Monday, October 17, 2011

The Case for Film in the 1st Century, Part IV

In my third installment in this series, I discussed the work-flow involved with Large Format (LF) photography. In this last installment, I'll talk about the LF mindset, and how LF work is fundamentally different from modern digital photography.

The entire process of making LF images really makes you think about the entire image. Light, shadow, contrast, composition, depth of field choices, focal point, image flow, and whether to produce the image in color or black and white. Since you tend to carry a lot of equipment around, I find myself doing a lot of scouting before I actually show up with a camera. Sometimes an image needs a certain time of day to allow the light to move into the right direction. My preferred scouting camera is an iPhone, and I use an app called Viewfinder Pro for visualizing what lens would work out best. I can relate many times when I came up upon a scene in the afternoon, and realized the light would be perfect in the morning. 

LF photography tends to be very contemplative, and it's this slower pace that I really prefer. Like an artist takes time to prepare his canvas for paint, I scout areas for images. Because of this slower pace, and the time involved in getting the image right, most LF photographers can relate in-depth stories about each photo, and how they came about. A good friend of mine is Rob Moorman of Moorman Photographics. Rod has a beautiful color image in the LF Show at Davidson Fine Arts. The image is a river scene, with overhanging trees, and a canoe. The mist is in the air and it feels almost magical. The print is on the order of four feet wide, and is one of the fan favorites in the show. Rob told me he was on a retreat on the river with some friends, woke up early and decided to grab his camera and see what developed (pun intended). Jose Suro has a print in the same show that required nearly six minutes of exposure which completely blurred the water yet maintained amazing image clarity of the wood and metal in the foreground.

 I'll be the first to say that LF isn't for everyone. The process is much more time intensive than momdern digital, and takes time to perfect. But you gain the ability to print and display very large images. And even though printed large, normally don't show grain or the pixelation that comes from enlarging digital images to those sizes.

I have a "Meetup Group" that meets from time to time at my office in St Petersburg Florida. We call ourselves Suncoast Medium and Large Format Photography. My goal in creating the group was to try to keep film alive, and to help people learn more about photography. Please feel free to join the Meetup Group (always free), and keep an eye open for meetings.

George Goodroe,

[This is the final installment of the LF series. A special note of thanks to George Goodroe for the illuminating guest blogs on Large Format photography]

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