First attempts

Kris Lockyear

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I started getting into large format photography some years ago but it stalled. Just recently I've started trying once again. This is one of my first images. Schneider Krueznach 90mm f/6.8 Grandagon N lens, Ilford FP4+, developed by Peak Imaging, scanned using my Epson V750.

St Mary's, Saffron Walden.

St Mary's, Saffron Walden par Kris Lockyear, on ipernity
 

Ian Grant

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Kris, you need to stop the Rodenstock 90mm f6.8 Grandagon N down much more ideally f22, or even f32 to get maximum DOF, also watch where you place the actual plane of focus, usually 1/3 of the way into an image like this.

I have the same lens and it's capable of superb results, there's a slight learning curve with LF but it's logical.

Ian
 

David M

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That's pretty good first result. Your eye seems to be tuned-in already. It will still be there if you want to try different apertures. Well done.
Have we said 'welcome'?
 
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Joanna Carter

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Hi Kris. To encourage you as to what is possible, here is a photo taken with a similar point of view, but using tilt to obtain a field of sharpness that covers the entire image.

Basically, I aimed to have the plane of focus from the nearest pew to the top of the arch above the organ; then stopping down to f/32.

SaltaireUnitedReformedChurch.jpg
 

Ian Grant

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While many say don't use f32 and particularly f45 because of diffraction limitations you have to try for yourself. A few years ago someone on another forum listed what apertures John Sexton was using for his LF (5x4) images (all the data was with the images in a publication) and while he mostly shot at f22, there were some at f32 and a few at f45 and the quality was superb.

Ultimately it's what aperture works best for an image and like Joanna I'd use f32 and possibly f45 for an image like this. The major issue here could be converging verticals, but you've handled that and exposure perfectly. The only movement I'd use would probably be front rise.

Ian
 

David M

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Yes, indeed. You might think of the problem the other way round, as choosing where to place the unsharpness. The choice is between a little bit of overall diffraction-unsharpness, or a few local patches of out-of-focus-unsharpness.
The size of enlargement will make a difference of course, but if a normal* viewer's first reaction to an image is to comment on the rendering of fine detail, then perhaps the real problem lies elsewhere.

* Probably almost anyone with eyes, who isn't an LF photographer.
 

Joanna Carter

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I've just run a calculation, using the excellent TrueDoF-Pro app, which takes into account diffraction limitation.

For a Circle of Confusion of 100 microns (for 5" x 4" cameras), the diffraction limit only kicks in at f/51 :)
 

KenS

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While many say don't use f32 and particularly f45 because of diffraction limitations you have to try for yourself. A few years ago someone on another forum listed what apertures John Sexton was using for his LF (5x4) images (all the data was with the images in a publication) and while he mostly shot at f22, there were some at f32 and a few at f45 and the quality was superb.

Ultimately it's what aperture works best for an image and like Joanna I'd use f32 and possibly f45 for an image like this. The major issue here could be converging verticals, but you've handled that and exposure perfectly. The only movement I'd use would probably be front rise.

Ian,
Somewhat 'nice' to read that I am not the only 'admirer' of John Sexton.. and his work. When I was on the 'executive' of the 'west coast' branch of the Biological Photographic Association (now known a Biocom.org, I had the pleasure of having 'a seat' at the 'big dinner' table and had him sign my copy of his "Quiet Light' book, and have tried on numerous occasion to achieve similar 'effects'...
Sometimes successful and other times not quite how I had 'hoped' they might.

Ken
 

Joanna Carter

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How does tilts affect DOF formulas. After all, you;re extending the focu range with the swing.
Forget formulae with movements. Focusing a view camera with movements is entirely empirical. In other words, you look at the screen whilst making adjustments and when it looks right, it's right.
 

David M

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Joanna is right. It's better and easier to use the screen.
Tilting (or swinging) changes the rectilinear DoF volume of acceptable focus into a wedge of acceptable focus. I hope this is moderately clear.
If you really want to know more, look up Harold Merklinger. He has explored the subject very thoroughly.
The Ins and Outs of Focus.
Focusing the View Camera.

He begins from the idea that what is important is what detail in the scene we want to see resolved.
They might now be available as free downloads, but I'm not sure.
Please let us know how you get on with them.
 

Ian Grant

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DOF tables etc are still sometimes important even though we have movements. In most acses simply adding movements and re-focussing is enough solves overall sharpness issues. However there can be the odd times where you have to use a combination and DOF.

DOF table formula still work with movements for specific areas but in practice you soon realise what your lenses are capable of and shouldn't need them. You need to reference particular points in an image part of the frame might be focussed at 50ft and other at 10ft, in practice often the foreground is more important when it comes to DOF.

It's not something to worry about, really movements are our friend in almost all cases, lack of movements (or poor movements) is a far greater issue.

Ian
 

Alan Klein

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Hi Kris. To encourage you as to what is possible, here is a photo taken with a similar point of view, but using tilt to obtain a field of sharpness that covers the entire image.

Basically, I aimed to have the plane of focus from the nearest pew to the top of the arch above the organ; then stopping down to f/32.

