Introduction to Large Format Photography

Lesson 17/17 - Large Format Shoot: Indoors


Introduction to Large Format Photography


Lesson Info

Large Format Shoot: Indoors

All right, so now we've taken a look at the back of the camera, we're ready to kinda step in to actually how we would deal with the model. So, because large format's a little bit different, because we have some additional time elements, we're gonna go ahead and have Gina step out, and we'll have her step in as if she were the model. So, Gina's gonna come walking in, I would introduce myself. Hi, Gina, I'm Daniel, I'm your photographer for today. Thank you so much for coming. Why don't you go ahead and have a seat? So, I've got your prop for you here, so I'm gonna ask you to hold this in a second, but it's a little heavy, so I'm gonna hold onto it initially, so that way you don't have to hold the weight the whole time. So have you ever sat in front of a large format camera before? No. Cool, so these are the old kinda cameras that we used back in the historical days. You might remember Ansel Adams, the thing over his head. So that's the process for those. It's a little bit slower pro...

cess, so it's not gonna be rapid fire, lots of photographs. So, and it takes a little bit of time to get the focus set up and everything, so I just wanna let you know, you just need to relax at this point. Like, just get really calm, I'll get everything set up, and then once I tell you that we're kinda set, then I'm gonna tell kinda need you to freeze up a little bit. Not tense, we want you to relax, but freeze up a little bit. One of the things I'm gonna do real quick is we've already checked the lights, but I'm just gonna double check the lights to make sure nothing's really happened with those. So let me go ahead and fire that, and fire that, and see if we can get this to actually fire. Great, so our lighting looks pretty good, so we're gonna be good there. So, we've already kinda set it up to get us in the ballpark, so this shouldn't take too long. And so, I'm gonna go ahead and just disappear under here, and what I'm just doing under here is trying to get everything in focus, and do all the different elements. And I might ask you to change your position a little bit, move your shoulders, or your head, or something like that. We'll finalize that when I'm back out from under there. But I am gonna disappear for a second, so I'm not ignoring you, nobody hates you. I'm gonna go ahead and do that. And the reason I go through that conversation about the dark cloth and a little bit of the large format camera is it's already nerve-wracking enough to be in front of a camera lens if you're not a model and it's not something you've done all the time, or if you are a model, and it's your first step in front of a large format camera, that can be also a little bit like, wow, what's going on? So I just like to give that little bit of explanation, and then I always tell them when I'm going under the dark cloth, because if I'm, for some reason, not talking to them, or I'm working on something, I just don't want them to feel like they're doing anything wrong, 'cause they're just sitting there like, "Oh, am I supposed to be doing something?" So I just want them to stay as relaxed as possible through that process. So, I'm just gonna go ahead and come back under here. So, I'm coming under here, and what I'm gonna check for is just the focus, check the background and everything. So, now that she's sitting there, I'm gonna go on ahead and really make sure I've got the position lined up how I want with the shoulders. I'm gonna make sure that bar is not gonna be in the bottom of the frame. Double check my lighting, focus. And at this point, I'm ready to come out and grab critical focus, so I'm gonna grab a focusing loop, or in this case, I'm gonna grab my glasses. I'm gonna get those on there. Now I'm gonna check my focus. Make sure I get everything nice and sharp. Particularly her eyes. I'm gonna check all my corners and make sure they look okay. And in this case, I'm gonna see if I can pull a little bit of that background out of focus with just a little bit of a tilt. Get that, there we go. That looks good. Now I'm gonna go ahead and stop down. And I made the decision to shoot at F22 with my flash power, so I'm gonna go ahead and set my lens to F22. And now I'm just gonna double check the focus, just to make sure everything's still okay. You're doing great, Gina. Sitting there, happy thoughts, thinking rainbows, unicorns, you know, the usual stuff. Winning a lottery ticket. So, things look good and focused. And I've got, Gina, can you move your head forward just a little bit? Move it back a little bit. Right there, that's about where we wanna have your head to hold everything in focus. Okay, you are doing great, Gina. What I'm gonna do now is go on ahead, and we're just gonna set the pocket wizard onto the camera, we're gonna test fire the flashes, and at that point, we'll be almost ready to go. So I'm gonna make sure that everything is locked back down. I told you the importance of making sure everything in the camera's locked. I've got all the positions set, I'm just double checking the locking of the camera. Everything is locked so that nothing will come undone, 'cause at this point, it'd be really distracting for her and for me if we get everything set up and this falls. And if you're doing a commercial job where you've only got a couple of minutes, you may end up losing the shoot because you don't have the time. So I'm gonna go ahead and set the pocket wizard on here. And I just moved the piece. Let me check my focus one more time. The thing I said not to do, I just did, so let me check that real fast. Thank you for your patience, we're almost there. Okay. All right, and then I have now actually done what I told you to do and locked it down to focus. Okay, now that that's attached, one of the things I'm gonna do is now I take my PC cable, and I'm gonna attach it here to the PC sync port on the lens. At this point, I wanna close the, set it at F22, I'm gonna close the shutter, cock the shutter, and I'm gonna fire, and make sure that both my pocket wizards fire. And I usually do that just a couple of times, just to make sure everything fires okay. Once I'm sure that those are gonna fire and that's all gonna work fine, I'm gonna make sure that nothing sticks in front of the lens, none of the cables drop down in front of the lens, nothing weird happens like that, so you usually just tuck the things behind parts of your camera. So that's all tucked behind, so nothing's in front of the lens now. Everything's locked down, and now I'm gonna load up my first sheet of film. Since we're doing a vertical, I'll just do a little tap. Make sure it's down all the way. I always double check, make sure my lens is closed. Lens is closed. Great camera. The camera, oh, yeah. So I get that set, and then I'm gonna go ahead and pull my dark slide. Actually, I'll set my time. I forgot, I'm doing 1/68th of a second. And it's about time for me to go to the eye doctor. 