The Disappearing Art of Large Format Photography

Large format photography is the oldest form of photography, and yet it is still practiced by many enthusiasts today, not only for its superior image quality, but also because it lends itself to a slower, more contemplative photographic style. In the beautiful video below, you can follow film photographer Lúis Plácido as he takes us through the large format process from setting up and composing his image, all the way through his manual dodging and burning and developing in the darkroom:

Large format photography is generally characterized by the use of individual sheets of film that are 4×5 inches (9×12 cm) or larger. In the early days of photography, large format was all there was, and although there are some modern additions and renovations to the art, the camera designs have remained mostly unchanged since the beginning of photography in 1839. (Via PetaPixel)

A number of actions need to be taken to use a typical large format camera, and every action needs to be carefully executed—from choosing the camera position, approximate orientation, and focal length, to adjusting the filters and compendium shade, to the entire darkroom process. In fact, so much time and care is taken for each exposure that there’s much more motivation to think everything through carefully and do it right. The results are photos that are sharper, have better tonality, and are grain-free. Contact printing—the type Plácido shows us in the video—creates an image whose delicacy cannot be matched by any enlargement.

Large Format process

The film above reminds of us of a slower, more contemplative world where time and texture meet.

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