poor decision from an investment standpoint, but bought a Sinar F, and gained a half-century of enjoyment (I just turned 70). And thanks to the workshops and a lot of experience, have finally learned that no, I still cannot make the "equivalent print." But just as I have come to realize that I will never be Sally Mann, I can accept that I also will never be Ansel Adams.

9-Sep-2017, 23:08
When I was a senior in high school (September 1962 to June 1963) I wanted to be the photographer for the school newspaper. The school had a 4x5" Speed Graphic, flash bulbs and Tri-X pack film. I kinda sorta figured out on my own how to use the equipment to create editorial and sports photographs. Yes, I covered Ohio school sports with a Speed Graphic and flashbulbs!

Then in January an opportunity came up where students from the two public high schools and one Catholic high school would meet at the city newspaper, The Lorain Journal, to lay out a full "op-ed" page devoted to school news and sans advertising. We students would write and illustrate all of the articles with patient guidance from the newspaper's editorial staff.

The newspaper's photographers Norm Bergsma and John Fazio taught me how to refine my Speed Graphic techniques and also how to process the Tri-X myself then make enlargements.

After serving in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 1968 as an air traffic control specialist (and voluntary freelance photographer for command newspapers), I returned to The Lorain Journal to work as a photojounalist. But I never used anything large format in the Air Force or at the newspaper, just 35mm and medium format.

In 1965 I opened a commercial and portrait studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and during that time I bought a 4x5" Crown Graphic and 4x5" Toyo View monorail along with lenses, a bunch of Kodak #4A stainless steel sheet film holders and deep tanks for processing. I've been using 4x5" equipment on and off ever since then.

So, thanks to Norm and John (both of whom have gone to the darkroom in the sky), I received a good foundation in large format photography. Thanks guys! :)

Ken Lee
10-Sep-2017, 07:39
By a stroke of immense good fortune, Fred Picker lived a few miles away in White Plains New York when I was a high school student in 1970. I studied with him for several years.

He generously shared all his tools and techniques, as well as his approach to giving critiques, how to approach and photograph the subject, how to develop oneself artistically. We went shooting together, I worked with him in his darkroom, he advised me on equipment: he simply opened the door to everything.

Some of the technical details have changed over the years, but the rest, the core is unchanged and invaluable.

Merg Ross
10-Sep-2017, 11:44
By a stroke of immense good fortune, Fred Picker lived a few miles away in White Plains New York when I was a high school student in 1970. I studied with him for several years.

He generously shared all his tools and techniques, as well as his approach to giving critiques, how to approach and photograph the subject, how to develop oneself artistically. We went shooting together, I worked with him in his darkroom, he advised me on equipment: he simply opened the door to everything.

Some of the technical details have changed over the years, but the rest, the core is unchanged and invaluable.

This is a wonderful story of a fortunate teenager, but only a beginning. Those early lessons would be lost without your initiative and perseverance to put them in play. We have the results in your excellent portfolios.

In my experience, successful photographs involve hard work; there are no shortcuts.

10-Sep-2017, 18:34
The other "teacher" here is experience, where you (technically) don't control "it", but "it" controls you...

What does one learn from mistakes, or the times one wasn't sure what to do but tried something that yielded a great result???

One needs to develop a sense of intutition, and knowing what has worked in the past, and hopefully we don't get too thick-in-the-head to be able make that call (not in hindsight)...

Steve K

Jerry Bodine
10-Sep-2017, 18:54
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

10-Sep-2017, 20:29
interesting thread, it has made me reflect on all of the photography and art instructors and influences I've had over the years. There have been so many, some formal in classes at two different colleges, some informal through social or professional contact. I feel pretty lucky. Of course I still learn something new almost every time I pick up a camera.

Andrew O'Neill
13-Sep-2017, 12:27
I never received any formal training in LF, or in photography, for that matter. My formal training was drawing, and printmaking... I had zero interest in photography back then! amazing how things can change!

13-Sep-2017, 12:51
No instruction in LF. Just starting out and have relied on a couple of books. Hoping to learn as much as I can from this forum.


