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Thread: Why Large Format?

  1. #11
    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Re: Why Large Format?

    The article described other types of people, I am sure if someone has the magazine issue will see it too. I will try to copy another one to discuss. I said two reason guided me to LF, one could have been the Photo Math, but I think it was more the artisan part of it or Technician. Let me go back in time. About 20 years ago I decided I was going to learn to play classical guitar and bought a cheap guitar. The good ones were too expensive. However, I bought one beat up and decided to fix it. At the end of the 20 years, I was a rather good guitar maker, but have yet to learn to play guitar. I am afraid the same thing is happening with photography. I now have a passion for old wooden cameras, I fix/refurbish them, and instead of selling them, I keep them. . Then, I met Jim Fitzgerald, who encouraged me to build a 16x20. He is a camera maker himself. So, I have to stop that, and try to burn some of the 300 sheets of film I have acquired (8x10, 5x7 and 4x5). I only learned about LF about 3 years ago. I was familiar with film since the 1960s, but was never curious about LF. I thought it was dead long time ago. Yesterday, while shooting at a creek in a local regional park, several families were camping and approached me with questions like: Are you a surveyor?, are you measuring something? So, the whole day went into demonstrating how the camera works. I was able to shoot 4 shots with my newly refurbished 5x7 Korona Field Camera 1908, during those 6 hours I spent at the park.
    BTW, since I only have one lens board and the lens that came with it. I was able to clean the Ilex #3 ACME Synchro shutter and make it work within acceptable speeds. I enjoyed shooting with only one lens, it is wonderful. You don't have to worry about changing lens, you select your composition with that lens in mind and that is all.
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

  2. #12

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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Bigger negative. Any other reason has little to do with photography.

  3. #13
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...
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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Why Large Format? For the best reason of all...

    Because I want to.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #14

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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Ted Harris was a frequent contributor here before his untimely demise. You might look around for his threads and comments.
    I shoot large format for its ability to render light, air, and detail. 25 years of professional practice and even longer personal experience has made it almost second nature... but I'm still learning as I go.

  5. #15

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    Re: Why Large Format?

    I flunked Geometry in HS and received a D in Algebra in HS and college, so I guess math was not my impetus.

  6. #16
    Serious Amateur Photographer pepeguitarra's Avatar
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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Does anyone feel the Scheimpflug Principle is one of the greatest thing of Large Format? To me, it is magic. To be able to swing, tilt, shift, to obtain a perfect focus on a particular subject independently of the depth of field is really one of the largest benefits of LF photography.
    "I have never in my life made music for money or fame. God walks out of the room when you are thinking about money." -- Quincy Jones

  7. #17

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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Photography chose me at the age of 12. As the son of a photographer, I was surrounded by those who expressed their vision with large format cameras. At the time, I didn't know that an alternative existed. It was such a simple process, even the math seemed elementary. There were those who wanted to complicate the process, Ansel comes to mind, and those who didn't use a light meter, Brett Weston comes to mind. I loved the ability to explore an image of twenty square inches under the solitude of a darkcloth, make an exposue, and have a silver print a few hours later. For me, it was never the mechanics of getting there. Sixty-five years later, this afternoon, I still experienced that youthful excitement. Keep it simple.

  8. #18

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    Re: Why Large Format?

    Large format film photography is an anachronism. I love it, but I don't do it for technical reasons. For ME, there are no technical advantages that make it worth the extra bother. I also shoot with an APS-C based tilt-shift setup on digital cameras. Using the movements I can get on my tilt-shift adapter, focus stacking software, HDR and stitching, I don't need my 4x5 camera to make the photographs I want to make. It's not even expensive with my APS-C setup. If I needed a more capable digital setup with movements, Canon's amazing tilt-shift lenses on a full frame sensor are spectacular. And that's just using current technology.

    So if I can do what I want to do with digital photography, why am I humping around a 25 lb backpack with a view camera? Off the top of my head I have a few reasons (none of which are logical or particularly technical):

    * Film photography produces a physical thing, the negative. I like that. Even if I scan the negative and process in Lightroom, I still have the negative. I was there, and this is what the camera recorded on this plastic material. Digital also produces a kind of "negative" -- the RAW file. But somehow film seems more real to me. I know that my view camera doesn't have a computer that did things to what the lens imaged on the film (which is what happens with RAW files -- you're at the mercy of the choices of anonymous software engineers).

    * I use a hybrid workflow (film then scanning and Lightroom). If I'm going to put up with the hassle of analog, I want a bigger payoff. Small film formats don't give me the image quality I desire. I could probably be happy with 6x9, but 4x5 gives me more to work with, plus camera movements (which I use extensively). For a hybrid workflow like mine, large format is the way to go, and 4x5 is the sweet spot.

    * Analog large format is future proof because it's a technological dead end; it's not going to change in any meaningful ways. Digital photography, on the other hand, is constantly changing. And it's taking photography to places I'm probably not going to like the older I get. There's nothing wrong with that kind of technological development -- it's normal and natural. I'm still going to shoot digital, but in a rapidly changing world, it's nice to have something that is standing still so that I can push the technological developments to the background and focus more on making pictures. That's large format photography with film.

  9. #19
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Why Large Format?

    This! per rdeloe,

    "* Analog large format is future proof because it's a technological dead end"

    Yes!
    sin eater

  10. #20
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Why Large Format?

    rdloe -if you want to talk about the horse race of technology, just remember that "analog" photography, as you call it (I prefer just to call it photography,period) has a 150 year head start in this race, so mere speed of alleged improvements doesn't tell the whole story. And I think, visually, large format film photography is still way ahead if optimal quality rather than mere convenience is what is in mind. And for me, personally, trying to keep up with constantly shifting hardware and software, which becomes rapidly obsolete by design, is a lot more fuss and headache than doing what I already know and am equipped to do. But as far as dead ends go, there is a point at which the sheer R&D expense that goes into modern digital printing has to be recouped at some point, and that it too will hit inevitable plateaus of performance which essentially stall. I think that is already happening to some extent with inkjet technology. It will show steady minor improvements, like C-printing did during its evolution; but basically, it's already reached a "good enough" level from a marketing standpoint, and that level is a qualitative step backwards from what traditional color reproduction can potential do in the right hands. Convenience has always ruled the masses, not quality. George Eastman got rich figuring that out. So I am quite grateful for what you express as a "dead end". It's more like a living end. I will end long before my large format cameras, enlargers, and lenses even begin to wear out. Besides, artists will always rebel against the routine. There is great appeal in tactile processes rather than just pushing buttons. But this is a remarkable era in which you can have your cake and eat it too, if hybrid technique appeals to you.

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