Thoughtfactory: large format

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

finding my feet

The CitiCentre picture below  is one of my early large format elevated photos of Adelaide's CBD. It is rough and I have never shown  it publicly.  It was made at a time when I was living Sturt St  in the CBD,   and  I'd just started to explore  making  urban large format photographs of   Adelaide.  At the time   I didn't know of any working Australian large format  photographers who was making urban images  of the CBD of the capital cities. Though I knew of  the early black and white  photos that  Grant Mudford made in the 1970s I didn't realise at the time that they were made with 35mm film and not with his Sinar  5x4.  

I distinctly remember the process of making the CitiCentre photo: it was in the late afternoon that  I carried the 5x7 gear to a tram stop,  caught  the tram to Rundle Mall, walked through the crowds of shoppers in Rundle Mall, then  going up the lift to access the top floor of the ugly car park on the corner Rundle and Pulteney Sts. The location had been scoped beforehand -- it has to be prior to making a decision  to make a picture. 

The location  was the  U carpark  that replaced the Foy and Gibson building that was demolished in the 1970s. The car park  had  iron bars or railings that allowed you to put the  lens of a handheld camera through.   Most of the new car parks in Adelaide's CBD are now covered in mesh and it is impossible to photograph through the mesh.  However,  I wasn't really sure that I would be able to  get the camera lens of the 5x7 Cambo momorail through the iron bars/railings of the car park in order to  make the photo. To my relief I could. 

This  was a decade ago and  I had just started thinking about  a project of photographing Adelaide -- a project that would m eventually evolve into  Walking Adelaide several years latter. At the time  I was just making photos and still  thinking in terms of the purity of the image  the modernist  idea of uniqueness and  medium specificity and the white cube.  A photograph of a building in the city is a photograph. It's not the building anymore.   

The process dominated at that early stage.I just counted myself lucky if I could get the 5x7 monorail camera to a chosen location and made a photo. I did know that what I was trying to do was not architectural photography of the latter Grant Mudford.  

 The image is rough due to  the blown highlights in the sky, the poor colour balance and the  Newton rings in the file. I wasn't very knowledgeable about  scanning then,  the scanning  software I was using wasn't  that good,  I had no film holders for a 5x7 negative,   and I didn't know how to use Photoshop.   This is a picture made whilst I was finding my feet. 

Looking back I can see that it takes several years of practice with a large format camera  to  make the  shift away from concentrating on the process to making a photo for a conceptual project. One possibility to address the flaws is to rescan the negatives as I now have new software and a 5x7 film holder with my  recent upgrade  of the computer, monitor  and scanner.