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We offer a wide range of high-quality, subsidised training in all areas of photography and digital media. Everyone enjoys individual attention in our small classes and benefits from an informal, hands-on creative learning environment.

Stills’ tutors are experienced professionals from a variety of fields of photography, digital media and lens based arts. Our courses include all materials in the price so there are no hidden costs — just great opportunities to learn.

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Out from the Darkcloth: Intro to Large Format Photography

15 & 16 October
Saturday & Sunday, 11am—5pm

This weekend course will introduce you to the large format 5×4″ view camera using our range of Intrepid MK3 cameras. Large format refers to film size; the negatives produced in this class are 5×4 inches, which lends itself to unrivalled image detail and quality compared to medium format and 35mm.

Image composition and focus take place underneath a dark cloth, just as victorian photographers would have done. Large format photography encourages us to slow down and carefully consider our image-making decisions and choices, allowing us to build a different relationship with image-making.

This format also produces images that are the perfect size for contact-printing alternative and historical processes such as cyanotype, salt prints, or platinum. 5×4 tends to be the entry format size for budding wet and dry plate photographers, and the negatives enlarge with incredible detail.

By the end of the course, you will have experience and an understanding of:

  1. Loading darkslides
  2. Using a 5×4 view camera with movements
  3. Exposing
  4. Processing both paper and film negatives
  5. Contact printing for evaluation.
  6. ISO exposure values for different materials


Day 1

We will explore the different parts of the large format camera and how they work, differences in shutters and lens lengths, and loading dark slides with paper. We will make some initial exposures inside as still lives, grasping an understanding of proper exposure, metering, focus, and movements. As a group, we will process these negatives in the darkroom. Later in the day, we will take the cameras outside to photograph, with an option to do landscape/cityscape, portraits, or other opportunities with guidance along the way.

Day 2

After learning how to load 5×4″ film using dark slides and how to set up for our first exposures with paper negatives today, we will work with film negatives—loading in a different environment and expanding from the day before exercises. Participants will be able to make several exposures, and we will cover large format film processing options before processing our film negatives as a group.

We will contact print both paper and film negatives for participants to evaluate their progress and take home.

We will also look at some examples of different prominent Large Format photographers, negatives, contacts, and prints and discuss resolution and enlargement.