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Thread: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Well I was thinking now we have these nice toy's and it's always nice to chat about the technical side but what about the artistic approach to shooting MF. I maybe titled this wrong because what I was really driving around in my head is it putting limits on what you shoot because of example weight, bulk, use of tripod, slower shooting process , DOF limitations and stuff that may not free you as much like say shooting a M8 for instance. So the question really being asked here is do you feel there are any limitations that are getting in your way to performing artistically or is it actually improving the right side of your head.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    I wonder where bone-dry martinis fit in the artistic equation. Perhaps Jack can report
    Carsten - Website

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    It could only be a good report i say. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    buzzski
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    I personally think shooting with MFDB is a double-edged sword... My setup, Blad V and Aptus back makes me work in a much more methodical manner compared to shooting with DSLR's. Because I put more effort in to every aspect of capturing the image, then the result, both artistically and technically is usually far superior. This stands both in the field and the studio (where I shoot exclusively MFDB, tethered) However it has to be said that carting around a body, back and selection of prime lenses can be a pain compared to wandering around with a DSLR and a zoom lens... Horses for courses I guess. The quality of image and overall shooting experience for me working with MFDB is a much more satisfying endeavour. I feel more at one with the equipment and in control, I'm much less snap-happy and selective about what I shoot. I see any limitations that the kit presents as a challenge to be overcome. For example, I'd love to shoot wider than my 40mm allows so have bought a RRS pano head to experiment with stitching. I have a 12mm Nikon lens which performs very well and would almost certainly capture what I require but I hope to outperform this by stitching MFDB. Once the kit arrives I'll report my findings! FWIW I look forward to other peoples thoughts on this subject, I think it's a real interesting post. Craig

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    BTW folks examples are great also.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Hi Guy,

    Interesting topic. I'll get back to you properly when my gear works!

    Seriously, I used a 4 x 5 field camera and a 1DSIII (which I treated as a MF system: tripods, cable release, manual lenses etc) a lot this year and there's no doubt that it makes one more considered and changes the way one relates to the subject.

    Clearly that only works for certain kinds of subject. Anything spontaneous is gone, for sure but one pays a lot more attention to composition, exposure, the quality and timing of light, and DOF. For the first time ever I've been shooting with a DOF calculator (on my iPhone).

    I went to the Brighton Photo Fringe show recently and there was one gallery with a group show by three guys, all shooting using 4 x 5. The most interesting thing about their work was that, had it been taken on a P&S it would have been actively boring. One was taking shots of a cryogenics facility, another of quarries and mine seams. What made their work compelling on the wall was the sheer resolution and tonality. It invited the viewer to consider aspects of the scene beyond form and content. Texture, light, tonality, detail, subtlety of colour; all came to the fore in a way that few pieces of equipment allow the photographer to achieve.

    What this means in some ways is that with the possible exception of one or two cameras, the vast range of gear used my amateurs simply can't do this. Which means that for the professional or fine art photographer, certain choices of gear open up creative horizons not generally available to Joe Public.

    I think!

    T

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    I guess i will add my thoughts. I got up at 3 am and can't go back to sleep. i actually may go grocery shopping. LOL

    Anyway i specifically bought MF for the quality of file and besides that it has actually got me thinking more and being more deliberate on what I shoot and how i do it. Obviously the images below took some time to setup with lighting, arrangements and everything including camera in it's perfect spot for me. One thing added here is shooting tethered and I love this feature it is my ultimate polaroid. I know exactly what i have and my client can approve them on the spot. To me this is the clear cut advantage to MF is this ability and the quality of the file. Not to mention reasons for buying MF is the 12 stop DR and the ability to go big. Which obviously lacks that in 35mm. I have been burned by clients making huge banners beyond what 35mm can do. Honestly nothing worse than walking into a plant and seeing a 15 ft x 45 ft banner on the wall of your image knowing that the file is not cutting it. Now on the same token in some work it has it's disadvantages
    also. Obviously do not need MF to shoot PR work and having the extra bulk is not really needed BUT on that same vein my files still are much better with DR doing this stuff too, so what appears as a working disadvantage it really becomes a blessing with regards to your file. Just more physical work.

