lens for "looming forground"

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i have a 4 x 5 field camera on which i use a 6 x 7 roll film back, (due to current enlarger limitations.) and also use a 105 mm nikor-w lens. i want to get that "looming forground" look and understand that tilt plays a roll. question is: is tilt the only determining factor or would a longer lens, (say 210 mm ), bring the forground closer? i prefer wider views on landscapes but it seem that wide lenses would make the forground more distant. i'm confused and don't want to buy the wrong lens.

-- dee seegers (deesee@pinn.net), November 28, 2001


A shorter lens will do quite a bit of that effect by itself; using a lens of around 50mm lets you get a lot closer to the foreground subject while the background is rendered comparatively smaller or appears farther away.

Tilt is another factor; back tilt will make foreground objects appear to loom larger while front tilt will not.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), November 28, 2001.

It is *rear* tilt that can most effectively make the foreground "loom", especially with wide lenses. I would start with a 75mm lens (on 6x7) and experiment with rear tilt.

You make the foreground closer by moving the camera closer to it. Very effective "near-far" compositions can be worked out with a wide lens and a bit of rear tilt (top of rear standard moves back). Best way to make the foreground loom.

By the way, was 105 a typo? (150, perhaps?)

-- James Meckley (jmeckley@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu), November 28, 2001.

Just remember that if you make the foreground loom with rear tilt, the shape of the object might be distorted.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), November 28, 2001.

Which 'looming forground' are you looking for. The type where you put a very wideangle lens on & have part of the image close to the glass & use rear tilt to help keep focus while exaggerating the close section? Or the type where you use a longer than normal lens and a bit higher vantage point to take the photo... like many AA did?

Rear tilt in nature images can work well in exaggerating the forground without noticable image problems. Try it with an architectural subject though & you open up a whole 'nother can of worms.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), November 28, 2001.

thanks for the help all. James, the current lens i have is a 105. (i was going to use it on a 6 x 9 back, but that back got sold before i could get to it. all that was left was a 6 x 7 and i needed a film holder...) i knew that some kind of tilt was used. and i knew that wide lenses produced some forground, but it would seem to be at a distance. (unless you shot on your knees.) which leads me to you Dan. i'm sure Adams was not above getting on his knees to get the photo, (as any photographer.) BUT.. his shots didn't look like they were shot from inches off the ground. so it occured to me the other day that MAYBE a LONGER lens was used with some tilt. and thus my posting the original question. the look i'm seeking is like Adams'. any suggestions?

again, thanks to all, dee

-- dee seegers (deesee@pinn.net), November 29, 2001.

Take a look at some of the coffee table books by David Muench such a Plateau Light and Primal Forces. Find examples of his photographs with looming foregrounds and then go to the back of the book and see what lens he used to create this effect. I think you'll find that in the majority of the cases it was a wide angle lens.

-- Mark Windom (mwphoto@nwlink.com), November 29, 2001.

Combine any wide angle (e.g. 75 mm lens, using center gradient filter) with lens shift; the wider the lens, the greater the lens shift, and the closer you position the camera to the ground, the greater the foreground emphasis (and elongation) and the greater the lens axis or film plane tilt needed to bring near and far into focus. Linhof has an instruction book that illustrates these techniques. Take a look at David Muench or Jack Dykinga webpages to see how these techniques are used by masters of far/near composition.

-- david (caldw@aol.com), November 30, 2001.

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