13-Sep-2017, 13:03
Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was an undergrad at Stanford, I took several photo classes. Not enough for a studio art major, and there were no undergraduate minors degrees back then. One of the classes was on large format photography, given by Joel Leivick. We could borrow either a monorail (Calumet or Cambo, can't remember) or a Calumet Woodfield, which is what I borrowed, along with a 150mm lens (probably a Caltar, not sure who really made it). I think that class was in 1987 or 1988, I'd have to dig up the negatives to see. I started up again in LF in 2001 when I bought a Tachihara, and have been self taught sine, but I did get a good basic understanding from that class long ago. I also took Photo 1, photo 2, and individual study twice (a.k.a. photo 3, but you could take it more than once).

Ken Lee
13-Sep-2017, 13:35
This is a wonderful story of a fortunate teenager, but only a beginning. Those early lessons would be lost without your initiative and perseverance to put them in play. We have the results in your excellent portfolios.

In my experience, successful photographs involve hard work; there are no shortcuts.

I thought of copying and pasting some of your earlier posts into this thread - recollections of time spent with Brett and Edward Weston - but instead I would ask if you have anything else to share. You're not prone to boasting, but there must be a lot more "rich content" residing in your memory banks ! :o

13-Sep-2017, 13:53
I became enthralled with B&W photography much as John Sexton did at about the same time and age, watching a friend develop prints for the first time. Started with a Nikkormat FTn.
At the then Phila. College of Art (PCA) in '72, I became a photography major for two years, studying first under Ray Metzger. He was kind and generous man. We were introduced to 4x5 in the course of things, but I parted ways with PCA halfway through my junior year and never had any formal training after that. In retrospect, I think I have learned the most through self-study, which has been intense whenever I have had the time to make it so. I was a professional for more than three decades.
My problem early on was a math/science block -- I devoured the photo magazines except for articles that had numbers or formulas in them. Until I realized that I was simply not getting the results I wanted. I finally realized that I needed to understand depth-of-field, inverse square law, a bit of chemistry, etc. Since this was important to my identity, I was able to overleap the emotional block , and suddenly the numbers made sense (I'm not talking about trig, optical formulas, etc., just basics).
Studying masters of the other arts -- music, painting, drawing, etc. -- as well as photographers, and striving to attain the greatest quality I can in every way, compositionally and technically, has been my primary resource.

W K Longcor
13-Sep-2017, 20:25
Got my BS in pro photo at RIT class of '69. And I got texts autographed by Les, c.b. Neblett, and B. Newhall.

Merg Ross
13-Sep-2017, 22:32
I thought of copying and pasting some of your earlier posts into this thread - recollections of time spent with Brett and Edward Weston - but instead I would ask if you have anything else to share. You're not prone to boasting, but there must be a lot more "rich content" residing in your memory banks ! :o

Ken yes, lots in my "memory banks". However, pertaining to the immediate topic, my initial lesson was brief; approximately seven hours. For background, my father was a professional photographer, and here I quote from my book:

"I made my first photographs in 1951. For my tenth birthday, Grandmother gave me a mail-in box camera with a simple shutter. I produced photographs with a feeling of accomplishment, however most often with disappointing results. My penchant for close-ups was beyond the capability of the camera. The disappointment ended shortly after my twelfth birthday. My father, sensing my frustration, brought from his studio a wooden 4x5 camera with accessories. He set it up in the yard and instructed me to look at the ground glass --- before my eyes were twenty square-inches of luminous image! A five-minute lesson on using a light meter followed, and later that afternoon lessons on developing film and making a contact print. By evening, with prints drying, my life was forever transformed".

Those seven hours represent my initial training in photography. The following sixty years have been a continuation of the learning experience, mostly trial and error. I was lucky to land my first full-time job at the University of California photo lab at the age of nineteen. I had never used an enlarger, but with patient supervision became a skilled printer. On my first sports assignment I returned with eighteen sheets of blank film, having neglected to open the front shutter on a Speed Graphic. However, over the course of ten years I became skilled in the profession, and continued to learn. For some it's the classroom, for me it was the field; but indeed, I had teachers to whom I am beholden.