    So yes it is a double edge sword but here is another point , now that i have it and use it for everything and you get used to shooting with it and these great files. You kind of smack yourself in the head and think how could you ever go backwards again after getting this kind of quality. I realize speed with 35mm is a clear advantage in a lot of cases and do not want to discount that but i tend to think file over speed and willing to let's be real honest here bust my butt more to get the better file. It has changed my thinking a lot.

    Now for my own pleasure i look at the files below and think how could i really do any better with camera and realize i can't to a certain degree but this question always hit me smack in the face when I did this stuff with 35mm and always wanting for more. Now i have it and those thoughts seem to have disappeared. I am just not wanting anymore on better file. This to me is huge as the ultimate gear head always wanting the latest and best i can get my hands on. That need has really has changed my buying habits
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I guess i will add my thoughts. I got up at 3 am and can't go back to sleep. i actually may go grocery shopping. LOL
    Yeah I slept badly too Guy, now got to wait in all day for some rolls of fine art paper to be delivered, no doubt they'll be here at 5.30 if at all!

    Those files are really nice (and corner sharp!) very very smooth and silky. Which glass/apertures/shutter speeds/ISO etc?

    t

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Tim Phase P25 plus all with the Mamiya 28mm at F12 or so ISO 100. Shutter mostly like 1 or 2 seconds for some . When viewing outside 1/125. About 6 lights going in most of them all Elinchrom mono's and Ranger's
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Super Duper
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Well I was thinking now we have these nice toy's and it's always nice to chat about the technical side but what about the artistic approach to shooting MF. I maybe titled this wrong because what I was really driving around in my head is it putting limits on what you shoot because of example weight, bulk, use of tripod, slower shooting process , DOF limitations and stuff that may not free you as much like say shooting a M8 for instance. So the question really being asked here is do you feel there are any limitations that are getting in your way to performing artistically or is it actually improving the right side of your head.
    Interesting question. I only can comment for the ZD so far:
    First of all buk/size/weight is not a problem for me, my D3 isnt any heavier

    Speed (non existing) of the AF and shutter lag is a limit compared to a D3 or comparable system.
    Being bound to low ISO is an even stronger limit for me so far.

    The other thing is that for me the actual "feel" and look of a system influences my photography as well. The solid feel of a Nikon D3, or a nice made Leica body, and a smooth focusing Leica lens make me kind of happy and I think this also influences me when taking images.
    In that regard I am missing a lot when using the ZD. Too much plastic, not the greatest design/look, small dim display.
    This is one of the reasons why I also dont find the Hassy H system that appealing to me (why that grey?), and why I even might consider a V-Body and lenses.
    Right now I feel that the systems with the nice form and feel dont offer all the functions, and the ones which offer all the functions dont offer the form and feel factor.
    However I guess that for many a good functioning system is all what counts and the asthetics might not be as important as they are for me.
    What I mean: it is another limit for me that so far I have not found THE MF-system which fits me in nearly all regards (as the M8 fits me in 95% of my needs for rangefinder photography and so does the D3-Nikon system for 35mm-photography (or however you call it today))

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    very personal method for me. I have never been happy squinting through that little peephole of a DSLR or RF. On the contrary, i can almost dive right in to the 4x5 or 2-1/4 ground glass, and i am much happier with a tripod.
    even for portraits.
    i also tend to favor fewer shots per outing and attempt a higher keeper ratio. When shooting 4x5, i would go out with six filmholders loaded, rarely shoot them all, and consider one, maybe two keepers a success. using a 12 exposure roll in the 2-1/4 was about right.
    now i use 2 or 4 gig cards, but never shoot more than 30 shots in an outing.
    almost all of my favorite personal work over the years has been large or medium format, so it works for me.
    And I love the technical control of the view camera and the sleek look of the classic hasselblad

    maybe i am over-reacting to the days when i had an Olympus Pen-D, with 72 half-frame shots per roll. way too many negs to wade through and too much shooting before you could get back to processing.

  12. #12
    jmvdigital
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Guy, you're slipping... I see a few electrical wall plates!

