What subjects do we shoot?

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This question is kind of a follow-up to Joe Kras' "How old are we?" question. Because of the time required to setup and compose using LF, some subjects lend themselves more to LF than others. I'd be curious to know what subjects people shoot in LF and perhaps some things you may have tried that wouldn't normally be associated with LF.

As for me, I've mostly been doing landscape and macro photography in the Bay Area (California), though I'm currently thinking of ways to add more spontaneity to my photos. I've been thinking of setting up my camera on a busy street corner (San Francisco is nearby) and taking spontaneous group photos of the pedestrians across the street waiting for the light to change.

-- John Elstad (john@720.com), May 30, 2002


John, I'm drawn to interiors of abandoned houses and other structures, often shooting details up close. For several years, I did a personal project documenting old roadside architecture and other stuff along U.S. 60, which is one of this country's (United States) original transcontinental highways. I still like to do that when I get time away from my day job. I also like to shoot garden variety landscapes and really anything else where the quality of light catches my eye. I want to take more large format images of my 5-year-old son, but he won't sit still long enough for me to do that! Maybe when he's older.

-- Ben Calwell (bcalwell@aol.com), May 30, 2002.

John, I shoot, landscapes, foliage, RailRoad buildings and stock, (disapearing in Vt.) new road construction, logging roads, ponds in the back woods.


-- Bill Jefferson (jefferw@polaroid.com), May 30, 2002.

John, I shoot mainly English coastal scenes, architecture, piers, jetties, groins, also natural forms, rock pools, rock details etc. I normally shoot very early in the day and oftern use long time exposures. I shoot on 5x4, 6x12cm and 6x9cm.

Its a great life.


-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@sega-europe.com), May 30, 2002.

Lanscapes of desert southwest and eastern sierra, especially the ancient bristlecone forest which fascinates me, and derelict machinery/ structures that are lost in a time warp. The other day I was traveling and came across a '38 Dodge body in the sage brush. Not so uncommon, but inside one of the seat backs still had original fabric?! After 40+ years in the desert extremes! I set up the 4X5 and used the 6.8 Angulon. Wright Morris's stuff comes to mind.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), May 30, 2002.

I shoot just about anything that grabs my attention and dosen't move (or at least stays still long enough for me to get the shot.) I enjoy shooting wilderness landscapes, historic, urban, and rural scenes too. My ongoing project is to bag every 14,000+' peak in California( dare I hope North America?) with an aerial 8x10 camera and still keep a roof over my family.

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), May 30, 2002.

In large format I shoot landscapes, portraits, and architecture.

-- David A. Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), May 30, 2002.

I get bored easily so i give myself assignments.

I have shot cemeteries, old kitchen gadgets, interesting compositions extrapolated from everyday life, urban landscapes, poirtrature, and soon i will start my most important project i will ever takle....

-- domenico (applethorpe@earthlink.net), May 30, 2002.

I'm omniphotografus. (So I didn't take Latin...) I photograph what doesn't move away too fast or shoot at me.

By and large its trees and rocks and whatever, but occasionally I find old houses and barns and graveyards. Occasionally I photograph people.

-- Brian C. Miller (brian.c.miller@gte.net), May 30, 2002.

I use LF for pretty much anything that doesn't require 3200 film and an f/1.4 lens. Architecture, interiors, landscape, product, stil life, portraiture, etc.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), May 30, 2002.

i shoot statistically-improbable chaos-induced spectral vortices emanating unexpectedly from surficial textures of urban niches. (And some landscapes, too.)



-- chris jordan (cjordan@yarmuth.com), May 30, 2002.

Look at the survey conducted two years ago at http://www.ai.sri.com/~luong/photography/lf/polls/poll2.html The vast majority of readers are landscape photographers.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), May 30, 2002.

Something I would LIKE to photograph is a couple of kids who ride their dirt bikes behind my job-site. I'm itching to try to set up some shots of them catching air and freezing them with strobes. Hey, there was a guy in the 19th century who photographed African wildlife with LF including a charging elephant.

-- Hal (hal__hardy@juno.com), May 30, 2002.

Main Streets in America.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), May 30, 2002.

