View Full Version : Sexagenarian Seeking Inspiration

Richard K.
17-Jan-2008, 10:10
Fellow forumers; a few months ago, I had this weird dream…

In my dream, a heroic figure, though much more stooped, wizened, and with a weaker voice than I remember, spake to me thusly “ I know what you’re thinking, punk. Was that six decades that just slipped by or was it only five? Well seeing as this is the one and only life you’ll ever get, and your dreams and ambitions will be blown clean away one day, you gotta ask yourself a question- do you feel lucky?” Before I could stammer out an answer, I woke up with a start and realized that this was the morn of my sixtieth birthday :eek: and, yes, questions needed to be answered. As an early boomer, I feel badly enough that according to a plethora of best-selling books, there are about 47,343 places, architectural and natural wonders, foods, gardens, books, records, and sundry other very fulfilling items that I haven’t seen or tried and, due to logistic constraints, never will try and I will thus have lived less than a completely meaningful life. My 2 best photo buddies have gone digital and I may even witness the death of film! I live in Southern Ontario, an area that (probably due to my own lack of imagination) I find photographically challenging and I admit to an unreasonable jealousy of those of you living in Phoenix or Sydney or even L.A. ….
OK end of pathetic rant. And yes there IS a question here and yes it is relevant to this forum . What I would like to know (and please don’t be shy!) is how many sexa, septua and even octogenarians are working with ULF cameras (say 11x14, 7x17, and especially 16x20, 14x17, 20x24!)? I would also like to know if you do anything special to your most important piece of equipment (your body!) to accommodate advancing maturity.
Quinquagenarians, take a breath of relief but you may want to weigh in (maybe a bad choice of words!) as well because that day IS coming!
I would appreciate contributions to this survey and also any advice, commiseration or inspiration! Thank you! :)

Mark Woods
17-Jan-2008, 11:03
I just turned 60 last month. And it's a real time to think about things. That said, I shoot landscapes, table top, and portraits for my own artistic expression. 2 out of 3 of those don't include the environment. Find a subject that turns you one, load the holders, and let're rip. You're not dead yet! Have some fun!

Gene McCluney
18-Jan-2008, 08:35
I'M 57 and I keep favoring larger and larger cameras. Probably the most valuable advice I can give you is to find a young whipper-snapper (I use my teenage son) to act as an assistant and lug the gear around.

Ralph Barker
18-Jan-2008, 09:22
To continue the movie-quote theme, "Son, your format lust is writing checks your body can't cash."

There is probably a lot of personal-level variation, but I found that the body-strain checks I wrote in my youth started showing up at the bank when I hit 60. Problem was, there was interest due, as well. :eek:

For me, 8x10 is about all I can manage, and even then, I have to be cautious. Things just don't mend as well as they used to. So, even though I've looked longingly at those larger formats for a few years, I keep telling myself that I'm supposed to be wise enough to resist the temptation.

19-Jan-2008, 06:41
To combat my passage into the elder (and retired) years I've decided to make my own 5*4 and hope to have it working by the time I'm 70. I've set the task of making everything except the lens and blackslide. Presently half way through grinding the focus screen.
Has anyone else tried anything similar?

19-Jan-2008, 07:12
Only 60 yrs old Richard? Congratulations ;)

I was born during the second world war. Definitely at least 6 decades. Maybe being evacuated at such an early age, left me resolute in never stepping outside of this country. Writing in a journal, when I'm tempted to think 'hasn't time flown by so fast? the journal shows me clearly that I have a stronger will to forget things than to remember. Keep a journal guys - that way when you look back, you'll suddenly be reminded of all the detail in life. A bit like having Kodak Tech Pan for memory resolution, rather than HP5+ in between the ears for photographic memory.

Do I do anything to accommodate advancing maturity? Well, I drive when I can to save my feet from wearing out (oops - there goes my carbon footprint..), as well as to avoid getting mugged by today's young delinquents; stay at home as much as I can; abandon 8x10" and go completely 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" whole plate.

On the other hand, glucosamine and multivitamin supplements probably help when I eat out to avoid indigestion from the terrible junk food that restaurants serve in London.

Unlike Gene, my son is completely disinterested in photography. Emigrating to the south of France has been on the cards, but the kid is at university and whinges at not having a cosmopolitan and central city home in England to return during vacations. Feel like we're held hostage.