    I agree with you and Craig (buzzski). I have found that the MFDB has slowed down my shooting to be far more methodical and purposeful since switching from 35mm. But this has improved my creativity and lifted my sights a bit.

    The only practical limits I face now in my shooting are mostly in my head. I do a bit of roadside shooting of textures, barns, landscapes, etc. and dragging out the tripod and setting it up facing someone's property usually makes me nervous. Most of the stuff I find interesting is usually not found in the ritzy neighborhoods with latte-sucking joggers. I hit the back alleys of downtown and the rural dirt roads way outside of town. Both are typically populated with folks that would rather you take your fancy camera and shove it. My point being that MFDB has caused me to miss a few shots I might have taken with my Canon on a run-and-gun (to steal a video term) shoot. In reality, I probably could have set up all the gear and taken those shots, I just wasn't comfortable doing so.

    That said, I'm consistently floored with the images I do get, and have far more "keepers" per shoot than I ever did with my Canon. I wish I could go back and reshoot all the stuff I have in the last few years and get it in MF quality.

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Amazing files Guy!

    Interesting remark by Tashley that MF or LF makes certain subjects compelling that would not be shot 35mm.

    While this is certainly true, some of the images I see on the forums seems to be all about file quality and lack artistic quality. (And some have amazing file and artistic quality.) I think it's possible to become fascinated/obsessed by the technology, and forget that the image quality is the final goal. And all the great images made with lousy technologies.

    I think the US military in Vietnam and Iraq fell into thinking with our vastly superior fire power, how can we loose. It's not all about fire power.

    On the other hand, it's also true that in all the arts much great work is generated by the artist exploring/experimenting with the limits of new technology. This is true I think not because the new technology is better, but because it's newness allows an unselfconscious exploration of the medium.

    Oh Pioneers! Whether cave painters with fingers and spit, or holographers with microchips.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    John good point, it is almost a throw back to the old days or old school in terms of the feel of working with it, I agree.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Mitchell great points I think they key is as we explore this technology we also need to be able to forget what we have and just create. For me simple camera's help me do that better. I rather work on the controls myself to increase my creative output. Knowing what i am actually applying to the camera makes me think better in terms of how i want something to finally look at the end. Great discussion, i love this kind of chat between us.

    BTW thanks at the end of the day those type of files ease the pain in my body to get them. I do enjoy hard work if the results show it otherwise to much input and not enough output. I'm getting older and if i have to bust my butt than i want something for that effort. I want to build new portfolio and i want perfection in it. After almost all of my life being a shooter I really want to be satisfied at the end of it. Okay that was a little deep. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Quote Originally Posted by jmvdigital View Post
    The only practical limits I face now in my shooting are mostly in my head. I do a bit of roadside shooting of textures, barns, landscapes, etc. and dragging out the tripod and setting it up facing someone's property usually makes me nervous.
    Maybe get a longer lens?
    Carsten - Website

  17. #17
    buzzski
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    [QUOTE=jmvdigital;58392]


    The only practical limits I face now in my shooting are mostly in my head. I do a bit of roadside shooting of textures, barns, landscapes, etc. and dragging out the tripod and setting it up facing someone's property usually makes me nervous. Most of the stuff I find interesting is usually not found in the ritzy neighborhoods with latte-sucking joggers. I hit the back alleys of downtown and the rural dirt roads way outside of town. Both are typically populated with folks that would rather you take your fancy camera and shove it. My point being that MFDB has caused me to miss a few shots I might have taken with my Canon on a run-and-gun (to steal a video term) shoot. In reality, I probably could have set up all the gear and taken those shots, I just wasn't comfortable doing so.

    That said, I'm consistently floored with the images I do get, and have far more "keepers" per shoot than I ever did with my Canon. I wish I could go back and reshoot all the stuff I have in the last few years and get it in MF quality. [/QUOTE

    I am in total agreement with you here. I travel a fair bit and sometimes the thought of building the camera up with appropriate prime lens, cable release, sync cable, tripod etc to grab a quick shot can seema bit laborious. I could grab it on my DSLR but then I'd look at the images and wish I'd done them on MF... Also, trying to be anything like covert with such large and obvious gear isn't worth considering. I know I've missed stuff, possibly through laziness on my part and sometimes not wanting to risk flashing really expensive kit around in less desirable parts of town. Having said that if I could stretch to an Alpa TC for doing street photography I'd be a happy man. That is a gorgeous looking bit of kit! Dear Father Christmas perhaps?...

