Large Format Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by buywisdom, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. buywisdom macrumors member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Someone a while back was telling me about a cross America trip between 50 and 150 years ago where large formate photos were taken to capture the West. I think the photos are in the Smithsonian or some other archive. My question is who were these people and where can I see these pictures.

  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/3A109a Safari/419.3)

    I think I know who you're talking about but I'd have to look at my notes when I studied the history of photography. You could go to and see if anything there jogs your memory.
  4. Macerture macrumors member


    Jan 2, 2008
    Dirty Jersey
    seems you may be speaking of Ansel Adams.. Certainly done with a view camera and definitely done for the US government US Parks Commission and it was almost all 'out west'.. not in the 150 year range though - more like 60 years.. Though, I don't really follow other's works much.
  5. art gardiner macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Cairo, Egypt
    If you're talking about the FSA (Farmer Security Administration) of the 1930's it was part of the OWI - a movement started by the government to complement the "New Deal". Basically, they were trying to get people back to work, and producing crops to be able to feed America during, and after the depression. Roy Stryker was given the task of hiring photographers to help spin the effort by documenting the move west.

    Some of the more notable photographers that came out of this time were:

    Ben Shahn
    Dorothea Lange
    Paul Taylor
    Walker Evans
    Margaret Bourke-White

    If you look into the Library of Congress' Web site, look under FSA/OWI, migrant workers, tenant farmers, and the dust bowl - you'll find much of what you're looking for.


    Art Gardiner
  6. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    Alexander Gardiner .... after photographing aspects of the American civil war he took photos for American government surveys
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Could be almost anyone....

    With that kind of time range, it could have been any number of people. Try going to the Smithsonian to see if anything there jogs a memory. I suspect there are dozens and dozens of projects that fit that description. Another name to add to the list might be Edward Curtis.

    Good Luck
  8. fisher1 macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
    Try wikipedia with 'large format photography'. There a number of photographers working for the national Geological Survey in the late 19th century, namely Timothy O'Sullivan and others who did what is called 'mammoth plate' photography, i.e. large contact prints made with cameras as big as 20x24 inches. This technology produced some of the finest prints ever seen in the history of photography and the originals can be seen in Washington at the NGS and Smithsonian. Other notable mammoth plate photographers are Carleton Watkins and W.H. Jackson. All this off the top of my head so there may be errors bit Wikipedia searches will put you in the picture so to speak...
  9. KidneyPi macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2007
    You're describing hundreds of photographers over a hundred year period. Most serious photography before the middle of the 20th century was large format.

    Check out, the Hundred Year Old Photo Blog. Jack Delano, who worked largely in 4x5 Kodachrome might be interesting. He worked for the Farm Security Administration.
  10. yeroen macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2007
    Cambridge, MA
    That's a fantastic site.

    It's sobering to see how large format can, in comparison, make the shots that come from your $5K digital SLR look like a pile of puke.

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