Stan. L-B
19-Jan-2008, 07:41
Quite recently I noticed that my 10X8" Sinar P2 is putting on weight, even my new Sch.150XL seems to have got heavier this year; the box of ten slides do not seem to fit into the usual space anymore, so I make do with a couple and hope for the best.
I now find it helpful to use a buggy to transport my gear from my fitted vehicle to even a short distance venue.
Also recently, I find it an irritation to have use spectacles when setting up and foccussing, the control numbers seem to have go smaller or faded! Other that these few problems, that can usually be solved with a little innovation or adaptation I still manage to travel to distant remote places which terrifies my captive wife.
On an off day I retire to my studio or dark room to recharge my ego and enthusiasm for the next project.
I am in the process of building an updated version of
my multi funtional, home constructed UV exposure gantry built into the roof my darkroom. I am looking forward to some large format contact printing on AZO in the years to come.
Not that it really matters, but on the last count I found I am the wrong side of 75!

19-Jan-2008, 07:51
I live in Southern Ontario,

Isn't "Southern Ontario" a controdiction of terms?

19-Jan-2008, 08:27
Scientists have determined that you can extend your lifespan by using a triple convertible instead of carrying multiple lenses.

Regarding ULF photography, I think the benefits of the format should be measured against the inevitable limitations of the size and relative inflexibility of it. In other words, as the format gets bigger (over 8x10), creative options diminish. In addition, increased focus paid to micro detail, grain visibility and other features of ULF photography tends, not always, to draw the photographer's interest away from the overall impact of the image. I've seen many great technical photographs that I have no desire to take a second look at, regardless of the quality of the lens used, the noble intentions and sweat factor of the photographer or use of Azo paper and amidol. So there is, I believe, an inverse relationship between exactitude and detail and overall effectiveness (e.g: exciting the viewers emotions and intellect) of the image. But this isn't news, didn't Kertesz and Cartier-Bresson (and even Lartigue with his small plate camera) discover this a long time ago?

I suggest that aging photographers rediscover the flexibility and liberation of cameras they can tote around and use anywhere. Put your enormous life experience and fine tuned perceptions to work, instead of massive amounts of equipment.

Dick Hilker
19-Jan-2008, 08:47
Closing in on 75, I can't even imagine lugging around an ULF outfit. Having just graduated from MF to a clunky 4X5 metal field camera, I'm still grappling with its logistics. Without kids or even a mobile mate, I'm pretty much a solo act in the field and am looking forward to my first full season with a backpack and shoes with custom arch supports to carry the day.

While I like to think that my motivation is the pursuit of even finer results than I've been able to get with smaller formats, I know that at least part of it is to prove to myself that I can still carry the load and "bring home the bacon" photographically.

And if I'm wrong? Well, there's always that cute little digital p&s that I've been playing with. It's not really all that bad -- is it?

Jim Noel
19-Jan-2008, 09:17
I'll be 79 in two weeks. Favorite formats are 7x17 and 8x10 in that order. My "Small" camera is a 5x7 Deradorff.

Leonard Evens
19-Jan-2008, 09:51
I'm 74. I started doing large format in my late 60's. Earlier in my life I had used a medium format camera with view camera features, but hadn't done much for over ten years due to lack of time and cataracts. After retiring, I had cataract surgery, and a whole new world opened visually for me.

Because of spinal stenosis, I can manage 4 x 5, but anything larger would present problems of transit. Also, I'm limited in how far afield I can go. I can't carry more than 10---15 lbs on my back for any significant distance, so I'm restricted to terrain I can run my Baby Jogger, loaded with equipment, over. Since I'm mainly interested these days in local architecture, I have plenty of material left to photograph, even with those limitations. If my stenosis gets bad enough, I can have a surgeon rebuild my spine, and then I may be able to do more.

Every now and then I look ahead and think that I don't have that much time left to do the things I want to do. Most everyone one in my family was dead by 80. I hope to do a bit better because I've never smoked and I try to watch my diet and I exercise as much as I can. When I get depressed by such thinking, I just set myself a task and try to accomplish it.

Randy H
19-Jan-2008, 12:08
I have always said that this is the reason for going from 35mm, to MF, 4x5, etc etc, and ultimately we old half-blind geezers start touting ULF (the bigger the better) as the only way to go. "The resolution is soooo much better". Truth is, we just flat-ass can't see anything smaller.

Dan Schwartz
19-Jan-2008, 17:05
There's a very nice electric railway museum halfway between Toronto and Guelph that should be easy to shoot...

And Yes, I too will be lugging around the 57 pound Big Bertha (http://users.snip.net/~joe/BigBertha/default.htm) I'm restoring... That f/8 1016mm Bausch & Lomb lens is even bigger than any pecker you'll ever see in a porno flick, too!:eek: