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fishbulb
11-May-2015, 14:39
I've been trying my hand at large format portraits and have been struggling to get fast enough shutter speeds to keep subject motion under control.

My experience is primarily 35mm/DSLR, where it's pretty easy to take portraits in any lighting environment, due to the greater aperture and ISO flexibility.

Even using Portra 400 or Ilford HP5 400 I am struggling, often ending up at 1/4, 1/8 or 1/15 shutter speeds even when shooting at wider apertures of f/8, f/11 etc. I tried to take a portrait of my friend in "open shade" this weekend, and the exposure was 1/8, f/8, ISO 400.

It would be helpful to hear some tips or thoughts.

- Is everyone just using flash, all the time, and that's just how it goes for LF? It seems like most of the LF portrait masters use(d) artificial lighting.

- Or do I need to limit portrait work without a flash to full sun at noon? Are there any "ideal" conditions for LF portrait work without flash? Bright overcast days? What do you prefer?

- How do you get natural-looking poses/faces/smiles when you are asking a person to hold perfectly still because of a slow shutter speed?

- Is a high end speedlight, like a Nikon SB-800 or SB-910 able to add enough light to make a difference? Or do you need a studio strobe and a battery pack?

- Or do you underexpose film deliberately and then just deal with it in developing or scanning?

richardman
11-May-2015, 14:59
1/15 is not bad at all. Most people can hold still that long. Remember there is no mirror vibration.

Oren Grad
11-May-2015, 16:07
I find it always a challenge. On those rare occasions when my brother's family is visiting from out of town, I like to take a group picture. Because of the way schedules work out, this usually ends up being outdoors near dusk, when the light is starting to fade. Using HP5 Plus in 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 or 8x10, I find myself at exposure times of 1/2 second or 1 second at apertures in the range f/11-f/22. I always expose several sheets as fast as I can swap the holders, in the hope that at least one of them will end up without somebody moving. (Though occasionally those exposures can be worth printing too!)

chris_4622
11-May-2015, 16:40
Don't count on a small speed light to add enough light to reduce your shutter speed significantly. My times are similar to Oren's. I try to keep it from going over one second, and then I tell the subject to listen to the shutter while I fire without removing the dark slide. That gives them an idea on how long they have to remain still. When I see something, I tell them to hold that. And I use more than one film holder too. The subject relaxes after the first two exposures. It's a different way of working than with 35mm. A good way to put your subjects at ease is to be calm and relaxed yourself.

Oren Grad
11-May-2015, 17:29
...and then I tell the subject to listen to the shutter while I fire without removing the dark slide. That gives them an idea on how long they have to remain still.

Yes! Before I make the first exposure, I say that we're going to do a practice run, so that they'll know what to expect when the actual exposure is made. Then I release the shutter without pulling the darkslide. Most of the time I'm using a lens in leaf shutter which is pretty quiet, so there won't be anything startling. But sometimes I might be using a Graflex, where the mirror action is quite the earthshaking event, and then it's even more helpful for the subject(s) to know exactly what's coming.

Peter De Smidt
11-May-2015, 17:46
TMY in Xtol gives me a true exposure index of 500.

jp
11-May-2015, 18:36
Nothing wrong with 1/2s unless your subject is less than three years old. I often shoot LF after sundown with tmy2 film at 1/4 to 1 sec because of the quality of light, not the quantity.

RSalles
11-May-2015, 19:40
Window. Window with a white diffuser as main light. White diffusers over the roof/ceiling to diffuse direct sunlight. Light modifiers, as reflectors. 2 or 3 speedlights with radio triggers to use as fill lights - or a strobe => 400W and diffuser. One thing is the amount of light - which you can control with ISO and lens aperture, other ting is light quality, and that's the field where light modifiers play their game.

With film there is near nothing to play with in post-processing, so take your time and try different light setups until you arrive at couple of usable ones.


Best,

Renato

Mick Fagan
12-May-2015, 01:20
I pretty much use Ilford FP4+ for portrait work, things can be interesting, but if I can keep the shutter going longer than a second, I’m sweet.

I too run the shutter through a couple of times, but at a longer time interval. I shot a couple yesterday at a second, but ran the shutter a couple of times at 1 second while telling them that this is what they will have to be still for, time wise.

After taking my single exposure, the woman suggested I may have made a mistake and maybe we should re-do the picture. She was already attuned to the longer 1 second shutter noise it seems, with the second actual picture taking shutter noise not sounding correct to her.

I thought this was a pretty cool bit of advice from her. More importantly, it told me that giving the sitter a couple of demonstration shutter runs, works. They both knew exactly what was going to happen.

One thing I have found to be a bit of a help is when focussing, and as you are focussing, tell them to adopt as relaxed a position as possible that they can hold, without forward or backward swaying, otherwise either your ears or nose will be the only thing in focus. I haven’t found anyone, who wants a portrait of their sharply focused ears or nose!

Mick.

axs810
12-May-2015, 01:36
A strobe or flash will not help give you a faster shutter speed...You make your exposure based on two things when using flash - flash exposure with aperture and ambient exposure with shutter speed. If you use a strobe and change your settings (from post #1) to like f8, 1/125, iso 400 you will just be killing your ambient light in the exposure so while whatever is illuminated by the flash looks good any of the ambient light might be way underexposed.


I like shooting on overcast days or in open shade. I often overexpose by 1-1.5 stops and underdevelop by 15-20%. Just make sure to remember about bellows extension when doing portraits

Ray Heath
12-May-2015, 01:53
Hmm, try LF portraiture with paper neg. ISO nothing in available light up to a staggering ISO 6 in bright sun.

Actually it makes the exposure easier to achieve when using the lens cap as shutter; 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand etc.

