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Sunday, 17 March 2019


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Before I knew of his photo skills, I used to visit his online music biz, Descarga, a great source for soulful Latin music the world over. Bruce possesses a large dose of humanity, applicable to many pursuits.

Congratulations, indeed, Bruce! A wonderful series and an interesting back-story in sociology. Very cool.

I've been going back to those over and over again; simple, direct and devoid of all artifice- yet with a visual and emotional wallop that won't be denied...

Thanks - I really like that set. Apart from the intrinsic quality, it also illustrates why bokeh is a lot more than blurry backgrounds, and cellphone tricks. It's about depth, and IMO only really works with larger formats

Thanks for highlighting this Mike, even though it led to one of those "I'm taking all my photographic gear to the dump" moments.

Beautiful work, some of my favorite. I'm amazed at how those big plate cameras can use so many dark tones yet maintain such nice, subtle contrast. No one looks lost in the dark. Would be great to see them in print, but they stand out on the computer as is. Congratulations on the project.

Beautiful images.

An 8x0 is a lot like a Range Rover. No aperture priority, no shelter priority, no TTL meter. None of the amenities you’d find on the cheapest ILCamera. Meh!

Wonderful - love all of it!

The original 'Full Frame'
Still nothing quite like it.
I definitely do not miss the effort required to cart around and use.....
.....but the results.
I've kept it all - the Deardorff and a selection of modern and vintage lenses, BIG tripod...... I even had adapted a lightweight golf cart (which was 'less than ideal' which is why I no longer have it.
The sad reality is that with each passing year the likelihood of my using it diminishes further.

Another park, another black and white camera-

NYT "Lens" must hide the EXIF info.

But, seriously, what sort of focal length and aperture would one use for an 8x10 portrait?

The Jewish guys' white shirts are a zillion smooth shades of white. Sweet!

I don't get how these are the opposite of cellphone photography (whatever he means by that; it could be anything). Different technique and machinery, sure, but is that the most important aspect in judging the nature of photographic work?

Nice to see this featured, I just saw this link on a friend's Facebook page, Bruce's work is great!

Beautiful work. very contemplative subjects. Really love the richness of the tones and the contrast.

Absolutely superb work - thank you Mike for the link.

Beautiful, soulful work.

I think you could get much the same look with a Leica Monochrom and Noctulux, but you'd have to sell the Land Rover to afford it.

Beautiful photos. Why is it I appreciate photography more when I know someone practicing their craft with difficult to use equipment and outdated methods?

Enjoyed the article when it first appeared. Your info added depth and led me to revisiting it. Kudos to you and Bruce.

I ran across another interesting photographer in the Swiss Zurich "Tagesanzeiger." His name is Sandor Rozsas. The photos are all b&w with a strong graphic component. All of the are good, some of them exceptional and a few breathtaking.

https://blog.tagesanzeiger.ch/zoom/index.php/category/sandor/?item=112595/ Some of the pictures have location information embedded (upper right), linking to Google Streetview. The location isn't always correct, I think.

The text of course is in German. If Google translate produces incomprehensible garbage, I'll gladly help.

TC- I'll take a stab... Large Format is NOT: convenient, immediate, ubiquitous, inexpensive, effortless or familiar.

It is: overtly burdensome, almost excruciatingly slow, demanding of a fine honed skill set (technically to operate, socially to set the subject at ease), quite expensive, and capable (with a sensitive eye and knowledgeable hands) of results the quality of which one can't quite imagine or foresee until in the presence of the actual print.

Wow....inspired and inspiring.


I did something similar for a while at Walden Pond with a 5x7. It was a wonderful experience. I sold the camera and all the assorted stuff when I moved on a boat. I really miss it though. I started work as an ER nurse after that which has definitely distanced me from humanity a bit. I would love to do it again but the buy in for LF photography is pretty large in time, money and space and doing it with digital doesn’t seem like it would work.

I still love looking at the pictures though.


I really love these photographs, the article and your post. The image quality is beautiful, but just as importantly the photography is beautiful. But I'm left asking a few questions.

While I would assume that the 8x10 BW film would produce incredible prints, are people maybe reading too much into what they are seeing in the jpg rendering on a website. Are these jpgs, scanned from the negative (2nd generation) or prints (third generation) truly superior to what could be rendered from a native digital file from the best full-frame or medium format cameras processed to mimic a particular tonality or film?

Again, I am taking nothing away from the incredible dynamic range and tonality that must exist on that film, but once it is rendered down to the least common denominator srgb jpg, is the web-based rendering actually superior to what one could get digitally?

Moving away from the quality of the rendering, I think the "show" of the 8x10 camera, tripod and necessary efforts that come with that do allow and encourage a type of image that would not necessarily be possible with a more efficient process. I think it also provides a great hook that sort of invites the most interesting passers-by to participate in the process. In a way, that may be the greatest differentiator of shooting in this format.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to which film he used?

Stan: Thanks for your thoughts on my comment. I realize that the technical aspect of making the photos is quite different, but although (as has been noted above) the differences might not be as apparent in the online jpeg reproductions viewed on a computer screen, the title of the work is "What is the opposite of a cellphone _photo_?" so my question was coming more from the angle of the actual photographic work rather than the tools and techniques used to make it.

John Gillooly, I imagine that the photographer wants to do something directly, rather than use computers to emulate that something. Ain't nothin' like the real thing!

These photographs are a joy to look at.

Likely because the process of making the image involves a measure of respect and preparedness on both sides, the subjects are relaxed, and we are, therefore, invited and able to look at them and engage with them in a relaxed manner. There is roundness of form and the sort of detail that I expect I might see myself. The shallow depth of field helps to present the subjects to us, forward of the distractions that might catch our eye were we really there in person.

I really enjoyed looking at these lovely photographs. More so than any others I can recall for some time.

That, friends, is why large format photography remains, or is increasingly, a worthwhile pursuit.

Upon further thought, let me pose my thoughts a bit differently. It seems there are a couple different factors at play here. I fully recognize and respect the simple joy one might get in the film process, but that is not my issue.

I am speaking to the actual differences that result from the large format film approach. Could one achieve the desired outcome by shooting large-format digital? I'm guessing that would also create a similar "show" and require a relatively slow approach, though certainly not as limited and consuming as film.

What if one approached the subjects with this same care and respect for them and the craft, but were using an MMonochrome or a Sony a7RIII or a Hassablad MF? Is it not possible to shoot with more nimble means but approach in a slow and thoughtful manner?

I don't actually know the answers to the above questions. I have shot a fair amount of MF film but never large format. I have viewed and admired many prints, large and small, from large format film. It does in fact have a majestic quality.

What leads me to the questions is when I read dramatic reviews specifically regarding the image quality/tonal range when what we are actually viewing is a much watered-down version of the real thing. The fact that we are viewing on the screen has democratized the image quality with other formats.

Herman Kreiger has linked to some beautiful photographs of everyday things with lovely tones.

That, to me, means that he has a good grasp of what images can/should? look like more than, at that size of repro, being a product of one format or another. With his ability, and giving the same care to smaller format captures as given to larger format capture, there is little reason to think there would be any real difference unless on some pretty large screen.

So yes, perhaps tonality difference resides in printer/processor skills rather than so much on format itself.


Beautiful. Moving. Superb.

The process is inseparable from the results. Thank you for highlighting this work.

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