The Pathless Plains

I’m not usually a fan of “camera porn.” Really, I’m not a fan at all of it for myself. But when it comes to large format photography, I’m a bit more lenient. I’ve only recently begun to shoot 4×5 and have discovered that I absolutely love the process. The entire thing is almost ceremonial. In many ways, it’s the opposite of point-and-shoot (though, yeah, obviously not *the* exact opposite).

Rather than whipping out a camera and knocking out a few shots (as I did here), you scout locations, plan your shot, meter, re-meter, move the location. Sometimes you’re on your knees or standing on rocks just to check angles. What if you moved a foot forward? What would in frame? What if you used a different lense or tossed on a red filter? What’s the sky doing? Is the grass moving too much? Am I about to loose my light?

And then you set up the camera. Then, you go through an entirely different set of rituals, unchanging from shot to shot. It’s nearly mechanical at this point.

True, we do much of this in our heads and quickly with each shot we take, whether digital, 35mm, medium or large formats. And certainly we could do this incredibly slow process for every exposure ever. But for me, I save that for the 4x5s.

And sometimes I take a quick photo of it happening.


‘The Pathless Plains’

Camera: Zorki 4 (1960)
Film: Kodak Ultramax 400 (x-01/15)

Rocky Ford Creek, Grant County, Washington


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