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

  1. #61

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

    This thread is very relevant to my current situation. I have read every post and I must say that they are all thoughtful responses to the OP going back several years.

    Some years ago I talked myself into an 8x10 camera (Deardorff) and one lens, 4 holders; the lens didn't suit my 'style'. Jump ahead a few years and as finances allowed I talked myself into three Ektars - an all-American-made kit!
    Problem is, I still don't use it much: the kit is bulky and heavy to lug around. I really haven't 'warmed up' to the format. When I shoot 4x5, 5x7 or 6x9 I am much more productive and I seem to enjoy it more.

    I thought of reducing the kit to one lens as soon as I figure out which one I really 'must' keep. In the meantime, I have talked myself into keeping it a little longer in the hope that I will 'warm up' to it.

  2. #62
    Bertha DeCool
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    I like that this thread has been revived.
    New to this site but not to LF, bought a Crown Graphic in 1979 for $99 with a 127mm Ektar and a Voitlander Apo-Lanthar 15cm (and no, not a thief, just lucky) that has been used, languished and been used on and off for 40 years. Started in school with 35mm but have also lost interest, bought a Rolleiflex 3.5E Planar in the mid-'80s that has become like an extension of my arm over the years but, on a trip to my wife's homeland of Bosnia last year, finally admitted I just don't see things square.

    So came oh so close to selling it to fund a Pentax 67 for the format change but, for sentimental reasons, couldn't bring myself to do it (financial and spousal considerations prevent having both). So I officially recommitted to 4x5, happily. No darkroom access at this point but I have been shooting for transparency and developing thru dr5 Lab in Iowa, to scan and inkjet which brings about some moral qualms of its own but which I had resigned myself to, all the while wishing I could justify contact printing 4x5 in the tub. But they're just that bit too small for my eye and tastes.

    Here's the fun part. My late teacher's late teacher, Gerda Peterich, had left her equipment and papers/images with my teacher. When my teacher passed, his daughter and a few of my peers who've all remained close decided that, as I'm the last LF and film holdout, her Kodak 2-D 5x7 with lenses were to be mine. Perfect size for contact printing, still doable w/o full-on darkroom.

    And here's where the whole thread ties together for me. While a 5x7 won't work with a scooter (or my '97 Triumph), I have come from the f64, never ever crop, strict Zone System school of thought and practice, to the point where it's an unconscious process. But one of these lenses I have inherited is a Nicola Persheid 36cm which some have been kind enough to point out sells for relatively obscene sums of money and which I plan to flog like a rented mule. I can appreciate the Pictorialists and that soft-focus is very much not out-of-focus and I now look forward to learning an entirely different way of seeing (and I do have a couple of sharp-as-a-tack lenses as well, so...) some 45 years after I first set foot in a darkroom.

    And a friend's daughter, who has an excellent eye, has started a photo business that is thriving, and has just started to fart around with a Spotmatic, will be gifted a working 4x5, with lenses (maybe not that Apo), some boxes of b&w film, my old copy of The Zone VI Workshop, and the advice to find a spot meter.

  3. #63

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

    Quote Originally Posted by tgtaylor View Post
    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
    Agh! How did I miss this!?

    Oh, Adams's Surf Sequence is on exhibit. I should go see that.

    -- Mike

  4. #64
    Steve Williams_812's Avatar
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Good thoughts Bernice. One thing you wrote stood out -- "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." That is my experience. More and more I find my own vision and voice with a camera without the heavy-handed influence of other photographers that was once present.

    I miss the jewel like quality of an 8x10 contact print. It remains with the 4x5 but the image is too small. I find myself thinking more and more of swapping the 4x5 for a 5x7 camera...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    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.
    Attachment 198980
    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  5. #65

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams_812 View Post
    Good thoughts Bernice. One thing you wrote stood out -- "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." That is my experience. More and more I find my own vision and voice with a camera without the heavy-handed influence of other photographers that was once present.

    I miss the jewel like quality of an 8x10 contact print. It remains with the 4x5 but the image is too small. I find myself thinking more and more of swapping the 4x5 for a 5x7 camera...
    The one issue I consistently find myself coming back to is how I perceive others, their pictures, and their rationale behind format etc.

    For example...

    Barbara Bosworth shoots 810 color, inkjet prints but at fairly normal sizes so makes me feel that the power of the format is lost in the final product.

    In a more related scale, Ben Horn does the exact same thing. 810 color and drum scanned but printed at 13x19, that’s weird to me.

    Bryan Schutmaat shoots 45, but inkjet prints everything that fairly large sizes, like 40 inches.

    Alec Soth shoots 810 color and specifically describes himself as a book artist, so an 8.5 x 11 book justifies the need to shoot 810 color?

    At the end of the day these folks make good pictures and the format doesn’t matter, make good pictures and you spend less time talking about this stuff.

