What is the absolute worst piece of advice aboutLarge Format you have ever gotten, read or over heard?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ellis_vener_photography, Apr 16, 2002.

  1. What is the absolute worst piece of advice about Large Format
    you have ever gotten, read or overheard?<P>What piece of
    'common knowledge" turned out to be just plain dumb when you
    looked into it?
     
  2. Without any doubt,Merklinger's focusing tome!("Focusing the View
    Camera")What a long winded pointless piece of literature!Page after
    page of formulas & charts & graphs,all trying to tell you to tilt the
    front board a bit!IMHO,this is a concise compendium of stale bullsh-t!
    Ive yet to meet any one that has benefited from the good profesor's
    words.
     
  3. I did a stupid thing yesterday out at Lake Travis in Central Texas. I
    pulled out the dark slide and set it on top of the camera to help
    block light from the film holder. I turned my back for a minute,
    looked up, and it was gone. I didn't want to admit that it could have
    blown into the lake, but it had. Thankfully, I managed to retrieve it
    before I left.
     
  4. I would have to agree with Edsel... the thought of a bevy of
    photographers in the field, debating whether to use the hinge rule or
    the Scheimpflug rule, and trying to estimate "J" is frightening.
     
  5. Merklinger's book, which I read and enjoyed (his other one, "Ins and
    Outs of Focus" is even better), would be totally unnecessary if it
    weren't for the fact that EVERY other large format book that mentions
    the Scheimpflug rule fails to mention that this rule gets you only
    half the way to where you want to go. Like every other large format
    photographer, I focus by eye, and not charts, but some understanding
    of the theoretical underpinnings is helpful when you are first trying
    to grasp what is happening on the ground glass. Unfortunately, most
    books stop at the Scheimpflug rule. All that rule tells you is your
    plane of focus will be somewhere in all the universe of possible
    planes that intersect with the lensboard/camera back intersection. It
    doesn't tell you anything else, and it is completely useless (by
    itself) for teaching anyone anything about how to focus a view
    camera. This was extremely frustrating to me, because I knew there
    had to be another factor, but all the books (including Stroebel's)
    acted like the Scheimpflug rule was the end of the analysis. I
    couldn't tell if I had a massive brain tumor or all the books were
    wrong -- each was equally (un)likely.

    <p>

    Merklinger proved the books were wrong, and gave me the other half of
    the equation. Of course by the time I found his book I had given up
    on the theoretical underpinnings and was just focusing by eye, but his
    book explains very well what happens. His other book is great at
    resolving that other problem: why whenever I use the hyperfocal
    distance scale on my roll film cameras my pictures are fuzzy. And no,
    he doesn't just do the standard circle of confusion math and conclude
    you should use the f8 scale when you are shooting at fll. Both his
    books are excellent works, but I agree, you wouldn't want to apply the
    theory directly to practice. Nobody really does that, I suspect: the
    book is about teaching you the why and how of what happens, so you can
    apply the theory in the field by eye.

    <p>

    The worst advice I ever got was to buy stuff new. Or wait, maybe the
    worst advice was to use TMAX.
     
  6. I know I'm in the minority, but I much prefer a reflex viewer to a
    dark cloth.

    <p>

    Someone told me early on that reflex viewers were worthless, and that
    no serious photographer would use one. Rather than trying it for
    myself, I struggled with a technique that didn't suit me.

    <p>

    On the positive side, that experience helped evolve Rule #0: If it
    works for me, it's good. Phooey on what everybody else thinks.
     
  7. Early in my 4x5 experience, I attended a weekend workshop during which
    I set up a shot in which there were a series of perfectly vertical
    trees in the foreground flanking a steep downward slope leading to a
    waterfall. I wanted to get the slope and the waterfall in perfect
    focus and so tilted the rear of the camera to establish a Scheimpflug
    relationship. Noticing that the tops of the trees were now way out of
    focus, I asked the teach how I could correct the problem. His response
    was to tilt the front of the camera in the opposite direction to
    compensate for the rear.
     
