Lost art - Hand held LF

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by richard_boulware, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. Surprised no one has even brought this up,...but I think that many LF shooters have overlooked a great opportunity. That opportunity is the use of LF cameras, hand held...when that rainbow or other event happens in just seconds. I use my Super Technika V both on a tripod and in the hand held mode. Sometimes,..when opportunity strikes...I can grab the V and make the shot when others are still unpacking their tripod. Any thoughts/...or are my views out of vogue.
     
  2. Richard the last time I saw someone actually using a handheld
    4x5 was at a ku Klux Klan Rally in Vidor, Texas in 2000. And he
    was using a rollfilm back on is Linhof Technika (things were
    moving to fast for me to notice the type. I agree that it is a
    forgotten art.
     
  3. I'm sure there are plenty of Graphic users out there who agree whole-
    heartedly. Being "out of vogue" is crap, for it implies that someone
    else dictates your (or my) style. I say do your own thing the way
    you want, and enjoy it.
     
  4. Richard,

    <p>

    I always hand hold my crown graphic, usually bounce out of the
    explorer and off chasing trains, deer, turkeys, antique autos, and
    anything that catches my eye.
    only thing that goes on a tripod is the 8x10
     
  5. I agree that there is (still) a place for this kind of photography,
    and although I don't have anything focusable like a Super Technika,
    I've played around with handholding homemade/prefocused LF cameras
    (see for example
    http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~qtluong/photography/lf/cameras/hand-held-1
    1x14.html). For me at least, the biggest strike against handheld LF
    shooting (except in rainbow-like "emergencies") is the cost of film
    and processing: tripod work always results in a far higher percentage
    of keepers than handheld work, and at several bucks a sheet I
    personally can't afford to be snap-happy ala Cartier-Bresson in his
    prime. But then too I suppose that that "risk" is part of what makes
    the handheld LF successes so rewarding. Anyway, thanks for your post,
    Richard; it makes me want to go out and experiment some more (without
    the tripod)!

    <p>

    <><><><><><
     
  6. Hi...

    <p>

    I have just sold my Tech V, but was a happy owner for a time. I had
    all the equipment needed to use it hanheld, including grip,viewfinder
    and cammed lenses.

    <p>

    The fact is that I Never used it (not even once), mainly due to high
    weigth.

    <p>

    Probably guys with Graflexes have had better luck.

    <p>

    Cheers..

    <p>

    Enrique.-
     
  7. These URLs always get broken up. In the one listed in my post above
    there should not be a space between the 1's in hand-held-11x14-html.

    <p>

    <><><><><><
     
  8. Of course there are reasons it is a lost art ....

    <p>

    Manual metering is awkward while handholding an LF camera.
    Film holders and darkslides are awkward while handholding an
    LF camera. Depth of field is poor at f8. Film speeds are too
    slow, especially in color.

    <p>

    Bottom line: you'll get better results from MF.
     
  9. I'm always toying with the idea of getting a Speed Graphic or
    Technika, then I just think of how much easier my medium format SLR is
    to deal with (no need to change cams and stops when changing lenses,
    rollfilm, spot metering prism, easier to handhold, etc.), and I come
    to my senses. I have enough 6x6 backs to use the zone system or
    multiple film types in medium format, so sheet film doesn't hold that
    attraction. I guess if I wanted one camera to bridge the gap between
    medium format and a view camera, I would do it, but I'm happy with my
    6x6cm system for what it does well and with my 8x10" system for what
    it does well, so 4x5" handheld doesn't really make sense for what I do
    right now.
     
  10. Handheld 4X5 photography is still viable but doens't seem to be
    appreciated by most in this group. It is a different kind of
    photography in most cases - unless you are just in a hurry or are
    prohibited from using a tripod.

    <p>

    I just purchased a Grafmatic to use with my B&J with an eye toward
    occasional handheld use.

    <p>

    Both of these cameras are lighter than the Linhof Master I once had.
     
  11. Addendum: I guess the place I've seen Speed Graphics used handheld
    most recently has been for Polaroids--once at a Mothers' Day gospel
    pageant, where a photographer was selling Polaroids outside the
    theater to mothers dressed in their holiday finery, and once behind
    B&H Photo, where the staff was using a Speed Graphic with a Polaroid
    back to take what I presumed to be an ID photo.
     
  12. I've been using my Super Graphic (with a Linhof grip on the side and
    a couple of Graphmatics) for hand held photography since I got it a
    couple of years ago or so - great fun.

    <p>

    A number of us on the Streetphoto list have been using LF hand held
    for Street type photography.

