Two years ago there was a golden field of wheat as far as the eye could see around this old house. Now, the land is bone dry and barren. There will be no winter crop this season, there is no water. The drought continues on and we pray for rain. Photographed with my Crown Graphic 4×5 Camera on Kodak Portra 160 film.
I had a wonderful morning walking around Mt French near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia. I captured this photograph of the top of the mountain, through the heather using Kodak Ektar 100 on my Crown Graphic 4×5 camera with a 6×9 120 roll film back.
I made a big mistake when photographing this old shack, but thankfully film is so forgiving and I was still able to get a usable image. 4x5 Large Format landscape photography. Read the blog for all the details.
I was fortunate enough to come across a great deal and as an end result I am now the happy owner of a 50+ something year old Crown Graphic 4×5 camera. Simplicity itself to use, it’s basically a light tight box with a lens attached and a ground glass at the back for framing and focusing. It does have some other dohickies to help with that as well but I want to keep everything simple.
This camera takes 4inch x 5inch sheet film (HUGE!) or I can also use 120 Medium format film with a rear attachment for 8 shots in 6cm x 9cm size (again, still massive). This gives me the best of both worlds really. I can shoot 6×9 and keep costs down and go for the 4×5 when only the best quality will do.
Currently I’m only geared up to do 4×5 in black and white, but will be working to get colour home development sorted in the next month or so, then I will probably shoot more 4×5 than anything else.
Why 4×5? There are several things really that I wanted. One, is huge size/great quality, you get this in spades with the negatives. You also shoot one at a time and can change between different films on the fly as long as you have them loaded in a holder. A lot harder to do with medium format where you must finish the current roll, or carry multiple (and expensive) backs.
You can develop 1 photo at a time, especially nice with black and white as you can then do neat tricks with developing to change the end result/contrast etc.
The other is movements. This is a biggie for me. Out of the box with the 90mm lens my Crown Graphic has, movements are pretty limited, some rise, tilt upwards and shift left right. What I really wanted was lens tilt forward, this really helps with landscapes to get close focus and distant focus all in the same shot, while keeping everything parallel. Only cameras with movements or very expensive shift lenses can do this.
A quick modification to the front standard (reversing it) and I now have lens tilt forward along with rise, just perfect for landscapes. The rest of my kit is pretty budget, I’m just using an old black short as a dark cloth, and I have 5 holders (10 shots), more than enough really as I only plan to shoot 1 to 2 photos each time I go out. So 2 shots b&w and 2 shots colour loaded.
Well it was time to go and play so an early start saw me at the top of Mt French, getting slightly wet from the odd shower, and cursing the lack of the real light I wanted. Note, I also had not reversed the front standard yet, it was only after developing this photo I realised I really needed front tilt for focus control.
Anyway, there is a great spot in the middle of the heather where you can sit and chill. With the slightly gloomy conditions I just knew that black and white was the way to go. I had 2 sheets of Kodak Tmax 100 loaded and I exposed both, one as I metered and 1 a bit over exposed. I then developed both at home using the same time and went with the negative I was happiest with, which was the normal exposure. A good learning experience.
The level of detail in the photo blows me away, zoomed in you can see the individual rain drops on the chair and all the branches, leaves, rocks etc have wonderful textures. I even like the focus fall off into the distance even tho I really wanted it all sharp.
I also captured a few 6×9 frames in Kodak Ektar 100, a wonderful colour film, looking the other way from this view over the heather and nearby mountain. Those will have to wait for another day as I’ve not yet finished that roll, the joys of film 🙂
For anyone wondering why do all this, film is dead etc, go visit Alex Bourke. Alex is my inspiration in 4×5 photography, his images are just outstanding and he teaches a lot. I’ve purchased his Ebooks and regularly read them and his knowledge works. If I can get photos of Australia half as good as his USA photos, I’ll be in heaven.
Back home from our month long trip to the USA and it was amazing. We experienced so much and to be honest, it was a good break from photography. That’s not to say I didn’t take photos, in fact I have over 400gb of photos and videos from the trip, but I only used a gopro and my phone for it all. My Olympus got used once. For future trips I think that will be staying home.
It was good to have a break and to re-evaluate where I’m going with my photography. I love to shoot a wide variety of subjects but have pressured myself to create more often, to create to satisfy an audience of wonderful follower, and I feel this has actually hurt my creativity. There are things I want to work on, to perfect, and they are going to take a very long time to do so.
