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Thread: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

  1. #51

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Depends... If you are shooting chromes, there's no latitude there... B/W has some fudge factor but avoid needing it... I found early that LF seemed to have less latitude than smaller formats, so got compulsive then, and gained experience holding that line... Most serviced shutters are good enough...

    I would love to let photographers of old see this discussion, before light meters appeared in the 30's, before films were rated, films were not consistent, and a lot of experience was needed to get results...

    Still hard, but we have it easier now...

    Steve K

  2. #52

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Klein View Post
    But the problem with large format equipment, especially old lenses, is that they are old and often not accurate or consistent. That makes life difficult. It often becomes a distraction and new, modern equipment with high accuracy and repeatability allow you to accomplish getting the picture easier. I just started LF about a year ago and find it very fiddly. It's often like a contest. I often wonder if it's worth my time.
    Alan, For me, (Thanks for emphasizing the point Bernice), I'm thinking about the print. New lenses (yes i've owned & used Apo-Sironar S...) don't give me the character I'm looking for. My old Dagors and Commercial Ektars do. I'm willing to keep the shutters serviced as necessary (really not all that often). I get all the repeatability i need in the print outcome.

  3. #53

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    I'm simply grateful for whatever develops. When I loupe a print and read a license plate on a car parked 100 yards down the road from the camera I'm just blown away.
    However I do this for fun.
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for men if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

  4. #54

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Think of large format color in terms of a classically trained musician. There are the standard procedures, techniques, and to obtain best results, tedious perfection of each element of the process.

    As Dykinga says, LF is like peeling an onion. Speaking of exposure for instance, you have the variability of lens exposures relative to others (think of this in terms of T value), filter calculations (polarizers for instance can change exposure over a range from say 2/3 of a stop to 1.4 stops as you turn the filter), along with shutter inconsistencies/lack of accuracy. So many variables, and then you have the question of "interpretation" of exposure. Again paraphrasing Dykinga, sometimes the wrong exposure is the right one. So this implies bracketing exposures, and where wind is a challenge (i.e. fragile landscape work), multiples at the same exposure. So you may easily spend $50 dollars or more to get one "correct image" (5 exposures). And then you have the film rating based upon your own experience. Some would set Velvia 50 to ASA 40 for instance. Once you have figured out all of these "adjustments" to exposure, you have to store them in your head so that with each image you taken all of these into consideration to get a calculated "correct" exposure. You also have reciprocity failure calculations, which given my shooting mostly in lower light, called for a keen knowledge of when to "add" exposure when using shutters speeds in multiple seconds/minutes.

    What I would do which most did not, was to use a calibrated 35mm camera with an appropriate FL lens, add filters etc onto it as I was with the LF lens. I would use matrix metering (or spot where necessary) and get a base exposure. Then I would make the aforementioned adjustments for LF lens/shutter variables. This actually worked out very well for me. I rarely had "wrong exposures", just bad images (poorly composed, poor DR etc)

    There is much craft involved and figure 6 months in acclimating to the "process" of shooting. Movements alone takes a while to learn and, as with classical music, the more you know how to precisely use movements, the better the outcomes. This may take years to become very competent (it did for me).

    What I found particularly with chromes, is that lower light was always better. Catch the margins of light, changes in atmospherics, overcast days. Be very mindful of the DR range in a scene, and generally avoid scenes where it exceeds 5-6 stops (with chromes unless you like deep shadows and blown highlights). With this choice, and maximizing DOF by shooting at upwards of F45 (or even smaller aperture), you are almost always using shutter speeds in the multi-second range. It was indeed a rare occasion for me to use a "fast' shutter speed of 1/4 second.

    Perhaps those with infinite patience, perfectionists to a fault, tenacious perseverance, deep pockets, and a clear vision of the intended objectives, all plays well in this genre. Not to discourage, but insistent inspiration and technical expertise are the keys to obtaining consistent results.

    Experimenting is important, and making "mistakes" is the only way to learn.

  5. #55

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    I have found that as I have got better at large format photography, the better I am at spotting and diagnosing small perfections in my images and the more demanding and methodical I have become. The aim is always 'good enough' but that benchmark is a constantly evolving one.

    The challenge is finding the right balance between technical skill and creative thinking. In the field I only have a certain amount of 'mental bandwidth' and often I find too much time worrying about technicalities is detrimental to thinking creatively and vice versa. The plus side is that the technical side can become second nature and take up less mental space as you progress. I have particularly found this in the past year as my normal work (portraits) became very difficult and I replaced it with landscapes to keep in the swing of things. Suddenly, I was something of a beginner and I had to learn new things, initially that took up all my concentration and I found it very difficult to 'see' strong images or to improvise from an initial idea.

