Photo Notes A place to talk about making images.

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 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.

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