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Large Format Photography Workshop: Los Angeles
with JW Dewdney of ARCFOTO

As we enter into a more decidedly digital age, the incredible subtlety, detail and simple beauty of images made by large format cameras stand out in sharp relief. Once used primarily by technical types for the purposes of product and architectural photography (owing to the radical degree of perspective correction allowed by the athletic construction of the studio monorail camera), large format photography also provides us with an antidote to the all-too-pervasive digital image.

The difference can be as glaring as comparing the fidelity offered by a cellular phone vs a live symphony orchestra.  Yes - that much!  You really have to see it to believe it. And you will.

We will be offering participants in the workshop a chance to inspect prints created by different formats of film and digital cameras to make the difference all the more clear. Another interesting phenomenon is that as photography grows in size on gallery and museum walls, photographers making these images have no other option but to turn to large format photography and the incredible detail and finess it offers. The large format camera is here to stay - more than ever... and this is our introduction to it. We welcome you to walk through the door...

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holga image - liquor store
a monorail view camera

Skill Level: Intermediate
Location: Hollywood
Instructor: JW Dewdney
Duration: see below.
Dates: See available sessions below

About the Instructor: JW Dewdney has been an active large format photographer for 25 years and has had his work published by architectural magazines (architecture, architectural record and canadian architect), coffee table books, and gallery exhibitions.

Topics covered in the workshop are:

  • anatomy of the large format camera and camera types
  • anatomy of the large format photograph and it's unique qualities - why large format?
  • the history of the large format camera
  • working with large format - film handling and darkroom workshop.
  • perspective control and movements in the studio and elsewhere
  • equipment handling - best methods & materials.
  • using the view camera in the stuidio (hands on)
  • using the view camera on location
  • special applications
  • special topics in studio and landscape photography
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Most of us have heard of the classic large format photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or Richard Avedon. But we've come a long long way since then, and the last few decades have seen hundreds of large format photographers rise to the public spotlight - some names you MAY recognize are: Sally Mann, Jeff Wall, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Gursky, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Ed Burtynsky among many others. What these artist/photographers all share in common is the use of the large format camera - a near necessity especially for those needing to create very large exhibition quality prints with a high degree of detail and smooth tonality.

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Seascape, Aegean Sea, click on image to see more.







Case Study: Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto has been using the large format camera (4x5 and 8x10) for years to capture ineffable, wonderfully simplistic and psychologically resonant landscapes and interiors such as one of his famous 'seascape' images shown at left.

It is only through the patient application of large format principles (and a keen mind) that he was able to transform an outwardly banal scene into something transcendant. Had he used a lesser format, neither the subtlety nor the incredible levels of detail could be coaxed out of the scene.

It is only through the common use of low-resolution digital tools that make classic large format photographs really (!) stand out in the crowd. The digital camera cannot compete with the depth and soul of the large format photograph. It can't even come close.



Hiroshi Sugimoto
Andreas Gursky, Montparnasse, click on image to see more.

Profile: Andreas Gursky

Another photographer using large format who's made a very big name for himself with the large format camera is Andreas Gursky. Gursky has also forged a name for himself in the art press by commanding record setting prices for his photography. He uses the resolution of large format film to bring a very high degree of detail to his mammoth sized prints.




At the end of the workshop - you will have the know how to be able to create a convincing, professional version of either of the above image types! These are just two examples of work we will be taking a closer look at - you will also learn about shooting set up and strategy and how to achieve similarly incredible results!



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Why Large Format? The Devil is in the Details!

above: Original shot - 180 megapixels (that's more than 16 TIMES the resolution of many state-of-the-art professional DIGITAL cameras used for architectural photography.This is adequate resolution to make a 40x50 inch print of very good quality. - see blue square above for reference for detail at right.


above: Detail (15x magnification) extracted from the same 180 megapixel original file (to put this in perspective, most high end consumer grade digital cameras these days max out at 12 megapixels and most professional ones around 15-18 megapixels). See blue rectangle in shot at left. Shots of such extreme resolution eliminate the need. One great hallmark of the large format camera is that it's images are endlessly interesting to look at and full of detail...

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Description: Space in the workshop will be limited to 7 (seven) participants Two days will be offered over the weekend - the first day we will cover general large format technique, portraiture and architectural photography. The second day we will focus on studio techniques and a more 'professional setting'. You can sign up for either of the days or both. Each participant will use and get a basic technical understanding of the view camera and what it's capable of. The workshop fee is $245 (or $212 for members ) or $425 for both days! Participants with credentials or student IDs from recognized educational institutions will receive 15% off, as  will members. The workshop takes a full day and includes a hot panini lunch with a non-alcoholic drink of your choosing. Participants who book EARLY may opt to book for the entire weekend (two days) in the expanded workshop. The fee also includes a handout summarizing topics included in the workshop and a copy of View Camera Magazine. Individual instruction is also available upon inquiry.  All workshops must be paid for (or else a deposit left) before 72 hours (three days) from the start of a workshop or else a penalty fee of $50 will apply. Payment may be made online in advance (see below) at a discounted rate. Payments taken by telephone, fax or in person will not reflect this discount. Groups also welcome by prior arrangement.. Individual instruction is also available upon inquiry

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Please see our membership page for additional huge discounts on all workshops and merchandise as well as other goodies. There is an additional $20 off the workshop fee if purchased online, below. Students of accredited educational institutions and members of partner institutions are also eligible to receive a 15% discount on all workshops. Please inquire about multiple workshop discounts too.
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Payment may also be taken by telephone, fax or in person,  or online below.  All workshops must be paid for (or else a deposit left) before 72 hours (three days) from the start of a workshop or else a penalty fee of $50 will apply. Payment may be made online in advance (see below) at a discounted rate.

We accept all major credit cards, cash or cheque. to reserve space by telephone, call:
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Workshop Dates/Times (click on drop-down menu for availability)
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Please write if you have specific questions about the workshop that are not addressed on this page.


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C4 Contemporary Art
5647 Hollywood Boulevard 
Los Angeles, CA  90028 
e-mail: info@c4gallery.com