133699

mdarnton
12-May-2015, 05:16
I have always shot mostly people on 35mm. I had a LF camera for a couple of years before I figured out that LF was different in so many ways, and the biggest was that time moves differently. When I'm setting up a shot, I tell people that they really need to find a way to not move, because once I focus the distance they can wobble is [shows fingers 1/2 inch apart]. I always give them something to lean on and let them find their own position. Then I focus, continually warning them not to move from this point on. I'm using strobe, but by the time I get to actually shooting the picture, it doesn't matter---they're frozen in place. Most people can handle it if you keep telling them what you're doing and have explained why they can't move.

I find it helps a lot to give people something to use as a spatial reference so they know when they're moving. My favorite studio accessory is a cast iron drafting table where I replaced the top with a 18" square of plywood and have a dark grey cloth draped on. I can elevate it high so that people can lean on it, or I can spin it vertical and it goes invisibly behind to lean back on. If I'm not using that, I use a chair. If you're shooting outside, perhaps you can find something similar to give your subjects added stability.

The result of all this is a totally different kind of picture from what I was doing with hand cameras: much more intense and solid, less about action. I think that's appropriate to the medium, but it took me a couple of years to catch on and learn how to manipulate things within the boundaries that a large camera imposes. Check my flickr links below, and you can see how differently I work in 35mm compared with 8x10!

fishbulb
12-May-2015, 07:27
This is a good discussion, thanks everyone for your input.

It seems like the consensus is just "tell your subject to hold still". I guess I am not really excited about that strategy since: (1) it lowers your changes of getting a non-blurred exposure (either by motion blur or the subject moving out of focus), so you use up more film and take multiple shots, and (2) it significantly limits the types of poses and facial expressions available - many expressions don't last long, so you are limited to what they can hold for the exposure and not end up with a bunch of smiles that don't show it in the eyes.

Looking at Avedon at work in the American West, (image (http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0406/images/av/av054-055.jpg) image (http://producer.csi.edu/cdraney/archive-courses/fall09/102/img/avedon-at-work-1.jpg) image (http://heliotricity.com/images/avedon/avedon_at-_work%20500x387.jpg) image (http://theredlist.com/media/database/muses/tribes/avedon-tribe/071-avedon-tribe-theredlist.jpeg)), it seems like he wasn't using flash, and typically set up his subjects in the shade or in overcast sun. So he probably was doing the same thing - "hold still!". It also explains why there is often motion blur in his work.


A strobe or flash will not help give you a faster shutter speed...You make your exposure based on two things when using flash - flash exposure with aperture and ambient exposure with shutter speed. If you use a strobe and change your settings (from post #1) to like f8, 1/125, iso 400 you will just be killing your ambient light in the exposure so while whatever is illuminated by the flash looks good any of the ambient light might be way underexposed.

That's a good point. I would have to light the entire scene with flash, or let the background fall to black as so often happens in portraiture. Or, just use a little flash to help things "snap" - there might still be motion blur, but perhaps not as much.

I did some test exposures using my Nikon SB-910 last night and full manual settings on my Fuji X100s. In a very dim room, measured at about 1 EV, and settings at f/16, 1/125, ISO 400, the flash is plenty bright to fully light a space to make a good exposure. I didn't even have to use full flash power. And that's with the flash bounced off of the inside of a reflective umbrella. So I think if I need light, one or more SB-910 is probably going to be enough to brighten things up.

This seems fine for a head and shoulders type of portrait, but for a wider-angle, environmental portrait, I would have to light the entire scene. I have plenty of gear for it, but pretty soon I'm setting up four light stands, four umbrellas, and four flashes, messing with radio triggers or PC sync cables going everywhere, etc. Maybe it's worth it to have full control of the light and a nice sharp image. I dunno.

ghostcount
12-May-2015, 07:29
snip...
Is everyone just using flash, all the time, and that's just how it goes for LF? No

Or do I need to limit portrait work without a flash to full sun at noon? If you want, scrims and reflectors does wonders

Are there any "ideal" conditions for LF portrait work without flash? Yes with enough ambient Bright overcast days? Sure What do you prefer? Strobes and reflectors

How do you get natural-looking poses/faces/smiles when you are asking a person to hold perfectly still because of a slow shutter speed? Lean moving body parts to something stable or use strobes

Is a high end speedlight, like a Nikon SB-800 or SB-910 able to add enough light to make a difference? If your aperture setting is appropriate Or do you need a studio strobe and a battery pack? If your aperture gets you there, you won't need a powerful strobe. If you have one and need to make the large aperture shot use ND.

do you underexpose film deliberately and then just deal with it in developing or scanning? If that's what's called for

As stated from a previous post - aperture determines strobe power, shutter speed controls the ambient.

Rule of thumb from Corbell...

a) 30% strobe contribution your strobe is a fill light
b) 50% strobe contribution you have a 1:1 ratio
c) 60%-70% strobe contribution your strobe is the main light
d) 100% strobe contribution, your shutter speed is irrelevant.

andy
12-May-2015, 07:40
Don't discount how still people are--it's amazing what you can get with a 1/2 second shutter speed. I personally dislike using strobes--I have enough to worry about with the camera and all that goes with it.

With some practice you'll know when you have a sharp exposure and when you don't. It's a matter of watching the person you're photographing, observing their breathing, and knowing when to press the button.

all that said, it shouldn't be too hard to get a 1/30 or 1/60 with 400 speed film on a cloudy day if you're willing to shoot wide open.

Peter De Smidt
12-May-2015, 07:43
Use a faster film/developer combo. ... Every little bit helps.

mdarnton
12-May-2015, 07:49
It seems like the consensus is just "tell your subject to hold still". I guess I am not really excited about that strategy

It seems that you want to have your cake, and eat it too. You want fleeting expressions, but don't want to do the things necessary to capture them.

fishbulb
12-May-2015, 07:50
Use a faster film/developer combo. ... Every little bit helps.

