Cool link phfitz. Jb, I don't think 8x10 street photography is an oxymoron at all. What you might typically think of as the "act" of street photography--constant motion, bringing the camera up quickly, snapping and moving on--is just a process, not a genre. The very large body of images that make up the genre of street photography have been created using many different processes I'm sure.
Its worth noting that I visited the Annenberg Space for Photography today as I noticed their current exhibition features some of clyde butcher's 8x10 work and I noticed a couple of things that might be relevant.
First, butcher takes some phenomenal photos and if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend you go check them out while you still can. I also noticed that while overall they are amazingly beautiful, in terms of sharpness, they did not live up to my expectations of what I imagined 8x10 enlargements to look like. This could be due to unrealistic expectations--having never seen 8x10 enlargements of that magnitude (most hovered around the 40x50in range.) Or it could also be due to butcher making compromises to achieve the depth of field he wanted since a lot of his photos revolve around numerous foreground and background elements. For instance, judging by things like leaf trails in the water, etc it looked like he must have used fairly long shutter times to accommodate the small fstops he needed. Overall it was an enlightening experience as I think some of his compositional situations are similar to the ones I would like to achieve and it convinced me that I may be better off going with 4x5 to maximize my DoF. The only other factor is that it looked like he might have been using some colored filters which would have cost him maybe 2 or 3 stops of shutter speed. Not to mention the fact that he was also shooting in swamps with his tripod literally sunk into the mud/water or floating on a less-than-fully-stable platform boat. Another thing that amazed me was the total lack of grain. I thought I saw some, then realized it was just the texture of the paper...
Last edited by gongman5000; 01-21-2011 at 11:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I was amazed a couple of years back when I looked at a gallery exhibition of Ansel Adams' Museum Set. All were 16x20 from 8x10 negatives, I think. While they were wonderful prints, full of the virtuoso clarity of his technique and printing, they didn't look as sharp as I remember some of his other prints I've seen in the past. (My eyes are not as sharp as they used to be, either, so that may have played a role.) I may also have been spoiled by looking at the apparent resolution and digitally enhanced sharpness of inkjet prints.
Whether or not a big print from an 8x10" negative is needle-sharp is less important (to me at least) than the amazing overall quality of a print made from a big negative. It's an experience in itself. One of my strongest reactions to a print was to an Adams "Aspens" at his 80th birthday exhibition in San Francisco about 30 years ago. It was about 30x40", and it hit me right in the gut from clear across the room from the entrance to the show.
I'd think if I saw someone setup with an 8x10 on the street, they'd be after some sort of architectural image, and I'd really ignore them as a street photographer, especially in comparison to someone with a big piece of L glass on a canon dslr. Nobody can really tell the exact moment you take a photo with a view camera unless you are showing your hand with the cable release. But you won't be able to get high shutter speeds with a typical 8x10 lens.
4x5 with tmax400 film will be surprisingly high quality, and people'd probably still mistake you for someone doing architecture or a glass plate fool. (They'd ask if you can still get film for that)
with a 8x10 or any view camera set up, people always stop and ask questions
" wow do they still make film for that, is that a movie camera, is that a hasselblad, are you working for a magazine, or a newspaper, is that a digital movie camera, do you have a permit, do you need a permit, wow, that a big tripod, are you ansel adams, wow, that's old ... " the questions and comments are endless and it can be a pain ..
with a graflex slr, or press camera, or handheld or ... people tend to leave you alone ...
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եթե դուք պետք է ինձ դիմեք ինձ միջոցով իմ կայքը կամ բլոգում
I good technique I've found to minimize the distraction of questions, or even of confrontation sometimes (though some of my best shots have been taken in the moment of confrontation.) Is to wear a set of the big over ear headphones. Sometimes it can be nice to listen to music while shooting and other times I want to be in tune with the sounds of the street, but even then often I'll leave them on and just pretend I can't hear anyone who is bothering me. Most of the time people will just leave you alone because they assume you can't hear them anyways.
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I suggest a quick look at Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz and Alec Soth to get an idea about the sort of street photography work that can be achieved with a 10/8 camera and whilst your at it check out dusseldorf school of photography and the exibition new topographics.
On the point of sharpness one of the most famous American photographs ever taken is soft, and it matters not a jot.
With LF, you can easily push HP5 or other 400 ISO films without the typical 35mm shooter's concern for grain. I've yet to notice any at all shooting a crown graphic at 800, simply developed in D76 1+1.
You'll need 125/s at least to stop people motion in the street. With a 135mm press lens (or similar), you'll get reasonable DoF, and these older designs often shoot sharply at wider apertures. A press camera with a working rangefinder will help if you want to go hand-held (I use the wire frame and the RF).
Consider also using a flash like a Metz CL4.
I've been doing some handheld 4x5 like this for about a year and am about to start using a very lightweight tripod for LF street work, fwiw.