View attachment 1883
Hi Joanna, I'm just starting out with large format. So bear with me. My 4x5 camera is a Chamonix 45H-1. It has asymmetric tilts and swings. I believe I'm suppose to focus on the 1/3 line (upper or lower line?) then tilt (the front or rear?) until the other third line comes into focus. How does that work as opposed to your method of focusing on the nearest and tilting to the furthest?
 

Ian Grant

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Thanks. So what is the basis you use to select the aperture if DOF not longer has a priority?
With LF where possible it's best to use lenses at f22 for overall sharpness, that's the sweet spot LF lenses are designed for and in general where edge sharpness matches central sharpness, This is particularly noticeable with older lens designs like Tessars and type, Xenars Skopars, most of the Kodak Ektars, etc.

f32, f45 and smaller begin to suffer diffraction limitation which impacts sharpness, but in reality sometimes you need the extra DOF of these apertures so it's a trade off, It's also about knowing your lenses because that sharpness drop off might be measurable on an optical bench but unnoticeable in final prints etc. I will use f32 if needed, and at a push f45, someone noted the Apertures John Sexton used in one of his books and while most images were shot at f22, some were f32 and the odd one or two f45, and John Sextons image quality is superb.

It's not that DOF is no longer a priority rather that use of front/rear tilt can shift the plane of focus allowing foreground through to background to be brought into focus at the full aperture of the lens, that's the extreme we'd struggle with without movements, then DOF brings into sharpness the parts of the image that deviate from the new plane of focus.

Ian
 

David M

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As Ian says, you would generally use something like f22 for most shots and then adjust the plane-of-focus with swing and tilt. f22 isn't written in tablets of stone. You might choose to use f32 or any other aperture as your norm. Interesting pictures can be made wide open and movements can be used to increase unsharpness too.
It's equally important that stopping down increases the size of the image circle.
There's a good deal of worry among some LF photographers about diffraction, but in practice it can be ignored unless you intend to produce very large prints.
You will discover that some photographers specialise in worrying about densitometer readings, some about resolution. Others are fascinated by special developers. It takes all sorts. Best of luck to everybody.
The real, but unsatisfactory answer to your question is "experience." The ground glass is the ultimate arbiter. (Well no, it's probably the print.)
Try not to solve a problem until you've made the mistake. Mistakes are a vital part of learning and you should try to welcome them.
 

Joanna Carter

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Hi Joanna, I'm just starting out with large format. So bear with me. My 4x5 camera is a Chamonix 45H-1. It has asymmetric tilts and swings. I believe I'm suppose to focus on the 1/3 line (upper or lower line?) then tilt (the front or rear?) until the other third line comes into focus. How does that work as opposed to your method of focusing on the nearest and tilting to the furthest?
In my opinion, asymmetric movements are only useful when you have a "standard" scene to photograph. If you don't want the plane of sharp focus to pass where the ⅓ line is on the ground glass screen, then you will need to use the part of the screen that does pass where you want the line of sharp focus to be.

Sometimes I start on something in the distance, sometimes on something near - it really makes no difference and you will soon work out which works better for you with the type of scene you are photographing.

I would highly recommend you read Harold Merklinger's books on focusing the view camera - they are a mine of interesting and useful stuff, including movie animations of how the "wedge" of focus changes with movements. The books are available as PDF downloads and there is plenty of other stuff on linked pages.

The problem with trying to apply DOF calculations to movements is that the DOF changes the further away from the hinge point you move. As I alluded earlier, the zone of sharp focus is wedge shaped, starting from a point near the camera and getting wider as it travels away from the camera. So, your calculation tells you that, with a 150mm lens, at f/16, the depth of field at 12m is 69m (5m in front and 64m behind) - your problem is, because the plane of sharp focus is at 15° from the horizontal, that means that you have to measure the DOF along a line that is 75° from the horizontal, 12m away from the camera.

Which is why, in general, if you are using tilts or swings, forget calculations and simply rely on what you see on the screen.

Always start by determining where you want the plane of sharp focus to pass through, at full aperture, then stop down, inspecting the screen to see when everything else of importance becomes acceptably sharp. The rule of thumb that I was taught about minimum aperture was 2 stops larger than the minimum on the lens/shutter.

Don't forget, when we talk about diffraction limitations, acceptable sharpness is relative to the size of print, the viewing distance and the eyesight of the viewer. If we are talking about a 50" x 40" print, only the ardent "pixel-peeper" will walk right up to the print to check that the eye on the fly on a plank of wood is sharp enough. Most people stand further back to take in the whole image.
 
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David M

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A small piece of extra advice. Get a decent loupe and make sure that it's set to focus accurately on the ground side of the ground glass.
Almost always, LF focusing is an iterative process. Focus, look, tilt, look, focus again... With practice, this will become much quicker, so take heart.
 

Joanna Carter

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Almost always, LF focusing is an iterative process. Focus, look, tilt, look, focus again... With practice, this will become much quicker, so take heart.
Just a couple of examples to show how easy/difficult it can be to setup tilts :

Easy (5 mins)
PhareDePontusval.jpg

Difficult (2½ hrs)
BrelevenezEscaliersDuSommet.jpg

The difficult one was because the plane of sharp focus had to descend rather than ascend and it too me several attempts to get that right. In order to get from the manhole cover to the distance sharp, I went from the gutters on the first house on the right to the third lamppost down. Then closed down to f/32.
 
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