Darkroom Digest: My Favorite Large Format Photography iPhone App

September 16, 2016  •  12 Comments

Who says I don't embrace and like digital technology!  My absolute favorite large format photography application for my mobile phone is Mark II Artist's Viewfinder.  I have no affiliation with the application other than being a user.

One of the biggest challenges for me in regards to using large format equipment is the physical aspect of getting the gear where I want to go.  This applies more to 8x10 and 11x14, and not to 4x5.  In fact, my 4x5 view camera is lighter than most modern DSLR cameras.  

I am not getting any younger, and when I can have every one of my lenses in the palm of my hand to evaluate various perspectives, I am an immediate fan.  If the day comes when I am no longer to get my large format gear in the field, then I will just stop creating exposures and continue printing.  If I am unable to print in the darkroom, then I will set in my wheelchair next to a window and look at all my beautiful E-6 chromes that I created over the years... 

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As you can see from the image at the top of the article, I am able to literally view a scene through all of my lenses before I ever decide to set up my camera and mount a lens.  This is incredibly helpful for me and it has opened up new compositions that I likely would have never tried before.  Historically, I have used a paper composition card.  Effectively, it is just an 8x10 or 11x14 piece of old mat board with a 4x5 rectangle cut out of the center.  By closing one eye and varying the distance of the opening from my face, I was able to roughly simulate different focal lengths.  While it is very basic, it has worked for me for decades.  

Here is an overview of the application from the company website: "Artist's Viewfinder assists the filmmaker or still photographer in exploring different places and angles to find the optimal placement for the camera, and to second-guess compositions. By simulating real camera and lens combinations it allows you to visualize what you are going to shoot without actually setting up the camera. And it's also a great tool to train yourself to see."

I have explored the use of viewfinders in the past by using some from my rangefinders, but I never had access to a comprehensive solution that simulated every one of my lenses.  I now have a solution that fits in the palm of my hand and has a list of other benefits that I would have never expected.  

Using the application as a scouting tool has been a game changer for me. The photos are in the proper aspect ratio, and as long as GPS coordinates are available, the GPS data is included with each image.  

I am very happy with this little piece of technology and I hope that other large format photographers that didn't know about the application, can explore it for themselves after reading my article.  

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Comments

Charles howse(non-registered)
During Steve Simmons' workshop last week, I was hoping to find an app like this! Thanks for the info
Bob Dungan(non-registered)
The following statement summarizes my feelings with a couple of small changes

"If the day comes when I am no longer to get my large format gear in the field, then I will just stop creating exposures and continue printing.  If I am unable to print in the darkroom, then I will set in my wheelchair next to a window and look at all my beautiful E-6 chromes that I created over the years... "

When the day comes when I am no longer to get into the field, then I will stop creating exposures and continue printing.   When I am unable to print in the darkroom, I will set in my wheelchair next to a window and look at the beautiful prints that I created over the years... 

Bob
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Mark, thanks for your thoughts. If you can think of the name again, please let us know. Stay in touch. Tim.
Fr. Mark Lichtenstein(non-registered)
B/w preview I think exists in app form in an oil painting related app which is designed to separate the image into a set number of grey scale values---not as sharply cut as lithographic film but maybe 6-8 steps. It helps you see big forms and values in a composition. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name. I believe it was advertised in Plein Air Magazine though.
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi David, that sounds really awesome. I would love to see photos and/or a video when you get your camera done. We could feature your camera on the blog here. Keep me posted on your progress. Tim
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