Tag Archives: Large Format

Autumn landscape in Lake O’Hara – Large format slide film

Another photo from film, but this time is 4×5 color slide. This image was taken at my last autumn trip. When I visisted lake O’Hara, peak of larch trees was a little passed. But I still got some good… actually, some great shots. I will post them in future posts. For this post, I respect the media so I kept the digital processing minimum and only global adjustments were applied. It is nature of slide film. I heard large format sizes of Fuji Velvia had been discountinued in Europe. I hope the supply of the such a legendary film will last longer in Canada.

 Lake McArthur area in Autumn  by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
Lake McArthur area in Autumn by Hiroaki Kobayashi

More large format stuff here:

 

Evening with Large Format Cameras (2)

As I mentioned in my last blog, I would like to showcase Janice’s and my photo from the large format photo outing in May.  Although, for the location, we considered Big Hill Spring Park and Glenbow Ranche Provincial Park, we chose the Cochrane Ranche Historic site, which may be a least attractive location for photographing. The Glenbow Ranche park is usually windy and it may be hard to use large format cameras with bellows even though we could expect more attractive landscapes due to some iconic spots and open sky. The Big Hill Spring Park has many small waterfalls along with a trail. It must be great and maybe easier location for nature photography.  On the other hand,  Cochrane Ranche Historic site is located in the town of Cochrane.  If I wanted to include sky, houses came into a frame. The park does not have iconic spots or “keywords” like waterfalls.

I think Sam chose the difficult location since it is a truly good practice to create images in any situations and stimulate eyes. Furthermore, the cameras we used were 4×5 large format cameras, which requires expensive film and many adjustments before pressing a shutter-release. You can imagine how challenging it is. We have to really slow down and observe situation. I think this type of the practice is a good way to develop own styles, rather than just a being a technically good photographer.

I think of two abilities which photographer should pay attention at a scene (besides finding good subjects). The first one is reading lights. The second one would be knowing perspective of the lenses, which is related to composition. One good thing about large format cameras is we cannot use zoom lenses. Through my experience, prime lenses help us to understand how perspective works in composition. Also we have to compose and adjust bellows with an up-side-down image projected to a screen. This really force me to slow down and compose more carefully.

So first image is Janice’s image, which her very first experience of 4×5.

By the way only brightness has been adjusted and sharpening was applied to all the images since scanned images are usually degraded from originals. Some people may think the sky is overexposed, actually, she requested pushing 1 stop therefore the overall image is lit perfectly. Moreover, it is her own tone and her style. When analyzing photos by master-photographer’s from film age, I am sometimes impressed by their ability to CONTROL exposure. They selectively allow whiteout or blackout. You know they did not have histogram or screen at that time.

 

This is my image. I think I found a good subject and the light was so dramatic. But this image needs more proper cropping.

The last one is mine as well. I wanted to try something with the tree trunks, which seemed to have a lot of potentials. However, the sun quickly disappeared, and I lost the beautiful light. So I resorted to a gimmick which is the shallow depth of field in this case. Special effects are good if a final image is visualized in photographer’s mind. But I think this is just a rescue attempt to use up film for the day. I am afraid this is just interesting photo.

 

 

Evening with Large Format Cameras (1) – Work without compensation

I went out shooting with oopoomoo (Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett) and Janice Meyers Foreman in May. We chose Cohcrane Ranche Historic site as a location. The rule of the photography outing was using only film cameras, especially large format or medium format cameras. Sam, Janice and I brought 4 by 5 large format cameras and Darwin shot with his Lenny, Linhof Technorama, which is medium format panorama camera. I think 6 frames can be shot with this camera. Actually Janice was large-format-camera virgin before this outing. Digital is convenient; we can take as many frames we want, and we can check results instantly. But I still use my 4 by 5 camera occasionally for some reasons, especially I like the “rituals” I have to follow by the time I release a shutter. Let me show you how Janice handled the rituals for her first time.

Shooting with 4×5 camera starts from assembling a camera. A steady tripod is essential. Janice’s tripod is like machine-gun stand.

Composing and focusing are usually done under dark-cloth. Photographers have to compose with the image projected on ground glass (upside down) and focus with a loupe.  You can easily imagine how difficult to compose an upside down image. One reason I still use a large format camera is I can utilize various bellows (or tilt and shift) techniques. I am sure some readers know about Canon TS lenses or Nikon PC lenses. Large format cameras are perfect tool to get the same effect since the primitive large format cameras allow more free movements of not only lens side but also film side. Please take a look my previuos post Panorama by 4×5 camera. Having said that, I guess tilt –shift lens for DSLR would be more practical in the digital age. I would recommend Darwin’s eBook “Tilt-Shift Lens” if you would like to know about the bellows techniques.

Now she is setting aperture and shutter speed after measuring exposure by a “lightmeter”. obviously, Ansel Adams did not know TTL or aperture priority. Then close the shutter.

