Large Format Weather Control : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am new to 4x5 - got a Toyo 45A in September of last year. I've already made some interesteing observations. Perhaps someone can explain the phenomena involved.

It's an absolutely still day. Not a blade of grass is moving. You choose a small aperture and correspondingly long shutter time to get that depth-of-field. The moment the film holder seats in the camera, a 40 mph wind comes from nowhere. Dust clouds build, palm trees fold in half, and small children blow by. You finally give up and release the shutter. Blades open. Blades close. Wind dies.

Sometimes, insertion of the film holder kills the sun.'s an example of another thing I've observed.

I have the perfect angle of a lighthouse from across the parking lot of the museum. The second I am ready to trip the release, an SUV full of tourists parks directly in the middle of the picture. What is odd about this is that there are DOZENS of parking spaces closer to the museum entrance. They're parked out in middle of nowhere.

To show that this isn't an isolated case, I was in the historic district of a small town early in the morning trying to take a picture of a church. It is HOURS before any businesses open. I have the camera set, about to trip the release, when a lady drives up and parks her car on the street in front of me. Note that I am in front of a parking lot - not a business. She walks a half block by empty parking spaces (They're ALL empty) to see that the place she wanted to go to is closed, and comes back and drives away.

What causes these things?

-- John H. Henderson (, March 13, 2000


To paraphrase Flip Wilson, "The Devil Made 'em Do It."

-- Bill Mitchell (, March 13, 2000.

absolutely. not limited to cameras though John. lug my telescope out into the pasture, get all set up, and high alto-cirrus moves in and covers my sky. fly a very tricky taildragger airplane, and the strangest crosswinds flare up. olde-timers say they hadn't seen crazy, gusty, crosswinds like that in years. marginal landing, but any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

I have gotten into the habit of shooting an initial shot, almost immediately after a guick stab of readiness. knowing every detail hasn't been ironed out, I don't want to lose the magic I see. just in case ..

and it does happen all the time. a definite candidate for the X-files.

-- daniel taylor (, March 13, 2000.

You have magical powers. And you are not alone. I have discovered that I can still the ocean waters by setting up my camera to take a surf photo.

-- Peter Hughes (, March 13, 2000.

John: Just as trailer parks cause tornados, dark cloths and large cameras cause high winds. You will be plagued with this throughout your career as a large format photographer. I have come to the conclusion that the static electricity generated by a dark cloth rubbing on a large format camera attracts wind. This same static charge is generated by the insertion of a dark slide, and at times by the change in spring tension when a shutter is cocked. I have also observed that moving a camera to another location can dissipate clouds. You can see wonderful, full, fluffy clouds building up on the horizon. By the changes in air motion caused by driving a vehicle to a better viewpoint, or the movement of a large, tripod mounted camera through the air, contrary air currents are set up which through their swirling motion wipes out the clouds. All of the above is elementary physics. I am sure you would have reached the same conclusion after a bit of contemplation. As for people parking in front of your camera, that too has a simple explanation. If a parking space is pretty enough for you to want to make a photograph of it, it must be special and therefore worthy of one's consideration as a place to park an expensive SUV. You may be able to lessen this effect if you point your camera in another direction until you are actually ready to shoot the picture. As you gain in experience with your large format, these problems will begin to make sense in the scope of the universe. Hope this has been of some help, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, March 13, 2000.

Did you ever notice that if you're shooting black & white, the humongous tourists that plant themselves within the scene are all wearing brilliant white shirts? And if you're shooting color, they're all wearing bright red or orange?

And they _don't move on_!

-- John Hicks (, March 13, 2000.

The worst example of this kind of thing that happened to me was this: I'd just gone to my front step with an old rangefinder camera in my hand to check the rangefinder focus at infinity. I have the camera to my eye when a car drives by quite fast, and a second later there's a loud bang. I swing round to see that the car has hit another car parked at the side of the road, and the moving car is over on two wheels, doing an imitation of a James Bond stunt. It passes another 3 parked cars on two wheels before dropping back down and spinning to a halt in an empty driveway, now almost facing back the way it came.

