Large Format Photography

Back in college after the long summer break. It is great to be back, I must say, especially as the first semester started with three really interesting classes, among them my first elective for this, my final year. I had no trouble at all deciding on Large Format photography in the end – and the first session in class more than confirmed my choice: It has re-awakened my interest in photography; I am almost giddy with excitement.

On day 1 we were shown a LF camera. And what we got to see of the camera has re-ignited my excitement for hands-on photography, big time. I am actually burning with curiosity, like a house on fire. 
Essentially, LF photography brings us back to the basics of photography. Because all this piece of equipment is – a Dutch made Cambo 5×4 – is a simple box. With a lens at the front and a place to stick the film in at the back. Bang, that’s all. No fancy electronic stuff – no digital sensor, no flashy knobs and dials and buttons. Just a black box that will catch the light that falls in through the aperture in the front. I love it, I am actually really excited about this.
Anyway, our lecturer preceded to take apart the camera to show us everything in detail. We are going to work with a monorail camera. That means the camera is mounted on a single rail upon which you move the back and front bits of the camera. This also works as a way of focussing the image. 
The camera box itself is suspended in two “frames”, which means you can move the front and the back of the camera separately and independently. These camera movements are what makes LF photography so special, because it enables the photographer to play with perspective and planes of focus much more than 35 mm or medium format cameras. 
This session, we were given the basics of LF camera movements. There are basically 4 movements, logically thinking:
1. You can move the back and front to the side. This is called slide.
2. You can move the back and front up and down. That is called lift.
3. You can tilt the front and back.
4. And you can rotate the front and back, which is called swing.
All these movements have an effect on the perspective of the image because they affect the amount of light that travels through the lens onto the film. Logical. 
Where the cookie crumbles, however, is, when you combine these movements, I presume. But for that we have got to wait until next week…

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