View Full Version : English large format users

Geoff Billett
25-May-2005, 13:10
Hi Everyone
I'm fairly new to this site but was a sometimes user of the old compuserve photoforum about a decade ago. I am an amateur with a few monochrome exhibitions to my name now in the West of England and produced my first photographic book ( of aspects of Andalucia, Spain ) earlier this year. I bought a 54 ( ebony) 2 years ago and have now bought a 10x8 (Toyo monorail) cause it was a cheap way into the format. I bought a Symmar S 240 lens today from a very helpful Mr Cad and am almost ready to take my first shots.

My question is based on the observation that as the format appears to increase so the isolation of the photographer increases as well. I know absolutely no-body else who shoots in this format (apart from a couple of emails exchanged with Paul Owen. Is there any organised, formal or informal large format photographers group or club in England? If there is no such animal shoud there be one, or do we all slog away in isolation?
Is there anybody out there :-) ?

25-May-2005, 13:24
The RPS?

Steve Bell
25-May-2005, 13:51
Geoff, I aquired my Toyo 45A just before Xmas, and knew absolutely no one using LF around here in Bucks, other than the cameras previous owner 60 miles away who now only worships his DSLR. I had to research archives and ask questions on forums such as this. There is nothing like talking to real people, as I found out last weekend. I went to the LF Workshop in the Lake District organised by Paul Owen, it was a very useful experience. It's likely that there will be more gatherings. Would these interest you? Myself, I am off on Friday to the Isle of Skye for 8 days for some solitary wanderings hoping for good light. This I too enjoy.

Brian Vuillemenot
25-May-2005, 14:36
Slogging away in isolation forces you to dig deep creatively, and can greatly accelerate the rate of your artistic development.

Stan. Laurenson-Batten
25-May-2005, 15:06
Hello Geoff.

Good to have you aboard.

I have retired, but I am still able to sample the photographic delights of the Northern Highlands and Islands of Scotland each year. I plan my trips for early or late in the year to avoid the midges. I use a camper van to carry the Sinar photographic gear which now includes the P2 10x8.
My wife, fortunately has a sympathetic understanding of my varied photographic and other wants accompanies me.

Anyone else out there using 10X8 in the UK?

I live in Dorset at Friars Cliff .

tim atherton
25-May-2005, 16:07
"Anyone else out there using 10X8 in the UK? "

I do when I head back to W. Sussex every now and then (but I do have to convert it from 8x10 at customs... ;-) )

Pete Watkins
25-May-2005, 16:17
I'm in the Midlands and I'm regarded as a bit of an oddity by the other members of the camera club that I belong to. One old lad used to help his Dad with his full plate camera and is sympathetic. The rest of them cannot understand that it's the camera that is made of wood, not the lens. They've all sold their souls to Photoshop and sadly they believe the digital propoganda that the average cruddy digital camera will "easily match one ofIyour big wooden cameras " for quality.
I get a bit fed up with people asking stupid questions about the cameras when I'm out with them and I'm sure that they don't believe that my Wista is Japanese and that it wasn't made in the 19th century.
what screws me up most is that we have such a limited choice of film once you pass the 5x4 barrier. We have Silverprint who do their best but Kodak 10x8 has to be a special import (with a price to match) and only one brand of 11 x 14 is available in the whole of the British Isles and to Ilfords shame that is Bregger film imported from France.
Thats it, I'm gonna have a drink now!

Pete Watkins
25-May-2005, 16:20
Oh Tim, I'm sorry. I forgot that I need to be multi-lingual I meant 4x5, 8x10 & 11x14. I hope that that's right.

tim atherton
25-May-2005, 16:25
there was a smiley in there Pete ;-)

Neal Wydra
25-May-2005, 17:11
Dear Geoff,

Nice to hear that old Compuserve members don't just fade away.<g>

Struan Gray
26-May-2005, 03:42
I'm mongrel Scot-English and I live in Sweden. Does that count?

I do most of my LF on our annual pilgrimage to Coigach. We'll be there again late June and most of July and I'd love to meet up with anyone passing through.

I usuallly get asked if I'm a surveyor or making a film, although at home here in Lund people see the tripod and assume I'm a birdwatcher. I have never seen another photographer with an LF or MF camera in the field, and only once have I seen a tripod in use. Suits me. When Tate Modern let me fill the turbine hall with giant enlargements of my bog orchid and sheep pics they'll seem all the more breathtakingly original.

