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Thread: Question about a specific subject and composition

  1. #1

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    Question about a specific subject and composition

    Hi there, a question from a relative newcomer, about the visualization and practicability of a specific shot.



    Here is a wide-angle shot I took on full-frame digitial a couple of years back, with Nikon D800E and Zeiss 21mm Distagon. The location is St. Blane's Church, Isle of Bute, Scotland, overlooking the Isle of Arran. I will be revisiting in August (annual family holiday).

    Since I've now sold the Zeiss lens as I moved into LF territory, I'm wondering how feasible it would be to shoot this on large format (Linhof Technikardan S45).

    The original shot was a complex, and not altogether satisfactory, one to process, being a blend of four focus-stacked shots at f/7.1 for depth of field, and one exposure blend to deal with the complex sky.

    I can see two problems for large-format wide angle (my current wide-angle is a Nikkor SW75, with bag bellows): first, the balancing of the sky against the trees and foreground. Grads might work but I'm not certain; second, I'm wondering what movements or techniques (including selection of aperture) would be able to control the depth of field required to get the gravestone, plus everything else, in focus. Others may envisage other difficulties!
    Thanks in advance,
    Dave

  2. #2
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    Well, first off a bit of rear tilt will straighten out the slight convergence in the composition to make the trees stand straighter and eliminate the slight bowing in the resat of it. Keep in mind that I do have a visual impairment so it may just be ME.

    Others will chime in on exposure options and subtlies of film processing. If the negative is scanned, you will have all the digital options available to you that were used in creating the original image. You might consider bracketing the scene for HDR ad focus stacking processing.
    Drew Bedo
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  3. #3

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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    Nice work.

    If it is not practical with LF, then use MF digital. If MF Digital is not practical, then use a smaller format. That is the hierarchy of formats for the LF devotee.

  4. #4

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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  5. #5

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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    That's a great scene to shoot with a LF camera!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
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  6. #6
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    A bit of swing/tilt, orange or maybe red filter + 2-stop GND, f/22 or maybe f/32, should work just fine. I definitely like the original compared to the suggested crop above, but maybe give a bit more on the right so as to get the whole headstone. The different aspect ratio though between the 35mm frame and 4x5 may make you reconsider the composition though, or just crop it to 3:2.
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  7. #7
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    Nice subject, captured and edited well. By framing a little higher, you'll have less of the foreground to get in focus. If you can move back a little, you won't have to tilt the camera up quite so much. The stone in the lower left anchors that corner of the composition, but the two stones in the distance could do that even better if you move back a little and to your right. This might give you enough DOF to avoid focus stacking. Also, consider a vertical composition if the sky cooperates.

  8. #8

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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    You're all very kind. Lots of nice thoughts to contemplate!

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    If it were me I'd ignore grads and learn the basics of large format film itself. A basic orange filter should bring out the clouds without blocking up the shadows or
    excessively darkening the grass. The correct film and development can easily handle those kinds of contrast ranges, and then to the finer controls in printing.
    Practice swings and tilts with respect for controlling image plane focus. But having bigger film means less enlargement, so you can also use much smaller f-stops
    to control depth of field as well. That foreground headstone can be handled by a bit of front swing. Once you've gotten accustomed to it, large format will reward all those subtle details and textures in the stone and foliage. Take your time and be patient with it. You're already off to a great start!

  10. #10

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    Re: Question about a specific subject and composition

    The 75mm Nikon should handle this scene fine. Do not use a ND grad as it will affect the tree definition. If you use a filter I would suggest a Yellow or a #16 (do one exposure with each). A deeper filter will make a more dramatic sky, but it will darken the foliage too much, and may make the exposure too long to get sharp details (I was in the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye this past October, and it is windy (see my web site)). The lichen on the stones will become more accentuated, and give more contrast (look sharper). You may use some very slight swing, but not much. With a 75 you don't have much anyway. If it were me, I would back awya from the foreground stone to allow for croping to get a better framing, and include the right edge of the stone. Be sure the foreground is in focus, and don't worry about the background - if it is not as sharp in the print your eye will compensate. Make sure the camera is level! Tilt is not necessary and will throw the top of the stone out of focus as well as the tree top.

    Pay attention to tonal separation. For example, the right most stone and the tree, as well as the two stones in the background, are very close tonally and may not be distinct in the print. You may have to do an N+ expansion. Move around to see if you have the best composition before you set up the camera. Don't be afraid to experiment! Film is still the cheapest component of any photographic outing!

    Regards,
    Mike

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