Thread: Why Large Format?

1. Why Large Format?

I just finished reading an article by Ted Harris on the View Camera Magazine (Jan/Feb 2006 Issue) titled: Why Large Format?. Ted described the different types of people who may choose large format photography, according to his personal opinion. Although I think he could have extended the classification, I agree with the ones he described. I think I fall in two of the categories (because of my dual work activities). I am going to refer to only one, I invite you to describe your own motives if you want. I think I fit in the PHOTO MATH MAN classification.

Here is a description of what he said: "Not to be confused with the technician, these are the scientists and engineers, those with an interest in (nay, a passion for) mathematics and the sciences. Large format photography appeals to them exactly because of the self-imposed dictum that the successful image requires applying complex formulae to various steps of the process. All of the geometry and trigonometry and calculus behind the Scheimpflung Principle, Merklinger's Hinge, lens formulae, the calculations for the Zone System or BTZS, lighting calculations, the chemistry of development, reading densitometry from a negative or a scan -- all are the staff of life to those with a scientific bent. These applications are not as reserved for the obsessive-compulsive as they may seem; properly applied, they can lead to better images. For the Photo Math Man, the primary appeal of photography in general, and large format photography specifically, is the need (as they would say) or the ability (as others would say) to use scientific methods, precise measurements, and intricate calculations in the exposure and processing. All the numerology that was once part of all photography, and has now been replaced by automatic digital, chip-managed controls on the smaller formats, is still very much as part of our large format world......"

2. Re: Why Large Format?

I'm definitely not the Photo Math Man. I chose large format photography more than 40 years ago because of its ability to produce wonderful, grain-free, detailed images. I studied the Zone System, but did not become a serious, test-obsessed technician. I took my own approach to it, developing a system that works for me. I like the measured, slow approach that large format photography invites, and I like seeing an image on a big ground glass. I can see where LF photography would appeal to math-minded folks, but as a I guy who barely escaped high school algebra with a "D," I'm glad that I was able to feel instantly comfortable when I first set up an old Graflex monorail camera. And as for Scheimpflug, I just watch the image on the ground glass as I make my adjustments -- geometry and trig never cross my mind.

3. Re: Why Large Format?

Couldn't have said it better than Ben! After shooting LF for 40 years (like Ben), I never tire of the view on the groundglass; especially 8x10! I suppose that's why 8x10 has been my primary format all those years. Forget the math...enjoy the process.

4. Re: Why Large Format?

Large Format photography are photography's answer to Slow Food.

It is not the nutrition, but the creation process (and the eating and conversation afterwards) which is the purpose.

5. Re: Why Large Format?

Because it still exists

Despite all attacks

It's odd now and I always choose odd

It's definitely performative art for me, the print is darn near a byproduct, but not quite as I like my prints regardless as I have room to improve

LF saved my life and gives me a task every day

art not art

same same

and a Deardorff S11 Studio camera is very hard to steal

6. Re: Why Large Format?

I choose it for three reasons:

1. I love using really old lenses. It's a historical connection.
2. I often choose the unbeaten path. I want to be different from the cell phone herd.
3. I enjoy the challenge.

Kent in SD

7. Re: Why Large Format?

I started shooting LF 60 years ago (1960) for sports because that's what the newspaper wanted.

I've continued with it over the years because I like the extraordinary quality and exquisite detail.

- Leigh

8. Re: Why Large Format?

It is nice to know there are some other folks here that have a less tech heavy approach to large format.

9. Re: Why Large Format?

For me it is because you ultimately have full control over every aspect of the process of composing, taking and developing the picture. That control requires knowledge and skill and it is both fun, challenging and tantalizing.

10. Re: Why Large Format?

I was given my first LF camera in 1937 by a friend who was a free lance news photographer. He taught me to load the film and process it for contact printing. HIs message was ,"take what you want, not what others say." I have been doing it ever since. I have tried many smaller formats and they bored me, as did color. I take pride in knowing that I have taught a few hundred people its joys and trials.

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