Alan Gales
14-Sep-2017, 09:56
What? You don't remember teaching me, Ken? ;)

After I purchased my first 4x5 (a Cambo SC), I bought the Steve Simmons book which really helped me. Then I joined this forum. I learned a lot from your website, Ken, plus from a bunch of other members here.

I've never said it before but I guess now is as good a time as any. Thank you Ken and thanks to all the other members who have taught me something! :)

Jim Jones
14-Sep-2017, 13:04
I bought my first book on photography over 65 years ago, Rudolf Kingslake's Lenses in Photography. What a revelation in comparison to the Encyclopedia Britannica's articles on the subject! Since then maybe 200 more books have joined the collection. With those masters (and more on LFPF) I can't claim to be self-taught. However, my many mistakes along the way have been educational, too.

14-Sep-2017, 13:47
However, my many mistakes along the way have been educational, too.
Folks always learn from their mistakes.

That's why I'm a genius. :p

- Leigh

14-Sep-2017, 17:25
I started out in High School with a Pentax K1000 then quickly moved on to medium format, then went commercial to support my hobby. Like the world's oldest profession, first I did it to please myself, then to please my friends, and finally for money. In the 1980's I became aware of Fred Picker, and read every one of his Newsletters. I still use several of his tools in the darkroom, then I took one of his workshops in the late 1980's. At around the same time, I met a fellow photographer not too far from me who worked in 8x10 and 8x20 and introduced me to Deardorffs and Dagors. At that point, there was no turning back. After Freddie's workshop, I took a 2 week workshop taught by Oliver Gagliani and then the Photographing Buildings Inside and Out workshop by Norman McGrath. This was a commercial workshop, but using view cameras. I followed that by teaching B&W photography at our local community college for some 12 years until I got burned out! So there you have it, I still have the Deardorffs and Dagors and thoroughly enjoy photography, plus I've made a pretty good living at it for the past 40 or so years!

Drew Bedo
15-Sep-2017, 18:28

I took a week-long workshop with Steve Simmons at The Santa Fe Workshops in the 1990s.

Took a week-long workshop with Jerry Spagnoli at The Montana Workshops in the early 2Ks.

Is thet "studying under" someone?

27-Sep-2017, 20:53
As a sophomore, I was the High School year book photographer in the 1960s, Crown Graphic 4x5, grip-n-grin shots of the Science Club meeting to basketball games. Next year they switched to Yashica TLRs; that guy had no idea how easy he had it.

Senior year of high school worked after school for a commercial photographer, most ads were shot in 4x5 chrome, portraits in 4x5 Super XX, architecture could be either one. I developed B&W 120 and 4x5 sheet film and made enlargements, the portraits were always on a textured Ektalure paper (my favorite paper of all time until it was altered about 1974), contact prints on Azo, commerical enlargements on Kodabromide. Finally he gave me a Speed Graphic 4x5 which I am still using 50 years later.


28-Sep-2017, 11:22
Self-taught, but my best friend is a knowledgeable photographer so I can consult him when I run into trouble.

I went from digital straight to LF, then picked up 35mm, and most recently have started to dabble in medium format film.

John Jarosz
28-Sep-2017, 13:10
Taught using a Calumet 4x5 during freshman photography at the Institute of Design (IIT) in Chicago 1968. It was tough lugging that thing around Chicago.

Bob Salomon
28-Sep-2017, 13:32
Looks like I had a different experience. In the very early 60s I joined the USAF and wanted tones photographer. The AF gave us aptitude tests in basic and decided that they would send me to Yale to learn Chinese and train me to do high speed radio intercepts. But I had a letter from my recruiter promising me photo. So while in basic I was given a bypass specialist in photography with the understanding that if I passed it I would go to photo. If I didnít I would go to Yale. So I passed it and, while in basic received the MOS of a Staff Sargent in photo.
The AF then decided that after basic that they would assign me to the AF photo school at Lowry, AFB which would give me a MOS of 3, even though I already had a 5.
At Lowry they paired the students up at the beginning of one week. Gave one of us a large fiberboard case and the other a wooden tripod. They then sent us out on the base to shoot and use up the film that was in the case.
The case also had an 810 Deardorff and a triple convertible lens. That was my initial exposure to large format training.

