Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15

Thread: Taking portraits with a large format camera

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Nottingham, UK
    Posts
    74

    Taking portraits with a large format camera

    Hi folks.. I've still not used my camera enough, i have a few days off work so hopefully i'll be able to shoot something!!

    I've just got back a roll of 120film that i shot in my horseman 6x12cm roll film back.. a good number of them are some test portraits in bright sunny conditions where the shutter speed was able to be kept nice and fast for no blur from moving people.

    They are pretty nice shots, but only when viewed quite zoomed out, up close you can notice that there isn't a great deal of sharpness on any of the 3 people i managed to fit into the panoramic frame. I can only assume that either i wasn't very well focused in the first place, or the subjects moved whilst I was taking out the glass and fitting the rollfilm back into the camera. It was my first roll of film through the back so i wasn't exactly being speedy with it.

    I just wondered if anyone had any tips on how you can shoot sharp portraits with LF when your sitter isn't perhaps going to stay perfectly still. I didn't note down the aperture i'd used but i'm quite sure it was near to f22.. the distance from lens to subject would have been around 2m or so, not sure how much DOF i would have had in these circumstances but even with keeping their feet still I'm guessing they were able to drift out of that sharp band of focusing.

    Its not something i'll ever really plan to shoot a lot of, but i may try again sometime soon.. any tips to getting something so sharp the sitter wont want to do it again as they dont like seeing all their skin that close up Once i can happily shoot it that sharp, then i can deliberately make asthetically pleasing softer focus portraits

    Cheers

    Jim

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,296

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    First you need to assemble a kit of "helpers": nails, duct tape, and reinforcing rods.

    It sounds like shutter speed would be key. Try 1/250, use a higher ISO film. In my experience a good model can hold still enough to be tack sharp at f/5.6 at 1/30 to 1/60. Moving or nervous casual models require 1/125 or higher.

    I will still shoot down to 1/8th but as you go slower it becomes a game of percentages. If you do four shots of a person at 1/15th, you will find that one of the four is noticablly sharper than the other three.

    ISO 400 4x5 is great. You can always push it, putting a little grit and contrast into the scene is usually a nice postive addition.
    Last edited by Frank Petronio; 9-Nov-2006 at 14:01.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    1,904

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    If they are seated it will help them move less. Did you use a loupe to make sure you were focussed correctly? Are you sure you had the film holder in correctly? Practice before you work with the camera and holder again.

    steve simmons

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Nottingham, UK
    Posts
    74

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    Thanks for the tips guys. The models were just family, and sadly they were standing which i think is the problem, i think someone in a pose more easily held with precission would be a better subject, though in fairness my time at the camera has sped me up quite significantly so perhaps it'll be less of a problem next time.

    I'm having constant problems with both rollfilm holder and cut film holders having what look like light leaks on them.. on the same roll of film from another "shoot" I have some more flare, at the same time i took some pictures on cut slide film.. both were sadly way out on exposure as i used a friends compact to base my exposure off of and it was very wrong!! The flare on the b&w roll film though did look like it matched the direction of the sun, the lens has a shade, I think it could be the bellows which i've since shown to leak slightly.

    Now i have a polaroid back I'd love to go into some really bright conditions and shoot with the light on all sides of the camera to see if i can recreate (and then fix) the problem.

    Ironically these portrait shots were done in bright bright sunlight, the kind that i doubt i'll see again till 2007. But they are all CLEAN.. the sun would have been mostly behind the camera though, this has obviously helped. By the time i shot them though i'd seen the problems i'd had with other shots so i think i was already trying to be cautious. If i can only master pulling the dark slide under the dark cloth then i'd be much happier at removing light from the back of the camera as a potential cause of the problems.

    Steve, I did use a cheap 8x loupe.. i've since got a toyo 3x loupe, but i've not assembled my camera since its arrived, it does look very nice and clean through it, we will see where things go. I've achieved reasonably sharp images on other subjects since, as you've all said though.. practice practice practice.. I just hope i have the chance to.
    Last edited by jimbobuk; 9-Nov-2006 at 14:21.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,947

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    At that distance and f-stop you don't have much depth-of-field. All someone has to do is rock back on their heels slightly and they will be slightly unsharp.

    Seated and 400 speed film will do it.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    1,904

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    In the next issue or two we are going to have a couple of articles on portraiture/figure work with large format.

    steve simmons

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Nottingham, UK
    Posts
    74

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    The next issue of what Steve? View Camera i take it? I'm in the UK and have never seen it

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Nottingham, UK
    Posts
    74

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    Thanks Ron, I thought as much on the DOF, should get more familiar with a DOF caculator, i take it you guys carry them in the field?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    1,904

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    Yes, View Camera. If you want to try it contact

    Mike Walker
    Walker Cameras
    44 (0) 1244 881 755
    mik@walkercameras.com

    steve simmons
    www.viewcamera.com
    Last edited by steve simmons; 9-Nov-2006 at 15:29.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,947

    Re: Taking portraits with a large format camera

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbobuk View Post
    Thanks Ron, I thought as much on the DOF, should get more familiar with a DOF caculator, i take it you guys carry them in the field?
    I have an idea now what it is at a given distance and aperture. But when I started I went to one of the online DOF calculators and put in a few numbers to get an idea. The following link is useful to determine what aperture is required for acceptable sharpness across the range of subject distance required:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/fstop.html

    Just focus on the nearest and farthest points you want to be in focus and measure the distance the standard moves. Then the table will give you the f-stop required.

Similar Threads

  1. True large format digital camera
    By Joseph O'Neil in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 26-Sep-2006, 10:10
  2. Large Format workshops in the Smokies - October
    By Danny Burk in forum Style & Technique
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 31-Aug-2005, 21:13
  3. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 4-Jul-2005, 08:26
  4. Large format camera
    By bart van Vlijmen in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 7-Nov-2001, 05:46
  5. Canham large format camera
    By William Jones in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Jul-2000, 15:55

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •