Originally Posted by chrisl
One of the advantages of a view camera such as your Wisner is the movements that it incorporates. These movements besides allowing perspective control can be a great aid in focusing in situations such as you describe.
The way that I normally set my camera up for a landscape shot (what I would term a vertical focus situation) is as follows:
1. I set the tripod and mount the camera with the camera roughly level side to side and front to rear. I compose the image on the ground glass and if necessary I move the camera to gain the composition that I want.
2. I precisely level the camera front to rear and side to side.
3. I focus the lens to the bottom of the near object and I then use either front or rear tilt to bring the top of the far object into focus. Rear tilt will cause distortion and cause near objects to "loom". Ansel Adams exploited this in his "near/far" relationships. Front tilt will not cause this distortion. The reason to use tilt is to gain depth of focus without stopping down the lens. I adjust the tilt until I have the bottom of the nearest and top of the fartherest object in sharp focus.
4. I stop down the lens to bring the rest of the image into focus.
This will allow less stopping down of the lens to achieve the equivalent focus without the use of tilt. I never try to shoot below F32 with 4X5 for reasons of defraction.
If you encounter a scene in which you have a near/far horizontal focus to achieve. (as in the case of a fence for instance) this is where the use of front or rear swings become used.
Any of the view camera use publications will cover this in greater detail. But this is keeping it simple and it works for me. I encountered the same problems when I began using a view camera. Better luck in the future.