The Great Picture

How big is big enough? Does size in photography really matter?

Stand aside Andreas Gursky now there’s something much grander. Gursky makes large photographic prints, often measuring over 100 inches tall. Yes this is huge! However this next work of art has been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest photograph ever.

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Following in the footsteps of Joseph Nicephore Niepce and his camera obscura was the collaborative work by a team of six artists working on a project dubbed The Great Picture. In this project the six photographers working together achieved an historic milestone with the creation of the largest camera obscura photograph, measuring 28×111 feet. The image captured the area immediately in front of an abandoned military station in Irvine, California. Within this historic base Jerry Burchfield, along side Rob Johnson, Mark Chamberlain, Jacques Garnier, Douglas McCulloh, and Clayton Spada transformed the space into the world’s largest camera obscura.

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The image was made on a single piece of light-sensitized muslin fabric that was effectively turned into a piece of film with an ASA of around 30. To expose the muslin film plane a 6mm aperture, measuring 15 feet in height, comparable to f1,600 on a 8×10 camera was used as the lens with a 35 minute exposure time. The resulting image captured two airport runways and a control tower making it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

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The final image captured was not because of subject matter but rather the result of positioning the lens based on the location of the hanger’s large sliding doors. This calls into question the notions of content versus technique. If making this photograph was so monumental, would you find there to be anything of interest in the final print? If so what? Please post your comments below.

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To add to this discussion, Brooks Jensen of Lens Work Publishing had this to say. Click the little triangle to listen.

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