5x7 on location in Melbourne

This  photo is of my  old Cambo 5x7, and it was taken by Stuart Murdoch.   We were on location in North Melbourne in the late afternoon in May 2018.  I had briefly wandered over to the other side of the railway bridge  to scope the old  bridge and the city  with my digital camera from a different angle.  

We were in the process of making photos for the forthcoming  exhibition  at the Atkins Photo Lab for the 2018  SALA  festival and  I was using up the last  of my 5x7 sheets of Kodak Portra 160 ASA, which  I had purchased from B+H  several years ago.  

I  had started to  use the Cambo 5x7 monorail with colour sheet film again as I had finally stumbled on a way to buy 5x7  Kodak Portra film.    I'd  had discovered that  5x7 Kodak Portra 160 ASA is no long being sold as a consumer product,  even in stores such as B+H in New York, which is where I usually buy my film.   

As a result I  was facing an unplayable option: either  switching  to black and white film (I was already using black and white for 5x4 and 8x10),   or giving up 5x7 altogether.  Neither option appealed to me. So I  had stopped using the 5x7 monorail.  

Then I discovered that Kodak's 5x7 Portra sheet films are  available through  a special  order.  Canham Cameras offered such a service. So I ordered a box of 50 sheets and it will arrive towards the end of July. 

 Now to address the problem of scanning th5x7 colour sheet film,.. The only realistic option to avoid Newton Rings,  washed out coloured green hues,  is to have some 5x7 film holders custom made for the Epson V700 scanner. 

a training walk for the camel trek

Upon returning from the industrial photo session in Melbourne I went on a training walk  for the upcoming camel trek in the North Flinders  Ranges from Arkaroola to Mount Hopeless starting on June 19th. This is part of the extension of the Heysen Trail  and it is primarily walked by  wilderness walkers. 

My first  training walk was from Waitpinga Beach to Rosetta Head along the coastal and clifftop walking trail then the short distance to  home in Encounter Bay.  It took me about 5 hours, but this  included an hour of  photography on a rocky outcrop west of Kings Head. 

 I was trialing carrying a digital camera around my neck and   Suzanne's large Osprey pack that she used on her Walls of Jerusalem walk in Tasmania. I was also seeing how my feet stood up on the different terrain  of the coastal path. Neither the pack nor the digital camera around my neck worked, and my feet took a bit of a battering. So another training walk with  a new day pack with  the camera attached to the sternum strap on the front of the pack  is planned. 

returning to the Edgelands project

When I was  on a photo camp at Lake Boga, near Swan Hill in Victoria,  I was able to do  a bit of 5x7 large format photography. I haven't used this Cambo monorail  for some time, primarily because of  the difficulties I'd experienced scanning the negatives on my  Epson  V700 flatbed scanner. I found it easier to use the 5x4.  

This  was an early morning photo session on  Pental Island along  the banks of  the Little Murray River.  I'd scoped the location  on a previous visit.   

It was a return to the Edgelands project, which has been on the back burner for a couple of years.  I haven't known what to do with the body of work in this  project after the initial exhibition at Manning Clark House in Canberra in 2014, apart from  continuing to make the odd large format photo. I kept thinking about to continue with this project. 

One possibility that came to mind was to expand the project into a photobook I thought whilst I was on location at Pental Island     One possibility would be to produce a  second edition of the initial exhibition catalogue,  which was a picturebook with a mixture of word and image, by making it more open ended.  

The idea behind the second edition would be to make a photobook in which there is a tension between word and image,  the pictures rather than the text are the dominant  element,  and to emphasise  the meanings being achieved through the reader continuously moving back and forth between the text and image. What I would  try to avoid is having a single narrative or story so as to make it a more open  to a variety of interpretations. 

5x4 photo session

The weather conditions were good this morning  for a 5x4 large format photo session along the coast early this morning.  There was some solid cloud cover, low tide and  little wind.  The weather forecast was for strong westerly winds and rain along the coast  today,  so I took a chance. 

I had  about  an hour on site with approximately 30 minutes carrying the gear to and from the site. I was able to make  2 photos  of different subjects out of the 3 with the Linhof Technika that I had planned, before  the conditions became  unsuitable around 8am.  This is a behind the camera photo of the second session:  

This is the only 5x4 photoshoot that I have done along the coast  since this  one  early in January:-- 3 months ago,  before I  had acquired the Sony A7r111. Basically I have struggled to find suitable subject matter for the large format photography, and  when I have find something, the weather conditions have not been suitable.   

low light situations

I have settled in using the Sony A7r111 after working with it extensively on the recent New Zealand  trip.  

I use the camera  manually, as  if it were an old fashioned Leica  rangefinder from the film era. This is crazy,  I know, but I have set camera up so that nothing is automatic.  I am however,  getting to the point of adjusting the basic menu  that was  set up  for me by the camera store when I bought the camera. I  do need  a bit more flexibility in adjusting exposures up or down in specific situations.   

What is really working for me, and what has impressed me,  is  the Sony's low light capability. This allows me, as in the above image,  to photograph hand held in low light,  whilst on the morning or afternoon poodlewalks along the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coastline.  I was scoping for a possible film shoot, given that there is low tide early in the morning at the moment.  

upgrading the digital camera

I have finally upgraded my digital  camera,  which I use to walk around with on the  poodlewalks and  for scoping  for my large format photography.   It is a  full frame, interchangeable lens  Sony A7r111 mirrorless camera, and it was  dam  expensive.  It cost  just over $A5000 as there were no trade in bonuses or cash backs.  This  is a lot of money for me  (pretty much the limit of what I can afford) and   it will take me the rest of the year to pay it off.  If I lose the Sony A7r111,  the overall  replacement cost with the Leica 35mm lens would be  around $11,000, which is way beyond what I can afford. This kind of expense  puts it out of reach of not just "amateurs" but enthusiasts as well.

