Down Time

What do photographers – perhaps especially large format photographers? – do when they’re not shooting? (more…)


Large Format Diaries

# 9

Benefits of Bellows

Rather a long time since I last wrote a post about my experiences with large format. As you may have seen from the gallery, things have been going rather well. Trips over the last 6 months or so to Glencoe, Wales, and Derbyshire have provided numerous and various opportunities for the growth and development, and enjoyment, of the skills required and insights provided with this very different method of shooting. My plan for this year was to work harder with film, and I estimate that over one third of the successful images I’ve made this year have been on film – that is a pleasing statistic given the radical difference between the speed at which one can work with digital and large format – though the Canon A-1 has had a few outings recently too.

The present post is an introductory explanation of one of the benefits of shooting with a large format camera (or indeed any camera that uses bellows focusing), and an aspect of it that is not very often mentioned.

And some more.

More uploads…

Made some more uploads to my large format gallery page today. Check them out!

Botanicals Edit

A set-by-step process through the various stages of post-processing that the majority of my D800E colour images go through. (more…)

The many ways of skinning a black and white cat (aka digitizing a 5×4 negative)

Backlit Botanicals 2

The latest in the ‘Traces of Botany’ Album series, “explored” today on Flickr.

What I really like about these images is that the polythene seems to “press” the leaves as if in a herbarium, except that it doesn’t prevent the decay, though the moisture of the condensation appears to slow it down. The photograph captures a moment in this process.

Shot with D800E and 85PC-E.  It’s taken me a while to process this shot (or rather shots, since it’s a stitch of 2 vertical frames, to allow a wider view close-up, esp. since I don’t have a normal DSLR lens apart from the 60 micro).  I wondered about entirely removing the detritus – all the black specks – but chose not to in the end: I did do a little bit of retouching, especially around the edges of the frame, but nothing too drastic.  I felt – I think rightly – that the detritus is part of the point, part of the balance between beauty and decay which is essential to the success of these shots and fundamental to their character.  I may, if I have time, do a post on how I went about the processing for this from the raw files to the output.  With a flat RAW file from the D800E, I find there’s a lot of proccessing to do to get it to feel right, especially now that I have got used to comparing my digital output against what large-format film can achieve.

When the time and lighting are right, I MUST shoot these on large format!!



Wildlife Crime

The origins of this blog were based in macro photography: European orchids, and butterflies in particular.  Three years ago I posted a blog entry celebrating my first UK sightings of the Large Blue (Maculinea arion), at the location of one of its reintroductions:


It is dismaying that this site is in the UK news today because of the criminal activities of a butterfly collector:


Will these people never learn?

Leave the countryside and its inhabitants alone, for everyone to enjoy, will you please??



“What happen to the Linhof Technikardan?! “

A couple of days ago, I received the above comment on a photograph I posted on flickr of Castle Stalker, Scotland, during my November trip to Glencoe:


This is the first slightly off-beam comment I’ve seemingly received on flickr since I ramped up my prominence on the site last year, and I think it’s worth critiquing.  My original response to the comment was: “Nothing! For this shot, handheld from the side of the road on a drive elsewhere… can’t do that with a Linhof, with all the will in the world.”      The shot was, of course, taken on digital, with Nikon D800E and 70-200f4, shot handheld or at least resting on a roadside fencepost, during a brief stop while I was driving elsewhere.

I’m not entirely certain what the comment (and its use of expressive but actually opaque punctuation) was getting at, but what strikes me is that the comment was made about the (non-)use of large-format film for such a shot, and it seems that the original commentator is a film-shooter.

This is somewhat perplexing: I’m all for the continued use of film, and can view my use of the Linhof camera over the last year and a bit in only extremely positive ways, both for the creativity it has allowed me and for the more general affect it has had on my photography.  But here’s the rub: at  no point have I ever stated that I would ever give up digital entirely, and there are a whole host of shots that I can make digitally – including the image above – that I couldn’t even begin to contemplate with film.  Using film has improved my photographic creativity by making me more self-aware of the medium itself, and this is a great thing in general terms.  But I’m not in favour of, and do not countenance, the idea that ‘film’ is something akin to a ‘calling’.  It may be for some, but not for me: it’s a creative choice, with its own limitations, in the same way, conversely, as digital.  A resolution for 2017 was – of course – to expose more film, and I will continue to strive to do so.  But I will also continue to shoot digitally alongside it, creatively and complementarily.

For more discussion of this general issue, see the recent videos on Youtube by Matt Day and Eric Wahlstrom:

Water Abstracts at Daeda’s Wood


Here are the results of a trip to a local Woodland Trust site: Daeda’s Wood, near Deddington, Oxfordshire. It’s a young plantation of mostly willow and poplar, with a small river (the Swere) meandering along one side. Since the woodland isn’t mature, there are few opportunities for traditional landscape work, but the river and its overhanging trees provided good opportunities for abstract work of the water surface, using tilt with my 85PC-E to level the focal plane onto the surface of the water. (more…)

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