After a long time, I took my large format camera for a few shots. I managed to make about 10 images during the past two weeks. Now, 10 images on a digital DSLR maybe a couple of seconds in burst mode, but with large format is a whole project !
My Sinar Norma 4×5 is a wonderful monorail camera, built like a tank and quite small and lightweight for a monorail camera. The problems with a monorail like this on the field, is not size and weight, it’s the awkward shape which prevents you from packing it with lenses and holders on a large camera bag, unless you dismantle it, which is something I enjoy. So, I have it set up in my car and will carry it on the tripod for a very short distance. It has all the movements you may ever need, but for someone who does not do architecture, macro or anything else sophisticated, I believe a field view camera is a better choice. The good thing about monorails is that they are dirt cheap to find, much cheaper than a field camera.
I mostly shot Kodak TMAX 100 and Ilford Delta 100 for landscape work, but I would not hesitate using the Ilford HP5 for landscapes, in cases when the light needs a faster film to keep a decent shutter speed (f/22 and f/32 are the apertures I use more, so there are times when I need a faster film to prevent blur from moving leafs, for example.)
Working with a large format really slows down your pace. There are so many parameters to deal with, and even the slightest mistake could ruin the image. So, you are practically making an image, and the whole process from loading the holder, operating the camera, developing and scanning the sheets is what makes large format so exciting. And of course, the huge negative gives you plenty of resolution for huge prints and a wonderful tonality.
Being able to use movements gives you many choices when shooting large format. You can tilt, swing, shift, use rise and fall, all these movements give you full control of things like Depth of Field, focus, perspective etc. I don’t usually use many of those, since my primary subject is landscapes, but for those times I needed them , they were very useful.
One thing that is very difficult to appreciate on a monitor is the look of large format.The tonality and sharpness, and the ability to print at very large sizes. I believe you can’t really appreciate a 4×5″ photo until you see it printed, this is where this format shines.
Overall, it was a very pleasant experience to shoot large format after a long time, and I am planning on making some images with Fuji Velvia this month, you can’t beat the look of a 4×5 slide sheet on a lightbox !
All images below are shot with Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6 and Ilford HP5 film.
©2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.