Some Recent Thoughts on LF

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rbarker

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Ole said:
Mongo, you're in the wrong continent. Let me know when you come to visit, and I'll take you out to some of the greatest vertical panorama views in the world.

:D

I'd like to return to those lovely Norwegian vertical landscapes (I was there in the late '60s), but I can't a-fjord the trip. :wink:
 

Bob Carnie

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Hi Mongo
Actually its an enlarger and lens that I have, I am looking for suggestions for a camera to photograph portraits and still life with.
 

Mongo

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Bob Carnie said:
Hi Mongo
Actually its an enlarger and lens that I have, I am looking for suggestions for a camera to photograph portraits and still life with.
My apologies for mis-reading your post. Unfortunately I have no experience with 11x14 cameras, so I can't help you there.
 

Peter Schrager

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Bob-probably the best lightweight out there is a canham if it is anything like the 8x10 I had. And Mr. Canham is a gentleman par excellance; he really will go out of his way to fix something if it breaks.
John and Mongo-I recently had the chance to meet Micheal and Paula here in Ct. Having been skeptical about the values of the methodlogy used by these two I was pretty much knocked off my feet to see the prints in person. Here are two people who use the format to their advantage. I'm pretty sure Michael has been using ULF for over thirty years now. It shows in his involvement with the work. Truly the exception. Most work in these formats have been studio guys.Alot of it is STATIC;ie photos made under controled conditions. Even EW's prints are mostly setups;backyard,Pt. Lobos- that he used VERY locally in California;with exceptional light. How much traveling was involved in the making of Pepper #30? It was the image that counted. EW could probably made it with a 35mm. He was that good because he reshot that damn pepper 30 times!!
If you read my thread I restated the value of the contact print. I am more than willing to try out a 7x17 camera and if someone like Mr. Chinn is going to make them maybe he would be kind enough to sponsor some workshops. Lee mentioned that he is showing up in Texas with one. Several years ago there was a Mammoth Camera Conference out west. Not sure if it is still continuing.
Has anyone here seen Art Sinsabaugh's prints? He had very good vision with a 12x20 camera and he did it back in the early seventies. I only saw his Chicago series but they were great.
There's always going to be visionaries who will tame the medium to their needs. And that is irregardless whether it's 35mm or 12x20.
This thread has been alot of fun-thanks
Regards Peter
 

Mongo

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peters said:
If you read my thread I restated the value of the contact print.

You'll get no arguments from me on this one. I have a big stack of 8x10 negatives and no 8x10 enlarger (yet)...all of my 8x10 prints are contact prints, and most of those are on Azo. Amazing stuff...simply amazing.
 

smieglitz

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Bob Carnie said:
Hi Mongo
Actually its an enlarger and lens that I have, I am looking for suggestions for a camera to photograph portraits and still life with.

If you don't worry about portability and field use then I would recommend a large studio camera. You might be able to pick up a studio Deardorff 11x14 or Folmer model fairly cheap on eBay since most in the market are looking for field cameras to do landscapes and as a result, portability and weight become overriding factors.

I settled on an 11x14 Burke & James which is huge but does afford some field capability. (It's portable enough to haul maybe a half mile or so from the car but I wouldn't think of doing a longer trek with it. I've also built a special camera cart for these short hauls in the outdoors.) The reason I picked this camera has to do with its larger physical dimensions. I wanted to use old Verito (and other) portrait lenses that are big and heavy. The 18" lens (for which I have a 22 1/4" extension element) can only be mounted on lensboards 6" or larger. Since this old lens is in a bad studio shutter I decided to use a Packard shutter with it. The Packard with a large enough hole for the lens measures 8 1/2" square so the camera had to have 9" lensboards to accomodate the shutter (unless I front-mount it but then I'm still looking at a lot of weight being held by the front standard). Because of this requirement, I kept searching for a B&J and eventually acquired one. (I'm also building an 11x14 with longer extension, 52" worth, to use with the Verito and big Packard.) I wish the B&J had more extension but it is adequete for most lenses I have. In contrast, I have a lightweight & portable ROC 11x14 which is pretty useless to me having small lensboards and only about 16" extension. I also have a 24" RD Artar and a 28" brass lens that I want to use on the camera for portraits and still lifes.

So, for me and I think you too, a larger camera with large lensboards and extension out to the 36"-48" range fits the bill. Most landscape/backpacker photographer types are looking for relatively smaller and wider lenses, less extension and weight, and are generally apt to do horizontal rather than vertical compositions, so more modern camera designs (e.g., Wisner, Phillips, etc.) might work better for them, but not for us portrait types.

Think about the magnification and focal length you want to use for your work, the requisite extension needed for that focal length and the dimensions of the lensboards and shutters you'll need. An 18" lens is the normal focal length for the 11x14 format and so a longer lens in the 24" - 35" range might be nice for head & shoulder portraiture or narrow angle still lifes, but that will require bellows extensions generally in excess of 3 feet.