I, too, shoot just abnout whatever excites me at the moment. My work is not too 'subject oriented'. But a project I'm beginning to get going on now is to do portraits, if you will, of these old, white small-town churches. They're going away, and being replaced by huge 7-11 looking buildings. They used to be a part of the community's life and now they're leaving. I figure someone should document them in a thoughtful, sensitive way. I'm in the Northwest, north of Seattle, so there are plenty to choose from.

-- Gary Meader (gmeaderwa@earthlink.net), May 30, 2002.

Industrial landscape, mostly. Abandoned warehouses, interiors of empty grain silos, etc. Almost no landscape. Shoot what you love and have an eye for, I say ...which has me giving Trevor's suggestion of "groins" serious thought.

-- Michael Veit (pocoveit@yahoo.com), May 30, 2002.

Ooops! That should have been "groynes" not "groins". I'm not that weird. Its an idea though and could catch on.


-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@sega-europe.com), May 30, 2002.

If it moves, it's too fast.

"Wow, look at that snail go!"

-- Ole Tjugen (oftjugen@online.no), May 30, 2002.

Lately I'm passionate about handheld for people involved in activities or at outdoor events. I especially like nature spirits; Those faces in trees, rocks and clouds that look like animals and people. The latter will be a book one day.

-- Wayne Crider (waynecrider@hotmail.com), May 30, 2002.

Well, I DO photograph 'groins;' I shoot nudes (primarily B&W abstracts and semi-abstracts) and landscapes, both the 'grand' landscapes and what I'd call 'medium' landscapes, i.e. buildings and the like. Haven't gotten much into some other areas, including the macrolandscape, which I notice but normally don't (yet) photograph.

And I admit to shooting the occasional flower. I've got some critters in the yard I'd love to get on LF, but neither the lizards nor the hummingbirds want to hold still long enough. Unfortunately. I think a good full-frame portrait of a hummer, even perched, would be fabulous.


-- Anthony J. Kohler (arbitrator@uneedspeed.net), May 30, 2002.

I still use my 35mm cameras and don't get out the 8x10 unless there's a good reason to. I want my LF images to be identifiably LF, at least to informed viewers.

So, without thinking too much about it, my criteria are: (1) the scene/subject or type of scene/subject is immediately recognizable as belonging to the LF b&w tradition (while not coming off as derivative or antiquarian); (2) and/or I plan to contact print the LF negative using some contact-print-only alt. process; (3) and/or I plan to enlarge the LF negative to huge dimensions while preserving fine grain/sharpness; (4) and/or I can make effective use of the LF camera's movements.

I end up shooting a lot of landscape, still life, portrait, human form/figure study. I subscribe to group f/64 canons of sharpness, DOF etc. because I can't see going to all this expense and trouble to create an image that could be done just as well or better with a 35mm SLR. When I want to shoot a crazy candid with moving subjects I get out the Nikon.

-- Nicholas F. Jones (nfjones@stargate.net), May 30, 2002.

I shoot mostly landscapes and isolated or ignored old buildings, sheds and barns. I would like to try portraits but am too uncomfortable around people I do not know to be telling them what to do. I like the wide-open spaces but do admire those of you who will set up in a busy city and merrily shoot away. Recently I pulled out an old 35mm rangefinder (it was in a moment of weakness :>) ) and have become more fascinated with candid shots. I think it will take quite a bit before I am comfortable setting up my 4x5 and casually shooting candid shots in a downtown area even a small town like I live in. Oh well there are many things to shoot where I do go and the air is crisp and fresh.

-- James Phillips (grey_wolf@telusplanet.net), May 30, 2002.


-- Jim (jimzpace@yahoo.com), May 30, 2002.

I find it interesting that many of us are drawn to subjects that represent a time gone by, as we ourselves as lf photographers work in a medium that many consider archaic and obsolete. Is it because we long for the lazier pace of a simpler time, or perhaps miss the fine craftsmanship that is now seldom found? I don't just think it's a coincidence.

-- John Elstad (john@720.com), May 30, 2002.

