Sunday, April 29, 2007

LF Process

Well, I wrote a couple of columns on my photography this last week, about walking around downtown Tacoma, specifically the museum district near the University of Washington Tacoma campus. It's wasn't all that a productive week, see my LF Blog for the Process column for a more complete description.

Anyway, while working through the images, which started with the one above (digital capture one), I reduced the process to three steps once you get to a place you think there is something worth the time. These are composition, camera and exposure, in that order. This works for me to simlify the thinking and focus on each step to be in the moment thinking about the image and the process.

The composition is where I see something, but just can't quite see it, or at least I don't yet. Since I'm in the learning steps for large format photography, this is often a walkaround with the digital/film camera to see what the image looks like through the viewfinder. I know the digital sensor and film size is a different ratio than 4x5, but it gives me an approximate scene, as well as using the camera's light meter to get the initial reflected light metering.

I think everyone would argue the composition is the most critical step. It saves a lot of time, like Duh, but follows that it helps you with the critical thinking through the process, the whole, the image, the light, the exposure, and the final image, to see it in your mind. This will always be the learning curve for me, and to many people walking by probably wonder what is this guy doing.

Once I have the image in mind and the location to get that, the second step is the camera. This is the process of setting it up where you get the image on the focusing screen you see. This is probably 90% mental as you set up the tripod, head, camera, lens, filters, etc. before you look at it and start making the adjustments, moving the tripod-camera, focusing, and front controls and optional back controls (the 45HD doesn't have these). All while viewing the image and the back and forth of adjustment and viewing.

And what did it look like when I wanted the above image?

The last step is the two step process of determining the exposure(s) you want, if more than one sheet of film will be exposed, and actually taking the image, simply setting the aperture and shutter, checking the shutter, testing and cocking the shutter, inserting film holder, and then take breath and take the exposure(s). For now I'm taking two exposures with different aperture and shutter speed combinations - either for seeing the depth of field at one exposure or seeing different exposures.

When you get to the moment you hit the shutter release, it's almost anti-climatic, it's all said and done, and you take what you did. And there is one last step. I sit down and write notes, when, where, what, weather, film, scene, exposure (all readings and camera), and incidental thoughts.

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