I really want to improve my landscape photography, and take it in a different direction. I’ve dabbled with film in the past and I think it’s really time to pull out all stops and get right into it. I currently have a nice Medium Format 645 Mamiya setup with 3 lenses that will let me learn as I go before looking at making the big step to Large Format 4×5 which is where I eventually want to end up.
Due to the nature of film, the time it takes to get rolls developed etc, this means I’ll have less photos over time to share, however if I get it right, the quality should improve dramatically. I’ll be able to spend more time photographing in the right light than using Photoshop to help create the light as a lot of my previous work does.
Digital will remain with storm chasing and astro photography for sure. With storms speed is of the essence and while film could work, getting those photos up quickly is best I have found. The processing of those photos will shift however, as I endevour to get more accuracy in with my creativity, it should be interesting to see what the results are. Astro, well the seasons pretty much over until around March now, so there’ll be a break from the Milkyways, but I will be working on some star trail photographs when the opportunity arises.
I’m also taking a step back from selling prints, training and generally trying to make money from my photography. Yes, I’d love to make this a full time passion, however the reality is, I have a great job, it pays well, and helps keep food on the table and my family safe. So while I will still sell prints if requested, the sales tools are removed from the website, you will have to contact me directly for prints (also means those that do are truly interested in one of my works) and I won’t be doing lessons as they are just too time involved which is better spent elsewhere.
Eventually once I have a collection of film created landscapes I’m satisfied with, those will be offered up as limited edition prints. But we are talking a few years down the track I suspect.
On the other creative side, I’m going to try and make videos work again for me. If you follow me on Facebook you would have seen the volume of vlogs I was posting up during our USA trip. These were all relatively short videos, around 3-4 minutes long, all set to music with very minimal talking, it was just sharing the journey. I’m going to explore this format further with my photography and see if there is interest for it. They will be more about sharing the locations than how to capture the photographs. Each video will however, link back to this blog where I will give further information about what was involved in creating the photographs for those who wish to learn more. Giving back is important to me and I find the typed word to be the best long term reference for such information.
So that’s how things are going to progress from here. I must say the Gopro Hero 7 Black I used on our holiday was simply amazing for both the quality of video and photographs it created. No post processing required, their Quik app automatically creates videos on your phone, set to music, a glowing review from me, will ask Santa for the new Hero 8 Black I think 🙂
Be sure to follow me on Facebook for the most regular updates, however keep visiting this blog for the most important ones. Again, thank you all for following me on my photography journey, I really look forward to sharing new and wonderful creations with you.
P.S. the photograph below is of our ship, the Disney Fantasy, docked in Cozumel Mexico (tequila tasting anyone?). Photographed using the Gopro Hero 7 Black, unedited.
Sometimes the stars align, literally! I headed out with my good friend Craig Bachmann Photography and we met up with the owner of this fantastic private property. He had told us he had a great old shack we could photograph and we had no idea what we were in for. As soon as I saw the shack I let out a whoop, then I saw the tree and instantly an idea formed of how I wanted to frame this.
It took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust and really locate the core of the Milky Way. OMG! Straight out from the tree! Quickly we set about shooting, getting the multiple shots for the stars to stack and reduce noise, and one of them captured a meteorite! Geez talk about winning.
Next we set about light painting, and this was the first test of my new Lumanzi L1 light cube, WOW! This tiny little thing puts out a tonne of light, and it has gels. We used an orange one to light up the inside of the shack.
Combined with the air glow in the distance, passing cloud and some haze, there was colour everywhere in this photo. A few hours on the computer brought all 21 frames together to create the final image I had envisioned. Love it!
Thank you again to the owner for not only telling us about this location and opening your gates to us, but for running around with my light, painting the scene at my direction lol! Gotta love a free recruit 🙂
This photograph has been added to my Nightscapes Gallery where you can purchase it for your wall in many different formats, easily and simply all directly online. Custom work available, just contact me with your interest.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read, leave a comment below if you think this really is a great Aussie landscape 🙂
Gear used : Sony A7 and Samyang 14mm, Lumanzi L1 Light cube, Manfrotto Tripod, Shutter Boss cabled remote trigger, and one property owner! 🙂
Rays of light shine through the sky as sunrise approaches down the train line in this latest Skylines Photograph by Australian Landscape photographer Murray Fox in Queensland Australia. Suitably titled Down The Line.