Starting sometime in the mid-1990’s, it became clear that replacing color film with some form of digital capture was inevitable, but the wait for a workable replacement for my beloved Technika and its 4×5 film for scanning was a long one. About five years ago I met a clever fellow, Roger Howard, who turned me on to VR images built by stitching many frames from multiple rows of 360 degree captures from a Canon 20D. My gears started to turn.
I wasn’t interested in 3D spherical results for my own work, but the prospect of quickly making, say, nine exposures (three rows of three) with a Canon 5D, to subsequently stitch together into a single image of roughly 4×5 detail was more than a little intriguing. In early 1996 I still had never seen a properly executed 39 MP capture from one of the new backs, so that option seemed yet inferior to 4×5 film in terms of sheer detail— always an obsession for some kinds of photographers. The costly backs offered the best digital quality around which didn’t involve the cumbersome system required for a scanning back capture, but apparently not quite good enough (subsequent discoveries would change that perception).
So I put together a Canon outfit with a 5D, two zooms and three tilt lenses and went out traveling a few times to see what I could see. A favorite from among the earliest results is Giants of the Owens Valley, California, 2006.