Saturday, January 10, 2009

Little Buddy

As if carrying a backpack full of large format was not enough, I finally got going into the digital world.

I had started photographing with a 35mm system, then went into medium format. That jump was amazing as the larger increase in film size gave my images a much better quality and detail than 35mm could deliver. But after a few years I came to realize that bigger is better yes, but also to make the kind of images I wanted I needed the abilities in a camera that only a view camera could offer. That led to several months of reading, studying, and practice until I finally got the Arca.

At first I would bring all three on a trip. Using the 4x5 and the 645 at dawn and dusk for the best light. Then I would use the 35mm and occasionally the 645 during the day when hiking. What I found was that I no longer liked the images from the 35mm. The sheer size of the 4x5 film and the technical capabilities of the camera overwhelmed what I could get out of 35mm. Even the 645 images paled in comparison to what I could get with the 4x5.

So I sold most of my 35mm gear keeping only one body and two lenses. But after another year I had only only run three rolls through it and kept none of the images. So I sold out of the 35mm game. I still kept the 645 but even it's use had become less.

In summer 07 I decided to dip my toe into digital and got a DSLR. I was back to taking three formats again. This time the 645 became the odd man out. At dawn and dusk I was still using the 4x5 but my backup quickly became the DSLR. I sat down a few weeks ago and looked over what I used the 645 for in the past year and realized I had only run 5 rolls through it. The 4x5 was where I was doing film and everything else was now digital.

So then I sold the medium format.

Now I am back down to two formats. The 4x5 and a DSLR. A morning in the field means a backpack for of large format, a small bag over my shoulder with the DSLR and a tripod in each hand (carbon fiber helps here).

I am quite pleased with the two as I think they compliment each other very well. The 4x5 allows me to work slow, think about an image and use it's capabilities (like tilt) to make special images. The DSLR lets me work fast, in the wind, handheld, and has "free film". I got the best of both worlds going.

Here is an example of both at work in Canyonlands NP. I am working the wider view of the canyon with the 4x5 and can work the distant landscape with the zoom on the DSLR.


1 comment:

Tim Parkin said...

Great to see some 'on location' shots. I started doing this myself (see my blog at but have got a bit lazy recently.

I also wanted to say that I find having a DSLR and a 4x5 camera to be a perfect outfit. The combination gives you the perfect 4x5 finder (I have a crop focussing screen on my 5D plus masking tape on the screen), the perfect photos (4x5 of course) and the perfect experimentation tool. The 24-105 lens is also great as it encompasses 110-360 lens range ... Keep up the good work!