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David Stahl

Member Since 28 Feb 2012
Offline Last Active Mar 21 2012 03:55 PM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: 4x5 large format underwater photography?

21 March 2012 - 03:55 PM

You refer highly to Clyde Butcher's use of 8x10 and larger film equipment. Why would he bother to drag this size equipment into a swamp when he could take much smaller digital equipment? Or why not even fake South Florida images using Photo Shop and make it look like large format film? Why? Because it's not honest photography. Large film formats have a value and quality not understood by novice photographers who only know the ease of digital. Using 8x10 format film underwater has never been done before. There are those out there who like to do new things and to push the limits of the ordinary...while others just sit back and criticize and follow commonplace thought. I've not pursued the promotion of this 8x10 underwater camera but already through word-of-mouth one museum and two magazines are interested in the results. One magazine already has published an article on my underwater 8x10 work.

In Topic: 4x5 large format underwater photography?

21 March 2012 - 03:32 PM

Hi David, not a bad fun pic, but I'm still very skeptical that there are any real advantages of large format. For one thing you have significant distortion of the front models right hand which really detracts from the image, and I suspect that is the behavior of your lens / dome combination. The high detail visible in the closer models, is simply lost in the models near the back due to the water column. The concept of large format sounds great, but when you add in the difficulties of getting wide enough lenses, getting those lenses to perform behind a dome, the issues of losing resolution simply by adding some water distance etc, large format simply starts to lose many of the benefits that one chooses it for in the first place. Setting up a group of models like this to all be in the exact right position for a single shot - is pretty wishful thinking in my opinion, hands and feet in this shot are all over the place. Tantamount to taking an 8x10 to a basketball game. Maybe shooting a static reef scene to record fine detail would be a better place for this, but even then, I think you are better off compiling multiple images like some have done to make massive high definition murals.
It's hard to see anything in this image that makes it better than what could be achieved with smaller format underwater. Just having high resolution simply does not make a good photograph; it's desirable, but not at the expense of giving up everything else. The pic you show above may be a fun high resolution snapshot, but hardly a gallery wall hanger as a photograph. With a high res DSLR with the proper lens / dome combination, you could create a much better image than this one in my opinion. For one thing you could shoot multiple images, so that you get hands and feet coordinated, you could have all the models with their eyes open,you would have less peripheral image distortion, and you could get pretty good resolution to boot.


In Topic: 4x5 large format underwater photography?

04 March 2012 - 10:38 AM

Here's a shot of a manatee in Crystal River done 35mm. I need to go back and redo this with the 8x10.

In Topic: 4x5 large format underwater photography?

04 March 2012 - 09:48 AM

The images I attached using the underwater 8x10 camera were during the first shots taken during its test phase. The lens was a Schneider Super-Symmar 150XL which conforms to an 8" dome that was selected after optical tank tests. The equipment I use for magazine assignments is 35 to 6x7. It's obvious that image performance is better and easier with housed digital equipment then enhanced with Photoshop. The UW810 film camera was built to shoot "reefscapes" not people or motion. Above all, the reason for using film was because no credible Fine Art Photographic gallery will consider anything produced digitally...and with good reason. Any great looking image taken digitally immediately is suspect. Was it a product of Photoshop or some other computer effect or was it due to real old time photographic skill on location? Today people can buy programs that do everything that Ansel Adams or Jerry Ulsman did in the darkroom. Using the UW810 is like learning to ride a unicycle over a rocky road. It takes skill and hard labor. The easy way isn't always the best way. It just depends on what path one wants to go with their photography.

In Topic: 4x5 large format underwater photography?

28 February 2012 - 08:34 AM

Attached File  mermaids_1.jpg   179.11KB   146 downloadsFull frame contact from 8x10 negative - Tmax sheet film - f11 1/2 @ 1/125 in full sun in four feet of water. Mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida 2005. This is the underwater 8x10 camera I designed and built in 2004. It's just as sharp as any 8x10 camera on land. David Stahl