Photo Notes A place to talk about making images.

February 4, 2013

Large Format Lenses

Filed under: Basic Photo Technique,Film Technique,Large Format Photography — John Siskin @ 11:06 am

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography


I was going to write about some more handy equipment in this issue, but I decided to put that off. I think I’ll be back to talking about stuff, particularly DIY stuff soon. I had breakfast with another experienced photographer, I don’t want to say old, a couple of days ago. We talked about some of the things we miss from the old days and both of us missed watching a print come up in a tray of developer. Whenever I talk about this with someone we end up using the word magic. When you put an exposed piece of silver gelatin paper into a tray of developer there is no picture, it’s just white paper. As you agitate the print in the developer the image slowly appears on the paper. If you’ve ever seen a Polaroid SX-70 print develop, it’s like that, only better. I know I’ve written about this stuff before, but I find it interesting and, well, magical.

8.25 inch Gold Barrel Dagor on 8X10 film

Photography, before digital was mostly about magic goo. Like baking a cake you followed a recipe, and if everything was done properly, you got a picture. If everything was done well the picture would last. It’s been that way since William Henry Fox Talbot first made a paper negative. Fox Talbot used sodium chloride, table salt to make his images safe in daylight, so salt was the first magic goo. The thing is that few people really understood how the chemicals interacted, but a lot of us understood how to control what they did. Perhaps the person who understood the interaction best was C.E. K. Mees who ran Kodak Labs.

63mm Zeiss Luminar on 6X7cm film

 

I bring this up because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing some personal work with my 8X10 Toyo camera. This brings me back into the land of magic goo. I’m testing different developers in an attempt to make a more perfect negative. I used Kodak chemicals, both HC-110 and, more recently, Xtol, to develop film for decades. Now, however, Kodak is imperiled, so I need to look for another supplier. It’s amazing how many things that I relied on Kodak for. At breakfast I discussed the Kodak Camel Hair brush with my friend. Kodak made things that couldn’t possibly have made a difference to their bottom line, but made a difference to photographers everywhere, like a good brush for cleaning film holders. I’ve been mixing a version of a Kodak developer, D-23. I got the recipe from The Darkroom Cookbook. Those of us working in the old ways are going to have to make a lot of things from scratch.

48cm Goerz Berlin Dogmar 8X10in. film

 

The problem is to know if everything is working well. Today I processed test negatives in D-23 and in Xtol. I’ve ordered some ID-11, an Ilford developer, and I’ll process a negative in that next week. I find that I do a lot of testing. I’ve mentioned before that a photographer needs to test equipment. If you don’t test you’ll never really know what you’re doing. Then you’ll not only believe in magic, you’re relying on magic that you don’t understand. I’ve attached copies of the negatives I processed in Kodak Xtol, they have a longer contrast range than the negs I did in D-23.

65mm Schneider Super Angulon 4X5in. film

 

Another magical area of large format photography is lenses. Although I’ve studied the physics and worked with the thin lens equations, I still find the way in which lenses bend light quite magical. At least as far back as 1840, when Joseph Petzval developed the first portrait lenses, people understood how much the lens affected the image. The goals of lens design, at least until the 1960s, were to make a lens that was sharp, had large coverage, even illumination, strong contrast and was fully corrected for spherical aberration and chromatic aberration and eliminated coma, unless you were trying to make a soft focus lens, in which case none of these might apply. It’s important to understand that you couldn’t, and still can’t, make a perfect lens: all lenses designs are compromises. But older lenses made different compromises so some are considered classic and others crap. I’ve always been very interested in lenses from Goerz and Schneider. I am pleased that I currently own two Goerz lenses, an 8 1/4 inch Dagor from the American version of Goerz and a 48cm Dogmar that is from Berlin Goerz. I’ve already mentioned that I recently acquired a 14 inch Dagor that is a Schneider Dagor. The Schneider Dagors are the last of this noble design. I am also getting a lot of use from my older Schneider Angulon (actually it is old enough to be a Jos. Schneider & Co.) and I also use a wide angle G-Claron from the modern version of Schneider. Of course I also carry a bunch of diopters to create soft focus lenses, for more about these check out this article.

135mm Schenider Xenar 4X5in. film

 

The pictures this week are all large format images. I put the format and the lens name in the caption.

