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Large format for Landscape and Nature Photograph

Antonio S. , Apr 05, 2009; 05:49 a.m.


I recently bought a 4x5 shen hao camera and in the wait to receive some basic view camera beginners books I ordered, I wonder how i can exploit at its best, for landscapes and nature photography, the movements a LF wooden LF camera permits.

thanks for looking/helping,



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Juergen Sattleru , Apr 05, 2009; 07:45 a.m.

I am not exactly sure what you are asking - but the most used movements for Landscape photography are tilt and swing to increase the DOF along a specific "wedge". I would suggest that you visit www.largeformatphotography.info. There is tons of information on their home page, incl. explanations for Scheinpflug effect, focusing a LF camera, lens comparisons, etc. etc. While you are at it, sign up for the forum and become a member of that community,.

John Youngblood , Apr 05, 2009; 10:39 a.m.

Photography is a craft. Most of what is learned comes from trying out ideas and then seeing if they succeed. Its good to do some research first and forums are great for getting started, but the important questions will be answered only through using the tool. The likelihood of any advice you get staying in your mind will also be greater if you've tried a few shots first. Show some commitment and people will respond.

Oak nr. Lake Sonoma

Bruce Cahn , Apr 05, 2009; 01:02 p.m.

I suggest you just get to it. Learn to load, shoot and process the film. Try the movements and see what they do. Then read the books, if you want. They will make more sense with some experience. Some of the books are so poorly written that they make LF seem much more difficult than it is. I read a magazine article once about large format technique. It was obtuse and almost unfathomable. When I finally figured out what the guy was saying in one paragraph, I realized he was talking about something I do all the time. He just made it so difficult to understand. It may have been out of a desire to sound erudite, or it may have been the inability to write plain English. Actually large format is simple.

Antonio S. , Apr 05, 2009; 05:08 p.m.

I have already done some trials.
I have had just few issue in the loading as only one of the film edge was under the rail and the image come out a little bit misaligned. I have took some more photos that are still inside the back, waiting to be processed.
As for the development I have a Jobo CPE2 with the reel for large format and at my second loading I found quite easy to load, but slow; Anyway I have not understood yet how to let the film dry. Should I keep it inside the reel until dry or should I hang every single sheet as I had done with normal rolls?
As for the shot I experienced two problem. Firstly the focusing screen is very dim and low contrast, second I have not completely understood how focusing work. In the posted image. I focused on the body of the tree and then tilted to focus the stone at the lower edge of the film. It seems as the lower part of the body of the tree is out of focus. So the upper and lower extremes are in focus while what position beetween is out of focus. And that's what i do not understand.

Joe Shatus , Apr 05, 2009; 09:36 p.m.

Antonio -- With large format you generally won't need to make a lot of camera movements for landscape pictures -- just a few subtle ones will do. (a slight front tilt or back tilt is usually all that's needed). If you're new to this, make sure you are fully opening the aperture of your lens when you are focusing on the ground glass. I'm surprised the image is dim. (You are using a dark cloth, yes?) In terms of drying negatives, I hang mine by the corners individually using clothes pins. After washing them, I swish a few times in a wetting agent like photo-flo then hang to dry. They come out spotless.
Practice loading film until it enters the holder nice and smoothly. Do it in the light with an old sheet. You should feel no resistance when putting film in the holder. In terms of the image you attached, my guess is that something may have gone wrong with the way the film was seated in the holder. It's difficult to get the center blurry while the top and bottom are sharp esp. when they're in the same plane. When you took the picture do you remember what the aperture was? If the aperture was say, f32 or f45 it would usually make everything sharp even if the film was not seated properly. I hope you stick with it.

Rick Wong , Apr 06, 2009; 03:58 p.m.

in theory it should of been sharp but like my teacher in photography school pointed out even if you use swing and tilt to change the plane of focus you are only focusing only on that one plane so objects that fall above and below the plane of focus will still be out of focus so unless you have your camera set for max DOF you will find pockets out of focus

Jack Welsh , Apr 06, 2009; 07:51 p.m.

If you point the camera up or down. Always have the front and rear standard verticle. There are times when you might want to change that. But, it will work best for most situations. A slight backwards tilt on the rear standard will make objects closer to the camera larger. A forwards tilt on the front standard will increase the depth of field. But, use a smaller f stop. You might want to just take the camera into your yard and just try different things without any film.

Lynn Jones , Apr 08, 2009; 05:06 p.m.

Hi Antonio,

For me using 4x5 and landscapes, I use a 65mm. a 90, a 150mm, nothing longer.

For western sunsets and for sunrises I like to use my SL66 with 150mm and 250mm.


Justin Black , Apr 09, 2009; 02:22 a.m.

I strongly recommend Jack Dykinga's Large Format Nature Photography. It is an excellent resource.

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