Best practices for shooting with a view camera



Not that I want to take all of you down another trip down memory. Lane. But I wanNA talk a little bit about view cameras which was the camera of my youth talk about Gear Acquisition Syndrome I. Think all of us who were interested in pursuing fine art photography in the middle of the twentieth century automatically turned our attention to view cameras because well, that was what ansel Adams used. That was what Edward Weston us that was what all the great photographers used. Except for cardiac or sawn and some of the Magnum photographers but I think a lot of sort of. Discounted that wing of photography is not really the same thing as fine art photography they were more photo journalists and they needed the speed and flexibility of thirty five millimeter equipment and good for them. But for those of us who are interested in, say, for example, landscape photography. Of you camera was the camera of choice but let's admit that hardly anyone uses a view camera anymore and I think for probably pretty good reason they are incredibly Fussy to use lots of little controls, lots of ways to mess up lots of ways to kick things slightly out of focus you can't use them quickly they demand that you use a tripod and they're difficult to set up and it. CETERA. So there's there's slow. They require precise camera manipulations critical focusing on the ground glass. They force you to slow down that that's really think the issue we live in the age of speed and quickness and multitasking, and all the rest of that view cameras force you to slow down. But you know that can be a virtue. As a matter of fact, there may be lots of virtues to view camera and we be able to borrow some of those virtues and use them with our new Yippee skippy digital tools if we really want to. For example, there's nothing that says you have to shoot at twelve frames per second burst mode you can slowdown. Slowing down gives us the opportunity to look and think and with a view camera. In fact, you don't have a choice you have to slow down and look and think, and I think that can actually lead to better photography. And again to compare that to today's cameras where it's all about burst rates and autofocus and instant posting to your social media firehose. I'm not convinced that all of that leads to photographic virtue. At least not when it comes to. Fine Art photography, which is supposed to be about depth of feeling and understanding and being able to share something. That's a little more significant than the glance of social media which I've talked about before. So I don't want to take more time today. But I. Guess. I would some all of that up by just saying that just because the camera is manufactured to be fast Doesn't mean we have to use it. Fast. So here's a few things that I think. We can borrow today from view camera techniques that might be perfectly applicable to digital cameras and the kind of photography we do today because of the virtues of the way it changes the way we work the way we relate to the things that are before the camera, etc the first and most obvious one. is the dark cloth. When you photograph view camera, the image on the ground glass is relatively dark, and so the only way to really see it well is to use a dark cloth and you pull it over your head and you cover the camera and yourself in this dark cloth, which separates you from the world, not only physically but to some degree. Psychologically certainly visually, and you can look at the world from a very narrow perspective when you use a dark law. Now in truth I'm such a trained view camera photographer that when I bought my first digital cameras in early two thousands, I use them with the dark cloth because it was so difficult to see those little teeny tiny LCD screens on. Those early cameras and they were so dark that in the song I couldn't see them at all. So I just used my view camera dark cloth and I found it at great way to not only see the screen and make sure I was composing correctly and all that kind of stuff but the psychological aspect of putting the dark cloth over my head. was such a transition in my internal chronometers. that a I had a a a switch of psychology from looking at the world to photographing the world that had been trained into me for thirty years with a view camera and I found that was a useful tool even though I was now shooting with a digital

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