Living Large

Street photography being my passion, sometimes it's difficult for me to get excited about photographing a scene without people in it.  I have to change my mindset, shift my point of view, realign my brain.  Even then, I often need a few months' space from the photographs in order to look at them objectively and enjoy them.

When I received a Crown Graphic for Christmas (with all the trimmings!), I was extremely excited. Something new to conquer!  Sheet film, how fantastic!  Once I finished running tests and managed to get to a place where I could use the camera halfway decently, however, I realized I didn't know what to photograph with it.  I didn't want to use it for street.  So, what would I use it for?  This is a special camera; for me, it needs a purpose.

Large format photography, I am learning, is a journey.  It is a process.  Nothing about it is quick (or easy, oh my).  There's no sense in fighting this, so step one for me was doing something I almost never do:  I got out the Big Tripod.  For years its sole purpose was holding a small telescope so we could look at Saturn and Jupiter, but come to find out my dad must have had ulterior motives when he gave it to me, because it is actually for large format cameras.

Step two:  I opened the back of the camera.  Forget the rangefinder, and the viewfinder, I wanted ground glass.  I don't have a cloth yet, so it takes me a while to let my eyes adjust for focusing and composition.  That's fine.  The time is worth it.  I found myself on the side of a highway, early evening, with the wind whipping my hair around, legs itching from tall grass - and I quieted my mind against the roar of passing transfer trucks, and just looked.  I let the ground glass show me what to do.  

This image is not perfect (I was still experimenting with how to rate the film, and it is a little underexposed), but it's what I made that day.  These trees are the bones of a forest left behind by an awful fire that devastated the area a couple of years ago. 

Crown Graphic, Arista EDU 400 film

Crown Graphic, Arista EDU 400 film

They say that every picture tells a story; it appears that every large format image of mine will have its own story, and adventure, to go with it.