Ken Lee
28-Sep-2017, 13:32
I had one of those 4x5 Calumets, a few years later: they sold a rigid case for it, strong enough that you could stand on it to get landscape shots from a little extra height. I dragged it around Chicago too :rolleyes:

28-Sep-2017, 20:36
1st camera, other than instamatic, was a KS something issued to me at Ft. Monmouth in 1971. It was a speed graphic and my introduction to photography. The kit came with a tiltall type tripod, Weston V, 4&5 inch lenses, flash gun and bulbs and half dozen holders. The case had a strap you could rig to wear as a backpack. The LF training was mostly geared for technical use. Small parts, copy work etc. LF has always been available in pretty much every professional environment I've been in but as far as being taught, I was shown the basics and given a little theory but like everything it's practice, practice, practice (and I don't do it enough).

Robert Opheim
30-Sep-2017, 11:44
Yes I went through a 2 year technical / art program at a local community college in the early 1970's - Everett Community College. It was one of two programs in Western Washington State at the time. In large format we studied: product photography, and did portraits with and 8x10 studio camera with a packard shutter shooting 4x5 film.

Maris Rusis
30-Sep-2017, 16:01
The only LF lesson I ever got was the care, cultivation, and operation of the 4x5 Grafmatic 6 shot magazine. I didn't have a clue how to work it so I made an appointment with an old photographer still operating out of his upstairs studio on the main street. He grabbed the Grafmatic, opened it, checked all six septums for straightness, reloaded it, and cycled through all six in under a minute. It was a wonderful blur of hands that took me a half hour of careful instruction to repeat...very slowly.

Leszek Vogt
1-Oct-2017, 13:24
Way back in 1974 I received some LF instructions, but not much stuck to me. Our instructor was more interested in working with an adv. agency and pretty much left us to our own devices....I think I saw him twice during the semester at the univ. Well, that was pretty much previous life. I continued to use and have the passion for 35mm and sometimes MF, but on many occasions worked and helped several Brooks students - yes, I did live in Santa Barbara or the adjacent towns. Anyway, the tech stuff was pretty much transferable from the smaller gauge to LF, but there are many nuances to this and most of that I acquired from periodicals, pamphlets, books and plenty info here on these forums. Yet, we all know (am I presuming ?) that the artistic portion is also huge part of LF.


Jim Andrada
3-Oct-2017, 00:21
Might as well chime in. When I was about 4 years old (in 1944) I would stay up late watching my father develop and print on our kitchen table - it was fascinating - neat red light, shades pulled down, small 6 x 4.5 sized enlarger clamped to the corner of the table (which I still have - not bad for a table my parents found in a 2nd hand shop for $1 in 1937.) I still have his camera too, a nice 1937 folding Zeiss Super Ikonta, which I still use quite a bit. But I digress. The process was fascinating and it wasn't long before I had my own camera, a 620 box Brownie. I must have been a major annoyance to the neighborhood - even the dogs and cats were probably tired of having their daily routines recorded for posterity.

Kind of fast forward 20 years or so and I moved up, photographically speaking and bought a pair of Nikon F's (which i also still have and use) and somehow wound up in an evening class taught by Minor White at MIT. That's where the LF bug bit, and around 1970 I bought a new 5 x 7 Linhof Kardan Bi. A couple of years later I dragged it to Yosemite for one of the AA workshops. At the time he'd make a 16 x 20 print of anything for as I recall $325. I didn't buy any of course, although I did buy a bunch of the small signed "special edition" prints for $15. And I bought several nice 11 x 14 prints from Brett Weston who was with us at the workshop for a day or two. What really stuck in my mind though were some of the simple "Notan" exercises taught by Dorr Bothwell in which we'd play around arranging various cut out shapes of black paper on a white background.

