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Thread: Large Format increases our talent

  1. #1

    Large Format increases our talent

    Hi all, No, It's not an assertion, just a joke and a question! I would like to know the opinion of this community. Do you think jumping from 35mm to large format really makes your photos better? Apart from sharpness and Sheimpflug, since each one has a personal sensibility, are the LF photos so different from 35mm when we shoot them? Is a photographer s o different when he shoots in 35mm and when he does the same picture with his LF camera? is it really the same picture? I have learnt so much from this forum, a nd I have learnt one thing while hiking and practising: It takes a long time to set up all the equipment, when you are ready to shoot, y ou feel like a part of the landscape and suddenly things seem very different! is n't it?

  2. #2

    Large Format increases our talent

    Generally, large format photography requires a more deliberate approach! Like you say, it takes longer to set up and actually take a photograph. The large format demands that you "see" the picture, analyze every element in the frame, and visualize the final image. One way to approach large format photography is to always work with a cardboard "cutout"...- a quick way to asses a scene and determine if it really is what you think it is - and a way to visualize the final image.

    Read Fred Picker's book: "Zone VI Workshop" - it will give you the essence of large format photography.

  3. #3
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Large Format increases our talent

    My work in other formats has improved since I started using large format.

    Aside from the knowledge of optics one develops when using the view camera, and the knowledge of film one can develop when using sheet film, having more formats available makes it possible to use each format for what it does best.

  4. #4

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    Large Format increases our talent

    When moving to LF from other formats (particularly directly from 35mm) the first thing most people experience, is the realization of how little they really knew about photography.

  5. #5

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    Large Format increases our talent

    Well, it can make those photos better that should have been large format anyway. Having used manual 35mm and medium format for many years before getting into sheet film, some of us already had good practices and understanding. Anyone who already was doing things carefully and with thought should find the transition easy. When first getting involved, I asked the usual newby questions. The best piece of advice I got was from someone who told me "just play with the camera and see for yourself". To get back to the question, no matter what the format, the same basic truths apply. Framing and composition are necessary, as is proper exposure. A good tripod and cable release are valuable, no matter what format you use. For landscapes, scenics, still life, architecture etc, large format has no equal. For action - sports, birding etc or where extreme lenses are needed, 35mm is the choice. For portraits or "tourist" pictures, I like medium format.... good definition and yet very portable.

  6. #6

    Large Format increases our talent

    Yes, 35mm has it's place in photgraphy. 35mm will capture the decisive moment,the horse and jockey spilling on the final turn. Yet place your self in front of a grand scenic and yes, large format will have no equal. Let me put it this way. It would be like two shooters showing up for a free landscape image give away. one shooter has a measuring cup, the other a wheel barrel, who will be leaving with more resolution?

  7. #7

    Large Format increases our talent

    Most of us today start with 35mm, but what about those who lived in an earlier time, such as Ansel Adams who started out with much larger formats and then at one time purchased a 35mm. I wonder how different the transition was going from large format to 35mm rather than the other way around?

  8. #8

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    Large Format increases our talent

    In my crude layman's terms Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that you cannot measure something without changing it in some way. Applying this to large format, I find that large format photography changes the way you take photographs. A lot of it is to the better, but some of it is negative. Large format tends to inhibit one's ability to compose quickly and flexibly, the way you can with, for example, an SLR or rangefinder. There are always angles, possibilities and fleeting ideas that you miss when setting up a view camera. The sometimes Zen-like state one enters into when setting up for a shot is distinctly different (for me) then when I am taking more quickly composed shots. I think large format can create incomparable photographs, but they are not always superior in terms of sheer force of imagery to those created by smaller formats. I also think that large format, particularly very large format and associated perfectionist contact printing can become subject to a suffocating stillness - a kind of visual deathmask instead of a stimulating image. To me, the best things about large format is the astonishing range of capabilities it offers, and the wide test bed it offers for continuous learning. I am going to do my best to continue to get the best images I can from all three major formats.

  9. #9

    Large Format increases our talent

    One thing that often (not always) differ LF photographers from MF/35mm photographers is the technical knowledge of photography. As essentially everything about LF is manual, it requires very good knowledge of camera, film, developing plus all the paraphenalia around it. Yes, there is quite a steep learning curve for anyone entering the LF world, but, in my opinion, it is time, money and sweat well spent.

    I'm not saying that you have to know everything about photography to be a good photographer, but a little more knowledge does help for many people. A better knowledge, I believe, should give most photographers a greater certainty and this should also take any unnecessary distraction factors away, making the photographer more aware of the subject instead of feeling uncertain about the tool and the media.

    Most of my photography at the moment is done with a semi- professional, japanese "all the bells and whistles" 35mm camera. I usually don't bother to use anything than the excellent built in program metering etc., BUT, I know that I treat both the camera/media and the subject at hand in a different way than what would be the case if I hadn't had my LF experience. Whether this is for better or for worse, I don't know, but I certainly believe that my photographs gain from it. Of course I often miss my LF camera, but at least I got a number of snapshots, maybe comparable to teststrips in the darkroom, and something to ponder on for my next LF session.

    About the time factor, when shooting LF landscapes etc, I often find it that I have too little time on my hand. Those nice cloud formations did change before I had the time to meter my shot properly or that the wind suddenly decided to find my particular spot in the universe. Practice and knowledge helps in making you quicker, thus taking care of that feeling of uncertainty. (Knowledge is after all condensed practice in a sense.) With that practice, giving me a short setup time, I do get some time to maybe even make alternative shots. As many of you have mentioned (an endless number of times), I recon most LF photographers actually enjoy the fact that it takes quite some time to set up a shot properly, and that time gives you a much better perception of the subject at hand. This is increasingly important as the years rush along in an ever accelerating speed.

  10. #10

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    Large Format increases our talent

    LFP to me is the best way to learn photography. If you are serious from the start, that is what you should learn on. The 4x5, spot meter, sheet film holders, Zone System, Fred Picker, Ansel Adams, and all the other usual suspects and equipment. Learning composition, balance, perspective, and developing a "feel" for what you want to say can best been achieved on a 4x5 or larger ground glass, then a tiny 35mm view finder. Learning the craft and how to control it using the zone system will give you the freedom to create intuitively. Eventually, setup will be a breeze, automatic. It takes time.

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