Use of rise and fall for landscape photography : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've learned much of what I know about front movements from the internet, books, or by trial and error. Sometimes I wonder if I might be missing something. Today I ran across a LF web site where the photographer identified the movements used for a few landscape photos. Most of these were not the typical near-far shots but more intermediate-far. There were no significant number of trees or other objects that might require perspective adjustment to avoid convergence? It would appear by my knowing that they would require a small amount of tilt. In nearly every photo, the photographer indeed used tilt, but also used rise or fall. This was a surprize to me and now I'm wondering if there is something I'm missing? Help as always appreciated. (Have a safe New Years.)

-- Roger Rouch (, December 30, 2000


Roger, would you care to identify the web site you mentioned? Thanks.

-- Bill Mitchell (, December 30, 2000.

Roger you can use rise and fall if you don't want to raise or lower your tripod a little. It simply allows for a quick adjustment which takes the least amount of time. If you get a LF camera these things will become quite natural to you in a few minutes, you won't think about what you need to do, you will just do it.

-- Altaf Shaikh (, December 30, 2000.

The web site is that of Scott Bacon, who is an occational contributor to the discussions. The photos I'm thinking of are his "recent images". These are the only few photos where this is mentioned. I also think that a number of his photos are 35mm. His address is I might also well mention that his photos are nice and I appreciate the chance to see them. And also, that I've been using a view camera for about three years now. Just haven't heard of this and it makes sense.

-- Roger Rouch (, December 30, 2000.

Roger: I use rise and fall a lot on landscapes as it allows me to quickly place the horizon where I want it. Rise and fall with a bit of front or rear tilt is no problem to accomplish. I often use rear tilt when shooting downward, expecially with wide angle lenses. The back tilt will restore any verticles and also bring the image into focus from near to far. Since you can see the effects on the ground glass, it is a simple process. By raising the front, you can keep the camera horizontal and cut out as much of the foreground as you like for shots with cloud formations, etc. It isn't difficult and it adds to the image.

Happy New Year,

-- Doug Paramore (, December 30, 2000.

I must disagree with Altaf above. Rise and fall accomplishes a lot more than any normal tripod adjustment would. Just do the test: put your camera on a tripod and look at the scene. Raise the lens two inches and look again. Now move the lens back to normal and raise the tripod two inches. There is an enormous difference between two inches of lens rise and two inches of tripod rise. I use rise more than any other movement.

-- Erik Ryberg (, December 31, 2000.

When I use rise or fall, it is the last camera movement I do before checking for vignetting and taking the shot. E.g. tilts, swings etc come first.

-- Hans Berkhout (, December 31, 2000.


Reread what i wrote.

-- Altaf Shaikh (, December 31, 2000.

Roger - I looked at the site you mentioned (nice site) and I too was troubled by the front tilt used in "The Ruby Range" image. It seems counter productive considering the tree on the right side and the lens used. I can understand the use of rise and fall for same reasons as previous posters mentioned. But, I am still on a steep learning curve with 4x5 movements and also wonder if I am missing something or is it just a typo on that particular description.

-- Bob Finley (, December 31, 2000.

Roger, When you raise or lower the the lens in relation to the film (some cameras, will allow this to be done with the rear standard), you are essentially recropping the cone of light that the lens projects toward the film. One of the reasons architectural photographers like lenses with generous coverage is so they can do this easily without vignetting the image. When photographing a building, one typically levels the camera so that lens plane, film plane and vertical surface of the building are parallel. This condition will result in the building's sides not appearing to converge. Unfortunately, most times the camera is located at ground level and unless the structure is a single story, some of the building gets lopped off in the ground glass. This is when you have a choice. You can find another building from which you can position your camera at a higher elevation, you can move much further away from the building, you can hire a crane to move you into position midway between street level and the top of the building, OR you can raise the lens of the camera. Assuming the lens has sufficient coverage, this will usually do the trick. If your lens has plenty of coverage, but your camera hasn't enough rise, you can sometimes cheat by tilting the front standard forward and then doing the same with the rear standard, making sure they are still both parallel to each other. You then slowly tilt the camera up until those tilted standards are once again vertical. Now you can do the fine adjustment by raising or lowering the front standard. Helpful hint: When you shoot tall buildings, the mind's eye expects to see some convergence. When it doesn't, the building can actually appear wider at the top than at street level. The building sides being absolutely parallel works best at great distances and in shots where there are no street level objects visible as a reference to altitude. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year, Bob

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, December 31, 2000.