I remember taking a couple of courses in street photography at Mass College of Art, and a workshop in photo composites with Jerry Uelsmann, as well as several courses in photographic silk screen printing. Took a few other workshops in large format as well here and there. And just last year I took a workshop with Mark Nelson on his Precision Digital Negative system.

These days I'm still into 5 x 7 and even digital, And I've been doing quite a bit of Computer Generated Imaging in which I've been combining photos and videos with generated images and animations using a suite of the same software packages that the folks in Hollywood use for fluid simulations and special effects. No formal training in the CGI stuff, but having been a computer nerd since 1959 I've been able to pick up on most of it on my own.

One of these days I'll retire and have more time to waste film!!! I dragged a Technika and the Mamiya 645 (and a Minox B) to Japan last year where my wife and I rented a car and explored some of the rural areas along the Sea of Japan, and I'm trying to put together a 5 x 7 kit compact enough to take to Sicily and Japan next year. Also thinking of attending a workshop on alt process.

3-Oct-2017, 03:57
No formal tuition at all, everything done by reading and trying.

For all things technical, this book is brilliant -> https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Barbara-London/dp/0131896091/ref=sr_1_3 Although I dare say there are now much newer editions.

And for the more subjective side of things (which follows on nicely from Jim's Notan comments) I found this book to be superb -> https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perception-Imaging-Richard-D-Zakia/dp/024080466X

Amzon links for speed, I'm sure these can be had from elsewhere.

Jim Andrada
3-Oct-2017, 16:03
Looked at "Perception and Imaging" on Amazon. There's a new edition coming in a couple of weeks and I pre-ordered it.

Another book that is really outstanding is Albers' Interaction of Color https://www.amazon.com/Interaction-Color-Complete-Josef-Albers/dp/0300146930/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1507070890&sr=8-4&keywords=interaction+of+colors

It was reissued a few years ago in a complete edition by Yale University Press. Expensive (well, not as expensive as 50 sheets of 5 x 7 Ektar 100) and worth it. Some would say it's more relevant to "conventional" art, but I think it helps understand what we're seeing and feeling when we photograph and what we communicate to the viewers of the print.

4-Oct-2017, 02:24
I'll check that out, thanks.

5-Oct-2017, 11:19
I've never had a formal photography lesson, started with a box brownie aged about five and a lot of 35mm and 645; I then picked up a taste for more vintage stuff and had folding 120 6x9 cameras and a reflex 6x6 (still got that one in the attic, but it's bust :( )

I was a BBC cameraman off and on for a few years; studio and outside news broadcasts, but that's largely a matter of pointing and focussing. I spent a bit more time as the camera controller engineer - contrast and black level - which was probably a bit more helpful but which leaves me with a rather, um, eclectic way of looking at the imaging process.

Bought the 4x5 on a whim in a junk shop maybe thirty years ago; read everything I could find from 1920s Amateur Photographer to Adam's classic series and the BJP manuals.

My wife of thirty years ago gave up her job in the bank to study photography, but other things came up in the darkroom and we separated. I took great delight in providing the cover images for a CD, while she went back to the bank.


Kevin J. Kolosky
9-Oct-2017, 19:10
I attended Brooks Institute for a year back in 1974. Second semester stressed learning to use the view camera as well as learning an exposure system. I remember I bought a Cambo and a Kodak Ektar lens. Alas, the cost of living in Santa Barbara coupled with the cost of tuition at Brooks caused me to withdraw and join the Navy. I hoped to go to the Navy's photography school in Memphis, but when I got there the class was full. So they offered that I would only have to stay in for 3 years instead of 4 because I didn't get the school I was promised. Ended up on an Aircraft Carrier for about 2 1/2 years. Got the G.I. Bill when I finished my tour of duty, and was able to finish College. So some good came out of going to Brooks, including learning how to use a view camera. Today I have a Sinar P2 and a Hasselblad system, but don't use them as much as I would like to.