Is there significantly faster film for 4x5 than ISO 400? Kodak doesn't make TMAX 3200 anymore, and Ilford Delta 3200 is only available as roll film.

DrTang
12-May-2015, 07:50
flash

fishbulb
12-May-2015, 07:56
It seems that you want to have your cake, and eat it too. You want fleeting expressions, but don't want to do the things necessary to capture them.

I am willing to do the necessary things, but I want to explore my options first! ;)

Here is an interesting one - underexposing Portra 400 three stops and using it as ISO 3200 film. Now this might be worth trying. The images look pretty good actually, better than I would have thought.

http://canlasphotography.blogspot.com/2010/12/kodak-portra-400-miami-south-beach-fl.html

Peter De Smidt
12-May-2015, 08:03
HP5+ for me is a 200-250 speed film. TMY is Xtol is a 500 speed film. Thus, I can use a shutter speed twice as fast with TMY than HP5+, keeping the aperture constant.

jonbrisbincreative
12-May-2015, 08:17
This seems fine for a head and shoulders type of portrait, but for a wider-angle, environmental portrait, I would have to light the entire scene. I have plenty of gear for it, but pretty soon I'm setting up four light stands, four umbrellas, and four flashes, messing with radio triggers or PC sync cables going everywhere, etc. Maybe it's worth it to have full control of the light and a nice sharp image. I dunno.

I'm new to LF as well. Just recently started building out a Sinar F kit so I'm going to be going through this learning process along with you and others it sounds like! That said, I'm currently shooting portraiture with digital on full manual at base ISO (200 for the X-T1). All of that lighting knowledge will cross over since lighting is the same no matter the capture format.

I have considered continuous lighting but decided to stick with strobe because I knew I would be going to LF at some point. I invested in several Yongnuo strobes with the radio trigger that allows you to adjust the levels right from the trigger. It's a great and cheap system. I finally added the only light modifier I now need for portraiture: the Westcott 7' umbrella. I added the sock that goes on it to make a gigantic softbox. I can light up a huge area with that umbrella and a single Yongnuo speedlight. The light it puts out is really amazing. It's so soft and wrap-around that it's similar in nature to a window light. It's still strobe light, so the farther away you move it the harsher it becomes. But it kills shadows better than any other umbrella I've used.

Here's some examples of it in use at Prom: http://creative.jbrisbin.com/lamarprom It literally takes less than 5 minutes to set up, even with the diffusion sock.

I've also had great success with an extra-large 10-in-1 modifier. You can bounce off it, of course, but the best capability is the translucent part. You can filter daylight or strobe and make it smooth and diffuse. I'm also thinking about trying the Jerry Ghionis Omega shoot-through Reflector.

The key to using strobe IMHO is to get it close and diffuse. If you need to, you may want to get a multi-strobe bracket. You can get them in 2, 3, or 4 configurations. That makes them super portable. Of course at that price you could also get the Godox/Cheetah AD-360 (which I've also considered).

ghostcount
12-May-2015, 08:25
I am willing to do the necessary things, but I want to explore my options first! ;)

Here is an interesting one - underexposing Portra 400 three stops and using it as ISO 3200 film. Now this might be worth trying. The images look pretty good actually, better than I would have thought.

http://canlasphotography.blogspot.com/2010/12/kodak-portra-400-miami-south-beach-fl.html

Are we still talking about strobe lighting and shutter speed?:confused:

I must have missed the fork on the road.:(

jonbrisbincreative
12-May-2015, 08:33
You could also go all out and spend an obscene amount of money for some translucent and black fabric and a couple metal poles:

http://products.hasselbladbron.com/Sunbounce/Cage

jonbrisbincreative
12-May-2015, 08:37
Here is an interesting one - underexposing Portra 400 three stops and using it as ISO 3200 film. Now this might be worth trying. The images look pretty good actually, better than I would have thought.

I've explored this option in addition to (or as a replacement for) strobe lighting as well. Here's a good blog post on how you don't even need to adjust development time because over/underexposure can be corrected in scanning:

http://ukfilmlab.com/2014/04/24/film-stock-and-exposure-comparisons-kodak-portra-and-fuji/

ImSoNegative
12-May-2015, 09:52
Lately I have been using wireless flash. Picked up some receivers and a trigger from cowboy studios for less than 30 bucks. They are cheap but so far they have worked flawlessly

jp
12-May-2015, 09:56
Exposure meters aren't film size specific, but LF is a slowdown with the thin DOF and longer focal lengths and potentially slow shutter speeds.

If you want lots of photos of ultra fleeting expressions, a DSLR with autofocus might be a better tool.

If you know what you want and don't need many sheets to get it and want results with wonderful smoothness and tone, LF is a unsurpassed at that.

StoneNYC
12-May-2015, 10:21
A strobe or flash will not help give you a faster shutter speed...You make your exposure based on two things when using flash - flash exposure with aperture and ambient exposure with shutter speed. If you use a strobe and change your settings (from post #1) to like f8, 1/125, iso 400 you will just be killing your ambient light in the exposure so while whatever is illuminated by the flash looks good any of the ambient light might be way underexposed.


I like shooting on overcast days or in open shade. I often overexpose by 1-1.5 stops and underdevelop by 15-20%. Just make sure to remember about bellows extension when doing portraits

This is sort of true, but since your strobe light is the one making the main exposure that's much brighter and is usually on the part of the subject that might otherwise move, you can simply drag the shutter to increase the ambient light in the surrounding areas without much if any noticeable issue with the subject themselves.

