Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #5

Large format is expensive. Large format is slow. Large format is unforgiving. However I've always loved the slow and meditative process. I've been a long time film user and recently started using film again. My last attempt (circa 2005) to do large format work was a mixed bag and ended on a sour note (no pun) as I tumbled down a cascade. And so did my camera and lens on a tripod which I tried to hold on to in panic. It took about 12 years to recover and start large format photography again. This is an attempt to write about the thought process, technical aspects and lessons learned eventually.

My approach and composition choice at the location for large format. I decided to go with Nikkor M 300mm . Click to view large.

Chamonix 45N2 with Nikkor M 300mm/f9. Ilford fp5+ exposed at ISO100. Tree leaves at Zone 3 and developed for 6min in Ilfosol at 21C. Click to view large.

Sony A7ii with Canon FD 35 Tilt & Shift lens. Exposure - f11+0.6s. Click to view large.

Our week long trip to north Cornwall was a family holiday, mostly enjoying the ocean / coastal area with loads of Cornish Pasty and cream tea. Most of the images I made were for family album and ended up using GoPro Session the most. However this particular tree caught my attention on day one itself. Like most coastal regions, wind and other elements have a profound effect of the enviornment. The weather was mostly sunny so the composition would not have worked. Whenever we drove past this tree I knew it would make a cool image in foggy conditions. It simplifies the scene to make it a very strong composition. As luck would have it on our very last day here fog rolled in the evening which was just what I was hoping for. After dinner I drove to this place and parked in the lay-by and also set up my camera. I used both Chamonix 45N-ii and Sony A7ii. I prefer single exposure to work with so knew I will need to use tilt and shift lens on digital camera; ended up with Canon FD 35 TS-E. On my LF I used my Nikkor M 300mm lens (equivalent of roughly 100mm). This was the first image I made during the whole trip and as is often the case the excitement got better of me. I have an image made using Sony A7ii however the large format image, if I had properly executed, would have been a much stronger composition.

So here are the lessons I learnt.

  • I used rear/back tilt to get everything in focus and also to make the road look wider than it is without losing the prominence of the main subject. The image is quite sharp.
  • For some reason the fog managed to enter through my ears and I put the tree at the right top third rather than the original plan of left side top third intersection.
  • Also while loading the film in my jobo the best exposed frame was touching the the emulsion side of the slightly under exposed negative of the same scene. It left some marks on the film.
  • Overall I enjoyed the experience of shooting large format or in fact any image after a break of over 6 months. I clearly was rusty and perhaps a bit rushed.
  • Nikkor M 300mm /f9 is an excellent long lens. Small, light and sharp. However at about 10pm when light is fading it can be a challenge to focus. The ground glass of my Chamonix 45Nii is quite bright but still.

Enjoy.

Video Journal - Tryfan Wildcamping Trilogy : Episode 1

Tryfan is one of my favorite mountains and I've been lucky to climb, hike and wild-camp here. This trilogy of wild-camping around this beautiful yet rugged mountain is my homage.


Please also consider purchasing the following image as fine art print to support WIN campaign.

Snowdonia National Park. Sony A7ii + Loxia 21mm. Pol filter and 2 stop Graduated Neutral Density filter. Please click to enlarge.

Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #5

Large format is expensive. Large format is slow. Large format is unforgiving. However I've always loved the slow and meditative process. I've been a long time film user and recently started using film again. My last attempt (circa 2005) to do large format work was a mixed bag and ended on a sour note (no pun) as I tumbled down a cascade. And so did my camera and lens on a tripod which I tried to hold on to in panic. It took about 12 years to recover and start large format photography again. This is an attempt to write about the thought process, technical aspects and lessons learned eventually.

Chamonix 45n2 with Schneider Apo-Symmar 150mm. Expired Fuji Velvia 50. Click to view large.

I've been huge fan of 6x12 panorama photography for years and have used digital stitching to create these successfully in the past. However there are instances, particularly if there is any movement, when stitching is not an option. So when I saw a 6x12 film back from Tristan Campbell for sale I decided to grab it. My very first attempt was quite a success in terms of using it and defining the composition on the ground glass. With only one double exposed frame out of 6 here are some lessons learnt.

  • You can  get away with using the 4x5 ground glass to focus using tilt+shift. However it might be better to concentrate on the 6x12 frame lines.
  • It is important to decide when you are going to advance the frame. I forgot the sequence once and double exposed the frame. It was probably the best composition and the next frame I tried was not exactly 6x12 but cropped slightly. This is perhaps due to the fact that I advanced the frame more than I should although I'm not sure.
  • Scanning slides is a pain.

Enjoy.

Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #3

Large format is expensive. Large format is slow. Large format is unforgiving. However I've always loved the slow and meditative process. I've been a long time film user and recently started using film again. My last attempt (circa 2005) to do large format work was a mixed bag and ended on a sour note (no pun) as I tumbled down a cascade. And so did my camera and lens on a tripod which I tried to hold on to in panic. It took about 12 years to recover and start large format photography again. This is an attempt to write about the thought process, technical aspects and lessons learned eventually.

Chamonix 45n2 with Schneider Apo-Symmar 150mm. Ilford FP4+ developed in Ilfosol 3. Click to view large.

This image is made in the Peak District near bole hill quarry. It is my go to place for a walk and sometimes photography. There are plenty of opportunities and compositions.

So here are the lessons learned -

  • I used front tilt to get everything in focus. I focused on the left hand side rock near the grass. I then used front axis tilt to get the distant tree trunk in focus as well. It worked quite well and everything is pin sharp.
  • I made a panorama using 612 back and velvia 50 film. I then forgot to change the ISO. Only after I made the exposure I realized the folly. I noted it down and decided to play with development to get the necessary contrast. As this is going to be my modus oprendi this needs to go into the checklist.
  • I took exposure of the brightest part of the water and added three stops (zone 8). I completely forgot that it has started to snow just before I arrived here and was lucky that it landed around zone 8+.
  • It would have been a doddle to get this shot using my Sony A7ii and Loxia. However it was fun to see how I can control the chemistry and still get the tonal range I was after.
  • Even this late 1990ies lens resolves as good or better than the Loxia 21mm is just plain amazing.
  • It is difficult to visualize black and white just by using phone and app like artists viewfinder. There is amazing control over the process in the development and printing stage. Fun.
  • Developed in my broken paterson tank which does not allow me inversion without spillage hence used the spinning with the paterson stick as before. Works. Stick to it.
  • If you are using Epson scanner - try the Vuescan and use raw generation option. It is better.

I'm adding screen-grabs from photoshop at 100% before applying any sharpening. Click to view large.

Just for fun.

Enjoy.