One additional comment. I went to Scott's web site to have a look at the images mentioned. If I were a betting man, I'd say he first used forward tilt of the lens to adjust the plane of focus in order to keep near/far objects sharp, then applied some rise or fall to finely crop the image top and bottom without having to mess up his re-established plane of focus, which tilting the camera would certainly do. I do this all the time in my landscape work, only I do most of my tilting at the rear of the camera.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, December 31, 2000.

Also there are two different types tilting mechanisms on different models of LF cameras. Base tilt and axis tilt. With a base tilt you must re-orient the front standard when you use tilt. If you tilt up you must also raise the front standard. If you tilt down you must bring the front standard down to re-establish you framing. With an axis tilt you need not have to re-orient your front standard as your horizontal framing is not altered by foreward or backward tilts. You can use back movements to focus for near and far but if you have any vertical edges to keep vertical you have to use front movements to keep these edges vertical. James

-- lumberjack (, December 31, 2000.

As much as I hate to do so I must also disagree with my friend Altaf. Rise, fall and shift can have have a much greater effect on a composition than merely raising or lowering the camera a couple of inches (with no other movements being used.)

I also don't really understand Mr. Rouch's initial post. It is written in a manner that is very confusing to my little grey cells.

If Mr. Rouch has a camera that has rise/fall, shift and tilt movements I advise him to spendthe moneyand shoot some polaroid. This is the best and most time and cost efficient way to learn for yourself (as opposed to second hand information in books or on websites) what the movements do.

-- Ellis Vener (, December 31, 2000.

To clarify:

I said rise and fall can be used instead of raising or lowering the tripod a bit. I DID NOT SAY they were the same thing. I did NOT say that if you raised the camera one inch with the tripod you would get the same result of raising the camera 1 inch in rise, thats foolish and ridiculous. I simply pointed out why one might use rise and fall rather than bend over open all the locks, make sure they all are at the right height, relock it all, realize you did it too much or too little and then do it all over again.

Unless you have one HUGE tripod you will not be able to get the same DEGREE of height you can get by using a view cameras movements. A view camera almost lets you fly.

Happy NY ellis and everyone

-- Altaf Shaikh (, December 31, 2000.

Thank you all for your suggestions! I do indeed see the advantage of this technique and shall give it a go.

-- Roger Rouch (, December 31, 2000.

I also don't really understand Mr. Ellis Vener's post. It is written in a manner that is very confusing to my little grey cells. He states: "If Mr. Rouch has a camera that has rise/fall, shift and tilt movements I advise him to spend the money and shoot some polaroid. This is the best and most time and cost efficient way to learn for yourself (as opposed to second hand information in books or on websites) what the movements do."

If we newcomers are only to learn by trial and error then my little grey cells are begging to ask these questions.

Are books that are used in the educational institutes just a prop to fill in the moments between actual experiments by the students ?

Are websites such as this one with a "Question and Answer forum" an unreliable and fruitless place for learning from other LF photographers with more wisdom and experience than I ?

There are times that when I have made an adjustment and have recorded and documented the shot but the results were not as expected. With my untrained eye I can examine the print or negative but am sometimes still unable to bridge the gap of what I have done or not done correctly to obtained the desired result. It is for that reason that I read and re-read books attempting to find the answers. I also frequently search the web and read Q&A forums to add to my limited knowledge. If I still have not yet grasped the answer then I boldly come forward and ask those who are more knowledgeable than I to please explain in their own words the concepts and ideas that I have not yet understood. It may be here, in anothers explanation of LF terminology or methods that I hopefully find the answer that I am seeking. For this reason I believe that Mr. Rouch's question is a very good one.

Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year !

-- GreyWolf (, December 31, 2000.

