Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 71,840   Posts: 1,582,591   Online: 1017
      
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    juan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    St. Simons Island, Georgia
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,646
    Images
    4

    The Decisive Moment and Large Format Photography

    I always thought of the decisive moment as being something important in smaller format photography - HCB, Weegee, Smith, photo journalism, etc. But I got a lesson this week in its importance in large format photography (big camera on a tripod as opposed to a 4x5 Speed Graphic) from Edward Weston.

    There is a Weston photograph I've seen published in several places in which he obviously took his camera up the hill above his house on Wildcat Hill. Most of the published copies I've seen have been rather small. I just got a copy of "Edward Weston -The Last Years in Carmel" and on p25, it's reproduced at almost 8x10.

    At first glance, it's simply a record photograph of the home and surroundings. But with it being Weston, I looked deeper. There's the contrast of verticals from the trees, the curves of the Pacific, the implied curves of the highway, the interesting arrangement of the three buildings - there's Charis on the roof reading a book, there's the homemade ladder she used to get on the roof. Then looking even more closely I saw the decisive moment. Not one but two cats are on the roof looking directly at Weston and the camera with that "What the hell are you doing now" look that cats can get on their faces.

    How did Weston get them to do that? Even more so, how did he think of the importance of such a small detail in such a photograph? When I saw the cats' faces, the whole photograph came to life - it was no longer just a nice photograph of a house in a pretty location. It's much like the attention to detail given in still lifes - but this is essentially a landscape photograph.

    I have much to think about, much to learn.
    juan

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    17,483
    Images
    20
    I completely agree. Even with seemingly static subjects like landscapes or architecture, you can't just set up the camera at any time of day and snap the shutter and expect it to be the same composition. The light is always changing, clouds are moving, people and things are moving in and out of the frame, weather conditions or other factors may affect where it is possible to set up the camera, the wind changes, the photographer changes.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Manhattan Beach, CA
    Shooter
    8x10 Format
    Posts
    448
    Images
    19
    The Decisive Moment.
    This reminds me of an image printed in one of the very first View Camera magazines, about 1988. It's entitled "Horses and Haystacks". The image includes haystacks but there are no horses. Apparently, while the photographer was setting up his large format camera, the horses ambled out of the frame, and the photographer was too impatient to wait for their return, or set up somewhere else.
    How many times have we settled for the wrong light, the inferior clouds, or the second best camera position when composing with large format? Is it all just luck in being there at the right time? Do we owe the craft more patience and more sweat in crafting the image in the ground glass before we dive into the darkroom?
    Today is full of such decisive moments, and here I am at the computer missing all of them! ;-(

  4. #4
    eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Southern California
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,586
    Images
    55
    I think you want one of these:

    http://www.bostick-sullivan.com/Hobo/welcome.htm

  5. #5
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    2,895
    Images
    63
    Actually, I think it can be done, but not in the usual manner. Weston is shooting at his home, so he is entirely familiar with the surroundings. With his eye, you might say familiar right down to the minutest rays of light and shadow. He has pondered this shot before, rolling it over in his mind. Everything is going per the daily routine, even the cats being up with the wife during reading time. Cats love this sort of thing and Weston knows that too.

    Comes a day when the light and shadows are going to be just right. Weston ses up his camera early, well before the reading routine starts so that his preparations will not disturb anything. Come the right moment, with the right combination of light and shadows, Weston moves in to the camera, maybe makes a small fuss to attract the cats' attention, and CLICK!

    Who knows? I obviously wasn't there. But its plausible. I've found myself contemplating nearly the same thing. But I'm not Weston though.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  6. #6
    Flotsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    S.E. New York State
    Posts
    3,221
    Images
    13
    Jorge posted this excellent link in another thread. It belongs in this topic.

    This fellow shoots 8x10 street photography in color. They are beautifully sharp as expected but the thing that grabs me is the unexpected narrow depth of field in the fairly wide angle shots. An effect of using the large format for a subject that is more often approached with a small or medium format camera. Very unique.

    Here's the link: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0408/miller01.html
    The interviews are very interesting also.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Shooter
    Large Format Pan
    Posts
    112
    Images
    3

    Decisive Moment

    While I agree that is a stunning picture. I often wonder what the entire rolls of the likes of HCB are like and how many indecisive moments there are. I think it is a bit of marketing hype. Yes, he caught great moments, but I am sure he caught a lot of not-great moments.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    5,243
    Images
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    Jorge posted this excellent link in another thread. It belongs in this topic.

    This fellow shoots 8x10 street photography in color. They are beautifully sharp as expected but the thing that grabs me is the unexpected narrow depth of field in the fairly wide angle shots. An effect of using the large format for a subject that is more often approached with a small or medium format camera. Very unique.

    Here's the link: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0408/miller01.html
    The interviews are very interesting also.
    The guy in the link poses his subjects. They are normal folks and they were at the scene but he approaches them and asks them to do something specific. I like the photos and he poses them very naturally but they are by no means representative of the desicive moment.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  9. #9
    Flotsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    S.E. New York State
    Posts
    3,221
    Images
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    The guy in the link poses his subjects. They are normal folks and they were at the scene but he approaches them and asks them to do something specific. I like the photos and he poses them very naturally but they are by no means representative of the desicive moment.
    You are absolutely correct but it is an interesting example of taking an 8x10 out into the street and photographing people in their natural settings and activities. As far as this topic is concerned, I think that the link is still valid and informative. It represents Miller's experience of attempting to emulate his earlier 35mm decisive moment photography with an 8x10 camera. He seems to have come to the conclusion that he cannot avoid interfering somewhat with the scene in order to capture what initially he saw. Certainly, many of the subjects of HCB's street photography were obviously aware of his presence and his camera. Miller does maintain a very natural and candid feel and seems to be very talented at catching fleeting motions and expressions of those within his frame, that's a a kind of a decisive moment isn't it? .
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    1,652
    Latest issue of LensWork has an article by Bruce Barlow about Fred Picker. Fred emphasized the ability to rapidly set up the LF camera - he actually practiced taking the camera + equipment out of car & setting it up to see how fast he could do it. Adams' Moonrise over Hernandez emphasizes point about being familiar with your equipment so you can catch those fleeting moments.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"



 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin