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Paramount bokeh
1-Mar-2010, 03:41
Hi everybody, I am new to this forum and to LF photography - so please humour me! Sorry if this has been asked before... in my pursuit of recreating Hollywood 'Hurrell' style portraits, I have read Hicks and Nisperos book, amongst others, and noticed an interesting comment regarding bokeh.... 'when using roll film or 5x4, the bokeh quality of 8x10 was lost for good' (not quoted exactly but in essence).

Do you agree that 8x10 bokeh cannot be recreated using 5x4? Obviously, a lot depends on technique, lighting and art.... but should i consider buying a 5x4 or is it a waste of time, would i be better going for an 8x10 (the kit will be for studio work only - no lugging around the countryside)?

I would also appreciate your comments re LF monorails - Sinar/Horseman/Linhoff - for my usage.

Your opinions and advice will be much appreciated.

Best.

Ken Lee
1-Mar-2010, 03:52
8x10 requires lenses of twice the focal length of 4x5. To get the same depth of field, lenses of twice the length, need to be stopped-down 2 more stops. In other words, longer lenses give more blur, unless you stop them down more.

Paramount bokeh
1-Mar-2010, 04:06
Hi Ken, thanks for the reply - so, if i understand you correctly - i could actually achieve an equivalent dof as 8x10 by using a 5x4 lens of twice the length, but stopped down more by 2 stops?

Ken Lee
1-Mar-2010, 04:08
"i could actually achieve an equivalent dof as 8x10 by using a 5x4 lens of twice the length, but stopped down more by 2 stops?"

Not quite. To get the same effect as 8x10, open the 4x5 lens by 2 stops. You are trying to reduce depth of field.

Paramount bokeh
1-Mar-2010, 04:12
Aha. Got you.

The downside to this would be the need for more light and slightly longer shutter speeds, yes - with the added hazard of model movement?

What is the standard 8x10 focal length lens for head/shoulders and full body - avoiding nasty distortions?

(sorry for being such a novice).

John T
1-Mar-2010, 04:15
Of course what Ken is referring to is the depth of field, not the bokeh. I'm curious what they were actually referring to with that statement. A format doesn't have a specific bokeh.

When you are looking at Hurrell and others, they did a lot of negative retouching so the 8x10 was much easier. Also, since the vast majority of prints were also 8x10 they were production contact printed.

So the 8x10 contact printed had a different tonality than 4x5 or smaller enlarged; the specific lenses used had less DOF than a comparable lens in a smaller format, and the specific imaging characteristics may be different with the focal lengths needed for each format; the negative retouching used would be difficult, if not impossible to reproduce today since most, if not all films today don't have the "tooth" to grab the retouching pencil; the characteristics of the film itself are different in most modern films and you aren't lighting with the 4K stage lights of the studios.

In other words, the actual bokeh of the 8x10 is the least of your worries if you want an exact duplication of the classic Hollywood Glamour look. Instead, worry about lighting quality, posing/attitude, makeup/styling (instead of retouching), and focus (since you are new to LF). Those are the real keys to successful Hollywood Glamour photography.

jb7
1-Mar-2010, 04:21
... negative retouching used would be difficult, if not impossible to reproduce today since most, if not all films today don't have the "tooth" to grab the retouching pencil;

I've just finished a box of Fomapan 200, 8x10, that's got a retouchable surface-
was tempted to give it a go-
It doesn't seem to be available right now, but hopefully it'll come back-

Ken Lee
1-Mar-2010, 04:22
When you use big film for portraits, like 8x10, and larger - and you want sufficient depth of field - you either need a lot of light, or a seated subject.

On 4x5, anywhere from 200 to 300mm is common for portraits, because longer lenses allow you to stand back a bit, and the face becomes flatter in appearance.

The equivalent lenses on 8x10 are 400 to 600mm, but the optics are such that many people use shorter lenses, so that they can get the face in focus, while shooting at reasonable shutter speeds. So 360 to 450 are more common.

If you search this site for "depth of field calculator" you will find some online tools that let you figure out the depth of field for large format cameras. You'll see that it gets pretty short at close distances, with long lenses.

I would be surprised if you couldn't find discussion of Hurrell's exact methods here too. If not, just ask. People on this forum know a lot, about a lot :)

Paramount bokeh
1-Mar-2010, 04:26
Hi John - to clarify (apologies to Hicks and Nisperos to quoting without permission) this is the whole statement:

By the time Ms Monroe was 'discovered' Hollywood photography had moved away from 8 x 10 cameras to 4 x 5 and even roll film. Although the pictures are superficially the same, the tonality is different from the pictures taken with the big cameras and bokeh (quality of the out-of-focus image) is very different.

And earlier in the book - in the editorial - it says: Leica cameras were used in Hollywood as early as 1932 or so, and after the war 4x5, roll film and 35 mm came into much wider use. As a result, the classic look was all but lost.

I guess in essence, what i am asking is - could, (taking all variables such as model pose, lighting etc into account) - a very similar look to 8 x10 be achieved with a 5 x 4 monorail (ignoring the problems with retouching for now).

I have a lot to learn dont i!

John T
1-Mar-2010, 05:23
What they didn't mention was that the lenses used had also changed as styles/preferences changed. This had a profound effect on the look of the images. So the statement regarding tonality makes sense, but the bokeh difference still doesn't connect.

Things as simple appearing as the backgrounds changed-made simpler. Whether this was due to changes in taste or to make production more streamlined, I'm not sure.


I guess in essence, what i am asking is - could, (taking all variables such as model pose, lighting etc into account) - a very similar look to 8 x10 be achieved with a 5 x 4 monorail (ignoring the problems with retouching for now).

Yes you can create a very similar look. But who are your trying to emulate? Hurrell? Bull? Beaton? Ruth Harriet Louise? Madison Lacey? Joe Meyer? any number of the nameless studio photographers? They all had different looks and sometimes that look changed throughout their careers.

Take Hurrell, since he transformed the industry, he used lenses such as an 18" Wollensak Verito. A shorter version of that lens could make a similar looking image. One of his more dramatic changes to the industry (other than lighting techniques) was that he went to a sharper lens (instead of the Kodak Portrait Lens) and stopped it down (f22 instead of wide open).

You can find an orthochromatic film similar to the ones used. If you can find one that can be retouched, afaik you can buy Adams Retouching Machines new still (they are on Broadway in Denver). Otherwise you can find a good makeup artist who has studied the look of the Hollywood portrait.

Fresnel hot lights are pretty easy to obtain, although they are more likely to be 750 to 1000 watts. The light distribution and edge transfer of this type of light are unique.

I taught a lighting people class at Brooks for years and one component was Hollywood portraits. The very best of the students could do an excellent job of reproducing the look and, more importantly, the feel of 1940's era Hollywood. They did this with 4x5 cameras, modern films, hot lights and makeup. If I trusted the students, and they did work that justified it, I would loan them my 8-3/4 and 11-1/2 Verito lenses so their image would have that signature. This is the one area that seems to be difficult to reproduce with most modern lenses (a Cooke PS945 is an exception). While the best of the work wasn't and exact duplication of the Hollywood portraits, they were pretty convincing to all but the connoisseur.

My suggestions, study their lighting, know your camera EXTREMELY WELL, study the attitude of the people in the shots, read Mark Viera's book and practice a lot. If this is something you stay connected to, you might eventually decide to go with an 8x10. But the larger format is more difficult to use so learning on the 4x5 makes a lot of sense.

I