  8. That LF makes you better, you make yourself better, 35mm brings
    out one quality, MF brings out another, using LF, you rise to the
    occasion, but it was always in you, the demands of LF are just an
    excuse to bring it out or you wouldn't have voluntarily bought a LF
    in the first place.

    <p>

    Also the idea that Kevin touched on, that some folks scoff at the
    idea of using a reflex viewer with a LF camera. My binoc. reflex hood
    works for me, besides, I grew up in LA, so bending over and then
    putting a dark hood over my head is being too trusting a soul for me,
    although my hat's off to anybody who does it that way.
     
  9. I also read the Merklinger articles, and they are a nice explanation
    of why things work, but I still just eyeball the glass. It's faster
    and easier. I don't care how big angle J is. My bigger problem is
    with Zone System "gurus" who go into excruciating detail without
    telling you anything. For instance they may say "decrease the f-
    stop" but never say if you are to use a smaller aperture (higher f-
    number), or use a smaller f-number (wider aperture). Then to
    compound their crime, when you do the math, the effective EI always
    seems to go *down*, no matter if they are talking about N+2 or N-2
    (or whatever). I'm not dumb. I understand that pushing film
    increases contrast, pulling film decreases contrast. So why all the
    double-talk?? Of course many are just trying to hook you into buying
    their latest book (probably more double-talk).
     
  10. "Don't bother with large format. You can do everything you can
    do with sheet film with medium format better and cheaper.
    Large format is dead."
    <p>
    I originally received several comments like this from
    "enlightened" individuals when I was first considering moving up
    to 4x5. I wonder what they'd think if I told them I was doing all
    my personal work in 8x10 now.
     
  11. I've gotten this one more than once, and 2 of my personal best pics
    are the results. A workshop teacher says "you're wasting your time,
    that shot will never work, the highlights will be all blown out", and
    a second one, I'm setting up for an interior shot by tipping my lens
    through a broken window pane of a long abandoned pipefitters shop that
    has stopped in time and a couple of guys with medium format's and
    tripods are saying "What the hells in there to take a picture of??"
    So come on you nay-sayer's, I need another good shot!
     
  12. "It's not worth the trouble and expense."

    <p>

    "Nobody can tell the difference unless you make ridiculously
    large prints."

    <p>

    "No one does that these days."

    <p>

    "Why would you want to use that camera?" (A Sinar Norma)
    "It takes terrible pictures." (True enough, if you insist on only
    using three-year out of date polaroids)
     
  13. In 5 or 10 years there won't be any film...everything will be
    digital.
     
  14. .1 over film base plus fog. That, and filling out little notecards on
    zone placement for every exposure I made. The first piece gave me
    marginal negatives for years, and the second just wasted a lot of
    time.

    <p>

    But Ellis, need to do the flip side on another thread - What about the
    best advice?
     
  15. Im always amused by the "techies",that shoot LF.They would have you
    believe that only a yaw free camera with a modern($)multicoated piece
    of glass will do.The truth being that an old battered bellows & a
    funky single coated,vintage lens can give you the same or better
    results!The smaller formats & (of course digital),is all about
    technology.Fast glass & automatic everything is great,when you need
    it.There is a simple purity to LF work,that the other formats dont
    have.Trying to modernize LF is an effort in futility.LF is all about
    the images,not the cameras!Seeing those gorgeous prints is what its
    all about.Sure a yaw free body & a $2K lens are nice,but unnecessary!
     
  16. I can't resist this one. About 3 weeks ago I was taking some
    nightime shots at a university campus and a japanese
    exchanage student sees me fiddling with my 7x17. He began
    berating me. 'What are you doing! There is no picture here. This
    is nothing. Why are you doing this!' He walked away and actually
    spat on the ground in disgust. Needless to say, the photo has
    now been printed in palladium and is beautiful, in my opinion.
    This is the first time I've actually encountered hostility about a
    composition.

