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.