65mm Super Angulon 4X5in. film

 

I’m looking at apps for my phone that will help with metering and other aspects of large format photography. So far I’ve found that beeCam Lightmeter is interesting. If you have any suggestions let me know at john@siskinphoto. I’ll put up people suggestions in a future blog. By the way I’m using an android phone, but if you have a suggestion for an iPhone I’ll be happy to pass it along.

Please consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be showing much of my personal architectural work in June at Indiana Landmarks. Please come look.

November 12, 2012

Shooting Large Format at Indiana Landmarks


Since I’ve been writing about architectural shooting lately, I should start off by mentioning my book Photographing Architecture. Available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

Of course my other book: is also available, why not get the set?

And my classes continue at BetterPhoto.com. I’d like to meet you in class.
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting,
Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio,

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

I’ve been continuing to shoot architecture with the 8X10 camera, and I must say I am having a fabulous time doing it. I did a shoot at a building called the Indiana Landmarks Center, which was formerly the Central Avenue Methodist Church. After restoration the facility is just stunning. I did several shots with the big camera. Two of my favorites are reproduced here. These are scans of the Vandyke prints. As I mentioned in previous blog entries the reproductions are very different from original prints. I will be selling originals soon, so you’ll be able to have an original for yourself. I am going back to the Indiana landmarks Center, probably tomorrow, to do some more shooting.

I should add a few technical details, in case anybody is keeping track. Both these images were made with my widest lens: a 165mm Angulon. This lens has about an 85º angle of view, which is very wide for large format, but not quite as wide as a 20mm lens on full frame 35mm film. I’m continuing to process in a two-bath version of D-23. The first bath is 5 minutes and the second just 3 minutes. I’m pretty happy with this, but I do need to increase the exposure a little. I’m using HP-5 film from Ilford currently, but I’m looking at other options. A box of 25 sheets of 8X10 film costs almost $90, so I want to be careful about what I choose. I’m actually shooting two 4X10-inch images on a single sheet of 8X10-inch film. I use a dark slide I’ve cut in half to protect the unexposed side of the film in the camera. This works really well, but I have to be careful not to double expose.

The image on a Vandyke print is made from silver, like modern black and white photo papers. However the light sensitive coating is mixed by hand and the chemical reactions are very different from modern photo papers. The coating is then brushed onto watercolor or other fine art paper. I’ve been having some difficulty coating the paper, but I think I have it figured out now. If you’re interested in more information about hand coated papers and the chemical/mechanical history of photography you should check out The Keepers of Light by William Crawford. Since it is out of print a new copy can be quite expensive, but Amazon offers used copies at reasonable prices.

After shooting digital for the last few years it is really interesting to travel back in time to large format cameras and older printing processes. As always shooting a big camera makes me a more careful shooter when I return to shooting digital.
Please consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

October 15, 2012

Updates and Light Opinions

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography

Updates on my project with the 8X10 camera: I went back to the Indiana Historical Society and made another negative. This didn’t have the defects on some of the last set, so I think it is time to go forward. Here’s the latest shot from the conservation lab:


I also made a Vandyke print of one of the original negatives. I need to stress that seeing this scan on your monitor isn’t like seeing the actual print. It never is. If you want to see original images you need to go to galleries or buy prints. At least look at well printed books made with the photographer’s supervision. Anyway, here is a scan of my print from the first shoot.


I wrote most of what follows for one of my students at BetterPhoto. I’ve said these things before in this blog, but that’s no reason not to say them again. The heart of the matter is: if you can’t make light, if you have to find light to take a picture, or if you believe that light designed by a photographer is inferior to found light, you will limit the pictures you can take and limit there quality. It is better to learn more skills, and get more tools, in order to allow yourself to be a better photographer.


I am aware that many people use the terms artificial light and natural light, but I don’t think that when a great number of people use a term that actually makes the term accurate. A photon doesn’t act differently because it comes from the sun or a light bulb. A given light source may have a different color balance, but that doesn’t mean that it is natural. Sunlight and lightning (note the word is lightning with an n. Instantaneous light from storm clouds) have a similar color balance, but a cloudy day, or a volcano or natural phosphorescence have very different color than daylight. People most often refer to strobes as being artificial, but call a light bulb is a natural light source. In fact a strobe is really a kind of controlled lightning, which is natural, while light bulbs doesn’t occur naturally. The real problem that people have with strobes is that they can’t visualize what the light will look like, so they find that their pictures look very differently from what they hope. This is why you need to practice with light in order to understand and visualize light, which will make it easier to work with any light source.