    <p>

    Clay
     
  17. Im always amused by the "techies",that shoot LF.They would have you believe that only a yaw free camera with a modern($)multicoated piece of glass will do.The truth being that an old battered bellows & a funky single coated,vintage lens can give you the same or better results!
    Not necessarily. It depends on the work you are doing atthe moment. But for most fB&W landscape and portrait photograsphy I have to agree with you.
     
  18. Usually advice given is meant to help someone, but if I had listened
    to and implemented all the ideas proffered about photography and life
    in general, I would either be a lawyer, or someone who is strapped in
    a hospital bed feeling the spittle inch down my chin. Here is a
    sampling of well-meant advice that my poor life has received
    throughout the years :

    <p>

    “Why do you read so much? You should watch more TV”.

    <p>

    “Your going to give her this for her birthday? It’s a picture of
    weeds! I’d dump a man if he gave me this!”

    <p>

    “With the amount of hours you spend in the darkroom, your going to
    burn out.”

    <p>

    “I wouldn’t buy an expensive camera if I were you. You will probably
    fiddle with it for a few months, and then never use it again.”

    <p>

    “Your overexposing your film by 3 stops?!” followed by incredulous
    laughter.

    <p>

    “Leave the print in the developer between 1 1/2 to 3 minutes.”

    <p>

    “I use wood glue when mounting my prints.”

    <p>

    “Get a job.”
     
  19. Worst piece of advice - Start and stay with 4x5 as it is the most
    popular format and is the only possible remnant for conventional
    photography in large format. Buying a 5x7 camera? Have you heard of
    the Edsel? 8x10 and larger is completely unnecessary in every aspect.

    <p>

    Worse piece of "Common Knowledge" - Use film/developer combinations
    that the pros use as they have done all the work for you.
     
  20. 'An uncoated lens isnt good for color'.
     
  21. This isn't a single piece of advice, but a pattern of advice that is
    insidious, and it comes from the great Adams, whom I love to pieces in
    general: The advice, diffused throughout all his instructional
    writing but concentrated in The Camera, is to have a bunch of lenses
    to get you through all these kinds of situations that arise. This is
    bad advice for beginners, and it can get the most experienced LF
    photographer off-track. Beginners should be told to get "a" lens and
    then get their heads under a darkcloth. Money should be spent on
    film, chemicals, and printing paper. -jb
     
  22. Can't take a picture in the wind.

    <p>

    I just got back from California where I took some pictures in
    considerable amounts of wind (on the coast, where I almost lost my
    balance due to wind on one occasion). Using a Tachihara (which I've
    heard is not rigid enough for windy conditions) and no umbrella
    (because the umbrella I had was about to collapse in the wind) I took
    pictures anyway. I even had to steady the quickload envelope with my
    hand (touching the camera... ooh! bad!). Slides came out acceptably
    sharp anyway.
     
  23. ha!! what a great thread. well my contribution is not a bad piece of
    advice, just the best comment i've ever gotten by a passer-by. over
    the years as i stand next to my camera at night in downtown Seattle,
    making multi-hour exposures of urban trees, i've gotten quite a number
    of hilarious comments, wierd looks, people thinking i'm everything
    from a cop doing surveillance to an astronomer shooting the stars.
    but the best one was this 17-year-old punk-looking kid with his
    girlfriend who walked by with all their earrings and raggedy clothes,
    and without even slowing down he looked at my camera, and up into the
    tree, and said "oh yeah, tree shots" and they kept on walking.
    HA!!!!

    <p>

    ~cj
     
  24. That you can't make images that are worth a darn shooting in mid-day
    light.
     
  25. jeff, i couldn't agree more. it's always amazing for me to see guys
    out with their massive 35mm rigs-- several camera bodies, a whole
    collection of lenses, a linear foot of filters, a bunch of
    different kinds of film, all in an enormous padded bag that's twice
    the size of my 4x5 bag (which is an old rucksack that contains my
    camera, one lens in an old cardboard box, 5 filmholders, light meter
    and some knicknacks). i shot for 7 years with only a 210mm lens, then
    four years ago bought a 135mm lens that i have only taken one picture
    with so far-- i see everything in "normal" perspective so i have
    little use for additional lenses...!

