Thursday, July 01, 2010

Scott Peters Recommended, and Do I Try Large Format Again?

Have been wondering about shooting large format again, just for a change. Was checking out Chamonix cameras from China and their gallery had an image I reecognized - by Scott Peters, who shoots with 8X10 and more interestingly, with a 7X17. I highly recommend viewing Scott's website. He has some lovely 7X17 images in particular.

Of course, enlargine 7X17 is difficult. Hell, scanning it would be difficult - it really encourages you to make contact prints in the wet darkroom. I still have my darkroom - ok, it's a mess and I'd have to remove the crap now being stored in it, but it would be intriguing. Lens coverage for 17 inches wide is problematic - but oddly, old lenses like the Red Dot Artars and even new lenses like the Nikon 450 M or Fujinon C are possibilities.

Another far less expensive and much more mobile option would be a 5X7 or even 5X8, scannable for inkjet printing, even a decent contact print. The ratio isn't as extreme, nor as intriguing. Film is half a sheet of 8X10 - which is still available in colour. I'm guessing you could even get it processed using 8X10 hangers.

I'd lose focus blending, though exposure blending wouldn't be the same problem.  Perhaps the biggest issue would be losing my 70-200 with which I make a lot of my photographs - could I learn to love modest focal lengths? I'd def. have issues with the limited number of shots I could make - would it even be possible for me to change from my one good shot in one hundred formula I have found about right for the last 10 years, even before digital - simply not practical in this format? It might be too frustrating. I suspect that 5X8 could probably work with my current 4X5 lenses, 90 nikor, 210 Symmar S, doubt the Fuji 400 telephoto would work but I could pick up a 450 non telephoto and it would be a fraction of the size.

As to weight, 7X17 would definitely be more, but I'm horribly overweight and have lost 20 lb. of 100 I need to lose - surely I can lug one third of that in camera gear after the weight comes off?

5X8 with a limited selection of lenses wouldn't weigh a lot more than my 1Ds2 and camera kit when it includes my 300 - even with a modest number of film holders.

No question it would be different - I'm 60, could be I'm going senile - hope not. Last time I took out my 4X5 it reminded me of all the reasons I quit large format. I'd have to make sure I have my kit simple and reliable. I wonder....

It's all just dreams at the moment,


Tim said...

It seems to me that people don't have the same mental model of camera gear as coming in "kits" or "formats", suited to specific purposes, as they used to. Partly that's (d)SLR-manufacturers' fault for permeating an "all situations work on APS-C/DX/35mm" mentality... Still. I only partly digress.

Point is, LF should be considered a kit/format/genre unto itself, that you subscribe to in order to make photographs to which it's well suited. It's characterized by the aspect-ratios and slow methodology and various films' responsiveness and quite a lot of DIY photo-geekishness from which other folks shy away, etc.

If you already have 5x4 gear and don't like it, that tells you a set of lifestyle differences to avoid in the future. 5x7 and 8x10 are quite common in LF circles, and scannable on flatbed. The practice of not hiking more than half a mile away from the car is also quite common. ;)

Paul Bailey said...

George. I can't imagine getting out my Burke & James 8X10. I am shooting 5d mkII with a 35 and a 100 macro/portrait.

If I take a lot of trouble to get the exposure right, I can get very close to the tonality of the B&J. I have to really work at it, but it is nothing compared to lugging that B&J around.
Remember f64 and exposures of one half seconds on a sunny day.
I had the feeling you had already talked yourself out of it by the end of the post.