Introduction to Large Format Photography

Lesson 7/17 - Tripods


Introduction to Large Format Photography


Lesson Info


You're gonna need a tripod, and I tell everybody, if you're gonna buy a tripod, just buy a good tripod. This is one of those stupid expenses, I watch people buy the $50 tripod, the $60 tripod, the $80 tripod, and then eventually they end up at a $500 tripod. These cameras are heavy. And they need to be able to support the weight of the camera on top of them. So, this is a wooden tripod, carbon fiber tripod, that has a ball head on it, this has a pan-tilt head on it. So, you can use pretty much any kind of tripod, any kind of head with the camera, but what you really need is something that's stable enough to hold the weight of the camera. Somewhere between 16 and 25 pounds is gonna be your camera weight for most generic kind of mill of the run cameras. So, you need to think about that from a weight standpoint, and I always like to have at least one and a half times my weight on the head of the camera. The other piece is, this camera, (popping) I'm gonna take this off, it's got a, ugh, v...

ery heavy... Everett Weston said once that there's nothing photogenic more than 500 yards from the car. That's 'cause his whole arts format photographer, who was shooting very heavy cameras. One of the other pieces, though, that I look for is a really wide base. So, this big base assures that I get full contact, and I'm not gonna have the camera start to rock with the weight of the tripod. Couple other considerations is you want to make sure that it's easy for you to get tilts and things to get level with the tripod head. A lot of people struggle with a ball head, because when you loosen a ball head too much, it actually makes the camera really easy to move around. Your ball head'll have a friction knob on it, so you want to tighten the friction knob down, and that'll help you keep things level. This particular camera has a couple of bubble levels on it, but you could also get a bubble level and help make sure the camera's level as you're working with the ball head. But the least amount possible to loosen the ball head's gonna give you the most control when you're working with that. Couple of other considerations. Weight wise, a wooden tripod is actually pretty light, and it reduces a huge amount of vibration. So, the reason I use this tripod a lot is if I'm doing something where there's gonna be a lot of wind, or I'm in a river, or I'm shooting in the ocean, and the camera's actually in, the tripod's in the water, the wooden legs actually absorb the vibrations coming up the tripod, and they hold the camera more steady. Aluminum causes vibrations and attenuation in the metal, and so you actually get some vibrations that can cause a blurry photograph. So, that's one of the reasons I love wood. The other reason is wood doesn't get cold. If you photograph in an environment that's cold and you've had a aluminum tripod or carbon fiber tripod, you know if you grab that with your hands, and they're bare hands in the wintertime, it is freezing cold. That being said, weight wise, the carbon fiber, for the most part, is usually a little lighter than the wood, incredibly sturdy and rigid, which helps hold the camera really well. But you're definitely gonna want to get something that's gonna help hold things sturdy. Those small, little, tiny tripods, you're gonna watch your camera fall off the tripod at some point, or you're not gonna be able to sufficiently hold the camera still enough to actually take the photograph.

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.