Large Format Update

I knew it’d be difficult to keep things updated here when school really got going, but I didn’t expect to fall down so far, so fast.

Large Format class is interesting, and now I wish I’d taken it on its own rather than along with Projects. I am much more involved with Projects, and I feel like I’m not quite getting large format. However, now that I have a better idea of where my Project is going (saving that for another missive) I feel like I can take more time with this fascinating method of making photographs.

The level of control you have with a large format camera is nothing short of stupendous. Depending on what kind of camera you’re using, you can adjust perspective, adjust the plane of focus, do macros, have incredible detail. However, in order to get all of these benefits, you have to be patient. Setting the camera takes time, especially for someone who is learning how to do it. I’ve made maybe 20 exposures overall, and a few more setups without even loading film.

The only advantage I might have over some of my classmates is that I already have a habit (from years of practice with lighting tabletop subjects) of taking my time with images. It doesn’t help wanting to see the result right away though. 😏

For instance, on our recent trip I made this exposure, but couldn’t see what it looked like until the following class period.

Black and white landscape featuring grasses and dramatic clouds. A lone tree stands to the left.

Au Gres

Since our instructor is a pretty modern fellow, we are not required to print everything in the darkroom — scanning and digital editing is allowed and even encouraged. This means I can scan the negative, fix up a few processing flaws, and prepare it for inkjet printing. With the detail available between the film and the scan, I could easily print this 24" × 30" if I had access to a printer that size.

We are also encouraged to interpret the assignments for our own personalities. Therefore, a landscape doesn’t have to be the wide expanse of sky and grass as above, but could be as simple as a tree.

Insect trails scar a tree trunk

Bored Ash

Looking up along the trunk of a heavily branched tree with white and gray bark


Unfortunately, the Ash tree isn’t in focus. This was my second attempt with it — the first time I incorrectly processed the film. So I set it aside and photographed a tree in my neighborhood.

The class is a survey of the basic types of photography one does with large cameras — portrait, landscape, architecture, and macro. I photographed two different university Art Museums for my architecture assignment, but I’m not exactly happy with either. One is really too close (I had borrowed the wrong lens for the week) and the other doesn’t have the correct perspective. Next time all the stars align and I can photograph either one…

Geometric forms in metal, with the shadow of a tree and a small bit of grass in the foreground.

The Broad East

A large metal sculpture stands in front of a nearly blank wall. The wall has a grid pattern, and the shadow of a connecting older building.

UMMA Entrance

… otherwise I need to find another structure to photograph.

This past week I’ve been doing macro images, which is probably my favorite type of photography. I’ll know after the next class period how I did!