Large Format Adventure Begins

After a stuttering start, I’m relaunching my large format career. My excuses are moving house last year and lots of decorating, so they will have to do.

My backpack is all ready with my Chamonix 045F1 packed away and I’m ready to go, along with my new very light (compared to previous ones) Manfrotto 055CXPro tripod and 410 Junior Geared head. I’ve had my Pentax Spotmeter for many years from medium format film days and so I need to get back in the groove regarding selecting zones and where I want details in the shadows etc rather than let my digital camera sort me out. A bit daunting but rather exciting to be taking control of the exposure process again. Way back, I digested the Zone System but as a broad rule of thumb, I try to measure an area where I want details in the shadows (Zone 111) then take a reading and close down by 2 stops. Practice always helps in these matters!


Given the time and money per shot that you invest in large format photography, you need to take your time and really think about what you want to photograph. A practice made almost obsolete for many digital shooters who just fire away like a machine gun. Even with digital, I take a very limited amount of pictures as I can’t give up the ethic of making each image count. Using 5×4 film reinforces that desire. I’ve made a checklist from when I first set up the camera to pressing the shutter and there are pitfalls along the way, so patience and slowness have to be the order of the day. Loading the film into film holders is not for the faint hearted, let alone developing them (more on that in another blog) but hey this is meant to be an adventure, getting back to the roots of photography.

At the moment I have plumped for a 150mm Nikon Nikkor lens only. This is the equivalent of a 50mm lens for an SLR (film). As with any camera outfit, there is always the temptation to have more than one lens and in most cases it makes sense especially with the excellent zooms available. Extra new kit is always so tempting, Ebay has a lot to answer for. At the present time, I will use my legs to get nearer or further away from the subject. I also found an old article about a photographer whose work I really admire: John Blakemore. In fact it’s from 1981 and it shows John with long black hair! Anyway, in it he says he only uses one lens (180mm) for his large format work, to keep his life as simple as possible. So if its good enough for him…..

Enough talk, I need some action and hopefully there will have been some by the time my next blog is posted.

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