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Thread: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

  1. #51
    Steve Williams_812's Avatar
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    Awesome thread, and so cool of you Steve to revisit it all these years later!

    I've lived with a 6x6 camera most of my life, first a Bronica SQ-Ai, later (and currently) a Rolleiflex 6008i. My "travel" camera (i.e. what your Mamiya 7 was for you) is a Rolleiflex TLR from the 1950's - light, unobtrusive, excellent image quality.

    I recently acquired a 4x5 camera after many years of growing curiosity about LF. It's been an experience learning to use it so far, and I still have much to learn. I was really torn on whether to start with 8x10 or 4x5, but figured it's easier to learn on 4x5 as it's lighter, cheaper and easier to find gear for, and can upgrade to 8x10 later if I really miss having those huge negs.

    It's impressive to see someone out riding in snow and ice, you are indeed a brave man (which was obvious when you said you sold your Leica, lol).

    Thanks for sharing the links to your show, it's an impressive collection of shots, nice to see the story they tell, and as you point out, the gear is only there to allow us to create content, it's all about the content in the end! Something I never get tired of hearing, as I tend to forget it more often than I should.
    I've had to learn to differentiate my desire for a camera from my need for a camera. Aside from the professional work I did for a living, I've only really needed two cameras for actual projects -- the Leica M6 for a long term documentation of my wife, and a point and shoot camera (currently a Canon G15) for my scooter and motorcycle photography. I have a couple other projects trying to come to life but so far I don't really need any other camera.

    The desire over need came a few years after I sold the 8x10 Zone VI system. Wanted another 8x10 but didn't want to invest the cash so I bought a Calumet C-1. What a heavy, disgusting beast it was for me. With no actual need or project to fuel passion it was a pain.Click image for larger version. 

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    Hope you find the content and camera to match. Focusing on content is much harder than focusing on the machinery. In my opinion!
    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. #52

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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    "it's all about content. Content. Content. Content."

    is likely the very best advice for any expressive image-maker. What an audience response to is Content First, the other image qualities second. This is why all the blather about techno details like diffraction, grain and ...... pale when compared to image content. Those technical aspects of the image do not "make" the image, it is what the image says to it's audience that makes all the difference.

    Image makers tend to get caught up and wrapped up in their own views and perceptions of what Will produce their vision of an ultimate image, except what is SO important to the image maker is of little to no value to an audience.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams_812 View Post
    Wow. Reading a post from 14 years ago is an interesting way to start another year.

    I sold more prints at that show than any other of my career. There was a lesson for me that I readily forget as I chase fine grane, elegant tonality and a host of other technical qualities -- it's all about content. Content. Content. Content.


  3. #53
    Steve Williams_812's Avatar
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    My earliest "training" in photography focused on technical matters related to mastering the process. Ansel Adam's books were early influences which led to an often subconscious pursuit of grain, sharpness and tonality without any consideration of the visual impact. And I hung around with other photographers of similar views which just taught me some rather dismissive responses to photographs that did not live up to the technical standards necessary for me to consider them. And a lot of other stifling habits were instilled from my Cartier-Bresson no-cropping aesthetic to an F-64 Group inspired requirement of ultra depth of field.

    Not sure where or when it occurred to me that there was a world full of technically perfect and content boring pictures. And then a recognition of how I allowed technical concerns to trump expressive needs. I remember when I first saw the work of the Starn Twins with their rejection of all the "Laws" of good photography that it occurred to me that most, if not all of the rules and standards in my head were in fact arbitrary. I could do whatever I wanted. Going to art school later in life after a couple decades of commercial work in photography changed me as well. I chuckle now whenever I hear a photographer utter the magic words, "My photograph speaks for itself."

    Anyways, i have a terrible cold right now and my brain is sort of bleary so I'll stop. But I agree with you, it's all about content, content, content.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    "it's all about content. Content. Content. Content."

    is likely the very best advice for any expressive image-maker. What an audience response to is Content First, the other image qualities second. This is why all the blather about techno details like diffraction, grain and ...... pale when compared to image content. Those technical aspects of the image do not "make" the image, it is what the image says to it's audience that makes all the difference.

    Image makers tend to get caught up and wrapped up in their own views and perceptions of what Will produce their vision of an ultimate image, except what is SO important to the image maker is of little to no value to an audience.


    Bernice
    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  4. #54
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Steve, I shot mostly 5x7 in the same kind of numbers as you for years. I also shoot 8x10, 35mm, 4x5, 6x7, and 6x9. They are all different and as I've said before, you make different photographs with different kinds of cameras. I now make more images with Mamiya 7 than any of my other cameras, but I carry a romantic attachment to large formats even as I sell off many cameras. Fuji 6x9s make a big negative and are not very expensive.

    8x10 is a labor of love, for sure. It takes time to make an image with 810. Smaller is faster and easier at all steps. Don't be format shamed by using a small negative. There is nothing wrong with 35mm. It is easier and faster. You know this. You probably don't make 40 x 60 inch prints with 35mm, but it has been done. All you need to concern yourself with is: can you express yourself with the camera in your hand? That's it.

