OCA Workshop – Large Format Group Shot

Posted on February 26, 2013


This is the version of the group photograph at the Workshop last weekend that I made with the 5×4 view camera. Most people seem to be taking the photograph pretty seriously – so it seems that some gravitas was added to the scene….;-)

OCA Thames Valley Worksop February 2013 - photograph made with 5x4

OCA Thames Valley Worksop February 2013 – photograph made with 5×4

On a technical level its not a success as the composition is too cramped and it is not sharp throughout the important areas of the picture. I’ve learned a few lessons here for group portraits indoors in ambient light, which are important lessons as I have got several family portraits lined up over the next few months (another series maybe). The following are my main learning points:

1) I need to create more space at the edges of the frame – at the time I could not move back any further as I was against a wall and my wide angle lens seemed too wide?? I have a tendency to crop too tightly on the ground glass which is pretty dark towards the edges.

2) In low light, depth of field is a real problem – I shot this with a standard lens (150mm) at f/8 @ 1/8 second. I might be able to get away with 1/4 second but motion blur might (?) be a problem if I went much slower (need to experiment). I could also push the film 1 stop (as John suggested) – again need to try this. Doing both would have given me f/16 @ 1/4 which might have done the trick.

3) I used a bit of tilt on the front standard to try to bring things into focus. This didn’t work (and explains the curious focus pattern). I might have tried to use some swing to move the focal plane to bring the people on the left into focus but dont’t think this would have worked either as folks on the right might have moved further out of focus. I need to practice more using the movements so that the right ‘moves’ become more instinctive.

More experimentation is needed but looks like moving back or using wider angled lens and a slower shutter speed to give an aperture of at least f/16 is the way to go…


Just processed the other photograph I took. This would in fact have been a better image but for the fact that one member of the group is may have thought it was a masquerade….

OCA Thames Valley Workshop - second negative

OCA Thames Valley Workshop – second negative