Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Arca-Swiss Wide Angle Bellows

In an older post I wrote about the wide angle leather bellows that Arca-Swiss makes and how fine a piece of equipment it is.  I also picked up a used synthetic wade angle bellows and that is the subject of this post.

The nutshell review is to skip this and go for the leather one.  Yes, it costs more but it is more functional, easier to work with, and let's face it-just looks cooler.

Unlike the soft supple qualities of the leather bellows, the synthetic is stiff.  I am sure that helps keep the light path open but it also makes it more fiddly to work with.  Even changing the bellows which is literally a two second affair with the leather or standard bellows takes a while as the bag like qualities keep getting in the way.

It puffs up when in use and can act more like a sail than the other bellows.  Being a landscape guy who frequents west Texas, wind is a common element I deal with.  Adding any more features that catch wind is not something I like to do.

Even storage of the camera becomes more of a pain as the bellows sticks out on three sides from the camera meaning you have to carefully wrap it around the frame prior to putting it in your pack.  This is the exact opposite of how the accordion folds of the leather and regular bellows fit nicely within the frame.  I worry that heavy, long term use will weaken the material and potentially cause a light leak.

Then that cool factor.  The leather bellows would get the approval of the Fonz, it is a finely crafted piece of leather.  The synthetic bellows, on the other hand, has about zero cool factor.  

So, yes the synthetic bellows will work, I just think an Arca-Swiss owner ought to just get a bellows that matches the engineering quality of the rest of the camera.

My final thought on it is I keep mine as somewhat of an insurance policy for my good leather bellows.  I also now have a bellows frame I could send to the UK and see if the folks at Custom Bellows could make me something of a universal style bellows for my Arca.

Both images here have me set up in a local park, with a 125mm lens and the compendium.  I think you might be able to see how stiff and sail like the synthetic bellows can be.  Also note the Crown Graphic in the background.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Adventure Continues

Photography is an adventure.  

Large Format photography is even more of an adventure.  It is fun, challenging, difficult, frustrating, surprising, and unpredictable.  It is an art, a science, a skill, and something that just plain dumb luck is the best thing you can have. 

In the end it is ultimately rewarding.

Photography continues to evolve as an discipline and the technology is changing at an ever increasing rate.  As traditional as large format photography is it is not immune to change.  I continue to deal with markets and tools that do not sit still.

It is something that I am still compelled to work with, to try to understand better, and to try to improve in.

As I look forward to working more with the camera and seeing where it takes me next.  

I think of this image as one that has always inspired the photographer in me.  Perched high on a cliff overlooking the Rio Grande, it always makes me ready to grab the gear and head west.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Fresh Start for 2012

2012 got me to thinking of changes that go with the new year.  I looked back over my photography and where it was going.  I also looked back over this blog and decided to start to try to make some changes.  For starters I decided the name was ready for a change.  
So here I will rechristen it The Large Format Photography Blog.

That means the address was updated and I might even start to change up the style of it.

Here is the first image to share for the year.  I went out on Monday January 2nd with the big camera and photographed a few areas southwest of Fort Worth.  Here is an old grain elevator in Hico, Texas.