    As for Mamiya 7. Wonderful. Capable (except for any close-up or macro). Kennerly published his Photo du Jour, all taken with Mamiya 7 and a 43mm lens. Citret commonly uses 35mm.

    Print size is not important. Expression is. Use what you like that lets you make images to your liking.

    Many happy snaps,

    ejw

  5. #55

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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    The "Texas Leica" Fuji 690 is amazing - large negative (relatively) even for 120 format, rangefinder focus, great optics. Hand-holdable, I have yet to use it on a tripod but will some day. I have three - a mix of II and III models. Solid - actually heavier than a Chamonix 4x5 with one lens kit - film holders extra. For totally lightweight mobility the Fuji 645 is amazing, plus you get more pix per roll.--alfredian

  6. #56

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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    To quote the late Bill Jay, "The Subject Matters". Make photographs you like of subjects that are important to you... and use the tools suited to that task. And make no excuses about the gear!
    8x10 or 35mm, MF digital or iPhone, doesn't matter what you use as long as the pictures satisfy you.
    Obviously on this forum we prefer big film, but that's by no means the only way. Best of luck!

  7. #57

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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    All that is true, but you’re limited to one lens...
    A Mamiya 7 with its ultra sharp lenses provides so much more flexibility....

  8. #58
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Don't be format shamed by using a small negative. There is nothing wrong with 35mm. It is easier and faster. You know this...
    I agree with Eric on this. Just this afternoon I stopped at the Cantor Arts Museum on the Stanford campus to view an exhibition of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams prints: https://museum.stanford.edu/exhibiti...nd-ansel-adams One of the prints was an 11x14 print Adams shot in the late 1930's of Georgia O'Keefe and Orville Cox taken with a 35mm camera. It was superb in every aspect and you would think that it was made with a larger format than 35mm.

    Thomas

  9. #59

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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    One needs to wonder and ponder how many folks got into LF due to the influence of AA and group f64 with AA and group f64 as "priest" and their image making methods-content-process as Orthodoxy? There is no question their influence on image making remains strong to this day.

    My own venture into LF began some time in the mid 1980's when a commercial photographer bud insisted that "I" get this Sinar F system. It was a bargain at the time. Previous to this the primary camera as a Hasselblad & Alpa 35mm. The group of working Foto friends coached and help me learn how to LF. Another group of friends were non-photography artist folks who insisted on dragging me to the numerous art museums in San Francisco and the SF bay area. There is no question AA & Group f64 folks influenced me early on, but as time and vast quantities of film got burned and process, AA and Group f64's influence decreased significantly. What both groups of working photographer and non-photography Art folks wanted me to do was develop my own style and way of seeing then creating images that are an extension of what has been emotionally experiences put into an image. All those obsessions of Foto perfection declined over time balanced with content and the emotional impact of the print image being what really matters.

    There will be a time when the wet darkroom will happen and B&W print making can be done again. At that point the skills and wisdom gained over decades of doing this Foto stuff will be applied accordingly with the realization of what can and cannot be done in the finished print. This is much an acceptance of the current limitations of what is possible -vs- what is ideal.

    For me, 5x7_13x18cm remains the sheet film format of choice for B&W prints. The most often used image making tool today turns out to be the phone camera as it is easily available as needed. The other often used image making tools are a pair of Canon M6 mirrorless cameras with a variety of Canon FD and EOS lenses as needed. Third is a Canon G15 point and shoot which gets used for a large variety of images. Images made using the view camera today are images that fit well with the demands of a view camera. The digital and phone camera is used for images that fit those tools and would not be viable using a view camera. Regardless of the image recording tool, the discipline of creating and recording an expressive image in one frame remains regardless of view camera or roll film or digital.


    Bernice
    Montara beach sunset via phone camera.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams_812 View Post
    My earliest "training" in photography focused on technical matters related to mastering the process. Ansel Adam's books were early influences which led to an often subconscious pursuit of grain, sharpness and tonality without any consideration of the visual impact. And I hung around with other photographers of similar views which just taught me some rather dismissive responses to photographs that did not live up to the technical standards necessary for me to consider them. And a lot of other stifling habits were instilled from my Cartier-Bresson no-cropping aesthetic to an F-64 Group inspired requirement of ultra depth of field.

    Not sure where or when it occurred to me that there was a world full of technically perfect and content boring pictures. And then a recognition of how I allowed technical concerns to trump expressive needs. I remember when I first saw the work of the Starn Twins with their rejection of all the "Laws" of good photography that it occurred to me that most, if not all of the rules and standards in my head were in fact arbitrary. I could do whatever I wanted. Going to art school later in life after a couple decades of commercial work in photography changed me as well. I chuckle now whenever I hear a photographer utter the magic words, "My photograph speaks for itself."

    Anyways, i have a terrible cold right now and my brain is sort of bleary so I'll stop. But I agree with you, it's all about content, content, content.

  10. #60

    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Well said Bernice, particularly the group F64 comments. I fell into this group thinking this was the only “valid” kind of B & W photography. Pinhole work has cured me of this. As i get back into things i want to try pinholes on my 5x7, looking for some fine contact printing material there.
    --- Steve from Missouri ---

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