You can also use strobe light to control the apparent ambient "look" of the scene. This is why pro's who work in studios block out all the light and create their own ambient light, to control the scene and not have to worry about the outside light changing.

fishbulb
13-May-2015, 09:48
Just as an update, in case this helps anyone.

After doing some more tests yesterday, I do believe that one powerful speedlight should be more than enough for many/most large format portraiture settings, without needing underexpose the film.

Here was my test setup; I was able to get a good exposure with this.

* Setting: Indoors, near dusk, low household ambient light, about 2-3 EV. Flash was lighting the entire scene.
* Film: Portra 160 NC that I've been shooting as though it's ISO 100 (in order to account for the age, 11 years past expiration)
* Nikon SB-910 speedlight, on maximum power, widest angle (but no diffuser), pointed into a 60" reflective umbrella, about six feet from the subject (self portrait of me on the couch)
* Sinar F with Nikon 135mm f/5.6 set at f/16
* Shutter at 1/30th

If I had used ISO 400 film, I could have had the shutter at 1/125th, or clamped down the aperture to f/32, or lowered the power of the speedlight, even without underexposing the film.

I found some pretty good tests of the several Portra films when underexposed, and developed normally, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/collections/72157625883911861/ The results are a lot like raising the ISO of a digital camera - noise is worse, color is muddier, but the image is still there, even without push processing. This assumes of course, that you've got a good scanner operator who can set up the scan properly.

I think my first strategy will be a single speedlight and umbrella, assuming I can carry the gear with me.
Second best, if I don't have lighting with me, or have reached the max power of the light, I'll be underexposing the film 1 to 3 stops and living with the grain.
If that isn't enough, or I'd rather risk blur over grain, a third option would be asking subjects to just sit still for a long exposure and hoping it works out.

axs810
13-May-2015, 09:56
You should really look into understanding flash/ambient exposure control...once you understand that you'll be off making work confidently.


Sounds like your flash overpowered any ambient light in your last test.

fishbulb
13-May-2015, 11:01
You should really look into understanding flash/ambient exposure control...once you understand that you'll be off making work confidently.

Well, I do feel like I've got a pretty good understanding of this stuff already from five+ years of using off-camera flash work with DSLRs... but maybe I'm missing something. As I understand it, the level/power of ambient light, the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO control the exposure of the non-flashed ("ambient") areas, while the level/power of flashed light, the aperture and the ISO, but not shutter speed, control the exposure of the flashed area. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

I don't use off-camera flash as much as I should though. It's a lot of gear to lug around when you can just shoot at f/2 and ISO 800 and be fine, or put the flash on the camera and bounce it off the ceiling or wall to brighten the whole room (allowing lower ISOs or smaller apertures), and not having to deal with balancing flash and ambient and people knocking lightstands over.

For large format though, I'm missing that flexibility and ease of shooting with a DSLR and a bright lens. High ISO flexibility, wide apertures, a millisecond between focusing and shutter, no tripod required, etc.


Sounds like your flash overpowered any ambient light in your last test.

Yeah, that was the intent - to see if the flash is powerful enough on its own, or if I need to use two or three or four of them. Ambient light alone, in this case, would have been a 1 or 2 second exposure. This was an environmental self-portrait, so the choice was really to sit there for a couple seconds, and no flash, or light the whole scene with flash.

I suppose I could have balanced it too: lit just myself with the flash (provided I used a gel to balance the color), and set the shutter speed to a long one to gather the light for the rest of the room, but this would require me to hold very still - ambient light would have still been coming into the lens off of me, and if I didn't hold still for a few seconds, there would have been some ghosting where the ambient image and the flashed image didn't perfectly overlap.

richardman
13-May-2015, 12:53
One can do whatever they like of course, but one of the raison d'etre for LF photography is the tonality and the immense dynamic range of LF B&W and color neg films. By blasting the scene with lots of flash, you might be giving some of that up. YMMV

goamules
13-May-2015, 13:33
I've never used a flash for portraits. I just shoot fast lenses wide open, or close. I'm usually at less than 1 second, and everything is in focus. Practicing with wetplate before going to film helped me a lot.

axs810
13-May-2015, 14:58
Well, I do feel like I've got a pretty good understanding of this stuff already from five+ years of using off-camera flash work with DSLRs... but maybe I'm missing something. As I understand it, the level/power of ambient light, the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO control the exposure of the non-flashed ("ambient") areas, while the level/power of flashed light, the aperture and the ISO, but not shutter speed, control the exposure of the flashed area. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

I don't use off-camera flash as much as I should though. It's a lot of gear to lug around when you can just shoot at f/2 and ISO 800 and be fine, or put the flash on the camera and bounce it off the ceiling or wall to brighten the whole room (allowing lower ISOs or smaller apertures), and not having to deal with balancing flash and ambient and people knocking lightstands over.

For large format though, I'm missing that flexibility and ease of shooting with a DSLR and a bright lens. High ISO flexibility, wide apertures, a millisecond between focusing and shutter, no tripod required, etc.



Yeah, that was the intent - to see if the flash is powerful enough on its own, or if I need to use two or three or four of them. Ambient light alone, in this case, would have been a 1 or 2 second exposure. This was an environmental self-portrait, so the choice was really to sit there for a couple seconds, and no flash, or light the whole scene with flash.

I suppose I could have balanced it too: lit just myself with the flash (provided I used a gel to balance the color), and set the shutter speed to a long one to gather the light for the rest of the room, but this would require me to hold very still - ambient light would have still been coming into the lens off of me, and if I didn't hold still for a few seconds, there would have been some ghosting where the ambient image and the flashed image didn't perfectly overlap.


