Camera Movements for Architecture and Landscape : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi, I have a Toyo 45AII for five months now, and I mostly photograph landscape and architecture. I've noticed that, most of the times, the movements I need to use are minimal (except when I deliberately want to put something out of focus). I often use thoroughly "rise" and "fall" movements and I hardly ever use "tilt" and "swing" movements and when I do I limit myself to a few degrees (I never push my camera to the limits). Nevertheless I manage to get rather nice pictures. Is this normal and common or is it a lack of professional experience? Note: I'm not comparing my large format camera to the state of the art high priced cameras such as Linhof, Sinar, etc... Luis Santos

-- Luis Santos (, May 21, 2001


Not uncommon at all. For landscape and architecture your movements will inherently be minimal. If the results are to your satisfaction, the ability to rise, fall, tilt or swing no matter how modestly used are the important condition. If you are not pushing your camera up its limitations, you did your homework and bought the right camera for you.

Good Luck

-- Michael Kadillak (, May 21, 2001.

A modest amount of tilt and swing is usually all that's required, if any at all.
If you really must use the swing to its limits take an architectural shot of a long row of buildings at an acute angle, and get the whole row sharp. Having got that out of the way, you can then move on to take aesthetically pleasing pictures, instead of technically challenging ones.
Virtuoso pieces might be fascinating to another musician, but to the average music lover they're extremely tiresome.
Half hour drum solo anyone?

-- Pete Andrews (, May 21, 2001.

Extreme movements are mainly used for studio close-ups, where the shot needs to look down on the subject and movements are needed to correct the geometry. They are also needed to manipulate the plane of sharp focus. This is the reason why monorails are normally used in the studio, whilst the far more limited movements of field or technical cameras are fine for the work you are doing.

-- Garry Edwards (, May 21, 2001.

Luis, yes that is right. For some architectural work you'll need to use rear swing to modify the rendering of perspective to your liking and/or lateral shift (both possibly combined with rise or ) but these situations are rare. The times you will need these features though you'll wish you had them. But I am speaking from the point of view of a professional architectural photographer who is working to satisfy a client's requirements. Still 95% of the work requires only simple movements.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, May 22, 2001.

Luis You have discocvered the truth early on. Most field situations can be handled with minimal movements. To many overspecified cameras get lugged around the countryside wasting expense, time, (in fidling with movements), and energy and getting in the way of taking pictures. Landscape is a case in point. Much can be achieved with front rise and front tilt, the tilt can even become swing by tipping the camera on it's side if necessary. I can hear all those photographers out there saying they can't get by without back movements but I have found these two movements to be the most useful, even for architectural photography with shorter lenses. The important thing is that you are happy with your results and it seems as though you are.

-- Matt Sampson (, May 23, 2001.

One way to tell whether you've gone too far with tilt or swing is to check the effect of focus changes. Normally, as we all know, to focus on the near the lens is moved forward, to focus on the far the lens is moved back. If these movements of the lens have the opposite effect (i.e. if the near comes into focus by moving the lens back and far comes into focus when moving it forward) then you've gone too far with tilt or swing.

-- Brian Ellis (, May 28, 2001.

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