Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Transforming Large Format
Landscape master Jack Dykinga’s new “secret” view camera is in the form of a modern DSLR
“It’s multifaceted,” Dykinga explains. “It seems like the labs are disappearing. And film availability is sometimes scarce. But I still continue to use film and my 4x5. If I’ve got a scene that I know is really going to go right to fine art, I’ll pretty much revert to film. So I’m still kind of juggling and marrying the two.”
The other concern Dykinga has with his new approach is technical, and decidedly digital. It comes by way of color fringing at the edges of the image due to the extremes to which he’s pushing his lenses. It has both a digital cause and a digital solution.
“Fringing is important,” he says. “Basically, the glass isn’t rendering all of the colors exactly the same. When the angle is bending the light way out at the edge of the frame is where it’s most noticeable. So when you pull the image out of the raw processor, you’d better address the fringing—especially these wide angles that have huge image circles. When you approach the edge of the circle, you’re almost assuredly getting red, green and yellow blue fringing going on. With these smaller-format cameras, it can be the difference between a sharp picture and a not-sharp picture.”
Most of the changes Dykinga has seen from his new approach have been quite beneficial. He even has begun to notice aesthetic changes that have followed the technique—things he always dreamed about with 4x5, but only now can he achieve.
“One of the things I find is that with 4x5 you’re sort of gravitating to shorter lenses and wide-angle approaches,” he explains. “And a lot of these pictures—the cactus, the desert, the Namibian sand dunes—these are all telephoto shots. It’s a good mixture, but what I find myself doing are these very wide panoramas with telephoto lenses, which allow me to bring up that background and get that effect I’ve always yearned to do with a 4x5. To do that with a 4x5, I would have to be using a 1200mm lens and a tripod and several Sherpas to carry it all.
“Some of the panorama shots,” Dykinga continues, “they’re shot with telephoto lenses, and a lot of those aren’t that sharp until you get down to about ƒ/13. Quality is always the driving force. Unlike wildlife or people, when you can actually shoot wide open because you’re going after that moment, you’ve got no excuse with landscape photography. You want maximum quality. That’s probably the original reason for going to this—to supply maximum quality.”
To see more of Jack Dykinga’s photography, visit www.dykinga.com.
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