We  do pay a premium for  the  incremental improvements in  new technology--eg., a fully loaded  5K iMac.    The new technology--cameras and computers--- is overpriced and there is a relentless upward price of computer and camera gear.   Fortunately,  I was able  to attach  the 35mm f2.0 Leica manual focus lens and the  Novoflex adaptor  that I used to use on the Sony NEX-7. The Sony/Leica combination  worked well for me in the past,  and so far it is even better with the  A7r11.

The Sony NEX-7  will  now  become a back up walk around camera with macro capability,  once I acquire the necessary  Voigtlander close focus adaptor,  and find another Leica M lens to use.   

The NEX-7 which I had used  for over  7 years   does feel like a toy compared to the A7r111.  Sony have come a long way since 2011.  The A7r111 feels like a professional camera: it is much more solid, better built, has a  bigger battery and a lot more tech.  Yet  it  still sits comfortably in the hand, is compact  like a SLR film camera, and it is not all that noticeable when photographing in the street.  

a granite photo session

The field  type of large format  camera photographed below --an old Linhof 5x4 Technika IV film camera --- is very much the opposite of the automation of the  modern,  medium format digital camera,  with their possibilities of auto image stacking, stitching, automatic perspective correction, and sharp lenses that go in the direction that folks call 'clinical'.   With the Linhof everything is manual.  Nothing is automatic. It is rudimentary equipment albeit (albeit over-engineered) and it's slow  photography.  

The Linhof  does  offer a different kind of photographic experience --a more contemplative one--as well as  a different aesthetic in that  it enables  the extended toe and shoulder of sheet film.

With the advances in  digital technology the world of medium format digital cameras has changed and, with  the   33x44mm cropped medium format 50 megapixels digital cameras --(eg.,  Pentax 645Z,  Fujifilm's GFX and Hasselblad 1XD),  are now within people's financial grasp.  These cameras, especially the Fujifilm GFX and the Hasselblad X1D, are attractive options as they avoid the need for the expensive digital back the Linhof Techno needs, have lightweight bodies, smallish lenses,  rich and full quality files, and are able to be carried  around in the field. They also avoid the pitfalls of second hand digital backs.  

photography + abstraction: a note

One of the strands  in  my style  of photography in and around poodlewalks  is to shift away from the literal and transparent.  My name for this shift is abstraction--ie.,  finding ways to underscore  the photograph as surface,  as flat; even though there is an optical space within the photograph. This is often filed by photographic educators under  'ways of seeing'  that depend on, and are shaped by  habit and convention.   

An example of the photograph as surface: 

On the traditional understanding of photography--representation based on linear perspective that is clear and literal-- the grasses or foliage appear as obstructions to a clear view of the scene. From the perspective of abstraction  the shift is away from  a concern with illusionistic representational space the image  has an equal intensity of pictorial incident across its  whole surface. The emphasis is on the two dimensionality of the photograph.   

on Adobe's Lightroom 6 again

Another post on my experiences with the newly installed standalone Adobe's Lightroom 6 on my  Retina 5K 27inch late 2015  iMac.    

As we all know,  Adobe has been marketing  Lightroom as the all-in-one post-processing tool for hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals, and up to now I have certainly found it to be an "all-in-one” workflow solution for post processing and cataloguing my  photographic images.  I have been happy with this, given that the current choices for post-processing and file management software are limited. 

In the previous post I outlined  my unease  with Adobe’s latest move to discontinue the standalone version of Lightroom, and to  move everyone to the cloud; thereby effectively locking  us in for the future for Adobe to grow their profits.  I was frustrated because dumping the  perpetual license  is something Adobe in the past said that it would not do.  Adobe Lightroom is now purely subscription based and, unfortunately for me,  it is only a matter of time until an OS upgrade from Apple breaks the standalone Lightroom 6 (LR6) completely. 

However, my frustration with the standalone Lightroom 6 on the iMac has to do with other issues. It is not only its  lack of development compared to the subscription version.  It also arises from finding that LR6 has basic stability and performance issues that should not exist in the first place, given that this is professional software.  

granite formation

The changeable weather conditions of late  has provided a space  for me to explore the coast in the early morning light and  to  I scoping  for suitable subjects for some large format photography. In this instance it basically  5x4 colour using the old Linhof Technika IV or the Cambo 5x7 monorail.       

I haven't really found much to work with, but this  granite formation looking towards King Head and the wilderness lodge is one of the more promising possibilities that I have across.   

I haven't been doing much large format photography along the coast for a while --only hand held medium format lately. Hence the specific scoping.  Most of what I see in the morning ---eg., seaweed  amongst  granite rocks--is ephemeral, as it is usually  gone by the next morning.  It is either washed away by the sea  or blow away by the wind. 

Nor can I take the 5x4  or 5x7 out and hope that I come suitable seaweed to construct  a still-life.  It's only now and again that I find seaweed pods washed up on the shore. 

It is best to use subjects like granite formation and just wait for an overcast  early morning with little wind and soft  morning light. The large format then highlights  the tonality and colour in the granite.