Large Format course, March 2013

March 8, 2013

Large Format is a two session course I teach at the ACP (Australian Centre for Photography) at Paddington. It’s intended to demystify large format photography for fine art photographers. We discuss the aspects which large format has in common with other formats as well as how it differs. I bring a 4×5 and 8×10 camera plus a range of lenses and the students get opportunities to load film and make exposures of architecture, still life and portraiture. I process the film after the course and make a report here with scans and descriptions for the students to review the topics.

fpc45 driveway 100mm blog

In the first 3 hour class, after looking at the cameras we loaded some film and went outside to photograph a building. Above is a Fuji instant FPC100 proof from a Crown Graphic with a 100mm Wide Field Ektar lens. The exposure was f/32 at 1/10. The Crown Graphic is a very good camera but it’s main weakness for me is the limited range of movements (basically front rise) and the lack of movements when the camera is used in vertical orientation. Below is the same basic set-up shot with a Deardorff 8×10 using some front rise. As well as a good range of front and rear movements, the Deardorff is easy to switch from horizontal to vertical orientation of the film.

largeformat driveway pigeon blog

In week two we look at still life and portraiture. Exposure compensation for bellows extension is emphasised. Below are a few attempts at organising an interesting still life. I generally like to shoot found still lifes rather than setting them up, so it always feels a bit odd to try and put some objects together, hence I think it’s interesting to show it going from being cluttered and ugly to a scene that has some potential.

fpc45 still life test A blog

fpc45 still life test B blog

fpc45 still life final blog

Above was the final arrangement, made with Fuji 45 instant and the Crown Graphic with Kodak Ektar 203mm lens at f/32 and one stop extra exposure to compensate for bellows extension from 203 to 280mm. Below is that scene exposed onto HP5 and processed in Xtol 1:1 for 12 minutes. I had a back-up exposure that received one stop more light than the first sheet, and I processed this for 15 minutes to create a dense neg for cyanotype and salt printing.

largeformat still life glass blog

Finally we look at portraiture with the 8×10 camera. The first two were made with a 360mm Apo Ronar lens borrowed from a friend. As well as considering bellows extension we also pay attention to the framing, as well as posing and communicating with the subject, considering we are only going to expose one sheet of film for each person. The two below were f/11 with the 360mm allowing one stop extra for close focus.

largeformat claire blog

largeformat tex blog

My apologies to Tex for what happened to the sheet above. I was horrified when I removed it from the wash and saw these marks, which are clear film on the negative. Later I realised that I mustn’t have washed the tank thoroughly after processing the previous sheet. I use a Jobo drum that rolls in the sink, and the chemistry is poured in to a cup in the top that then spreads the solution to the inside of the tank. Obviously I didn’t wash that lid/cup area and there was still some fix in it and when I loaded the new sheet of film and put the lid on, fix ran down over the film and cleared it while I spent several minutes preparing the developer. At least I understood what went wrong and know what to do in future – make sure the tank and lid are thoroughly washed in hot water after processing. I also have to apologise to Tex because he showed me a cassette Walkman that could have been used in the still life, except I completely forgot about it until the class was over. That might have been the missing item that made it work.

largeformat jessica tilt blog

Above is a portrait of Jessica made with the 240mm lens at f/5.6 using front tilt. Not something I generally do but it worked well here. All the 8×10 film was Ilford HP5, rated at 400 and processed by rolling in the Jobo tank with Rodinal 1+50 for 8 minutes. Thanks to the students in this group – I enjoyed teaching the course.

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2 Responses to “Large Format course, March 2013”

  1. Mike Buick Says:

    The offending line on Tex’s neck makes a nice leading line up his neck to his ear!


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