If you’ve ever used a large format camera, you know that focusing them is a challenge. The image on the ground glass is reversed and upside down, meaning you have to mentally flip and rotate the composition in your mind while you’re framing. And the image on that glass is dark. Real dark. That’s why you see large format shooters focusing their cameras underneath big black cloths — the image is nearly impossible to see in any sort of daylight.
So what do you do when you want to shoot at night? Use lasers!
I carry a small red laser pointer in my large format camera backpack. Looking through the ground glass, I point the laser all around the periphery of the scene so that I know what is and is not in the image. The pinpoint beam is also helps to achieve critical focus on the subject.
I’ve tried various flashlights, but nothing matches the brightness and portability of a small pocket laser pointer.
EDIT May 8,2013 : I’ve put away the laser pointer in favor of a new Tactical Flashlight. Read about it in my post Moon Halo Over Desert Cane.
I photographed Smoke Tree and Star Trails in Canyon Sin Nombre, Anza-Borrego Desert, California with a Tachihara 4×5 Field Camera and a Schneider 210mm ƒ/5.6 lens on Fuji Provia 100 Quickload (RDPIII). The canyon wall and the smoke tree were illuminated by the rising full moon, requiring an exposure of several minutes at ƒ/5.6.
Buy a Print
You can buy a print of this image by visiting the archive. You can choose a print with the film border or without. Prices start at $200 for a signed 8″x10″ image matted with bright white museum board to fit a 16″x20″ frame.