Isabella Breeze – My First Ever 4×5 Scene.

Isabella Breeze. Lake Isabella CA. Spring 2011. Linhof 4x5.

This has been sitting for the summer, but as we start traveling once again for 3 months of road touring, I decided it was worth posting.  It’s my very first 4×5 exposure. Well, not including the accidental frame I ruined because I forgot to shut the lens. 4×5 film is something I’ve spent 2011 falling in love with. This frame is imperfect, but I wanted to share because I never want to forget the feeling it gave me. A sense of wonder at the sheer simple function, yet inspiring complexity and quality of the large format medium. It’s an operation that by it’s very nature forces one to slow down, to think and to visualize.

I stood right on the shore of Lake Isabella, almost at the water line at sunset on this early Spring day in 2011. It’s actually the very one I talked about on the drive back, during this Episode of the Photo Couch podcast. It’s was a calm relaxing sunset on the edge is this beautiful lake and it felt good. Once the sun had faded I packed up and drove to the other end of the lake where we had camped the trailer on the shore. Where kids and my beautiful wife were waiting with a hot spaghetti dinner.

For Photographers… 

Linhof Technicha IV. Symmar lens @135mm? Delta 100 4×5. Exposure unknown.

This was before I had collected the proper filters for black and white, took proper notes, or even knew what every control on a large format camera did. It’s a flawed image in many ways. Though a bit of processing on the scan with my PW3 Presets and some manual tweaks, brought out the character pretty well, for negative that was poorly developed from a reputable lab. It was dirty, scratched and not exposed the best. But here it is in all it’s glory. After the LR work, I did a bit of gentle Burn and Dodge to bring out the light a bit better.

But while this may never be a vast wall print, I enjoy the image and I’ll always remember it as that first 4×5. I’ll be glad that it was actually not that bad. It serves to remind me that imperfection is human, but that the more I slow down, analyze and refine my craft the beautiful and complicated my images can become.

Gavin


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  • Elliott Strom says:

    Gavin,
    Really like this photo. I know that you can see everything that isn’t quite perfect about the image, but from my vantage point, it looks beautiful. I remember the first time I tried out a view camera. A friend and I found it in the attic of our college science building. It was strange because the negative size wasn’t much different than 120 or 6×7 film. But the camera was similar in size to a 4×5 view camera. Anyway, I’d followed Ansel Adams work and aspired to make images like his. So it was exciting to get my hands on a view camera and fumble around with it and see what I could create. Your story makes me want to dig around and find those negatives (this was back in the mid 1980’s), get them scanned and see what I can do with them. Looking forward to following your journey’s over the next few months.

    • Gavin Seim says:

      Thanks Elliot. You should pull those guys out and scan them. The larger films are amazing quality and it really helps one slow down and analyze.

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