Thoughtfactory: large format

a minor blog about the trials, tribulations and explorations of large format, analogue photography in Australia

Kwong, NSW: a snap, unfortunately

The photo  below is the first photo of a  silo I made on a road trip using the Cambo 5x7 S3 monorail after I'd restarted  large format photography from a 2  decade absence or more.   The underground current  of roadtrip photography  in Australia does  include images made with a  large format camera. 

The silo was near Kwong  on the Sturt Highway west of Wagga Wagga in NSW. It was in 2015 a year or so  after  my Edgeland  exhibition at Manning  Clark House in Canberra in  2014. It was a road trip that connected back to  those I'd done in the 1980s.   I was happy to be on the road  with the large format camera  once again. When I saw the silo near an old, disused  railway line with  the overcast sky I thought that it  would make  a good  subject  for the Cambo: 

I didn't know about the problem of bellows yaw then, which was  caused by raising the monorail's front standard too high.   When I scanned the negative I was  so disappointed and frustrated.   How come I didn't see  the black semicircle at the bottom of  the ground glass of the camera when I was composing the photo?   

It just never occurred to me to check for bellows yaw. Nor did I check for any accidental swings of the camera's  front or rear standards.   I was out of the habit with the requirement in large format photography to be slow,  precise and careful.   I just set the camera  up on a tripod and made a photo.  So it was more in the way of a snap using a medium format camera.  The craft skills were lacking. 

Here is the 'behind the camera' photo:

 I needed to avoid including a  shed in the photo which meant that  I situated the camera too close to the silo. I just thought I'd be okay without  needing to use the tilt movement.

This was the only photo that I made with the Cambo on this Canberra roadtrip. I was struggling to get into the swing of large format  photography as  I'd lost the habit of seeing and looking carefully at the possibilities for working with a view camera that stares at the world.  

Here is an example:

The  textures of this  ruined railway siding  near the silo   would have been suitable  for a  large  format photo.   But I never made the connection. It was the same for this landscape that I saw just after the Sturt Highway joined the Hume Highway:

Once again I  just didn't think of using the Cambo to make a photo.  I wasn't thinking or seeing in terms of large format photography.with just one photo  it began to  dawn on me that I would have to re-learn how to see from the perspective of a large format camera. It wasn't simply the case of loading a view camera in the car and off we go on a road trip to make lots of photos. I had been seduced by both the romance and freedom of the road and seeing lots of American road trip photos made with a view camera.   According to David Campany the open road in the US was the occasion for making great photos.  Can we say the same about the road and photography in Australia? 

This re-learning of both craft and  seeing whilst on the road was going to take me some time, if I was  to be able to  translate what I was seeing  into the  visual language of large format photography.