I do think that natural is a value laden term. Natural foods are assumed to be better than artificial food; natural fabrics are assumed to be better than artificial. I often hear people describe themselves as “natural light photographers.” I am sure they wouldn’t like to describe themselves as photographers who are handicapped by an inability to create and control light in their photographs. The term photography is from the Greek and can be translated as “writing with light,” and I do think a photographer is a better photographer when she/he can actually create a photograph by controlling the light. Lighting is not the only way to make better photographs, but it is one of the most important tools for creating better photographs. This is why I teach lighting courses, and write books and articles about lighting. If I can help more shooters learn to use this tool I can help a lot of people make better photos.


Some years ago I did a job for the Huntington Library in Pasadena, actually San Marino, at the same time [a well known photographer who I shouldn’t disparage on this blog] was shooting for them. He is known for using “natural” light. I talked to my contact about my shots and his after the shoot was over. My contact was much happier with my work because of issues with focus and light control and color, all the problems in the other photographer’s images existed because he had little ability to control the light.


People that I know and respect use the term natural light, which is too bad. The term has even slipped out of my mouth once or twice, which is unfortunate because natural isn’t precise. There, I am glad I got that off my chest, again. You might want to say: “I use ambient light” rather than “natural light” in order to be accurate.


The important thing is to learn to pre-visualize what the light will do. You can walk around hunting for good light outdoors, or even inside. But if you don’t understand the way light defines a subject you will be hunting for good light randomly, which may be a fruitless search. This is why I think that practice, with lights, is so important: it gives you a real sense of how light works. So if you think you need soft light for a portrait you’ll start with a large light modifier, perhaps the light panel. Then you might want to define the face a little more so you may add a hard light. Regardless you won’t have to just keep moving the lights around. The goal is to be able to see the portrait you want to make, or still life or architectural shot, in your head. This will enable you to make choices about the light. It is important to know there isn’t one right light that will fit everyone, or even a few lighting set-ups that will work in any situation. Lighting is not something you can set your camera to do automatically. Lighting requires you to take control and create the right situation for your subject.


Strobes create light by passing a spark though a tube filled with xenon gas. Both a dedicated on camera flash (say a Nikon SB900 or a Canon 580II EX) and a mono-light like an Alien Bee (http://www.paulcbuff.com/b1600.php) create light in exactly the same way. A dedicated unit (SB900, 580II EX) is better for work where you travel or cover events, like weddings. It is much lighter and will mount on the camera. It will expose automatically, but of course automatic light often looks bad, even when it is properly exposed. Mono-lights, or studio strobes will work all day without running out of batteries or taking longer to recycle because they run off AC power. They often have more power and better light modifiers. They are much better for studio work, and can be better for many location jobs.


The images I put into the lighting discussion are all strobe images. I’m aware that I use some images repeatedly in this blog. I am building a new portrait portfolio so I should have more shots where I can find them for the blog.


Please consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

September 25, 2012

Project Begins!

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.


I did my first shoot for the project I discussed in the last blog entry. These are the images I used in this entry. Of course these don’t really look like prints, they look like the way you balanced your screen. My working title is Interiors. This shoot went well, there are, however, some defects in some negatives. I did the shoot at the Indiana Historical Society. They were very accommodating about my large camera and tripod. Many of the people in the building seemed to assume that I was one of the displays. There was more light inside the building than I had expected so the exposures were a little shorter than I expected; ranging from 1 to 12 seconds. I shot at f32 or f45 and used my two Dagors; the 8.25 inch and the 14 inch I discussed in the last blog. When you use a larger image area you need a longer lens to create the same field of view. So a 12 inch (300 mm) lens on an 8X10 camera sees like a 50 mm (2 inch) lens on my full frame Nikon D800. When you use longer lenses and a larger capture area you also need to stop the lens down further to get the same depth of field. A 12 inch lens will need to be stopped down to f64 to get the same depth of field as a 50mm lens at f16. Of course this means the shutter will be open eight times as long.

