It still don't take much to confuse me!
Sometimes we do the same job exactly the same way for so long that it may appear that our way is the only way it properly can be done. I have been using View Cameras for more than fifty years with excellent results. But!
Today I read in another thread a comment concerning a "Focusing hood" on a B & J camera back. That it could interfere with the focusing loop when checking multiple areas of the ground glass for sharpness. This comment started me to think about it. I understand I think what this means. But do I really? I would like to have input here from "The Old Pros" Those that have been staring into the ground glass for more than ten years or so. What do you do to assure that what you are photographing will be as sharp as you want it to be in the finished print?
My technique that has worked so well for me, may be totally incorrect!
If working indoors or outdoors regardless of what the subject may be, I compose and focus so as to get main subject as sharp as possible. I do this focus adjustment with an optical aid usually near the center of the focusing panel. At this point I can stop down, and expose film. Or review what I actually may want to capture on the film and modify it by extending or shortening DOF. I don't own any kind of DOF scale, but I do know by heart the characteristics of each of my lenses. I do not stop down to f 64 and try to see a sharp/unsharp area on the darkened GG. I re open the lens (WO)to either adjust the sharpest point nearer or further from the original point of my original focus. Backfocusing or forefocusing to move my DOF zone into the location that gives me maximum DOF for the subject. Stop down to my shooting aperture and expose film.
When using moderate swing and tilts the same technique works as long as standards front and rear are parallel and the front and rear tilts are matching.
99 percent of my viewing with an optical device is with the lens wide open.
I do not move it around checking focus after I have found the infinity point.
I do not need to check the GG with the lens stopped down since I know what I want in focus is within my chosen DOF zone. As I said above perhaps I am wrong, and will have to learn a new way to do things. But I sure have had a good time doing it even if it is wrong. Waddya think?
It seems you are using one of the best methods, knowing your stuff backwards and forwards. Its the inner visualising that many folks are trying for that you seem to have down pat so why should you worry about whether it is the "right" way. Results count!
Excellent results? If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it.
Originally Posted by Charles Webb
Being a newbie of <3yrs in LF, Charles, I follow the same approach you do...unless I believe there will be a focus shift with a particular lens after stopping down the aperture. However, there definitely more the just focusing in LF for the quality of my photographic work is not up to par with you and others who post here...NOT yet at least. However, I sure love trying..... Jon
I have been photographing using a view camera for something over twenty years. A lot of my focusing is dependent on the object or scene photographed. For instance if I have a tall vertical object in the scene, I leave the back and lens stage vertical and use the aperture to focus over the image on the ground glass. I never use tilt in these situations...swings if they are needed.
Where that is not the case, I focus on the near and tilt or swing to bring the far into focus. This usually requires further adjustment of the near to equalize the focus. I then use aperture to bring the other dimension into focus.
I use a loupe to focus with the lens wide open first and never use it after I stop the lens down. I stop the lens down the last thing that I do.
I try to never stop down below F32 on 4X5 and prefer to stay in the F11-F22 range through the use of movements. On 8X10 I never stop down below F 45. I find diffraction to be a real consideration when enlarging negatives.
After awhile this whole matter becomes intuitive and I know before I set the camera what I will need to do in movements.
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Once your camera is set up and the adjustments are made and the lens is wide open focus on the near and far points that you wish to keep sharp and get them equally out of focus, then stop your lens down while viewing either the near or the far point. When it comes into the sharpest focus, check the opposite point to see that it is equally sharp. To do this open your aperture a bit and watch it soften, close it a bit beynd the original setting and watch it soften. If the point does not soften in both directions then you have not set your focus correctly between the two points ..open your lens and try again. A high powered loupe ids recommended..for 4x5 perhaps 8-10 power.
Once properly set you may wish to stop down an additional stop if you have any concerns about film flatness in your holders.
If ypu have a dark foreground and need a wider aperture then this is the best place to allow a bi of softness since your eye will be less drawn to it due to the darkness.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
Charlie, the only part that's correct in "old pro" for me is OLD. I still get surprises occasionally. Like a composition I really liked the other day on the workshop. It was soft on one side and would have easily been corrected with a little swing. I confess to trying to focus in a cave with an f9 lens.
But you're making this way too uncomplicated. Last evening I was playing with a macro composition of indian rice grass against black background. A foot away with a 15.5" lens with bellows at about 34-36". Then I'm walkiing back and forth playing with the diffusion control that King Kong couldn't reach while under the dark cloth and trying to remember what the before looked like to see if the new setting is better.
I REALLY need an assistant. Cute assistant. How did Edward accomplish that well into his 50's?
I use two methods to make images with an 8x10.
1). For COMMERCIAL pictures ( where I was hired to illustrate an object for a client ) and
2). For PERSONAL images ( make the image look they way I wanted )
In the first case, I make a generally correct image by eye (Scheimflug corrections were made without observing the groundglass image). Then, I stopped the lens down until the round diaphragm was visible in the clipped corners of the glass. THEN I look over the CRITICAL parts of the image with a loupe.
I became addicted to clear glass w/ reticle ground glass doing photomacroscopy as a college student, and used a cover slip, drop of balsam, and fine hair to make one on my Deardorff glass. It makes critical focus of a stopped down image easy-peasy.
For my OWN work, I've always followed the Emersonian advice of making the image sharp enough, no more, no less. Very little Scheimflug is needed, and then to put a face and hands of the subject into the same image plane. Focus by eye, stop down until the image looks right ( Bokeh is a very old idea and was just called something else way back when ), then repeat the process. To set up a shot usually takes less than 30 seconds.
Unless it is a dark scene I seldom need a loupe, although to be honest my 55 year old eyes ALWAYS need their reading glasses and they tend to serve as a low power loupe. My young eyes did not help 30 years ago.
Today, if I need to photograph a group, or quickly set up a shot in flat light, I use 3 LED pocket torches. Place them in the critical parts of the scene and quickly find your marks. Then remove them.
COMMERCIALLY, it is important to study the scene by eye, away from the camera, and solve the problem before you start playing with the camera.
Personally, since few movements are ever used, getting lost in the grounglass is a fine thing to do. In either case, it should never take long to get the image right .
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"