    <p>

    I have often used it hand held in this way for assignments, as do a
    number of other photographers I know.

    <p>

    It isn't so difficult. And the rig is really no harder to swing
    around or less bulky/heavier than my Nikon F4 and all it's gizmos I
    carry around - not in practice, anyway. And the PE's swoon when they
    get that big neg... (E6 100 pushed to 400 if need be) and also B&W

    <p>

    How do you think all those hundreds of thousands of Life shots were
    done...?

    <p>


    tim a
     
  13. While evryone seems to be talking about Technikas and
    Graphics there is a photographer shooting in Hawaii a while
    back, Jack Dykstra, who was shooting hand held with a 45
    Technikardan. Somehow he attached a grip and a finder. We
    never saw the camera. Only some pictures.

    <p>

    then there is also the Wista RF.
     
  14. Richard there's another train shooter and I've lost his name. I'll
    describe him and you can probably tell me. Met him on the Nevada
    Northern. Picturesque guy and we should've been taking pictures of
    him. He's got an old Crown with a Lanthar, shoots nothing but Tmax
    400, always has a cigar in his mouth, never meters because he knows
    what the tmax will do (that's not entirely true, I think I recall a
    Ptax meter) and always shoots handheld. I had a good time shooting
    with him for a couple of days. He was teasing me because I was
    hauling a tripod around for the 5X7. Oh yeah, he's got a whole car
    full of flash-bulbs and always does the night stuff with bulbs! A
    strobe would never do. Tell me who he is.
     
  15. There are current production, light weight (under 3 Lbs.), modern,
    fast, flexable, modular, Hand Held LF cameras available, designed for
    just this kind of use with an eye to treckers and hikers. They are
    available 4x5, 6x12, 8x10 and are fully configurable. They are the
    GranView series of cameras. Best attribute, they are inexpensive. Take
    a look at http://www.granview.com

    <p>

    Fred
     
  16. This is the way I do aerials from helicopters. Works great and now
    with the new 400 Kodak color it's even easier! No problem here.
    Cheers
     
  17. O. Winton Link? Died last year.
     
  18. Richard you've got a good point. I've got a Gowland 8x10 Aerial that
    I've used on the ground as well as airborne. The camera was designed
    for a 300mm Nikkor M and I've been using it for a portfolio I'm
    working on. When I think of handheld LF I find myself in awe of the
    old time press photogs who made wonderful images as if the whole
    thing was second nature to them. It would be interesting to build an
    8x10 with a focal plane shutter that could handle some of the fast
    old barrel lenses that one comes across on occassion---sort of like
    an old Fairchild that could be focused. If a long enough lens could
    be had it should take awesome close-ups of moving objects---like
    racehorses and such. I might just try it with the Gowland just to see
    if I can get by with f9 and 1/400ths at the next county fair(sort of
    like a Nikon F2 on megasteroids?) It would also be interesting to
    know how successful the Hobo cameras have been since the Hobo and the
    Speed Graphics would probably be the 'entry' level cameras for those
    interested in LF handheld. I got into LF handheld originally because
    the $60 speed graphic I bought at a junk store had a stripped tripod
    socket! Regards, John
     
  19. Believe it or not I saw what looked like a Speed Graphic in the
    background of some Olympic TV coverage the other day. Yes it was
    being hand held. I just about fell off the chesterfield (that's a
    couch for you yanks) when I saw it.
     
  20. Thanks to all of you who responded to my post. I enjoyed all the
    posts and got a chuckle or two. For the few nay sayers, let me just
    say that I just today signed a 120 day contract for large bucks, on a
    major construction project. When I first made my 'pitch' to get the
    account...I showed a portfolio to the owner and chief construction
    engineer. I showed some of my ads from TIME and NEWSWEEK and was
    surprised at his reaction, when I showed him some LF, B&W big prints
    from a pipeline construciton project.....and he
    replied..."WOW!...you're my man"!
    My point is simply this. Don't overlook hand held large format and
    the quality it can deliver. It impresses people who are not photo
    savy. Sure, I'll shoot this job with three 35's, but that Linhof
    Super Technika V,....got me the job. Richard (smiling all the way to
    the bank) Boulware. Thanks for your posts. :)-)
     
  21. Don't forget the Hobo camera marketed by Bostick & Sullivan. Comes in
    8x10, 5x7, and 4x10. Made to hold one very wide angle lens, stopped
    down a bit, and you just point and shoot using the top viewfinder. No
    bellows -- it's an 8x10 point-and-shoot! Very VERY tough
    construction. Made to be chucked in the trunk w/ a couple film
    holders. Tripods allowed for but discouraged! I've seen fantastic
    work with it. The guy who invented the camera and builds them is said
    to prefer using an Angulon (not super) 90mm, which puts the entire
    image circle inside an 8x10 frame. I don't remember the specs
    exactly, but once you stop down to like F22 you have focus from like
    6" to infinity .... -jeff buckels
     
  22. Guys, guys, guys
    I have been using a cambo wide with 47xl and recently with 150
    sironar-N. The beauty of this camera is that I can easily do with hand
    holding but for some reason I have never tried??? Now you guys have
    induced me to give it a go, well, I'll definetely give it a
    shot........
     
