Austrian photographer Markus Hofstätter is known for his analog photography. He primarily works with the collodion wet plate process and primarily does portraiture. The educator and photographer has spent time during the pandemic getting out and exploring nature. At a local nature area, Donauauen, Hofstätter has spent a lot of time getting to know a family of swans.
The swans had a nest and raised five cygnets. Hofstätter started bringing his DSLR with him on his walks to photograph the swans. The swans became used to him, so he could closer and closer over time. Eventually, he decided to take a large-format film camera, which he loaded with expired Kodak Readyload film.
Hofstätter wanted to use collodion wet plate photography, but to the lockdown restrictions, he wouldn’t have been able to, in part because he couldn’t bring an assistant with him. He instead used a large format 4×5 Linhof Technika camera and borrowed a 400mm Tele Xenar lens.
Hofstätter has previously used a medium format Mamiya 645 for wildlife photography before, but manual focus while handholding the camera proved to be tricky. He then purchased a Mamiya AFD II, an autofocus medium format camera. He’s successfully used that for wildlife, although he didn’t use it when photographing the recent swan family.
While there are challenges to photographing wildlife with medium and large format cameras, the results can be excellent when the situation allows. An advantage Hofstätter’s film camera has over his DSLR is that the DSLR’s shutter sound can be disruptive to the swans. Hofstätter told PetaPixel, ‘On the first day I realized how sensitive these birds are about sounds…I didn’t think that this silent shutter from the large format lens would surprise them in any way.’
For more details on Hofstätter’s experience using a large format camera for wildlife photography and to see a large assortment of photos, visit his blog. You can view more of his work on his website and by following Hofstätter on Instagram.