Oh ok sorry I misunderstood what you were trying to go for. I thought you wanted to use a flash as a fill with ambient. Over powering ambient light with a speedlight is enough to do indoors but if you shoot outdoors or in mixed lighting you'll have to remember to account for the ambient. I probably already sound like a broken record so I'll stop :P


When you get a chance post up some results! :)

RichardRitter
14-May-2015, 03:17
You do have to remember that 100 years ago 10 seconds was a fast exposure. I just sat for a portrait and it was 45 seconds.

StoneNYC
14-May-2015, 05:55
You do have to remember that 100 years ago 10 seconds was a fast exposure. I just sat for a portrait and it was 45 seconds.

True, but today's models don't often understand that and aren't practiced in the art of sitting still.

Also they expect much higher resolution images, 100 years ago a 5x7 plate or contact print didn't show the kinda of movement that a high resolution scan of the image will.

Not saying you have to go that rout, just saying I'm sure the OP wants to satisfy the faster and impatient and crisp needs of the new generation while using old technology ;)

jnanian
14-May-2015, 06:12
I've been trying my hand at large format portraits and have been struggling to get fast enough shutter speeds to keep subject motion under control.

My experience is primarily 35mm/DSLR, where it's pretty easy to take portraits in any lighting environment, due to the greater aperture and ISO flexibility.

Even using Portra 400 or Ilford HP5 400 I am struggling, often ending up at 1/4, 1/8 or 1/15 shutter speeds even when shooting at wider apertures of f/8, f/11 etc. I tried to take a portrait of my friend in "open shade" this weekend, and the exposure was 1/8, f/8, ISO 400.

It would be helpful to hear some tips or thoughts.

- Is everyone just using flash, all the time, and that's just how it goes for LF? It seems like most of the LF portrait masters use(d) artificial lighting.

- Or do I need to limit portrait work without a flash to full sun at noon? Are there any "ideal" conditions for LF portrait work without flash? Bright overcast days? What do you prefer?

- How do you get natural-looking poses/faces/smiles when you are asking a person to hold perfectly still because of a slow shutter speed?

- Is a high end speedlight, like a Nikon SB-800 or SB-910 able to add enough light to make a difference? Or do you need a studio strobe and a battery pack?

- Or do you underexpose film deliberately and then just deal with it in developing or scanning?

hi adam

one thing you might want to think about before investing in batterypacks,
strobe heads and other things, is what sort of portraits you want to make ..
as you have figured out already, unless you are trained in press photography,
are good with grafmatics or bag-mags, and zone focusing candid/action/ zone flash
mixed light non planned portraits are less-simple with a large format camera.
usually on a tripod ( unless you use a handheld camera ) it takes time to get
everything right, the subject is usually hanging around getting either nervous
or excited to sit infront of a bigger camera, and it takes more effort to do what
you want. unless of course everything is planned you have your on the run shooting space
planned and know exactly what to plan for and do and you have people sit and grind the portraits out.
that's what avedon did he had the 4 sided box set up everything tested and he just did his thing
.. plus he had decades of experience working with film, light and cameras.

while i have monolights that i use once a blue moon for in-studio set ups
( 300 ws with soff box and chimera on them ) .. i mostly use other light sources
and reflectors because most of my portraits have been elsewhere.
with 4x5 you can use something like a sunpack, it allows you to adjust the output
of your light so you can use the flash as a fill if you don't want it to
overpower the ambient /available light. aside from that teeny light,
i also have a lumedyne 244 pack and a couple of heads which has served me very well
for location ( non studio, maybe workplace, maybe environmental ( outside ) ) portraits.
the lumedyne is able to be used with 2 heads, asymetrically if need be,
one head can go down to 2ws with 200 ws available.
without the choke/handle unit/thyristor &c off flash hand held with the camera on a tripod ... reflector off
will light a 8'x8' room at f8 ( if i remember right ) with the reflector f16ish
somewhere around 100/125/60S ( exactly what the guide numbers said ( i tested them with a flash meter ) )
the 244 is the best flash i have used, the batteries are pro rated and the whole system
often times comes up for sale often in the used market for a fraction of what they cost new.
(i've had mine for almost 30 years and never had trouble, problems or failure &c used them for pleasure
as well as on assignment worked like a charm )

these days, i do 2 things, sometimes i'd rather not use a flash but use available light,
ambient light, overcast days, open shade and longer exposures with continueous light.
i dont' use fresh film but expired stuff, expired photopaper or hand coated paper and glass..
also i use developers that dont' enhance film speed ( coffee and dektol )
so i am used to shooting wide open ( or stopped down a little bit ) and it works OK ..
between 10 and 45 seconds exposure, the subjects usually have no trouble sitting still
( even if they are 10 years olds ). if they move a little bit it doesn't really to matter much to me,
im not too anal retentive when it comes to that sort of stuff, and my subjects don't seem to mind either.
if i do use film and i don't have enough light i will use a flash it is usally a fill with the lumedyne,
i just bounce off the ceiling. it is with a PC cord. i'll expose at f 16 and it will usually be 1/30thS.

fractions of seconds and extreme DOF can be fun, but for me ... often times not really necessary.

are you hoping to make massive enlargements from your film ?


good luck !
john

fishbulb
14-May-2015, 08:06
are you hoping to make massive enlargements from your film ?


good luck !
john

Thanks John, that is a lot of good advice and interesting thoughts.

Yes, my normal workflow is drum scanning the 4x5s and editing and printing digitally at 16x20. I would not call that a massive enlargement, but pretty big I guess at 4x the dimensions and 16x the area.

I may print bigger if I end up with a good portfolio, and have a reason to print 32x40 or something like that. I don't know. But I'd like to given the opportunity.

StoneNYC
14-May-2015, 09:15
I think for this you should also look at the work of the people you are taking advice from and decide what perspectives you want to follow.

Advice may sound great and then you see someone's work and you're like "why would I ever listen to this person?!!" So I would look at that as well, as decide who's style matches best with your own vision.

