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-A Lens With a View: Part 10-
by Robert A F van de Voort


This and the following articles will introduce the view camera to the reader who is completely unaware of the possibilites, the surprises and ease of use of the big black box, my favourite working tool.

Creative sharpening...Or creative defocusing...
One Sharp eye...for detail...

To do a portrait on the view camera is relatively easy. If you keep all standards and other adjustments in the neutral position, you just get a straight shot like with your 35 mm or medium format camera. As I feel my TC (Technical Camera) is far more creative than those fixed body jobs we will tackle this picture in a different way. I want to show that you can selectively focus on one eye and get the remainder of the face defocused, however working with a face representing many spatial lines some sharp areas crept in.

For the purpose of this exercise I kept the shoulders and face full frontal to the camera, a greater visual affect will be achieved by angling the body to the lens.
To maximize the effect of the adjustments I opted for the 360 lens and a 10 x 12 cms negative format. This creates a nice perspective and shows "clearly" the adjustments. The lighting in this shot is relative easy on the eye. I want to show a "how to do it" shot with a little bit of light where it matters. Once you control the technique, you can light the portrait as you wish.

The front panel creates for me the sharpness, thus my first action is to consider the "planes" of the face. One is the line (A) between the eyes, a horizontal line and as the face is looking straight at me, the line is parallel with the lens panel. The next line to consider is the imaginary line (B) from the top of the face to the bottom of the face. This line too is at present still parallel with the lens panel. Moving the lens panel until it focuses on both eyes will give line A sharp. When I swing the lens panel one of the eyes will stay in focus and the surrounding area will go softer. Everything that is still on the same distance from the lens when focussed on that one eye will also appear sharp, this should be part of the face directly above and below the focused eye.

Consider that line to be called B as above described. When I want to get only one spot on that line to be sharp, I have to do the same as I did in the horizontal line between the eyes, but now in a vertical plane. I will now tilt the lenspanel until only the eye will be sharp and all areas above and below the eye turn soft and out of focus. In principle I have now one eye sharp and the remainder out of focus. To dolly up the effect I increased the effects by moving the image panel in the exact opposite positions of the front panel. This increased the visual appearances of the effect on the face.

The aperture I used was F6.8 the lowest on my 360 lens. Any higher aperture would start destroying my handy work. Bellows extension 45 cms, light loss compensated by metering on the filmplane with the Gossen Mastersix probe light meter.
For the serious tech people here are the exact positions of lens panel: Swing - 19 degrees, tilt + 14 degrees; the image panel set op: swing -12 degrees and +10 degrees tilt. Just as I finished writing this I got a note from Auto that they have launched "Dreamsuite". This stand-alone program for the computer creates some interesting and photographic effects, including an enhanced version of my action described above, (go to my site and click on the AutoFX link to download demo or purchase - I am a reseller!). Don't worry guys, I did this one the old fashioned way, trust me, look ma, no PC!

B/W Processing of negative with Ilumitol, a very creative b/w process with pyro developer as developed by Peter Dinnan in New Zealand. The negative shows an extremely long tonal range, rich blacks and holds detail in the shadows like wow!, some more about this developer later in future articles.

Readers are invited to view some of my escapades into photography on or send Email to me at with your questions, comments. etc. PS, there is a marvellous site on large format cameras, have a look at and click on left bottom link WFPA

Viewing you next time!
Robert A F van de Voort

Article copyright Robert A F van de Voort 2001, can be reproduced unabridged with reference to author.

Lens With a View Series:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7&8 9 10 11 12

Hey guys, any questions or comments? It is so hard to explain a view camera on paper and such joy to experience in real life that words sometimes are failing me to explain it nicely. All the responses received have been positive, thank you all for your feedback! Readers are invited to view some of my escapades into photography on or send Email to me at with your questions.Robert van de Voort

Robert van de Voort is a professional photographer and writer, with his headquarters located on the North Island of New Zealand. Robert's professional photographic career spans the course of over 20 years, with work in stock, advertising, studio, digital photography and much more! You can learn more about Robert and see examples of his stunning work by visiting his website at

The staff at would like to thank Robert for his generous article contributions!

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