    <p>

    ~cj

    <p>

    ~cj
     
  26. The all-time worst advise must be the stern admonition that Kodak
    used to make in the instruction sheet packaged with all their
    film, "never make pictures within 2 hours of sunrise or sunset,"
    followed closely by "Always have the sun behind you."
     
  27. Shooting large format is superior to everthing else. What a load of
    crap. I have the same attitude towards those who expound 35mm or
    digital only. Elitism and dogma should never be encouraged.

    <p>

    Cheerio
     
  28. Worst: "It's just like 35mm."

    <p>


    Best: (Trueism) "A large format neg of a crappy image is still a
    crappy image . . . with a lot more information."

    <p>

    My own contribution: "Common knowledge is not common." (Same for
    common sense.)
     
  29. "sticky shutter? just stick the little red straw of a WD-40 can in
    the hole and pffffffffff..."

    <p>

    end of shutter.

    <p>

    ~cj
     
  30. there are so many of them that I don't want to remember..for my sanity
    sake... but here are the 2 most recent ones...

    <p>

    (about LF) - "the time you make one picture I finish 2 rolls (of 35mm)
    and having lunch.... "
    (about 35mm) - "In my opinion the quality of the picture is in the
    camera body.." (he has the latest 35mm reflex with a generic 28-300mm
    zoom lens..)

    <p>

    one world of advice...please refrain to argue...it doesn't worth it...
     
  31. Oddly, most of the time I am in the field people are pretty much fascinated by my camera and seem to love the idea of someone using what seems to them to be an antique. The worst advice that I've ever received has nothing tot do with LF so much as it does with photography in general, e.g.:

    <p>

    (1) The rule of thirds.
    (2) A good b/w photograph must have tones from pitch black to solid white.
    (3) Always place the darkest part of your photograph on zone 1.
    (4) Exposing a negative past zone 10 is pointless
    (5) Keep a $3 UV filter over your $1000 lens
    (6) You need a camera with a lot of movements
    (7) The heavier your tripod, the better it is.
    (8) A $30 gadget is better than a free piece of cardboard that does the same thing.
    (9) A backpack designed to haul cameras is worth the cost.
    (10) Densitometry is a worthy exercise, not a pointless penance.
     
  32. LOL....great thread Ellis, my worst advice "place the shadows you
    want with detail on zone III" subsequently I pregressed to have a
    morass of black on my prints for years! lol.....
     
  33. The WORST ----<BR>
    "Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic." <BR>
    -Edward Weston
     
  34. Matthew,
    Glad you brought up the "rule" of thirds, That one has always baffled
    me...Steve
     
  35. You are correct about the older single coated glass.Once color is
    added to the mix,the newer glass wins.However,I do have some 1950's
    German LF glass that is sharper & more contrasty than any modern
    glass!I guess it all depends on what you like.BTW,great Houston
    skyline shot!(Of course in NY we pronounce it "How-ston")
     
  36. "you should turn the dark-room into a nice spare-bedroom"
     
  37. "Shouldn't the sun be behind your back."
     
  38. "Don't you already have two 8x10 cameras?"
     
  39. The summary of Merklinger's stuff on the net stuffed me around
    greatly. It definitely has cost me more time and probably a few shots
    than any other piece of advice.

    <p>

    My best onlooker comment was 'Why do you carry your projector with
    you?' about my 4x5 when I opened my camera bag.
     
  40. That we need to drill in ANWR because film is plastic
     
  41. This exerpt from one of our beloved posters.

    <p>

    "forward or backward."
    Does not change the perspective. Only changing the angle of the
    camera to the subject will change perspective.

    <p>

    Moving a caamera forward or back is exactly the same thing as
    changing lenses. You get more or less into the picture and if an
    object is enlared or reduced in the print so they are the same size
    the perspective is identical.
     
  42. Shadows and highlights must always have detail. Everything must be in
    focus.
     
  43. A new camera will take better pictures.
     
  44. 2 Deardorff's are enough!??
     

Share This Page