You'll also want a sturdy studio stand or industrial strength tripod to support all that weight and bulk. I've seen 11x14 studio Deardorffs with their 9' bipost studio stands go for $700 on eBay with the caveat that the camera and stand must be picked up in person since no one wants to ship, disassemble, or be left holding the stands.
 

Alex Hawley

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I'm starvin' for an 8x10 with all the fixin's. If any one has one, suffering from disuse and needing a loving home, go ahead and send it to me. I won't charge a thing.
 

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Seeing how fast some of you have jumped from 4x5 up into bigger sizes has got me biting my nails just a little.

I ordered my first 4x5 mid last week with an eye on having a camera system that I can grow with and use almost exclusivly for at least the next 5-10 years before even considering going bigger. I like to be as portable with my camera gear as possible, and in the forseeable future, anything bigger than 4x5 will just be too cumbersome in the field, where I do over 85% of my photography.

I'm eagerly looking forward to it arriving so I can start to play around with it. I just hope I can hold off the infamous 'bigger bug' for several years :tongue:
 

papagene

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$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is the limiting factor with my choice of format. Time is the second factor. I have to scrape and save just to get film for my 4x5, so larger sizes are financially out of the question. And with one daughter still at home, time to use my MF and 4x5 gear is limited.
And besides, I enjoy using and printing both of those formats. Finally, i agree with Peter where he says, "...but the holy grail remains in the IMAGE not in the process. Bigger is not always better."

gene
 
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photomc

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Thanks to all that have shared their thoughts..this has been as much fun as I had hoped the thread would be. Since, LF/ULF is as much a choice as any other format, I just wondered the how/when/why of others as the jump to larger formats.

Gene, you are correct in that $ is often the limiting factor. Even as I made the move from 4x5 to 5x7, the fact that 5x7 film is really quite close to 4x5 in price made a difference. And because I plan to contact print, and enlarger was not as much an issue...down the road that may change - or I may carry the 4x5 or MF as a backup for enlarging.

Now, hope some of the ULF shooters here will share some of their thoughts on the ULF vs the smaller LF (4x5, 5x7). And does 8x10 start ULF or is it the big guy on the LF scale? Hmmmmmmmm!!!!
 

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photomc said:
. . . does 8x10 start ULF or is it the big guy on the LF scale?

My guess is that most people would currently consider 8x10 as "merely" LF, with ULF being anything larger in at least one dimension. But, that might change over time. At one point, 4x5 was considered "medium format", I believe.
 

Ole

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Anything below 13x18cm (5x7") was considered "too small for important work" in one of my 1910 books!

I would call 8x10" RLF (Real Large Format), possibly include 5x7" there too. The old 24x30cm too - it isn't all that much larger. Above that, it's ULF.
 

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ChrisC said:
Seeing how fast some of you have jumped from 4x5 up into bigger sizes has got me biting my nails just a little.


I wouldn't worry about it. My 5x7 is also my 4x5. It lets me use my lenses in two ways. My normal 4x5 is a wide 5x7. My long 4x5 is my normal 5x7. When I want something to enlarge then the 4x5 is better. Or when I want colour I use the 4x5 or roll film.
 

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rbarker said:
My guess is that most people would currently consider 8x10 as "merely" LF, with ULF being anything larger in at least one dimension. But, that might change over time. At one point, 4x5 was considered "medium format", I believe.

I use the term ULF within the reference noted by Ralph, i.e. anything over 8X10. Some might consider that 7X11 and 5X12 are also ULF, with the logic that at least one dimension is more than 10", though in fact the actual image area of these cameras is actually less than that of an 8X10. But formats such as 11X14, 7X17, 14X17, 12X20, 18X22, 16X20 and 20X24 are clearly in the area of ultra large format.

Sandy
 

roteague

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I have to admit, I have never really thought about moving up to a larger format. I have no interest in contact printing - I still prefer shooting color - and while I like really large prints moving up a larger format for this purpose doesn't make economic sense, for me.
 

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Mongo said:
Peters said:
If you read my thread I restated the value of the contact print.
You'll get no arguments from me on this one.
Nor me. I did mention in my post, that if one could capture an image of subjects that are moving fairly quickly in lighting that is changing rapidly on 8x10 or ULF, I'd use it - probably constantly.
peters said:
John and Mongo-I recently had the chance to meet Micheal and Paula here in Ct. Having been skeptical about the values of the methodlogy used by these two I was pretty much knocked off my feet to see the prints in person. Here are two people who use the format to their advantage.
Personally, I do not feel qualified to comment on the value of Michael and Paula's work or methodology to photography in general. And certainly no one could question their dedication to the medium and particularly their chosen format.
As a fortunate owner of some of their work, I can make the comment that technically I have seen none better. However (there is an however), from what I would refer to as an 'artistic' point of view, it is not of the style of image I would choose to follow with my own work.

So hence the dilema (for me). As much as the technical quality of 8x10 format and larger is to be admired, I have yet to see work made on those formats that are 'dynamic' enough artistically for my own preference of subject/style.
Just my thoughts.
 