1/68th of a second. And I'm gonna go ahead and pull the dark slide. Then I'll have Gina hold the camera. Okay, now, I've done all of that because I was trying to save Gina a problem. Now, here's the issue with that, and here's why I did that this way. I don't know if the camera's in the frame anymore. So you do not every wanna get in the position of getting all the way done, your film out, and everything ready to go without having checked that, because if everything is gonna be in the frame, you gotta have everything in the frame, because I don't know if, subject to distance here, if that's gonna work. All I have to do is put the dark slide back in, and I can pull the film out. Nothing's actually happened, other than a little bit of time has been lost. But now I can come back in and check. So don't ever completely freak out. If you forget something, you can always back out of the situation, you can always take a step back. And to check that, all I have to do is just open the lens and take a two second peek, just to make sure that's in the frame. So if I do this, and I say, Gina, can you hold your hands up two inches higher? Perfect. And they're in focus. So right there is where I need Gina to hold them. So, even if I've got, like, oh my gosh, I've forgot something, it's not a huge problem, it's not gonna cause the detriment of everything. I'm just gonna close the lens down, tap my film again, and then put this in, and now I'm actually ready to shoot. Pull the dark slide, and I'm gonna cock the shutter. Now I'm gonna get in the position where now is my favorite part. Now I can actually really look at Gina. I know how much we've got in focus, how much we can deal with. And I say, Gina, can you kinda turn your head over here a little bit. Perfect. And your eyes down just a tiny bit. Perfect. Nice, nice. Okay, now take a deep breath, relax. Perfect. Great, I'm gonna get two more shots. Actually, I'll do three more shots, just for safety. Dark slide, black side out. I'm gonna put that down, lock that. I'm gonna flip it. Okay, then I pull this one, cock the shutter. Great, so this time, can you look just a little farther over that way? Right here, perfect. Then up. Not quite that far, right about there. Nice. Okay, turn your chin back just toward me a little bit. And now your eye is right at me, perfect. Great job, Gina. All right, so I've shot two on this one. So those two are done. Film slide goes in, put the lock on, pull that back out. Just for safety's sake, because we're doing a studio shoot, we've gone through the work, I'll go on ahead and shoot two more, just to be safe, and that way, I can get a couple of different expressions. So this one, let's get a little bit more fun. So why don't you give me a nice, big smile. Eyes over here, great, now, think about kitties, think about kitties. Put your eyes back here, great. You're doing great, Gina. We're gonna do one more, and then I'm gonna let you off the hook. Can you hold that camera just about another inch? Perfect. Okay, so what we're gonna do now is we've got the film flipped. We're gonna do one more, cock the shutter. Okay, and this time, let's have you bring your head back towards the camera. Perfect. And look down, just like you're starting, there you go, perfect. That's a great pose, Gina. Really nice job. Perfect. Great, thanks Gina, I'll take the camera. Thank you so much. So, what's gonna happen now is I'm gonna take these images back and I'm gonna get them processed. If you're shooting color film, that'll normally be in a large format lab. We're doing black and white here, so I'll take those back and process those in my darkroom, get a print made, and then you're able to see now the end result of the process of actually getting the shoot done. So, really kind of taken a beautiful photograph, and I'm really excited to be able to give that to Gina when I see her next time. Thank you so much for spending the time with me today learning about large format photography. It is an amazing, amazing experience to shoot a large format camera, and I hope you take the time, whether it's just to go down to the local photo school, or somebody you know who has one, and just take the time to look behind the camera and maybe make a few photographs. There are a ton of resources on the web and a ton of people who are really passionate about working with large format. And if you really wanna get all in on this, you can use those negatives for so many things, from platinum printing, to cyanotype, to just admiring the size of the negative. So I wish you the best of the luck. I hope to see you out there under the dark cloth, making some amazing photographs, and thank you again for tuning in and spending some time with me.

Class Description

Explore a new (or rather historic) way of approaching your photography. When you learn to utilize a large format camera like a 4 x 5 you’re forced to slow down, observe and shoot sparingly. Artist and educator Daniel Gregory, will start with the basics like what exactly is a large format camera and why you should use one. He’ll demonstrate the art of using this workflow and give a guide that sets up up for success in the field.

You’ll learn:

  • How to setup and care for the camera
  • Camera movements
  • Metering and exposure techniques
  • How to pick the best shot when in the field
  • How to add studio light to a portrait
  • Color correction techniques using film and gels

Some of the most legendary photographs were shot using large format cameras. In this course, you’ll learn the art and technique that went into capturing those memorable photos so you can start to craft and create imagery on your own.



Daniel is an excellent teacher. His approach of teaching common mistakes and then explaining the proper way to do something is very helpful. The entire film series is excellent. I can't say I have a favorite over any of the others classes in the series. Each class covers great information. I learned photography back when digital didn't exist. Even after shooting film for so many years, I still learned some great tidbits from these classes. I highly recommend this series for anyone considering learning film or getting back into film.