I witness the whole thing through the viewfinder, but did I have film in that old camera and get the shot of a lifetime? I'll give you two guesses!

-- Pete Andrews (, March 13, 2000.

O Toole's law: Murphy was an optimist. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, March 13, 2000.

And how about this one: In a crowded theme park, if someone is taking a picture with a disposable camera, thousands of apolgetic tourists will go around to avoid getting in someone's picture. But I stand there with a 4x5 Toyo on a Bogen 3046, and it's like you're invisible to people.

-- John H. Henderson (, March 13, 2000.

About 4 years ago I had set up my 4x5 to photograph Devils Golf Course at Death Valley. It was beautiful, Telescope Peak covered in snow, everything was just about perfect. Out of nowhere, a tour bus pulls into the parking area and about 5 tourists walk right past me and out of thousands of square feet of empty space everywhere you look, park themselves smack in front of my lens, absolutely oblivious to what's going on. How can that happen on one day and on the next, a passer-by asks 50 questions non-stop while you're trying to calculate bellows factors before the light completely dissappears? This photography business can be tough work at times!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, March 13, 2000.

You forgot about this one: the sun that goes behind the cloud and ruins the carefully previsualised image that relies on strong contrast in lighting. Or, conversely, the sun that comes out from behind the cloud to ruin your carefully previsualised image of gentle quiet light...

Not to mention the light that suddenly changes in the MIDDLE of that 30sec exposure...

Good grief. Its almost enough to drive you to 35mm camera plus motordrive.

-- Carey Bird (, March 14, 2000.

What I find most peculiar is how the electricity pylons and wires, cars, flying birds and anglers manage to get onto my transparencies when they were clearly not in the original scene that was photographed.

-- fw (, March 14, 2000.

The correct answer is the Chaos theory- A butterfly flapping its wings in Buenos Aires makes it snow in Chicago. Static electricty from the slide was the correct answer. Doug wins the prize. George

-- George Nedleman (, March 14, 2000.

Thanks, George. I shall donate the prize to charity. All kidding aside, isn't this a great forum! It's great to find that others have the same problems. Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, March 14, 2000.

It seems that this phenomenon isn't limited to things that happen immediately before, during, or after a particular exposure. For several consecutive weeks at the end of January here in northeast Ohio it was bitterly cold. I was getting all geared up for an Ian Adams workshop on winter ice photography. And wouldn't you know it, the day arrives and the temperature goes up to 40 degrees. True, there were still beautiful ice and snow formations in the gorge, not to mention a bright blue sky, but unless you were willing to sacrifice a few degrees of body temperature and wade through 3 feet of nearly freezing water (they still probably think I'm nuts), you couldn't get to it. The group stayed a few hours and by the time we left, the water level had risen about ten inches and what snow and ice we had climbed in on had virtually disappeared. It took me a good forty minutes to slog back to the van, cold and rather damp. Why, oh why, couldn't it have stayed cold for just another 24 hours...

-- Dave Munson (, March 14, 2000.

The problem is progressive depending on film format. You see it more with your 4x5, but be forwarned: DON'T buy a 20x24 or you will be tempting your eternal fate.

-- Dan Smith (, March 14, 2000.

I was set up with my 4x5 ready to take a photo of a favorite building. A bus pulls up, and the driver takes out a book a starts to read.

-- neil poulsen (, March 15, 2000.

I find that bringing along some chickens to sacrifice helps immensely.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 15, 2000.

Yes, at least you can have a nice barbecue party.

-- Paul Schilliger (, March 15, 2000.

Hi John, Congratulation, you finally made it! You got into real life. Thats all... enjoy it! Urs

-- Urs Bernhard (, March 16, 2000.

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