Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #2

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.

This time it is more about using movements and processes which are often religiously fought and fraught over by the professionals and enthusiasts alike.

I received my dark cloth from wanderer which is very nice. I may write separately about it. It made focusing indoors on a grey british day easier. On all the three shots I use different movements. For the banana and eggs photo I used front axis tilt. Focus on front and tilt for far. For the apples image I used back tilt and the effect can be seen on the apple in the front. Again focus on the far and tilt for near. I metered shadows and decided to keep them in zone 3 this time. I used both 210mm and 150mm schneider lenses with quite a bit below extension, roughly 290mm. As the edge of my paterson tank has broken and I now get quite a bit of leakage I decided to use the "spin" agitator that comes with it. Keeping everything else the same. This works as the following results showcase. I'll be using it henceforth as agitating a tank is always a "Oh my God, is it going to leak" situation. Click to view larger size.

So here are the lessons learnt -

  • There is need to refine effective focusing technique. As you can see in all the scenes top edge of the basket on the near side is out of focus. Essentially out of the wedge that Scheimflug principle allows for.
  • Use whatever works and be consistent. Agitation in this case. Inversion is not the only way.