These days I'm working on a portfolio of portraits of women, many in masks and/or costumes, many shots in "exotic" locales such as the Australian outback and the Andes (two recent examples; I travel a lot for work). These are all shot with a 12X20 camera, for platinum contact printing. Often, there is a lot of "seting up" work involved, for example, a friend of mine in her wedding dress sitting on a limb in the tree in our back yard, shot as a vertical; an author friend lying on a huge pile of books, reading. I find the 12X20 format, originally intended for "banquet" group shots, to be a very stimulating aspect ratio for environmental portraits. It's really got me thinking about space anew, esp after years of shooting the much more square 4X5 and 8X10 formats.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), May 30, 2002.

OK, I'm awake now and want to ammend my posting on photographing the dirt bikers. I should have prefaced it with:

Like everyone else, I shoot static subjects of whatever grabs my attention at the moment. Because I dearly love big honkin' negs, I occasionally try to do something that the camera wasn't designed to do in the hopes that it will work in spite of itself.

-- Hal (hal__hardy@juno.com), May 31, 2002.

I photographs the Nude, and 19th Century Architecture; both suit the high degree to detail the large negs give me, and both take great advantage of the movements and controls LF provides. Interestingly, most of the models I work with prefer the large format sessions to those where I take smaller cameras - they say the pace of 8x10 shooting is more relaxing!

-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ericbb@evolvingbeauty.com), May 31, 2002.

My main subjects are rural architecture of the previous century. Grain elevators before they were slip formed concrete, farm houses before they made the cover of Ranch Beautiful, barns before the advent of steel sheathing. That an any artifacts of our lost rural heritage, a Farmall Super M rotting on side of the road always makes me stop. South Dakota is the most fertile territory for this work.

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), May 31, 2002.

Old Airplanes!! Also landscapes and cityscapes and our new airport.


I shoot the planes because its easy. Not too many people around in the museum to give me the weird looks.

By the way, would you guys be kind enough to state where youre from also? I think most LF shooters are probably from the US and Canada because that is THE place for LF with all the huge National Parks and Wisner and Canham and Ebay AND Kodak etc. (Are there a lot of LF shooters from Switzerland, home of Arca and Sinar?)

I think I saw one poster from South Africa, home of the Panfield camera. (Too lazy to figure out from email address.) Me I'm from Malaysia. I know there are some LF shooters in Malaysia because I've seen the forensic evidence. (Old cameras for sale, 4x5 films on display, animal droppings etc.)

-- (matnikon@yahoo.com), May 31, 2002.

going to a biplane show tomorrow in bartlesville ok. my bro rebuilds rotary engines and his company will have a sponsor's tent to display their wares(mainly continental, lycoming)... i'm taking my point and shoot.

a gsw,


-- tribby (linhof66@hotmail.com), May 31, 2002.

Drat! Now I have to lookup what the hell are "groynes". The other one I know and I'm normal weird. (Or normally weird.)

-- (matnikon@yahoo.com), May 31, 2002.


How are LF shooters' droppings different from other animals?

(oh-oh, this is a soft lob--- the answer is obviously LARGER FORMAT.)

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), June 01, 2002.


How loquacious of you. Bet you take picture too.

As others have said I also shoot most anything that doesn't move too fast or shoot back at me. Had the latter happen once. Saw a potentially good scenic from the I-5 freeway in No. CA. Got off the freeway to get a better angle on the scene. Went up (found out later) a private dirt road. At the end of the road was a 10+- year old boy with a shot gun in hand. I immediately turned around and speed off. Nothing's worth it.

I'll be trying some hand-held 4x5 at Venice, CA beach this summer on my Crown Graphic. BTW anyone with film/lens suggestions?

Good light to you all,


-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), June 01, 2002.

Steve, FWIW some of the farmers in Northern California are extremely guarded about the local cash crops. I was once at a meeting where the pros and cons of reopening a trail in a remote, dry, debris filled canyon were being tossed around. One of the cons was that nearby residents were concerned of the possibilty of wildfires being started by careless hikers. A gruff old Cowboy stood up and remarked "H@ll! You don't needn't worry about no G@#d%&mn fires gettin started, everythin up theres on drip irrigatin"

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), June 02, 2002.

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