Calm down boys! Roger, hereís my two cents worth. As you walk up to the scene, say a canyon with some trees, set the camera up on the tripod and level it. As you look through to focus you will see much of the foreground, more than you want. Now raise the front standard only, so the trees remain straight. As long as the lens yields enough coverage at f/22 (remember this is always a factor with large format lenses) the image should look very natural in the final print. Go to one of the large format lens web sites to see what the specs say about their lenses and you will begin to see what Iím saying about coverage and sharpness.

-- Steve Gilb (, December 31, 2000.

Another point: there are almost always multiple ways of skinning the cat when it comes to camera movements, and different people may have different preferred methods. For example, you could point the camera down, and then tilt the back to maintain verticals (the way I ususally do landscapes when I want the horizon to be above center). Or, you could set the camera up in a neutral position, lower the front standard, and tilt the front to adjust the plane of focus. In the first example, you might report the movements as "rear tilt" and in the second, "front fall and front tilt" but the relationship between film, lens, and subject planes would be the same.

-- Chris Patti (, January 01, 2001.

Robert A. Zeichner wrote: "...If I were a betting man, I'd say he first used forward tilt of the lens to adjust the plane of focus in order to keep near/far objects sharp, then applied some rise or fall to finely crop the image top and bottom without having to mess up his re-established plane of focus, which tilting the camera would certainly do..."

Robert, you would have won the jackpot at 'Vegas on this one. That is exactly what I did in making the image mentioned.

Roger, I am also (still) very much a newbie with LF. So please don't 'read' too much into my movement techniques. Most of my successes have come from luck in experimentation not from years of experience and wealth of knowledge.:-) I include the movements with each image because when I was starting out with LF, I found it helpful to make a match between a particular landscape scene and the movements utilized to make the image. Perhaps there is a better way to annotate the movements made by including a more detailed explanation - amounts of movement in cm and degrees, etc. I'm always open for suggestions.

Thanks to all in this group for their wealth of knowledge and willingness to help. I benefit from it every day.

-- Scott Bacon (, January 02, 2001.

There is a way to see if the movements you've made are correct. It is a very easy thing to do. The ground glass tells you if your movements are correct. No need to detail how many centimeters or hundredths of an inch you used on a particular scene. Just use a loupe on the glass and if everything is in focus then ... you've done it right. People make too much of movements. It is a simple technique. Just practice in your house or front yard. Is it in focus? Then you've got it. James

-- lumberjack (, January 02, 2001.

roger, keep in mind that all lenses are sharpest on axis-in other words, the image at the edge of the image circle will not be as sharp as that at the center. it's always best to use camera position first.

bill zorn

-- bill zorn (, January 02, 2001.

I didn't say that reading books and using Q&A forums is a bad idea. I meant to say that reading only takes you so far. To get what dancers and actors call "muscle memory" you have to put the texts to work in the real world: you have to shoot film. Since Polaroid gives you near instant feedback at a reasonable cost (have you priced digital options for large format recently?) you can see how different movements either by themselves or in combination effect the image. If you can do, then review the results, in my experience you learn much faster and comprehend more deeply.

Here are the basic tenets of camera movements:

1.) Front (lens) standard movements only affect focus distribution.

2.) Rear (film plane) movements affect both focus distribution and perspective rendering.

3.) When you get a plane of the subject, the plane of the lens standard, and the film plane to intersect in a line, every point in the plane of the subject, no matter how far away or close to the camera that point is, will be in focus at any f-stop (Schiempflug's theorem, AKA "the hinge rule").

4.) If you ever get lost in what you are doing with movements. Zero all movements on the camera, point the camera directly back at the subject and start all over again.

Everything else about view camera theory is built around these four axioms. It is that simple.

-- Ellis Vener (, January 03, 2001.

Lot's of discussion here, so I'll throw in 2 cents.

1. It probably doesn't do much good to say what specific movements were used without saying why. "tilt" only says what; "tilt for plane of focus" or "tilt to create looming effect" tells a lot more.

2. The actual amount of tilt/shift doesn't really matter much unless you're going to go find the tripod impressions at a site & duplicate the photo.

3. Communication seems such an imprecise art. I guess that's why it's interactive.

-- Charlie Strack (, January 04, 2001.

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