Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field

Large format is expensive. Large format is slow. Large format is unforgiving. However I've always loved the slow and meditative process.

Here is my first outdoor attempt (after about 12 years since I last used large format gear). This is an attempt to write about the thought process, technical aspects and lessons learned eventually.

It is without a doubt that smart phones have made life of a large format photographer much easier. I used to carry various card board frames for selecting my view and visualize composition using hands, which lens to use etc. Now an app called as Viewfinder has made it redundant and easier. I used to have a cheatsheet of reciprocity compensation for my various films and invariably made mistake or two. Now a brilliant app called as Reciprocity Timer does that for me and have yet to take a safety shot like I used to do in the past. Heck even Pocket Light Meter is almost as accurate as my spot meter.

I decided to make use of all these and few more apps, about which I will write a separate post, during the outings to keep notes and learn. Hopefully this is useful.

So when I approached the scene I was attracted by the tree line however the sky was almost grey mess. I decided to use bridge as the leading line and it was a nice challenge as wide angle lens would have meant too much of foreground on the side of the bridge which was just grass.

  1. First stab at the composition however the bridge corner was too distracting
  2. Zooming with the feet to find a better composition however with my long lens the tree was bleeding over the sides. Not so good.
  3. Much better however it was necessary to use movements to get the top of the tree line in the frame.
  4. Rise to the brim to get the trees parallel and without keystone correction otherwise needed.
  5. Tree trunk exposure came out to be 30s at f22. With shadows at zone 4.
  6. and the final exposure was - 51s
  7. I noted that the highlights were in the zone 8 and hence N-1 development.
  8. The negative does not look bad.

The final product. Ilford FP4+ exposed at ISO100 and then developed in Ilford Ilfosol for 6 min in paterson tank (N-1). Please click to view large.