Good luck!

Peter De Smidt
14-May-2015, 09:32
Take a look at Sheldon's picture: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?122061-May-2015-portrait/page4

SergeiR
14-May-2015, 09:55
Explain to me whole arguing / questioning point of this?

Use what you need. Lacking light - add it. OP says he got experience with "off camera flash" - makes zero difference between using there for dSLR or with LF as soon as you learn how to meter it and how it plays.

E.g

all 8x10. all @iso 100 (if you shoot 400 you got twice as much speed)

Flash
bright midday sun
https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7659/17361048812_494c032907_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ss8UXN)Bluebonnets (https://flic.kr/p/ss8UXN) by Sergei Rodionov (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergeistudio/), on Flickr
forest, dimmed afternoon sun
https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7641/17114627842_bab35c4353_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/s5mWAo)Story time (https://flic.kr/p/s5mWAo) by Sergei Rodionov (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergeistudio/), on Flickr

No Flash
shade-ish
https://c4.staticflickr.com/4/3924/15370619651_e9ffedd0fc_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/pqfrHD)Scan-140927-0010www (https://flic.kr/p/pqfrHD) by Sergei Rodionov (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergeistudio/), on Flickr

shade
https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7442/16488553785_12fb0386ce_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/r839A6)Scan-150209-0005www (https://flic.kr/p/r839A6) by Sergei Rodionov (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergeistudio/), on Flickr

ghostcount
14-May-2015, 10:08
The road forked somewhere... I think one went to film processing, one went with shutter speed, one went with not enough or too much flash and another road went somewhere about quality of light. :confused:

At any rate, I hope the OP can sort through it and can get where he needs to. :cool:

IanG
14-May-2015, 11:04
I read this thread with interest and checked the poor (dull) light here (UK) this morning, with HP5 I'd have been able to shoot at 1/30 f8 @ 400EI. I'd add a touch of fill-in flash when it's so dull but really Richard Ritter's right we have it quite easy with modern films.

Ian

jnanian
14-May-2015, 11:11
Thanks John, that is a lot of good advice and interesting thoughts.

Yes, my normal workflow is drum scanning the 4x5s and editing and printing digitally at 16x20. I would not call that a massive enlargement, but pretty big I guess at 4x the dimensions and 16x the area.

I may print bigger if I end up with a good portfolio, and have a reason to print 32x40 or something like that. I don't know. But I'd like to given the opportunity.

hi again adam
large printed portraits are really nice, it really gives them life, have fun with that, and naaah 16x20 and 32x40 don't seem like
too much of a stretch for a well scanned well edited 4x5 negative ... i've enlarged 35mm to 16x20 which is a bigger stretch
sounds like a plan, don't forget, after you get the kinks out of your system -- have fun, cause that is what it is all about ;)

i have attached a few images to this post
feel free to go to my website ( signature link )

about the photos
1-3 are tmy
and #4 was a 45 second exposure - 7x11 paper negative with just modeling lights ...


good luck

john

IanG
14-May-2015, 12:43
I've been very pleased with the quality of 5x4 HP5 enlarged to over 20x16 and would be happy to go to 40 inches. I'm usually working hand-held 1/125 (1/100) @ f22 occasionally 1/250 although I'll use a tripod if permitted (rare where I was shooting), this is for landscapes though and I'd shoot wider for portraits but I'd chose weather/lighting conditions carefully to get the best images

Ian.

RichardRitter
14-May-2015, 14:02
True, but today's models don't often understand that and aren't practiced in the art of sitting still.

Also they expect much higher resolution images, 100 years ago a 5x7 plate or contact print didn't show the kinda of movement that a high resolution scan of the image will.

Not saying you have to go that rout, just saying I'm sure the OP wants to satisfy the faster and impatient and crisp needs of the new generation while using old technology ;)

I know a lot of models that can stay still for a long time. It's the photographer that should know how to work and guide the model.

A friend did an all day fund raiser portrait photo project on Polaroid 60 images average shutter speed 1/4 to 1/2 second only one subject had to be done more then once. That was the 6 month old baby. It can be done. These were not models but every day off the street people.

About resolution there is more in a 1/6 dag plate then you can get with the best film out on the market. I helped re-photograph 350 1/6th dag plates on to slide film and then scam then in to a computer. In one image A sign board less then 1/16 square taken from 2 miles away, we were able to read what was on the board when the image was enlarged. When looked at it under a microscope you could see the wood grain. Can't do that with the modern film or digital images.

jp
14-May-2015, 14:26
i have attached a few images to this post
feel free to go to my website ( signature link )

about the photos
1-3 are tmy
and #4 was a 45 second exposure - 7x11 paper negative with just modeling lights ...


good luck

john

#4 is awesome. Just saying. Quality pictorialism.

StoneNYC
14-May-2015, 15:08
I know a lot of models that can stay still for a long time. It's the photographer that should know how to work and guide the model.

A friend did an all day fund raiser portrait photo project on Polaroid 60 images average shutter speed 1/4 to 1/2 second only one subject had to be done more then once. That was the 6 month old baby. It can be done. These were not models but every day off the street people.

About resolution there is more in a 1/6 dag plate then you can get with the best film out on the market. I helped re-photograph 350 1/6th dag plates on to slide film and then scam then in to a computer. In one image A sign board less then 1/16 square taken from 2 miles away, we were able to read what was on the board when the image was enlarged. When looked at it under a microscope you could see the wood grain. Can't do that with the modern film or digital images.

Richard, you misunderstand me. I'm sorry for saying it poorly, I didn't mean that the fine grain wasn't there, I meant that most were contact printed so heads that might sway slightly etc aren't as noticeable as they would be on a massive computer screen where everyone loves to zoom in.

I shot a scene of a burning building once, I was rushing and the first exposure I pulled the slide with the lens open, I went to click, it didn't, I noticed and closed the shutter, out the slide in, and tried again, the exposure was 4 seconds. When I got home and developed, I was shocked that both images had the same density. The time it took me to pull the slide, and attempt to click the shutter and then close it like it should have been, must have taken about 4 seconds. The thing was, I couldn't tell which was the "good" image. Even though I know that pulling the slide shook the camera and I had to wait till it settled before attempting to click the shutter, so I knew one had to be "bad" but both were excellent contact printed. A few months later I scanned them and that's when I knew because one had a shake that was only noticeable when zoomed in really close. So that's sort of my point, a contact image or Polaroid is hard to tell if there's any movement or shake unless it's severe.

Of course the fine grain nature of the medium allows for great detail, most just couldn't/didn't access it at that time.

Of course models CAN stay still, and it's the photographers job to instruct them properly. I just meant the majority aren't USED to that kind of posing. That's all.

Sorry again if I spoke poorly and I hope my story explained what I meant better.

jnanian
14-May-2015, 16:51
#4 is awesome. Just saying. Quality pictorialism.

thanks jp !
i appreciate the kind words -

===

jnanian
14-May-2015, 17:12
I didn't mean that the fine grain wasn't there, I meant that most were contact printed so heads that might sway slightly etc aren't as noticeable as they would be on a massive computer screen where everyone loves to zoom in..

is that the point of making a portrait, to put it on a large computer screen so people can zoom in ?
if it is ,,, it seems like an utter waste of time ..
no matter the image, someone is going to find some sort of flaw ..

StoneNYC
14-May-2015, 17:21
is that the point of making a portrait, to put it on a large computer screen so people can zoom in ?
if that is the reason to do it, it seems like an utter waste of time ..
no matter the image, someone is going to find some sort of flaw ..

The OP...


I've been trying my hand at large format portraits and have been struggling to get fast enough shutter speeds to keep subject motion under control.

My experience is primarily 35mm/DSLR, where it's pretty easy to take portraits in any lighting environment, due to the greater aperture and ISO flexibility.

The OP is used to digital, and is struggling with motion blur, this is because they are dealing with the perception of what I'm addressing. The difference between noticeable motion blur of an 8x10 or smaller contact, vs an enlarged image many times enlarged to notice the motion blur. I'm only addressing this because of what the OP describes as a problem.

Kodachrome25
14-May-2015, 18:53
I get dynamite 20x24's from medium format negs and can really concentrate on making great emotionally driven portraits if I so choose. I have done a few portraits with my 4x5 but it is probably about 3rd in line for that kind of work.

Put the power of the image over the gear used and you will win everytime in my book.

blueribbontea
14-May-2015, 19:22
i get dynamite 20x24's from medium format negs and can really concentrate on making great emotionally driven portraits if i so choose. I have done a few portraits with my 4x5 but it is probably about 3rd in line for that kind of work.

Put the power of the image over the gear used and you will win everytime in my book.


amen...

ImSoNegative
14-May-2015, 20:30
You should really look into understanding flash/ambient exposure control...once you understand that you'll be off making work confidently.


Sounds like your flash overpowered any ambient light in your last test.

there are some really good videos on youtube covering this subject. the meter I have is the sekonic L358, what I do is meter my ambient, and say my ambient fstop is 5.6, I just zero my flash to 5.6 and the meter gives me a ratio of flash to ambient and then I will adjust my shutter speed accordingly to get the ratio I want.

ghostcount
15-May-2015, 00:12
If your meter doesn't calculate the contribution for you, a couple of multiplication, an addition and a division will get your flash contribution.

The flash to ambient ratio is,

(flash contribution)^2 / [(flash contribution)^2 + (ambient contribution)^2 ]

For example, your metered flash reads 8 and your metered ambient reads 11

8^2 = 64

11^2 = 121

64/(64+121) = 0.345 or 34.5% comes from the flash. Easy, peasy and everyone has a calculator in their phone these days.

As a note, the ambient contribution is dependent on the shutter speed. So if you are too lazy to change the flash power and your ambient has the latitude, change your shutter speed and the ambient contribution becomes a variable. No need to "give up" anything. In fact, getting the catch lights in the subject's eyes from the flash is rather nice.

jnanian
15-May-2015, 07:20
The OP is used to digital, and is struggling with motion blur, this is because they are dealing with the perception of what I'm addressing. The difference between noticeable motion blur of an 8x10 or smaller contact, vs an enlarged image many times enlarged to notice the motion blur. I'm only addressing this because of what the OP describes as a problem.

just in case you missed what he wrote on page 4 just before your post ---




Thanks John, that is a lot of good advice and interesting thoughts.

Yes, my normal workflow is drum scanning the 4x5s and editing and printing digitally at 16x20. I would not call that a massive enlargement, but pretty big I guess at 4x the dimensions and 16x the area.

I may print bigger if I end up with a good portfolio, and have a reason to print 32x40 or something like that. I don't know. But I'd like to given the opportunity.


==

adam

not really sure what sorts of portraits you hope to ( or do ) make ..
whatever it might be, good luck ( and don't let the turkeys get you down )!

john

btw the attached was done with a cheap little tlr on a tripod (not 4x5), and a sunpack /pc cable off camera
the one prevciously posted ( #2 i think at the furniture shop ) done the same with with a 4x5 -- on tripod
and a lumedyne ... both were taken at about 1/60 or 1/30S ... no blur, real people, not models, and easily enlarged really big.

StoneNYC
15-May-2015, 07:24
If your meter doesn't calculate the contribution for you, a couple of multiplication, an addition and a division will get your flash contribution.

The flash to ambient ratio is,

(flash contribution)^2 / [(flash contribution)^2 + (ambient contribution)^2 ]

For example, your metered flash reads 8 and your metered ambient reads 11

8^2 = 64

11^2 = 121

64/(64+121) = 0.345 or 34.5% comes from the flash. Easy, peasy and everyone has a calculator in their phone these days.

As a note, the ambient contribution is dependent on the shutter speed. So if you are too lazy to change the flash power and your ambient has the latitude, change your shutter speed and the ambient contribution becomes a variable. No need to "give up" anything. In fact, getting the catch lights in the subject's eyes from the flash is rather nice.

Luckily my meter tells me the percentage on the screen :)

Corran
15-May-2015, 08:30
I get dynamite 20x24's from medium format negs and can really concentrate on making great emotionally driven portraits if I so choose. I have done a few portraits with my 4x5 but it is probably about 3rd in line for that kind of work.

Put the power of the image over the gear used and you will win everytime in my book.

Hey, this might be a good start to another thread. If this were 100% true, why do you keep beating the anti-digital drum? If it's all about the image and not the gear you use, digital wins hands-down.

Just playing devil's advocate here. Interested to hear what you think.

analoguey
15-May-2015, 14:24
Hey, this might be a good start to another thread. If this were 100% true, why do you keep beating the anti-digital drum? If it's all about the image and not the gear you use, digital wins hands-down.

Just playing devil's advocate here. Interested to hear what you think.
I know it was addressed to someone else but the transition from 'in-Focus' to oof areas is much sharper and more clearly defined with Digital capture.

That in itself is good enough reason to shoot film.

And I'm sure there's already 250000 mentions of 'why film ' already in the Forum.

analoguey
15-May-2015, 14:26
That said, back to the original topic. The OP would probably benefit from practicing more off camera flash in smaller formats and then moving onto the bigger format.
The principles are the same. Ditto calculations.
Easier to test the learning out on smaller formats and then move upwards.

pdh
15-May-2015, 14:35
Surely not more light needed, but one of these ...

133898

fishbulb
15-May-2015, 15:30
The original intent of this thread was to get ideas for dealing with the small apertures and slow ISOs of large format. That is, where to get the 3-4 stops more light needed by 4x5 to produce the same image and DoF as the 'equivalent' 35mm shot (same DoF, AoV, focus distance, same shutter speed and ISO)...

For anyone finding this thread later, here are my notes on solutions to this problem:

* Longer shutter: coach/position the subject for holding still and use as long a shutter speed as you need -- lots of helpful tips on the first page (or get one of PDH's people-clamps, lol)
* Higher ISO: underexpose the film, effectively providing higher ISOs -- I did most of the research on this myself, and I will probably be using this a lot when not using flash and new Portra 400 (underexpose and process normally) or HP5 400 (underexpose and push-process). It's impressive how good scanned film still looks even when underexposed/pushed.
* More light: use a fairly powerful flash of some type to add more light -- an obvious choice, but not always practical or portable
* More light: use large light modifiers to diffuse and soften the light of full sun, providing soft, but bright light -- interesting alternative
* More light: shoot under a powerful continuous light source (bright window, open overcast day, etc.) -- an obvious choice, but not always available
* Open the aperture: shoot wide open at f/5.6 or whatever you've got -- not really that practical, but possible if you can get the subject in focus with the thin DoF. It'd be like going around and only shooting 35mm at f/1.4 - very limited DoF, high probability of missed focus.

Along the way, lots of other perhaps less-helpful advice came up and of course the usual bickering and pedantry.

To some degree I'm sorry I started this thread, but on the other hand I feel like I have more options in my tool box now (top five points anyway). So, hooray. Thanks!

richardman
15-May-2015, 15:57
Just shot about 12 sheets today for my continuing Transformations:Cosplay project of costumer in and out of their costumes. Today sessions are all outdoor as the studio lights that I am borrowing won't be available until tomorrow (I am far away in a costumer gathering). Mostly F8@30 ISO 160 (Portra), which actually is typically the amount of lights I use with studio flash, + or - a stop.

One photo we are going to do indoor without flash and there's going to be about a one second exposure. Fortunately, this costumer most likely can hold reasonably still for that long.

BTW, costumers are used to seeing their photos, but when you show them 24"x30" prints (I made a portfolio of 40+ prints), they get impressed.

Will Frostmill
15-May-2015, 18:19
Fishbulb,
Another important tip when using shallower depth of field, is to set your focus, attach a string to the camera that ends at the point of sharp focus, and have your model hold the string until the moment before the exposure. (Obviously what they hold it to depends on the pose. )

Will Frostmill
15-May-2015, 18:20
Richard,
This is getting terribly off topic, but I've always been impressed with your cosplay photography. When I do digital, it's some of my favorite subject matter. I would love to hear more about their responses to large prints sometime.

fishbulb
19-May-2015, 06:45
Mods can we just delete this whole thread please? I'm genuinely sorry I ever started it.

Jim Noel
19-May-2015, 06:53
"It's not the quantity of light, but the quality." Dean Collins
His demonstrations frequently began with making a portrait with a bare 5 watt bulb.
Sometimes we get carried away with huge quantities of light.

analoguey
19-May-2015, 07:01
+1 to what Jim says!

DrTang
19-May-2015, 07:31
Easier to test the learning out on smaller formats and then move upwards.

unless you have a P-back

for the price of two packs of Fuji instant film, about 90 minutes... and a patient model...one can get it pretty much locked down

Oren Grad
19-May-2015, 09:36
Posts that amount to little more than "that was a stupid question" are rude and may be deleted.

Piling on to create a cascade of uninformative "that was a stupid question" posts is not helpful, and is disrespectful of the OP and of others who come here to learn.