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News & Insight

The Pain & Rewards Of Large Format Photography Shown In This Elegant Video

By Kishore Sawh on July 11th 2014

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Photography, in my experience, has a habit of following a similar path with many patrons of the art. Specifically, since the rise of digital, there’s the stage of shock and awe that we would’ve abandoned film; then there’s the obsessive stage where focus tends to linger on the absolute clarity and resolution that digital brought to the table and all the technical advancement in tow.

[REWIND: Remember The Joy Of 1-Hour Photo Prints With An App]

Then, almost as if full circle, when the technicalities have been observed, and the arms race of gear obsessiveness loses its lustre, many begin to look back in film’s direction. It took more time, more thought, more preparation, less instant gratification, more frustration and heartache sometimes, but still the rewards could bring tears to your eyes, especially if you’d be developing yourself.

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Well, not everyone left, and some really still treat it as a romance. Photographer Lúis Plácido is one of them, and watching him shoot a simple portrait with his large format camera using 8×10” Kodak Tri-X pro film, then developing it, really is a glimpse into the romance of film photography.

Thoughts

It’s such a process to develop film, and moving around with an enormous large format camera just adds so much to that. It’s not even like using an SLR where you can see the image right side up, as there is no mirror, so it is more technical right away. Then he gives us a glimpse of ‘real’ dodging and burning, a process that used to drive me into my own padded cell.

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But what he really did was make me want to clear my schedule for the weekend, shoot, and be alone, in a dark room, listening to music, letting all else fall away. If you’ve never done that, do it. Don’t know where to go? Try contacting your local university or college to see if they may allow you to audit a photography class which would likely grant you access to their dark room, or even use their dark room without auditing the class.

For more from Lúis Plácido please do see his site.

Source: The Phoblographer

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ian Moss

    And the quality is out of this world!

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  2. Ian Moss

    Yes, it’s hard. If it were easy anybody could do it.

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  3. Jacob DelaRosa

    DIY darkroom here. Old School dodge and burn is a pain in the ass. I only do it if it’s a REALLY good print and it’s absolutely necessary. You don’t know exactly what you’ve done until you develop the print…and if you are a perfectionist who just NEEDS to see the widest range of exposure possible then dark room dodging and burning will keep you busy for hours running through multiple sheets of photo paper. Beautiful results but man is it time intensive!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Jacob, a pain it can be. But damn if good results couldn’t have you grinning. I used to go through boxes for this precise reason.

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    • Greg Faulkner

      When I was at university there were some days when I spent the whole day in the darkroom, used three boxes of paper and only worked on one print. I’d get one part right but mess up another then do the next print and it would be right in that part but wrong in another, and on and on lol happy days

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  4. Greg Faulkner

    It’s so expensive to buy large format film and get it developed, medium format it bad enough but those large format sheets man oh man are they expensive! When you scan one though and look at the detail, that’s where it’s at!

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    • Stan Rogers

      Luckily, the frame rate is pretty low. “Burst mode” on my 8×10 (monorail, not a field camera, in studio, with everything locked down) was about 2.5 FPM. I say “about” because I’d only ever take two shots in succession. (One to take the picture, and one to take the picture again, this time without the damned hair stuck in the rail of the film holder. No, there was never a problem with dust, hair, scratched negs or anything like that — unless you only took one frame, then it was guaranteed. There are some things about shooting film that I don’t miss even a little bit.)

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  5. Jared Stewart

    Very cool video. The model reminds me of Layne Staley from Alice in Chains.

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