Interview With John Chapple

John Chapple was born and raised on the rugged North Devon coast of England, where the spectacular scenery inspired him to pick up a camera at the age of 14. A self-taught photographer, John began a successful career as a news photographer in the UK, and then overseas in both Australia and the US

John, the first thing I would like to ask you is this: why panoramic and why Linhof Technorama 617s III?

After living in New York for six years, my wife and I decided to give up the crazy life and do some travelling before moving to the west coast and starting a family. We put all our possessions in storage and packed the absolute bare essentials into two little army surplus back packs and hit the road for a year’s adventure through South and Central America and Australia. We wanted to travel lightly, with only our passports to worry about. I knew I'd be seeing some amazing things on our travels and, in preparation, I picked up a Leica M6 TTL and a couple of fast lenses. It was the perfect kit for the road, wrapped in tape, looking very inconspicuous, but the quality was outstanding.

As perfect as it was for our travels, it was still only a 35mm, and when we got back from our big trip, I decided I was ready to go bigger. I was considering a 6 x 9, until I walked into the gallery of Australian premiere landscape photographer Christian Fletcher. I'd never really paid much attention to the panoramic format until I saw his work. The stunning high definition wide screen images that Christian had captured really opened my eyes to the 6 x 17 format. I fell in love with the Linhof Technorama 617 III because it felt so solid and, with the Schneider lens, I felt I couldn't go wrong.

So after careful consideration, I traded in my beloved Leica and picked up a Linhof Technorama with a 90mm lens. I loved the high quality of the Leica, but the Linhof, with it's huge negative gave me the capability to produce much larger prints. I didn't want to cheat, and crop a 35mm frame size to produce a panoramic. The Linhof allowed me to utilize the entire viewfinder. I prefer not to crop my images and work with the full frame size, so this camera really worked for me. It's a really enjoyable piece of kit; there are no electronics, everything is manual, even to cocking the shutter.

I was looking at the image in your gallery called “In The Spotlight”. This image has claimed a Hasselblad award. Can you tell us the story behind this striking image?

Hasselblad were kind enough to allow me to test drive their H3D-50 in the summer of 2010. I took a road trip up the west coast of the States to Canada and back down through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. I was really excited to get to Page Arizona to photograph ...

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