  23. I still use my Super Technica V and Super Speed Graphic hand held from
    time to time. I wish I did a lot more than I do. I also have a 4 X 5
    Super D Graphic which I finally used to take some shots in the
    neighborhood...that camera certainly got a reaction! Someone on the
    Graflex website is trying to arrange a gathering for Graflex users to
    go out and shoot (I think in the New Orleans area). This sounds like
    a great idea. Car clubs gather regularly with their classics and
    cruise. The idea of photo shoots with classic cameras and/or LF hand
    held cameras at various cities, national parks would be a lot of fun.
    Reading all of the responses makes me want to go out and shoot hand
    held too!

    <p>

    J. P. Mose
     
  24. Over on the Streetphoto list there is a required dress for shooting
    any form of Graphic (or clone) handheld:

    <p>



    <p>

    Black tapered pants with shiny, pointy toed black shoes, short
    sleeved shirt and thin black tie, along with a fedora. A sports coat
    optional for cooler weather. I suppose if you were shooting a Linhof,
    one of those little Tyrolean hats could be substituted, though the
    above look does seem mandated in my Linhof Handbook.

    <p>

    20 or 30 of us shooting like that in New orleans would look pretty
    cool I think

    <p>

    tim a
     
  25. Alright! That's it. I'm putting a handle on my Deardorff. Now,
    where's that duct tape?
     
  26. With all due respect to Tim and Chad....in todays world (two days
    ago) it looks like this: Some clown with hip waders on, levis and a
    light parka, with his hard hat turned around backwards. The Technika
    V set on vertical, a small pack with film holders and grafmatics in
    it and a Spectra Combi-500 on his belt,...while wadeing out in a
    stream to get a shot of a ten ton shovel bucket picking up boulders.
    Oh, and Yes....I could use that Deardorff duct tape. My waders sprung
    a leak and I nearly froze my left leg. The Cat operator busted his
    butt to get the bucket positioned just where I wanted it. He is
    impressed with large 4X5 cameras, hand held, I think. Superb
    cooperation, frozen left leg, sitting in a hot tub with a cigar and a
    class of very cold Vouvray, looking at my contract and smiling.
    THANKS,..Linhof and Marflex....this clown is smiling and happy. Life
    is good. Screw New Orleans. Been there, done that. Nice place, but
    the $$$$ are in Colorado...I think. Be well. RB :)-)
     
  27. I hope I didn't come off as a "naysayer" up there. I certainly like
    the idea.

    <p>

    I think before I look at a press camera though, I would probably make
    some sort of handheld bracket for my 8x10" Gowland PocketView (to see
    what this looks like, go to http://www.petergowland.com/camera/. Mine
    is older and somewhat lighter than the current version). The
    standards attach to the rail clamps with ordinary 1/4"-20 screws. I
    could replace the whole rail arrangement with a fixed focus flat bar
    and attach a bracket crosswise to that with two handles, arial camera
    style. I could even dispense with the standards or maybe just the
    rear standard, since the front and rear frames also attach to the
    standards with ordinary 1/4" screws. Add a door peephole finder, and
    I could probably keep it under 6 lbs (about the weight of my Canon
    F-1N with motor drive and a 300mm or 400mm lens) with film holder and
    120mm lens that way. Hmmm.... maybe this isn't such an unreasonable
    proposition after all.
     
  28. I've been doing this on and off with my Crown Graphic for the last
    couple years. Most interesting looks were from the tourists on the
    observation deck of the Empire State Bldg when I whipped it out of a
    bag and started snapping shots of the NY skyline . . .

    <p>

    I like the effect of handheld lf, but in terms of outright quality, I
    would think a well handled mf camera (handheld) would out-do the
    quality of the somewhat awkward Crown with the relatively soft 127mm
    Ektar.

    <p>

    As for film speed, outdoors in sunlight with T-Max 400 you can
    usually get a decent exposure. With slower film it was just too much
    trouble to get anything useful.

