My Linhof Techno Challenge

Unlike the last two years when I traveled to Iceland, I did not do much photography this July and August. My preferences changed lately more towards winters and scarce time resources allow me to accommodate just one serious trip a year. As I do not like the summer lighting in Central Europe that is too fast and too early too harsh, I did not really go out at all. Not mentioning crazy times of having to get up when set for any short trip outside Prague if I want to catch the first light. Apart from spending great deal of time with kids on few trips (they are just big enough to start appreciate nature and hiking), I kept myself busy building my new kit and trying to understand how my new Linhof Techno works in real life and what else I will need before I actually can start making images.

It looked quite easy in the beginning as the internet seemed to contain plenty of information and I have read Ansel Adams' photography bible on the Camera, the Negative and the Print but the reality proved much more different. And difficult and, eventually, costly. The dealer in Czech from whom I bought the Linhof Techno machine alone had virtually zero experience with large format used for landscapes. So after having bought couple of wrong items on eBay, I had to place more orders on top of the original one to collect all ingredients that don't need to be twisted on a lathe to fit my Techno. I managed to find and purchase two books of which one came to me somewhat too technical and I got hopelessly lost in it on page 3 (A User's Guide To the View Camera from Jim Stone), however, after having used my Linhof Techno in the field, I seem to understand it much better hence it's due to be re-read very soon. The second got closer to my soul (famous Jack Dykinga's Large Format Nature Photography) because it is packed with amazing landscape images and written in more open and practical style. But still, both were far from being able to answer all my questions. So was the internet that contains huge amount of bits and pieces that I just could not put together into what would looked like a puzzle on how to shoot landscape with technical cameras tag well together. Still plenty of stuff missing but I think after this summer I will slowly get there.

It all makes building a kit like this from scratch and per individual parts little chicken-and-egg situation - unless you have someone to ask live (which I did not have) you do not know exactly what you need until you're using it. Maybe a large format photography workshop could help here and I would love to join one sooner or later but definitely with my own equipment.

Capture: Crocodiles at Storm, Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Schneider 47mm, Film: Fuji Velvia 50, Exposure: 2s, Aperture: f/8, Filters: Lee ND Graduated 0.6

So here I was at Geneva lake in June with Ota and my fresh Linhof Techno on the tripod. The gentle rain and heavy clouds added a melancholic mood to the lake that I hoped could result into a subtile palette of pastel colors on Velvia. First of all I realized that even the wind-proof jacket can't substitute for a dark cloth (finding number one). Despite training at home, it took me lots of time to familiarize with movements of the camera so that I knew at least broadly what I'm actually doing. But at the same time, it was the funniest part. I was sweating below the jacket trying to fit the scene into the frame by not moving Linhof itself but the front and rear standards instead. I deliberately chose standard composition with pretty tight foreground and after what could have been half an hour, I happily alleged that it's all packed well into the frame without touching the edges. Moving of standards and exploring what the system is capable of was an amazing experience. But not so focusing, which is perhaps the most important part of the process. The jacket did not provide enough darkness and my loupe was just pathetic (finding number two). Hence I had to make few exposures with various aperture values to ensure the sharpness throughout the scene. I must have used the Scheimpflug principle well as the f/8 proved to be sharp no different from much lower apertures.

The most of images I captured on this trip with my wide angle lens showed clear loss of light towards the corners (this one, too). I did not mind much as I considered the shooting experimental and introductory to the technical camera system but the finding number three was all about center filters that I did not hear of before. I had a great day with understanding how steep the learning curve will be here and there were many lessons taken but the last one and the most disappointing at the same time - I could not make my eBay-purchased adapter for Phase One fit onto the camera. Need to buy the original from Linhof for ten times more... :-)