I work mainly with a Linhof Technikardan 5×4 large format camera fitted with a variety of Schneider Super Angulon lenses. The camera and lenses are highly regarded by professionals due to their high precision and exceptional optical quality. I need equipment which produces images of exceptional quality while being strong and rugged enough to withstand the rigours of mountain and wilderness photography. While I’m pleased with the results, the Technikardan has two main disadvantages for me. Firstly it is a heavy camera and can be restrictive when I’m on long treks in the mountains. Secondly, the time required to set up the camera ready to shoot can be frustrating especially in quickly changing lighting conditions.
I endeavour to produce strong images with deep blacks and clear bright highlights. Therefore, I often fit a red filter and a polarising filter to the lens, which requires a 3 or 4 stop increase in exposure settings.
My exposure settings are calculated using a combination of accurate measurements using a handheld spot meter and experience. I never expose for the highlights in a scene, instead I measure a variety of shadow and dark areas and make a final assessment of exposure using experience and intuition.
I’ve experimented with a variety of black and white photographic films but I now use Kodak Technical Pan almost exclusively. The film has an ISO rating of 25 and can therefore produce images of outstanding sharpness. I want people to look closely at the images and take time study and enjoy the minute details of every scene. I normally work at apertures between f22 and f64 depending on the required depth of field for a particular shot. If the red and polarising filters are fitted exposure times of up to 16 seconds are not uncommon. This can cause practical difficulties with camera shake in strong winds.
While the Linhof is a beautiful camera to use and the final image quality is exceptional it can a difficult piece of equipment to use in the field. I am often restricted by the weight of the camera and the associated equipment needed for a particular shot. I enjoy the Scottish mountains during the winter but the weight of the camera, tripod, film holders, light meter, crampons, ice axe, food, water and extra clothing can be too much of a burden. To carry this amount of equipment up a hill in total darkness using only a head torch for light sometimes feels ludicrous. However, to stand on top of a Scottish mountain at sunrise is a wonderful experience and is normally worth the effort.
Hopefully, this text provides the reader with some background on how the images are produced and the type of effort involved in their production. If you would like to know more about me or my work please do not hesitate to contact me.