On Tuesday night I took my Toyo 4x5 camera and two lenses out to Crown Heights, which is only four subway stops from our place. Our new favorite pizza joint Barboncino is there and right down the street Kate and I found an amazing old school candy shop. Anyway, I had a free night and I really wanted to get back to photograph the promenade and this amazing bodega. It was still early, so there was a fair amount of foot and car traffic. The one minute exposure helped with the traffic.
Here's the thing about using a larger format camera in a public place - you are going to draw attention. People know what it is, but they might not have seen one up close. This is a perfect opportunity to be an ambassador for film photography. People stop and ask questions:
"Wow, what kind of a camera is that?" or
"Oh man, this is old school!" or
"What are you doing?" and most of all,
"Wow, can I look in there?"
I think this is awesome. I ran into three men who knew exactly what large format cameras were, one of them used to shoot high school protraits with a large format rig. We talked for about 15 minutes as I waited for the sun to disappear behind the horizon. Since I wasn't in a hurry anyway, I took the time to talk to everyone that stopped, answered their questions, and always let them look into the back through the ground glass. After all, I wasn't in a hurry. That was what attracted me to shooting with this type of camera in the first place. The best conversations were with kids who had only seen a camera like this in movies or on TV. They were totally curious and started by trying to be too cool, but ended up geeking out by looking through the ground glass and posing for each other. I think I, a total stranger to this neighborhood, enjoyed myself more than they did.
Cropped Portion of Above Shot
To really get a sense of what a 4x5 negative can deliver, just click on this cropped image of the above shot. I only scanned these negatives at 1200 dpi, but they were already in excess of 20MB. Scanning them at my usual 2400 results in 80MB files that my computer really can't work with in any efficient manner.