View Full Version : What is your best LF image? Why is it your best image?

David Payumo
15-Dec-2001, 10:25
I am working on my current project and I am using colour, light and motion to do cument my school. I am using an A-S Discovery,150mm lens, Tungsten Halogen clam p lights and long exposures of moving people. I made some excellent images but I haven't made my best image yet.

David Richhart
15-Dec-2001, 10:44
David... I hope I haven't made my best image yet, and I don't think I want to. That will be for others to decide after I am gone.

Geoffrey Swenson
15-Dec-2001, 11:59
Dave, Wait about ten to fifteen years. In the meantime, work hard, take thousands of photographs, and then ask again. Even then, probably you'll need to count your fingers on one hand only! Cheers, GS

Kerry L. Thalmann
15-Dec-2001, 13:07
I'd have a REAL hard time picking just one. I have several favorites, but here are a couple I have online:



Of course, the reasons these are two of may favotites are based on my personal e xperiences, and may not evoke the same emotions in others. But since you asked "Why"?...

The first image is what I consider my first "good" large format image. It was m ade about six months after I bought my first 4x5 camera - an old Speed Graphic. It is a place I have returned and photographed many times since (it's only abou t an hour and 15 minute drive from my house). And although I've gotten may othe r very nice image of the same subjects, I've never again experienced the same un ique combination of colors and elements. The sliver of crescent moon peaking th rough the clouds - a little hard to see in the jpeg - is one thing that adds to the uniqueness of this photo.

This image also taught me some valuable lessons. First, don't put away your cam era when the sun goes down. This image was made about 20 - 30 minutes after sun set. There were a couple of other photographers there that day, but they packed up and left the beach as soon as the sun went down. They missed the best color s. This experience taught me to not be in a hurry to leave a good location. Th e best colors often appear during the afterglow 20 minutes or so after the sun g oes down.

This image is also just about the only one that I crop significantly when printi ng. The original image was shot as a vertical, but there is too much detailess black sand in the foreground to print it that way. At the time I took this imag e, I only had two lenses and a couple film holders (it was shot with a 210mm). So, I was a little limited in my options and only got one image of this composit ion (my last sheet of film). Now I always carry enough film to get a couple ext ra in-camera dupes of special situations like this (and would probably shoot bot h horizontal and vertical compositions). When printing, I crop to horizontal us ing the full width of the vertical image, so I effectively end up printing from a 3 1/4 x 4 piece of the film. My favorite size for printing this image is 20 x 24 (gives it just a little more of the purple clouds in the sky at the top than the crop shown on my web site). It also prints well square. I have never done s o myself, but it has been featured that way in a couple calendars that use the 1 2 x 12 image format. Finally, this is the image that launched my career in prof essional photography. It was the first mage I ever sold (to a local calendar pu blisher). It has also sold well over the years, both for publication and as a p rint. I'd still like it if I'd never made a penny off it, but since it was my " first", that's an added bonus.

The second image also has a lot of personal sentimental attachment for me. Alth ough it was taken 9 1/2 years later with a much longer lens, at different time o f year, different ime of day, under totally different conditions, this was the e xact same location where I took my first ever large format image. The first tim e was an early August morning a couple days after I bought my Speed Graphic, two film holders and a 127mm Ektar. That image actually turned out OK, but the one at the link above is much more dramatic and unique. It was taken on a cold Jan uary afternoon at sunset after reaching the location on cross-country skis. It was taken with a much longer lens (450mm vs. 127mm) with a lot more snow on the mountain and much different lighting and atmospheric conditions. It is my favor ite image of one of my favorite subjects. It has also proven to be my best sell ing image to date. It's been published in calendars, magazines, post cards, web sites, as a self-published poster and I've sold a few prints of it as well. Ag ain, the money is a nice bonus (guess that shows other people like it, too), but the emotional response I get when I look at this image and recall the magical c onditions I witnessed at the time it was created, is what makes it special to me .

I have others that I feel just as strongly about, but those are two of my person al favorites.


Andre Noble
15-Dec-2001, 13:12
Nice pics Kerry, particularly Mt. Hood. I bet they'd look awesome printed to Cibachrome.

