Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #7

Large format is expensive. Large format is slow. Large format is unforgiving. However I've always loved the slow and meditative process. However when it works, it is pure magic. 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 re-learned during my second attempt.

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My approach in the field and composition choice at the location for large format. I decided to go with Rodenkstock Sironar S-150mm . Please click on notes and images on how I arrived at the exposure for film and development choice. Click to view large.

Chamonix 45N2 with Rodenstock Sirnoar S 150mm/f5.6. Ilford fp4+ exposed at ISO100. Rocks in the cascade exposed at Zone 3 and developed for 6:15 min in Ilfosol at 21C. Click to view large.

I had a Monday afternoon free and decided to go for a test-hike in south wales. The waterfall country is a brilliant 7 mile hike and a good test hike with all the camping and LF gear. I have done this hike in the past so there was no pressure of making images as such. However with heavy rain over the past two days and mist in the air I decided to make this image using Ilford FP4+. The final exposure was 22” and not matter what I did I could not get rid of the spray on the front element / pol filter. Instead of fighting it I decided to use it as an element reflecting the elements. This is quote a popular spot however I reached here by 6pm and had it almost to myself.

I have added a new “taking field notes” as part of my large format image making routine now. I found these brilliant Rite in the Rain pencils and spiral notebooks and now use it regularly. The combination works brilliantly and is rugged enough for UK weather. Please check images above to know how I use it.

So here are the lessons I learnt from this outing -

  • Test hikes are good. It allows me to test various new equipment without the pressure of making any images.

  • Don’t fight the elements. Use them. The mist on the lens makes this image even better, I think.

  • Always have a duplicate negative of the same scene. Practice I’ve been following now for a while (Thanks Ben!). It is the same exposure setting but to have a back up in case negative gets damaged for some reason. Here while unloading the film I scratched the emulsion side a little. It is not terrible but I’m happy I had another negative of the same scene with the same exposure.

Enjoy.

Here are the images I’ve made in the past on this trail. All images made with Canon EOS6D. First three with Canon 45mm TS-E and the last one one Olympus Zuiko 24mm MC. Adding here just for fun.

Large Format Photography : Lessons from the field #6

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 Rodenkstock Sironar S-150mm . Click to view large.

Chamonix 45N2 with Rodenstock Sirnoar S 150mm/f5.6. Ilford fp4+ exposed at ISO100. Largest triangular sea stack at Zone 3 and developed for 6min in Ilfosol at 21C. 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.

Most of the evenings this beach was deserted. High tide in the evening meant endless possibilities. I settled with this composition. I used my Rodenstock Sironar-S 150mm lens. This is the first landscape image made with my large format camera that I'm quite happy with. It will certainly be part of my platinum palladium print portfolio.

So here are the lessons I learnt.

  • Keep it simple. Strong compositions do not rely on color.
  • I went again the next day to this place and the sea rocks in the foreground were arranged completely different due to another round of low and high tide.
  • Keep making images with LF. When it works it is amazing.

Enjoy.

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.