Diane Maher
26-May-2005, 06:40
I know of two LF shooters in the UK. Steve Lewis shoots 4x5 and posts on this forum on occasion and AFAIK he's in Cheshire. Huw Evans is in Dorset and has been known to shoot 8x10 (but does use digital quite a bit right now). Steve's website is: http://www.landscapesofwales.co.uk/index.shtml

David Taylor
26-May-2005, 08:13
Hi Geoff,

Diane's right about Steve, and his website is well worth a visit [he's a nice guy too, just don't tell him I said so : ) ].

I'm up here in Northumberland generally struggling with the task a keeping a 5x4 (4x5?) upright in the wind that whips in from the North Sea.

I also own a Nikon D70, but that's just for snaps. Honestly!

Richard Littlewood
26-May-2005, 08:59
Greetings Geoff.
I know it's bordering on small, but 5x4 alive and kicking in the Pennines.
All the best.

Sven Schroder
26-May-2005, 12:07

Its like waiting for a bus, except a few more than three of us have turned up. As for organised groups I'm busy at the moment, in my final year of my Masters (in Fine Art) and the only large format shooter there . I shoot 5x4 and half plate + 10x8 on nice English Gandolfi's, I am based in Morecambe just below the Lakes and on the way to Scotland. If Paul Owen keeps up the workshops I'll try make the next one after I graduate in October.
Just a thought what sort of age are we all, I am just pushing thirty? and get strange looks when I tell anyone I shoot 10x8, people think I have grown up with digital? or is it Universal that inverted ludites think you should shoot digital?

Regards from Sunny Morecambe.

Steve Lewis
26-May-2005, 12:16
Hi Geoff

There's some fine LF photographers hiding their lights under the collective bushel here ! :-) One or two of us seem to meet up from time to time on various workshops (Inversnaid, Light & Land etc), and I host a couple of one day workshops in Snowdonia. Joe Cornish has one day workshops at his gallery in Northallerton and F32 (http://www.f32.net) run workshops in South Wales. Of course, you could post any questions here !

Steve Lewis


Geoff Billett
26-May-2005, 14:40
Hello again
Thanks to you all for your replies. It seems there is a small but significantly eccentric thriving minority who get to meet up from time to time but mostly chat on this forum or others. Those workshops seem a great opportunity to get together, socialise and take photos. The granduer of the landscapes chosen for the workshops suits the larger formats I guess, but I am also quite happy shooting in a local wood or a local beach. I have always believed there is photographic potential everywhere around us.

As for isolation driving creativity, I guess we all spend much time on our own in pursuance of this great art - sometimes there is a need to reach out and share some of the experiences or lessons learnt along the way.

I fitted my new lens to my cheap Toyo today and looked through the ground glass screen - it was one of those defining moments - the image size was immense and the detail visible was staggering. It even beat the first time I looked through a 5x4. Strange but at the age of 48 to feel moved again and to be at the point of another journey is quite exciting.

Thanks again for the great welcome - old Compuserve members dont die and dont even rust - well not quite yet :-) - I look forward to asking more questions as I progress. And put me down for the next workshop with Paul. Tell him my 'other camera' is an Ebony - i hear that will ensure me a place. :-))

tim atherton
27-May-2005, 14:52
I think Jem Southam is still using 10x8, as is Jim Cooke? (I guess Chris Killip is still at Harvard and doesn't count)

Nigel Sutton
31-May-2005, 08:24
Hello, I've been shooting LF with my Ebony for 3 years now though like everyone else I know, have fallen fowl of the digital bug - shot little else since getting my D70 last Autumn. I've gotten into stitching and getting some amazing results with multi-image mosaics. This year is film year though, honest. Already been out with my MF gear and looking to get out with bigger stuff soon. Planning a trip to Snowdonia in a few weeks.

There really is nothing quite like looking at a good 4x5 slide on a lightbox. Unfortunately I couldn't make the recent gathering in the Lakes and I'm hoping there'll be another one that I can get to.

I also belong to a camera club and did my bit showing off some work and talked about the gear. The general feeling was that even people in camera clubs don't know of anybody using LF.

Regards, Nigels (Bedfordshire, UK).