Kerry L. Thalmann
15-Dec-2001, 13:52
Hi Andre,

Thanks. I have not attempted to print either on Cibachrome. I have printed "Th e Needles at Twilight" on a number of papers over the years, including Fuji's po lyester based type R Super Gloss as well as Lightjet prints on Fuji Crystal Arc hive paper. In addition to the poster (which was printed on 100 lb. cover stock on a six color offset printing press), I have also printed "Mount Hood - Alpeng low and Lenticular Clouds" as a Lightjet print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. L ast week when I was in my local gallery for a poster signing, the gallery owner requested a 30"x40" print of this image. I'll probably do it as a Lighjet print , since all the up front work is done and paid for (I had an archival drum scan made for printing up to 40x50 when I made smaller Lighjet prints of this image). All the dodging and burning has been done and archived on CD-ROM. So reprints in any size up to 40x50 are less expensive and the quality consistant across al l sizes.

Still, it would be nice to try them on Ciba some time. Any recommendations for a good ciba/ilfochrome printer? My local rental darkroom only supports Fuji typ e R papers. So, that's my only choice when making my own convential prints (I d on't have a home darkroom).


Sandy Sorlien
15-Dec-2001, 15:36
The only reason I attempt to answer this question is that I have only been working with a view camera for a few months, so I have very few good LF images. (The first 20 years of my career I used small and medium format --- I am now using 6x9 so technically it's still MF but using LF technique -- all movements, LF lenses, tripod, spotmeter, etc.) Last week I finished printing a portfolio of 18 color coupler 16x20s from the best of my view camera work. Among those 18, I will venture to choose the "best" for you and explain it. Keep in mind that my opinion of which one is the best may change if you ask me again in a year! But maybe not.

It's a straight-on, frontal shot of a deserted department store, "Harold's," in Elmira, New York. There are no people, no cars, no nature except a few tree reflections in the store windows. The color is warm and very subdued, nearly monochromatic (dull yellows and grays) at first glance, and the light is flat and even, such as the Bechers would choose to photograph their gas tanks or water towers. I am doing a series on distressed Main Streets and downtowns in America. This image was successful because I knew what I was looking for, I had been shooting buildings for 20 years, I got up very early that morning, and I was cruising slowly through an unfamiliar town in my car looking for the right kind of block to explore. I knew immediately when I saw this building that I needed a frontal shot of it. I also made exposures from other angles but the frontal one was indeed the best. It's all about the character of the building and the feeling of desolation when an urban block has been abandoned. This is a good picture because it accomplishes those things and also has some graceful details that reward a closer look. I think in many of my best images I feel a shock of recognition at the scene that the photograph is there --- I see the photograph when I see the scene.

So, I got the picture because I was (a) prepared and (b) lucky. What is that old saying about luck being mostly preparation? And (c) I went out with an idea, not a blank slate. (I know some of you other shooters don't like that approach.)

And right, I haven't made my best image yet.

I can email you a JPEG of Harold's if you want.

Cheers, Sandy

Jim Galli
17-Dec-2001, 20:06
Here is a single favorite that breaks all of the rules I have set for myself as well as everybody elses.


This was done with a Nikon many years ago but what I continue to love about it is the happy combination of errors that ultimately made a unique image.

I had put the moon on the frame 2 days earlier and was waiting for the weekend to complete the idea. The moon was done with a 300mm lens and a 1.4 converter. The rest of the image was added at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park 2 days later using the moon behind me as the main source of light. The shutter was open for 28 minutes to allow the exposure on Fuji Velvia. During that time I walked down to the foreground buildings and lit them with a Vivitar flash.

Errors: I forgot where the moon was and that's why it has crashed into the mountain. I was developing my own E6 in those days and fighting magenta cast on my out of date Fuji Velvia. The magenta turned the moon pink and corrected the green cast that is normally associated with longer night time exposures. I call it simply "Pink Moon"

It was fun to do and is the one picture that I continue to get multiple requests for. Even though 35mm, it prints well to 16X20.

Jim Galli
17-Dec-2001, 22:04
I'm embarrased. Forgot the title said favorite "large format" image. Dis-regard my post. Jim