I have to work out shutter issues on some lenses before I can use them in the field. When you use long exposures you don’t need a very sophisticated shutter, in fact a lens cap will do! The problem with a lens cap is that you may shake the camera when you remove it. I have used Packard shutters, which are air driven, in the studio. These work especially well with strobes, but I’m not sure I can mount them on the camera in the field. My Dagors are both mounted in leaf shutters.

I have been using a recipe for developing the film I got from The Darkroom Cookbook, Third Edition. I used a recipe for a divided developer: D-23. The developing agents are separate from the accelerators. There are several reasons that this is advantageous for this project: one is that I can process several types of film in the same way. As I may change films, or use older film, this will help me get printable negatives. I had processing problem with the second sheet of film I shot at the Indiana Historical Society. I think I contaminated my developer. You can see streaking in one of the images I’ve attached to this blog.

As I suggested at the top of this entry, the images I’ve attached aren’t really my goal. I will be contact printing these negatives onto watercolor paper using the Van Dyke process. This is the next step in this project. I may consider other processes, like Cyanotype or Kallitype, but I hope that Van Dykes will work out. More as the project evolves.

 

September 10, 2012

Shooting Large Spaces

Filed under: Film Technique,Large Format Photography,Photography Communication — John Siskin @ 9:35 am

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio, Getting Started in Commercial Photography If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

This is an image I made with the Toyo on the 4X10 format. The original has a great level of detail. I made a couple of prints that were more than 6 feet wide.

Most of the time I try to make photographs. That means individual images that I create in whatever way is appropriate or available for that particular image. If I am shooting with my fish eye camera or my super-wide camera I am going to make images that have a particular view of the world. If I shoot with my new digital camera I can make images with a very extensive pallet because that camera is such a flexible tool. It is also possible to create a series of images that have an internal constancy because they are made in a similar way with a set of basic rules. It isn’t better to make a group of images in this way, but it is an interesting way to approach photography. I have made a couple of portfolios in this way, and I found the work and the results very rewarding.

This is a cyanotype print. I made the sensitive emulsion for the image and coated it onto paper. While the cyanotype is blue the Van Dyke print is dark brown or black.

 

I have decided to do a project that is a little more challenging in this manner. I am going to shoot large format images of public spaces here in Indiana. I will be shooting auditoriums, halls and religious sanctuaries. I may include such places as hotel lobbies or malls. I have seen many photographers shoot the remains of great buildings, but I think it will be interesting to shoot buildings that are in use. I want to shoot these places with my 8X10 Toyo Field Camera, which is a fantastic tool for architectural subjects. The biggest reason for using the 8X10 Toyo is that I can create alternate process prints with the large negatives. I have done considerable work with cyanotype images in the past, but in this case I expect to make Van Dyke prints. I will also be able to scan the images so that I can make very large prints from the same negatives.

This is a shot of a public space that I like very much. I hope to work with more images like this one.

 

Although I expect to shoot with the 8X10 camera I will probably actually make 4X10 inch negatives. The more panoramic format is well suited to the project and I can make two images on each piece of film. The 8X10 film is quite expensive, about $4.00 a sheet. I’ve decided to start the project shooting HP5 Plus from Ilford. I like the high ISO, 400 and the film has good detail. I considered Kodak T-Max, but it is much more expensive; also I do not know how long Kodak will continue to supply large format film.

This shot was made on my super-wide camera. It makes great images but isn't good for very large scans or alternative process prints.

 

In this blog entry I have picked images that are related to this new project either by subject or by methodology or both. The captions will give you information about the relationship between the image and the project.

Made with my super-wide camera. I am interested in how people interact with a public space.

One of the great pleasures of shooting a large format camera is the lenses. Both Nikon and Canon make very fine lenses for their digital cameras, but there is a more individual characteristic to large format lenses. Just the names: Dagor, Angulon and G-Claron conjure up a certain magic. I will start with a 165mm Angulon, which is extremely wide for the 8X10 format. I will also use an 8.25 inch Gold Barrel Dagor and a 14 inch Gold Dot Dagor, for my first shoots. I also have a 270 wide angle G-Claron and a 480mm Dogmar which might be used later in the project. I did some earlier work with home made large format lenses, which was quite successful. I may use these lenses as the project develops.

There are wonderful opportunities to shoot in public spaces.

 

If you are interested in large format lenses I am going to sell one that you might want: a 360 f5.6 Schneider Symmar. Please send me an e-mail if you are interested. I will probably put the lens on eBay soon. This is a fascinating convertible lens that is very fast. This is the link to the auction at eBay.

