"The large ground-glass image is an entity in itself, a different experience from using the viewfinder. On the ground glass the image appears upside-down, and we must learn to view it in this position. We soon learn to "understand" the upside-down image, however, and it has a certain abstract quality that makes us more aware of its structure and its borders, as we are not dominated by the obvious dispositions of the subject. In effect the ground glass divorces us from the realistic appearances of the world. The ground-glass image thus exists as a thing in itself, specifically photographic and not merely a simulation of the "view" before the camera."
Adams, A.,& Baker H. R., (1981)
My process through-out my studies has focused only film and photographing with a view camera. Initially I wanted to capture the images digitally but a suggestion by my tutor to look at film and other camera formats lead me to the view camera. I am now fascinated by the process, underneath the black cloth and looking through the back of the camera really does divorce us from the realistic appearance of the world (Adams, Ansel The Negative). Judith Joy Ross said that it is so magnificently beautiful looking through a view camera, it is so mysterious (Judith Joy Ross) and she was right. Besides the amazing image quality there is a tremendous amount of control you have to manipulate the image with the camera movements.
I am using an 8x10 Deardorff camera with a 360mm Technika Symmar lens, Figure 1., this lens is 360mm however it is a convertible lens meaning that by removing a lens element you can get a focal length of 620mm. The lens unconverted has an effective 35mm focal length of 52mm and converted 90mm. To figure out the conversion you multiple the focal length of your 8x10 lenses by .15 and for your 4x5 lenses by .30 (Tim Layton Fine Art). My concern is that the 360mm lens will be too wide, I want to compress the space behind the subject, and have a shallow depth of field.
depth of field calculator
Film is expensive so to give me a better understanding of what the final image might look like I began using an online Depth Of Field calculator, see Figure 1. The depth of field calculator allows you to set your aperture, subject distance, background, camera format, etc.. I use this tool to give me a rough estimate of framing and composition of the image and the depth of field. One of the features I like about a view camera is the shallow depth of field that can be achieved, however, it is difficult to focus too. It is my intention to photograph at the widest aperture possible to drop the background out of focus. The depth of field calculator using the 320mm lens was too wide, there was too much background included in the shot and the subject was too small. An option would be to move the subject forward but I know at 25 feet I can focus on my subject and not encounter any exposure compensation with the camera and lens combination I am using. If I did move closer I would need to apply the exposure compensation and I realize that this would affect my shutter speed which might already be very low. This is not an option and pushing my film to 800 ISO is not something I want to do either.
Using a 620mm lens in the calculator gave me the framing and composition that I was looking for, I do want to crop the bottom more so I will use the camera’s front rise to crop the subject below the knees.
There are two concerns that I have, one that the converted lens will not be as sharp. I can not find any documentation online to support this concern of mine but I can not imagine that removing the back lens element would allow it to maintain a sharp focus. Another concern is shooting wide open at F11, I will not be able to focus the camera precisely, I have about a foot of focus at that aperture. The Deardorff is an older wooden camera so the focus is not as precise as my 4x5 Sinar and the focusing ground glass is not as bright.
One of the reasons I want to crop the subject above the knees is I do not want any foreground. The reason for this is I want this to be a metaphor for their journey up to this point, the path forward is unclear. I do want the subjects to appear to be in motion though I do not want them to appear to be statues. In Figure 4, I cropped the depth of field calculator image to compensate for the rise I want to apply. The large amount of space above I want to represent the sense of freedom the migrants feel being in their new country but I do not want the top to be open to the sky completely, not to airy and free. This is because I get a sense from the interviews of the migrants that they will never feel completely comfortable in their new country, their journey has changed them in a way made them more worldly and at the same time they realize their displacement in the world.
Adams, A., Baker H. R., 1981. The Negative. 12 th ed., Bulfinch Press.
DOF Calculator. (2019) Depth Of Field Calculator. Available at: https://dofsimulator.net/en/ [Accessed 04 August 2019].
Machinski, J. (2019) 360/620mm Technika Symmar Lens On The Right. August 2019. Unpublished.