    I’m in the same camp, not enough focus on the work and too much on inanimate objects.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #66

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

    Bertha

    I enjoyed reading your post, a great story indeed

    regards

    Andrew

  7. #67

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

    Alec Soth may describe himself as primarily a 'book artist' in terms of how his larger bodies of work are conceptualised and more often seen / distributed, but a huge part of his practice is in mounting exhibitions and print sales. Sleeping by the Mississippi was all printed as optical c-type prints for exhibition (from memory variable sizes but mostly 20x24"?) Later for Niagara he drum scanned and made huge light jet prints on c-type paper. These are also stunning. These days he has his own drum scanner and makes large prints from scanned film using latest HP Inkjet technology – he runs a small custom scanning and printing lab from his studio. In any event, he also shoots digitally with Hasselblad and Nikon cameras. He also says that the process of shooting LF is very important to him – the way it slows him down and creates a kind of theatrical atmosphere to the picture taking event, particularly when making portraits – more so in most if not all cases than strictly technical quality related to the large 8x10" negative. I suppose like most artists, certainly all the artists you've listed, the question, "Couldn't this work be done in a more logical, easier or indeed better way?" should probably be rephrased, "Why is this set of processes important to them?"

    I think about this often when I look at someone's work like Nicholas Nixon. I think his work, particularly his portraits are absolutely phenomenal. People might argue that they look like candid shots that could be taken with a 35mm or hand held MF camera, but then I think about the performance that must have unfolded to get the camera set up and how that affected the people in front of it. I think his portraits – like Soth's and Schutmaat's – hint at this performance with a kind of stillness and distance to them, while at the same time feeling intensely intimate.

    Sorry for the long reply, it just got me thinking about how I love the process of 8x10" and that while most if not all of what I do could be done with something smaller, I wouldn't trade it for the world. When everything aligns in the field, there's no other feeling. And then there's the contact print! I love just it.
    Last edited by Tim V; 23-Jan-2020 at 03:51.

  8. #68

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim V View Post
    Alec Soth may describe himself as primarily a 'book artist' in terms of how his larger bodies of work are conceptualised and more often seen / distributed, but a huge part of his practice is in mounting exhibitions and print sales. Sleeping by the Mississippi was all printed as optical c-type prints for exhibition (from memory variable sizes but mostly 20x24"?) Later for Niagara he drum scanned and made huge light jet prints on c-type paper. These are also stunning. These days he has his own drum scanner and makes large prints from scanned film using latest HP Inkjet technology – he runs a small custom scanning and printing lab from his studio. In any event, he also shoots digitally with Hasselblad and Nikon cameras. He also says that the process of shooting LF is very important to him – the way it slows him down and creates a kind of theatrical atmosphere to the picture taking event, particularly when making portraits – more so in most if not all cases than strictly technical quality related to the large 8x10" negative. I suppose like most artists, certainly all the artists you've listed, the question, "Couldn't this work be done in a more logical, easier or indeed better way?" should probably be rephrased, "Why is this set of processes important to them?"

    I think about this often when I look at someone's work like Nicholas Nixon. I think his work, particularly his portraits are absolutely phenomenal. People might argue that they look like candid shots that could be taken with a 35mm or hand held MF camera, but then I think about the performance that must have unfolded to get the camera set up and how that affected the people in front of it. I think his portraits – like Soth's and Schutmaat's – hint at this performance with a kind of stillness and distance to them, while at the same time feeling intensely intimate.

    Sorry for the long reply, it just got me thinking about how I love the process of 8x10" and that while most if not all of what I do could be done with something smaller, I wouldn't trade it for the world. When everything aligns in the field, there's no other feeling. And then there's the contact print! I love just it.
    Great response... and yes, I agree with all of that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #69
    Steve Williams_812's Avatar
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    Re: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    I agree with all of Soth's comments as well.

    Process is important to me and it's one some paths are smoother than others. It applies to photography, writing, riding my scooter or motorcycle. But I must admit that it is easy for me to become deluded in the pursuit of a tool or process at the expense of actually doing work as someone here has suggested. I know now when I become obsessive in research about some new camera and at the same time I'm not doing anything with the ones I already have, that I'm looking for the mechanical cure to a creative problem. Much like the alcoholic who decides his life will be better if he moves to another town.

    For me, the problems I have come with me. I recently bought a Fuji X100F thinking it would be the "perfect" camera and I would be working again on a project. But after the novelty of the camera evaporates, I left with the daunting task of going out and working.

    So back to my original question -- am I nuts for giving up the 8x10 camera all those years ago? No. I wasn't using it. Am I nuts today for thinking I need another one? Yes. Nothing magical will happen with a new camera. The magic happens when I'm out in the world, even if that world is my living room, making photographs. And the only big body of work I've produced in the past few years are the photographs I make while riding. Because riding takes me out in the world.

    My friend Stephen Dirado has worked passionately with an 8x10 camera for 40 years and that effort has produced astounding work, shows, books, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. But the camera is almost incidental to the work. He's passionate about something in the world and the camera comes along. There's a lesson there for me.

    For those not familiar with his work, have a look at Stephen Dirado's website.

    Alex Soth wrote of Stephen some years back that he's probably the most under-appreciated photographer in America. Here's a link to Alex Soth's interview with Stephen Dirado.


    Quote Originally Posted by dodphotography View Post
    Great response... and yes, I agree with all of that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  10. #70

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

    Thanks for clueing me on to Dirado's work, I love his series about his father and the beach portraits.

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