    The challenge with that search for technical perfection is to not end up with a collection of well made, but ultimately boring images.

  6. #56

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Respectfully disagree regarding a “balance”. As Charlie Parker, jazz great, once intimated, you learn all the technique, forget it (I.e. absorb it so it doesn’t intrude in the process), then play (with creativity).

    One can have fun without achieving technical excellence, but a “balance” should never be considered when trying to obtain ultimate results. A great image combines both vision and technical expertise. One just has to learn the craft so it becomes second nature, then one uses that knowledge to realize his/her vision. Like most successful individuals, one has to have a singular drive to realize the best outcomes.

  7. #57

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Seems much of once was has been forgotten or not considered any more with folks venturing into images made with photographic film.

    Realistically, chromes aka color transparency or positives have about 1/2 f-stop of margin if color rendition designed into the film is to be revealed and if density overall fits into a workable range. This stuff is just not forgiving if the goal is to achieve what was designed into the film and how the resulting image is to be uses.

    Then comes color temperature of the lighting, which will affect the color balance of the film image. There was a time when CC filters were commonly used and often used with controlled lighting to achieve proper color balancing.

    To apply any of these corrections, testing had to be done. Batch specific to the film brand's lot and ya hope it was consistent.


    All that said, there were marvelous tools available to achieve these demands and needs.

    Multi Kilo-watt second strobes that had consistent color temperature and light output over their adjustable power range made controlled strobe lighting simple in many ways. These remarkable items of technology allow the creative artist to apply lighting as needed to achieve their creative expressions with consistency, reliability, and significant ease. Just add cubic $$$$$$ back in the day to gain this luxury.

    There are flash light meters and metering systems that measured to 1/10 f-stop with remarkable accuracy and repeatability.

    There are camera systems that had essentially no limit on the demands made by it's creative user. Quality and ability of lenses were effectively a non-issue in so many ways.

    Processing labs were a world all their own with their specific technologies to serve their customer's needs and expectations of excellence. Some customers were good with virtually any print or film processing provided over the counter. Other customers were beyond picky rejecting print after print (made the printers go nuts at times) until they got pretty much what they demanded.

    Seems the commercial ad demands from back then seems more that what it is today based on the commercial ad image creators books from decades gone by.
    What was once done in camera is now done via software with good enough being the common goal today. This is not to say excellent creative work is not done today, it just seems diluted in the mass consumption sense of highest speed digital data rates of today.

    More than a few times, the feeling of writing post from the memories of a time long gone permeated what gets written. Some of the audience reading this remembers well those bye-gone days, others these stories are essentially alien in every way.


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Depends... If you are shooting chromes, there's no latitude there... B/W has some fudge factor but avoid needing it... I found early that LF seemed to have less latitude than smaller formats, so got compulsive then, and gained experience holding that line... Most serviced shutters are good enough...

    I would love to let photographers of old see this discussion, before light meters appeared in the 30's, before films were rated, films were not consistent, and a lot of experience was needed to get results...

    Still hard, but we have it easier now...

    Steve K

  8. #58
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Bedo View Post
    And sometimes dumb luck (or Karma?) comes into play.

    Last shot in the twilight at the pond of a local park. Nice stuff going on but not that special thing. Without warning, the breeze shifts and my corner of the pond becomes mirror smooth. So instead of rigging down, I get out the last loaded film holder, meter, set and shoot. Then flip the holder to bracket and just as the shutter is tripped a duck swims into the compositing . . .click. The next day i had total hip replacement surgery. Whenever I can get back to my camera gear, I'll unload that batch and send it off to a lab (Denver Digital).

    When it comes back from the lab I'll let you know how it turned out. Wish me luck.
    Good luck with the hip and the film.

  9. #59
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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    If modern large format lenses were made with accurate shutters, old lenses would drop to $50 each or less. I think a lot of people would switch to the new design that are accurate, consistent, and have the other advantages of modern lenses. We only put up with the inaccuracies and inconsistencies because we have no other choice.

    (This post ought to get the juices stirring.)

  10. #60

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    Re: Precision and Accuracy in LF Photography: How much is enough?

    Iím not convinced that there is enough inaccuracies or inconsistencies in well-maintained older shutters to make that an appealing option. But interesting thought.

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