Being confined to the studio with the Plaubel Peco for several months was a good thing as it allowed me to experiment and try out large format photography within a safe environment. But taking the Chamonix out for a first spin felt really really good too!
I took my friends Sean and Michelle for a spin in the Black Forest during their Germany vacation, and Sean brought his foldable Shen-Hao large format camera, which is virtually the same as the Chamonix.
Two guys with large format cameras in the black forest. Imagine the amount of geeking .. and eye-rolling from non-geeks ;)
Photographing large format is a very different way of working, and there are several things that blew my mind when I used the camera in the field and when I returned home and had a look at the pictures. One of the mind benders is the amount of freedom you have with the camera movements, also known as tilt, swing and shift. Perspectively correct pictures automatically become the norm, not the exception. You set the camera up straight, then shift to your heart's content. If the lens has a large enough image circle, that shift can be quite extensive.
And then there's the massive amount of data in these pictures. I scan my negatives on a regular Epson V600 flat bed scanner. Still, my digital files end up at about 100 megapixels and that's far from what would be possible if I cranked up the settings. My little MacBook Air 11" sure takes a bit of time to render the full size Lightroom previews.
If you're not used to this resolution, zooming in has the potential to cause a bit of mental damage to the viewer. And drooling.
By the way, this detail is a crop from a down-sampled 50 megapixel version of the image.
But having all that said, large format is only partially about resolution. I love pictures to tell stories and that doesn't depend on resolution at all. Large format photography gives you the tools to take your time, enjoy the process, set up the pictures while thinking about their details, composing well and then taking a well-metered shot. Usually.
I have just dipped my toe into the large format waters though. There is so much more to learn, and I'm looking forward to diving more into its creative potential.
To get to finish a project, it's sometimes important to get started with it in the first place, even if you don't have an exact idea about how all the details are going to work out. Or if you're going to be able to finish it at all.
Some call that "jumping off a cliff and building your wings on your way down" (I like that a lot!) and I call it "lighting the fuse". Once it's burning, there's no easy way back, which in turnputs enough pressure on you to keep working on it.
One of those projects has been going on for years. Not always at full speed, but with constant progress.
I'm not at liberty to talk too much about it yet ($%^# NDA), but the lifting of the curtain is not too far in the future now.
In the meanwhile, let me give you this: