Lens plane shenanigans…

The weather on Saturday afternoon was NOT as good as I intended/hoped for stomping around, making some photos of Fisherman’s Bend, for my ‘Doomed Melbourne’ series. So, instead I thought I’d just wander about, and photograph something interesting, like, I dunno, maybe the Westgate Bridge (again). And so I present this panorama: featuring the Westgate Park in the foreground, and the looming bridge in the background.
The astute photographic mind is perhaps wondering: “How on earth did Marc get the rivetted bollard in the foreground in focus, AS WELL AS the bridge in the background?” Well, even if you weren’t thinking this, I present to you my rat-cunning implementation of the Scheimpflug Principle. On most cameras, the lens plane is parallel to the film (or sensor) plane – and the only control you have of these in relation to each other, is to move the distance between them (ie focus). So that narrow range over which stuff is in focus is always parallel to the camera and film/sensor. You can control the size of that range (or depth of field) by changing the size of the aperture, to a point. But this scene presents a depth-of-field problem beyond just aperture control, and that’s where the View Camera comes in.
Here’s my beloved Wista as configured for the shot – you can see the front lens standard is tilting forward, effectively shifting the plane-of-focus to an axis more suited to the things I wanted in focus – the bridge and the bollard. A narrow aperture (f/45) helped in this instance too, and explains why foliage is a bit blurry (slow shutter speed, windy day). And how to achieve the perfect tilt? There’s a handy rhyme: Focus far, tilt near, focus again, ’till all is clear… In practice, there’s actually probably quite a bit more fine adjustment, but essentially that’s what you do.
The other bit of trickery, is the photographer’s friend: EDITING! Yes, I’ve severely cropped this picture to only show the bits I wanted. Elsewhere in the complete frame, you can see some serious vignetting, as I reached the absolute coverage of the lens, and the immediate foreground clearly falls outside the plane-of-focus, and is horribly BLURRY:
It helps that the 4×5″ negative is so jolly big, so cropping isn’t really a problem, unless you need to make a very large print indeed…

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