Sheet film is kept in a film holder which is tightly shielded to prevent the film from exposing to light. She is inserting the film holder to film board of the camera. One advantage of the large format camera is you can choose any types of film at each shot. Janice tried Polaroid as a test shot.

Now remove a lid from the film holder. Now ready to expose the film.

Now she is releasing shutter. I use the lid of the film holder to make shade on the lens while exposing film. It works as lens hood.

Reinserting the lid to the film holder. The test shot is done.

While she was waiting for the Polaroid to be developed, she was snapping with her 5D Mk II. Hey, it was supposed to be film evening!

She was happy with result of the test shot. Now she is trying slide film. I did not capturing perfect moment but she was covering the lens with the lid and blocking direct sun light to the lens.

After 1 hour of struggle, her first 4×5 shot was done. 1 hour seems long but even I spend usually 15-20 min for one shot. So it is not so bad for the first time. It requires a lot of practices for sure. However, I actually like the primitive manner of the large format cameras. I don’t have to read a half-inch thick manual and memorize all functions. I do not have to worry about a compensation for auto functions.

Well, the sun quickly disappeared and I could take a couple of shots for that evening. I will post Janice’s and my results in the next blog post. Lastly, here is group shot at the end of the evening.

Panorama by 4×5 camera

For nearly one and half years, I have been scanning my film taken from about 20 years ago to current chronologically, and now 4×5 film came to point of my college years in Kamloops about 9 years ago. I tried panoramic  photography by my large format camera which allows perfect overlapping of 2 images. Here is how it works.

Since primitive design of the large format camera, its front board shift both orizontally and virtually (like a slide door).  With my camera, the amounts of the vertical movement is larger than horizontal one.

So I set up my camera vertically on the tripod, therefore, I could get wider panoramic images. Shift the front board to one side and take a shot.

Then shift the front board to the other side. Since a lens is mounted off center on the lens board, I flip the lens board to get more shift from previous position. And then take another one.

Finally, I merged them with Photoshop CS5. I do not think this photo does not meet my current quality standard. This is just youthful impetuosity.

So am I going to use this technique to obtain panoramic photography? Most likely, not because I own a panorama head now and prices of film have been doubled since 10 years ago. Obviously, Nikon PC lenses or Canon TS lenses are more practical in the digital age. However, if you are interested in large format cameras and taking full advantage of the bellows techniques, I think now is the time. You can find unbelievably cheap ones on eBay. That is another sad reality, though.

A Socky Sock – Worth it!

Spring has come and I revisited my favorite location in Kananaskis, Alberta on the Easter weekend. The lake was still covered with snow, and it was too early to take picture of the icy lake. One morning after shooting sunrise, I found a little pool, which was covered by ice and snow. But nice blue colored water already appeared on the center of the pool. I tried some different compositions. And eventually I found very interesting composition.

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21mm lens. HDR processed with Photomatix. But still natural feel, I think.

But I knew the mountains turned orange around sun rise time. So question is…if the mountain in this image is orange sunrise one…it must be really cool shot. I grabbed my 4×5 field view camera and rehearse setting up for the shooting next morning. By the way, for who are not familiar with view camera, setting up a view camera takes usually over 20min since it allows many different adjustments by bellows technique. (Imagine the vertical and horizontal perspective control in Photoshop, plus depth of field, you can control these things with a view camera. Don’t you think it is cool?) It worth checking set up before big shooting. I left tripod mark like male dogs do; now go back to my car, have breakfast, call to youth hostel to extend stay, and take a morning nap.

Next day, I was so excited while driving in dawn; I was, however, so shocked when I arrived at the pool. It was supposed to go down to -5C at night-time so I thought it was fine in the morning. But ice was melted over night and the pool became much bigger. No way I could achieve the composition I wanted. Anyway, I set up my tripod and 4×5 in the pool as far as I could manipulate the camera. I was struggling with the situation; the sky was getting brighter. Then suddenly, I noticed my foot was in sherbet water. Actually, Ice could not hold my weight and cracked. I could save my camera from being dropped in the pool, but I had to run to my car and got to look for a sock and spare shoes. While I was changing, I saw the mountain reflecting beautiful orange sun light. No time to tie shoelaces; just ran back to my camera quickly. I got to set up the camera again. Somehow, I could manage one image from my 4X5 view camera but missed the fun bellows technique part. Damn!

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Woodman 4×5, Fuji 90mm, Velvia 100F scanned with Epson 750v scanner.  BTW I miss Kodak E100VS.

Well, I could not get the perfect image I expected. Is it really that bad? It may be true that Goddess did not smile at my shooting but I could feel that spring was truly coming. I had just witnessed small changes the mother of nature creates every day. That is why I go back to mountains. It is a real pleasure of the nature photography, isn’t it? Also, I got a good excuse to go back to this place next year, my favorite and secret place.

If you want to know about field view camera, here is another blog post by Samantha Chrysanthou. This is fun to read.

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