July 14, 2012

I’m Showing in Indianapolis!


I had an opportunity to show a few images at a local coffer house, Lazy Daze, drop into my lap. If you’re in Indiana I hope you’ll check it out: the address is 10 S. Johnson Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46219.  The images on display are 16X20 inches, so these on line images aren’t really as effective, but at least you can see them. The text is the artist’s statement I included with the show. The images are on sale for $275. If you’d like to buy one I’ll get it to you for that price, plus shipping, after the show. All prints are silver gelatin, and are hand made by me.

Time and Shadow

Photography is an art form that is evolving. William Henry Fox Talbot realized that photography would become a means of communication when he created his first images back in the late 1830s. He used his camera to record household goods as buildings people and plants. When he published Pencil of Nature starting in 1844 he presented many of the ways the world would use photographs up to the present time. In the beginning photography was extraordinarily difficult to do. Exposures were long, so cameras had to be supported by a tripod. The chemical processes were almost as arcane as a witch’s brew, and sometimes more dangerous. It’s very important to remember that the photographs a person takes are always constrained by the limitations of the medium: the photographs a person could take.

The photographs I present here are from a certain time in photography. I used large cameras at this time to increase detail and reduce grain. I made prints by hand in a darkroom. I watched each of these images develop on a white sheet of paper under a safelight. It was a good time.

One of the most significant differences between working in this fashion and working with a digital camera is that each image you captured involved certain costs of time and material, so I would choose an image much more carefully. Now I more often shoot everything and edit, which is a very effective way to work with a digital camera. One more time the change in the technology of making pictures has changed the way we take pictures.

I hope these images will share not just how I see, but also some of the magic of making an image. These images were made with 4X5 film cameras. They were printed by hand with an enlarger in a darkroom. I enjoyed this way of fixing my vision onto paper. I hope you will find some joy in these images as well.

John Siskin

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio
Getting Started in Commercial Photography
If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

May 31, 2012

More Big Camera Notes

I wrote this for the person who just bought a 8X10 camera from me. I actually know a few people who are working in large format again, so I thought I would post a few notes. I’m going to be shooting people blowing hot glass tomorrow; I’m pretty excited about that. I’m including a few images I made with big cameras.

A photograph is a two dimensional illusion of a three dimensional reality. It has limitations primarily that movement of the viewer’s eye doesn’t change the scene and the amount of detail captured and displayed. The amount of detail can be changed of course, but it is not always as easy as just increasing the size of a capture. There are three primary considerations: depth of field, resolution and capture. Resolution is thought of as sharpness, but the human eye will interpret a contrasty image of lower resolution as sharper than a low contrast image with high resolution. Arthur Cox’s book Photographic Optics shows a good example of this. There are limitations to how much you can adjust sharpness in post-production, but depending on the image, you can increase contrast until there are just two tones: black and white with no intermediate grays.

Lens resolution: Lenses are optimized for different size capture. A lens optimized for a smaller capture has a greater potential resolution then a lens designed for large format work. Fixed focal length lenses have fewer air to glass surfaces, and fewer elements, and so are sharper than zoom lenses. So a 50mm lens designed for a 24mmX36mm (full frame 35mm film area) is sharper than a 150 mm lens designed to be used with 4X5 inch film. The number of air to glass surfaces is not the only indicator of sharpness, and perhaps not the best one. Many lenses with 6 elements are sharper than 4 element lenses, but a zoom with 10 elements that move in different groups is always lower in sharpness than the best fixed focal length lenses. Resolution refers to the ability to separate fine details. A lens that can delineate the details of a feather has high resolution.

Depth of field: Many people interpret this as synonymous with sharpness, but in fact that is wrong. A lens will resolve better somewhere between one and three stops from wide open, then it will at the minimum aperture. Once again resolution is the ability to separate detail. As the lens approaches minimum aperture the diaphragm begins to diffract light, which reduces resolution. So while f64 may keep a lot of stuff in focus it doesn’t produce maximum sharpness. There are computer programs that are able to take several captures and combine them to obtain maximum sharpness and extended depth of field. Also, a larger capture area requires a smaller aperture to obtain the same depth of field.  A 150mm lens on a 4X5 camera is in focus from 32 feet to infinity at f8, a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera is in focus from about 6 feet to infinity at the same aperture.