    <p>

    When I can afford it I'll probably look into a better rangefinder 4x5.
     
  29. Richard,

    <p>

    Dare I say you may have started a new trend!
     
  30. You're all mad!<br>Hang on, I'll just strap a 20lb weight to my old
    yashicamat so's I can get the same feeling of doing something heroic
    to no real purpose.
     
  31. Hmmm.... that should keep down the shutter vibration. Go for it Pete!
     
  32. Y'know, I think I have to agree with Pete on this one. I used to have
    a permanent red mark on the back of my left hand, from the strap of a
    Speed Graphic. The mark has long since gone away and I have never
    felt the need to return to that insanity....Even from a quality
    standpoint, the best hand held work I have ever done, with the
    exception of various aerial cameras, has been with a Pentax 6x7.
     
  33. A couple of years ago I built my own 4 x 5 point & shoot camera. You
    can see it here: http://job.webstar.nl/newcampg.html
    I didn't work to any plans so it is no use asking me for them.
    It works well but I haven't used it much lately. I use film rated at
    800 ISO and a gray day soon brings the shutter speed down to below
    1/30th sec. with the lens wide open at f8. Handheld I prefer to use
    it at 1/125th sec.
     
  34. I forgot to mention. Although the camera is light enough, carrying
    the 10 film holders I have is more inconveniant than the camera
    itself.
     
  35. Although I'm the first to admit that the sharpness, etc. of the image
    is probably comparable to a good mf image, the images from handheld
    lf are definately not the same as mf. It's about getting a certain
    look from the photos, not about being heroic by carrying an outdated
    hunk'o'wood. Not sure I can be more specific than that, it's just
    different.
     
  36. Very interesting topic. Thanks, Richard for getting it started. I just
    wonder where are the users of that other classic handheld LF
    camera, the Graflex SLR? In college in the 80's I had a D-series
    4x5 and a bag-mag. I did portaits and some other stuff.
    Unfortunately I sold it when I needed cash and my work
    changed. But talk about an interesting and rather unique look,
    and a lot of fun to work with, your sitters really feel like they are in
    on something special when they see you using one of those!
    Someone must be using them (I hope, or is it just collectors?)
    the prices for Super-D's keep going up and up. Someday I'll get
    back to that, I think.
     
  37. Adapting my 8x10" Gowland for handheld use turned out to be quite an
    easy project--an evening's work. I made a simple short flat rail out
    of cherry wood that replaces the whole monorail and focusing system.
    I have a spare tripod socket from a defunct Bronica S2 body I bought
    for parts, which is inset into the rail and held with four small wood
    screws. The front and rear standards attach with 1/4"-20 screws and
    wing nuts. I've got one hole, so it's permanently focused at infinity
    with the 120mm lens. I may add another hole for a second focus zone,
    since I've got a bit of spare rail space. The whole thing can sit
    comfortably on a relatively lightweight tripod like my Tiltall or can
    be easily supported with a pistol grip that has a cable release
    trigger, like the handheld Sinar wideangle camera.

    <p>

    Now I need to make a viewfinder and I should be set.

    <p>

    Thanks for the inspiration!
     
  38. Has the KKK turned into a large format photography club, or are they
    still doing the ol' white supremacy gig?
     
  39. I use my Hobo 8x10 with a 120mm Nikon lens hand held. If you'd like
    to see a recent pic, go to
    http://www.rocky.larochelle.com/room_for_improvement.htm
    The site isn't about photography but I like to put an image in there
    sometimes.
    --Rocky
     
  40. Richard, you're hardly out of vogue! Based on the number of other
    people I've seen handholding LF the last few years, I'd say you're a
    trendsetter.

    <p>

    I'm an amateur and have used LF of various sizes off and on for fun
    for years. But the one aspect of LF I have stuck with is using a
    Crown Graphic handheld with rangefinder for "environmental
    portraits" of my kids (I had to use quotes because it seemed like a
    fancy term for taking their pictures as they ice skate, play golf,
    swing on the swingset, build their Legos, or do whatever they like
    to do at the moment).

    <p>

    Yes, I have several medium format cameras. I use them more often
    than anything else. But I love heading out with the Crown. It's
    pure fun. And it gives you a look you can't get out of a smaller
    format (but you knew that).

    <p>

    It doesn't bother me if the naysayers say nay. I won't have any less
    fun. I have a blast with handheld LF. In fact, I'm planning to pick
    up a Fuji Quickchange holder system (the modern Grafmatic) so that I
    can burn off 8 shots even more quickly!
     

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