ChrisC

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Nick Zentena said:
I wouldn't worry about it. My 5x7 is also my 4x5. It lets me use my lenses in two ways. My normal 4x5 is a wide 5x7. My long 4x5 is my normal 5x7. When I want something to enlarge then the 4x5 is better. Or when I want colour I use the 4x5 or roll film.

I'm not too worried at the moment. I'm still only really just starting out, so even with my 4x5 I won't have the money free to be able to add a second lens for at least 9 months so long as I behave and don't spend too much. Film price is also another limiting factor in me trying to avoid moving up in formats from here. 4x5 here is about $2 a shot. Anything beyond that is above me for a long while to come.
 

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jdef said:
I have seen work done in 8x10 and larger that inspires me, but it's not the kind of work being done By Mike Smith, or most of his disciples. The LF work that most inspires me is that by Nicholas Nixon, Jock Sturges, Paolo Roversi, Richard Avedon, Judith Joy Ross, and a few others. The work by the artists noted above seems less technocentric than the Azo crowd, at least to me.

Jay

I am not sure who Michael Smith's disciples are, if he has any, so I can not say if their work is technocentric or not. However, Michael and Paula Chamlee are among the least technocentric photographers I know. People who have taken workshops at their place describe the facilities as very low tech. They develop all of their film by inspection and they also print almost by visual inspection rather than by time. Michael has never owned a densitometer and until recently I don't think he had ever used a step wedge either. He and Paula use very old cameras, classic rather than modern lenses, and the ABC Pyro developer they use has been around more than a century.

What I see in Michael and Paula's work is a very straight forward and sincere view of the word, combined with meticulous craftsmanship and a passion for one kind of paper that they sincerely believe to be the best available. They also work very hard at what they do and have given up a lot of creature comforts to pursue their art. I don't feel qualified to evaluate their work within the context of its historical importance but on the whole I find it compares favorably with that of the best artists working today in photography.

Sandy
 
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lee

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well said Sandy. I have learned or unlearned a lot from the both of them. we could learn a lot from the both of them. They found something that works and they have stuck to it. We should all be so lucky.

lee\c
 

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Hi

I worked for 35 year with MF and 35mm and for 15 years with 4x5 and since a year I moved to 8x10. But the 8x10 will be used in my studio or just out of the car.
For me with the todays films and lenses its not needed to go larger then 8x10. Just my opinion!
 

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lee said:
well said Sandy. I have learned or unlearned a lot from the both of them. we could learn a lot from the both of them. They found something that works and they have stuck to it. We should all be so lucky.

lee\c

Double what Lee said. Everytime I have talked with Michael, I have come away realizing something that I hadn't been aware of before. Two things have been priceless - (1) The confidence to continue pursuing this art, and (2) Understanding that there are no "rules" as many purport.

Disciples? No, not that I am aware of. Michael and Paula are genuinely nice people, on top of being fantastic photographers.
 

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Yes, I hope no-one interprets what I said to be a slight or criticism of the style work done by Mr Smith.

The reference to "the kind of work being done By Mike Smith, or most of his disciples" and "techno(i)centric ... Azo crowd" has rather negative connotations that don't sit well with me, Jay. But understand what you're saying.

I do believe that the depth and beauty of an ulf contact print is unrivalled. And given the possibility, I'd love to be able to use it for some of my own images. When I hear people say "use an appropriate format for the task", the first thing that runs through my mind is "unless you can get away with it". :smile:
 

Tom Duffy

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I completely agree with Sandy's evaluation of Michael's procedures. Technocentric he is not. He is much more a "don't underexpose, don't block the highlights and print through the negative until you get what you want" kind of guy. I took their workshop in 2000 and I think that Michael and Paula are two of the nicest people you'll ever want to meet. Michael is evangelistic about AZO and that's a good thing. Otherwise a unique and beautiful paper would already have been lost. (I wish we had had an Ektalure evangelist...) He is also the logical successor to Edward Weston, as John Sexton is to Ansel Adams, and that's a good thing. I also think that while there is not a "guru culture" on the AZO forum there is certainly a "cult of discipleship". But that's a big difference, really.

To get back on topic, my large format stuff is primarily with a 5x7 printed to 10x13 on 11x14 inch paper. I think the combination is just about perfect. I have 3 good lenses a 150, 300, and 600mm. The prints are sharp enough for my purposes and depth of field is not nearly the problem that it is with 8x10. I've shot extensively with 8x10 and it never really clicked with me. 8x10 as a print size is too small for me and I don't have an 8x10 enlarger. Finally, I like the ability to crop that an enlarger provides me, including the ability to make a fairly large panoramic print if that's what suits the subject. This means a lot of freedom in the darkroom, rather than having to get it exactly right in the camera, everytime. In this world of post 9/11 restrictions and property rights, less trustful people, private security guards everywhere getting it right in the camera isn't as easy as it used to be.
Take care,
Tom
 
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