Capture resolution: This is where a large format camera can make up for it’s other challenges. Film’s actual resolution is a factor of how it is manufactured, so a bigger piece of film has more resolution than a smaller piece of film, just because there is more film. A 35mm frame is 1.5 square inches, while a 4X5 piece of film is 20 square inches, more than 13 times bigger. This relationship is different with digital, more total pixels generally means a higher resolution capture. However I have seen some information that suggests more pixels on a larger capture area can be sharper than the same number of pixels in a smaller area.

As I suggested above you can increase apparent sharpness by increasing contrast, but there are limits. Many times increased contrast just doesn’t look good.

Notes for focus and exposure with large format cameras: Many lenses need to be refocused after you stop them down to the shooting aperture. This can be difficult because the image is so dark on the ground glass. This is particularly true of wide-angle lenses. Also wide-angle lenses are much sharper if focused at the hyper focal distance when stopped down rather than infinity. This means extending the bellows just a little. Put another way: if you have a 65mm lens on a 4X5 camera and you want to focus at infinity with an aperture of f11, you can focus the lens at infinity, but the image will be sharper if you focus at 8 feet from the lens. This is the mid point for your depth of field at that aperture. Total depth of field would be 3 feet to infinity at f11.

Another problem with large format wide-angle lenses is cosign 4 failure. The focal length is approximately the distance from the diaphragm of the lens to the film, when the lens is focused at infinity. As you can figure out for yourself the distance from the diaphragm to the corner of the frame is considerably greater on a wide-angle lens. This means that the light isn’t even across the frame on a wide-angle lens. There are filters that can correct this for you, and I am sure you could also correct for it in Photoshop.

One advantage of a large format camera is that you can selectively focus. This is similar to what you can do with a Lens Baby: shift the plane of the lens so that the focus follows the image or so that focus goes against the image. With large format shooting, where depth of field can be a challenge, this feature is very important.
Thanks for paying attention the blog. I’ll be back soon. Here are the usual reminders.
Please check out my books and classes:

Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

Thanks, John

 

May 23, 2012

Back to the Big Camera

Filed under: Large Format Photography,Marketing — John Siskin @ 7:34 am

I’ve been giving a lot of attention to my new page at facebook: facebook.com/JohnSiskinPhotographer. I’ve added more than a dozen albums filled with images from my article and book projects. I hope you will check out some of this. In addition I have started tweeting; frankly I don’t know how I feel about this pastime yet. So, with all of this, I seem to have neglected the blog. I’m back.

I’ve tried for a while now to get back into shooting 8X10 inch film. I used to really enjoy this. It is extremely challenging, but when you do it just right the results are sublime. I’m not going to attach any images made with the 8X10 camera to this blog, because you might get the idea that a print of a large format image looks like what you see on your screen. It doesn’t, it’s much better. Film is essentially an information storage medium, as is digital. A large piece of film stores information in a more continuous way than a small negative or digital capture. In addition there is a quirkiness to the way large format lenses represent the world. Every current Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens sees in the same way. There were many different large format lenses, and even two of the same brand and design didn’t always see the same way. I mention all this because I recently acquired one of the most marvelous large format lenses ever built: a 14 inch Gold Dot Dagor, built by Kern in Switzerland for Schneider Corporation of America. The lens is the last generation of the famous Dagors, first designed in the 19th century. Let me tell you folks there is a lot of history here and a wealth of fabulous images. Anyway the lens is inspiring me to set up the equipment to develop sheet film. I’m sure I’ll be writing about this in future blog posts.

I’ve added pictures that I made with lenses I assembled. For more about this please check the article I did for view camera. These lenses inspired me to see differently.

One more thing I want to say about the difference between shooting a big camera and a digital camera. When you shoot digital you try to make a good capture and then you have almost infinite opportunity to interpret that capture in post-production. If you shoot film for a traditional print, say a silver gelatin print, you have too make decisions about the final image when you shoot. You can’t, for instance, change the color of the filter you use to make black and white image when you print the image, you can only do it when you shoot. This means you need to think more about the final image when you shoot, not just when you edit. I don’t think this is better or worse, but it is different.

Thanks for paying attention the blog. I’ll be back soon. Here are the usual reminders.
Please check out my books and classes:

Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Thanks, John

Getting Started in Commercial Photography

Thanks, John

 

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