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    The Alpa TC is a fun street camera and very small. i had one for a short time and it was a joy to have. A Mamiya 28mm was needed more but love to get one again someday
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    Excellent topic, Guy. At first, I felt a little less stealth-like in my approach when using a MFDB where I might have previously used an M8 or a DSLR. But, I've tried taking the approach that it's just me being conscious of the larger camera. A camera is a camera, I simply bring it everywhere and use it for everything ... force-feeding my learning curve.

    Now that I've spent a little time getting to know the system, I go into each situation looking for the same things I've always looked for ... probably subconsciously adjusting my technique along the way. The beauty of photography is that no camera should change how you see things, just your ability or likelihood of capturing those things. Some tools will always be better than others ... my philosophy is to learn to love the one you're with.

    The attached image is from outside a gallery opening ... not many places other than Milwaukee where you'll find a polka/zydeco band playing at an opening.

    Kurt

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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    I think a lot has to do with the usage of the images also. When I was shooting MF film in the studio for portraits, products and stuff like that, it was all about image quality, lighting, nuance, etc. Sure, one could do the same with smaller format, but the overall results were not the same. The deliberateness of composition and such seemed much more useful with the larger format.

    On the flip side, there are times when no matter how fast you and your gear are, MF is just not the right tool. I did a portrait shoot this past weekend. It was of a little girl whose mom wanted to "capture that specialness". (I was not quite sure what she meant, and she could not explain it.....sort of like "I will know it when I see it" type thing.) We shot at their ranch. Wound up hitting 6-7 different locations on the ranch, and including a menagerie of animals, mostly horses ranging from a Clydesdale to miniature ponies and donkeys. I think each setting could have benefitted from using MF to capture more (more what, I am not too sure, except DR and file detail for enlargement mostly), but it would have been nearly impossible to get many of the fleeting moment shots when everything, especially the cast of characters got lined up in a creative and attractive way. I brought my M8 along, but never even took it out of the bag. Wound up shooting everything with a 1DsMkII, and it was not fast enough for some of the things I needed to capture. I was not "blazing away", but moving just a bit and recollecting light, angle, background, and most importantly, the child's instantaneous expression changes. No way that I could capture all of that with anything MF at this point.....both from equipment and my shooting capabilities perspectives. Just way too much going on.

    Turns out, mom was looking for a couple nice shots for use on a Christmas card. What would be the value of MF for that situation? None. However, knowing this client well enough, there will be shots that will turn into large canvases, bigger prints, and stuff like that, hence my shooting with the 1DsMkII, because those files do hold up nicely in many respects.

    The point I think I am trying to make is that one can capture very artistic stuff with almost anything, but some set-ups may actually work against you for time, speed, mobility, range, etc. Trust me, I would have loved to have set up with tripod, lighting, and even some props for many of the shots, but it was just not going to happen at the number of locations, the limited shooting window for good light, and the rapidly diminishing attention span of the subject, not to mention all those nearly unmanageable "extras" in many of the shots. So, to me, it does matter what your final delivery is to be. If I was doing this for myself and for my "art", I would have gone with a lot fewer locations, spent more time for a lot fewer shots, and may have caught one or two stunning looks. That would be more than satisfying. But the situation demanded something different, yet still requires great image quality for a multitude of uses. (This is why I am getting more psyched for the potential that the Leica S2 may be able to deliver.)

    Just my thoughts and recent experiences.

    LJ

  21. #21
    tetsrfun
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    Re: MF shooting /Artistic limits or advantages

    "Having said that if I could stretch to an Alpa TC for doing street photography I'd be a happy man. That is a gorgeous looking bit of kit! Dear Father Christmas perhaps?..."
    *********
    If you are willing to lower your expectations somewhat, there are the SWCs.

    Steve

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