Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    Forest Grove, Ore.
    Posts
    4,199

    Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    I've been thinking about giving LF portraiture a try. Pondering, it seems like the logistics aren't anything like that with smaller, more automatic cameras.

    For example, in a studio setting, it seems like one would need to focus and compose the image with the aperture wide open. (It's dark in studios.) And, all of a sudden, THE MOMENT IS THERE! So . . .

    >> Close the shutter.

    >> Close down the aperture.

    >> Put in the film holder and remove the darkslide.

    Guess what -- MOMENT IS GONE.

    Not to mention that the sitter might be distracted by ALL OF THIS ACTIVITY. (Forget trying to keep the sitter from seeing the shutter, to prevent them from knowing the moment of exposure.)

    At least in a studio, one can have tons of light for 4x5 or 8x10.

    One thought that occurred to me is that, in any setting, one could have some sort of reference point, so that the photographer could gauge whether or not the sitter had changed their position by any significant amount. (Out of the narrow plane of focus?) Perhaps this might remove the need for periodically checking the image on the g.g. That might enable the photographer to be camera-ready when that moment occurs.

    I saw a contact print (of the negative) in a book of one of Arnold Newman's well-known images photographed with a 4x5 camera. The content of the final photo was actually pretty small within the negative. (He had to enlarge significantly.) Two thoughts occur to me. He captured a wider photo than needed, in case the sitter moved. The other, with a wider lens, one has a little better depth of field.

    We know that large format photography is more contemplative, more introspective endeavor. One wonders if the sitter is in a similar frame of mind.

    Anyway, all of these meanderings lead me to ask, what are the tips an tricks of large format portraiture? How can one obtain a good photograph of a person, yet still manage the logistics of a large format camera?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    grand rapids
    Posts
    3,844

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    clamp the subjects head in a vise. that way they won't be out of focus.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Santa Barbara
    Posts
    1,375

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    Quote Originally Posted by vinny View Post
    clamp the subjects head in a vise. that way they won't be out of focus.
    when I was doing lens tests using my teenage kid as a subject..I constructed a reference head rest using a lightstand and a couple of the various lighting clamps I have collected. I'd focus wide open with her head against the rest ..then fiddle with the stops and film holder and such and she danced around or whatever it is kids do.. and then she could get back in front of the camera and gently rest her head on the (extra large wood wood drawer pull as it turned out) and presto - in focus


    If I had an assistant..I would probably focus on the subject..have the assistant measure it off using a string tied to the tripod say.. fiddle with the equipment..and when ready..get the sitter to pose as the ass't makes sure the distance is the same


    not having an assistant.. I just tell the subject to: hold still

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    128

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    I've been shooting some 8x10 portraits at f22 and 1/4 of a second lately with my measly one light setup. It's tricky, but I just explain the process to the sitter and do a dry run. It helps them to know what's going on. And lots of "Okay, hold still." "Don't move."

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
    Posts
    804

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    That's what I do, and I often take my time just to make sure I don't mess anything up!



    Quote Originally Posted by ShawnHoke View Post
    I've been shooting some 8x10 portraits at f22 and 1/4 of a second lately with my measly one light setup. It's tricky, but I just explain the process to the sitter and do a dry run. It helps them to know what's going on. And lots of "Okay, hold still." "Don't move."
    David Aimone Photography
    Critiques always welcome...

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    23

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Aimone View Post
    That's what I do, and I often take my time just to make sure I don't mess anything up!

    Very beautiful lighting and photograph.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland, US
    Posts
    211

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    Neil,
    I had heard a while back that the straightforward way to do it was set up at the working aperture, measure the distance to the plane (point!) of best focus, and tie a length of string to the camera that ends at that point. Pull the darkslide. When your subject comes in, have them hold the end of the string to their nose, and when you (or they) are ready, drop the string and click. Out of courtesy to the model, keep the studio floor clean.

    Alternatively, look up the Kalart Focuspot. Same idea, but uses a rangefinder to project two beams of light. When they touch, you're in focus. Many press cameras had them built in. If I was going to do handheld studio work and had a high powered studio flash system, I would totally use a Speed Graphic with one of these. (I actually bought one off of that auction site years ago and never got around to mounting it on anything. )

    Will

  8. #8
    lenser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Tim from Missouri
    Posts
    1,697

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    Especially for children. Take subject out of shoes, nail shoes to floor, put subject back in shoes and proceed. Not my idea....I heard someone seriously postulate this at a convention one time.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  9. #9
    lenser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Tim from Missouri
    Posts
    1,697

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    In all seriousness, I have simply become a human metronome by counting aloud for the subject to know how long to hold the pose. Often I will pair that with holding my hand close to the lens and counting off the fingers for them to follow.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  10. #10
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Noosa, Australia.
    Posts
    1,186

    Re: Tips & Tricks for Large Format Portraiture?

    Here's an account I wrote a while ago:

    Yesterday I shot six full face portraits with a Tachihara 810HD view camera and the process went smoothly because almost all the work had been done before the sitter arrived.

    I used a stand-in seated in a posing chair to set exact focus. Then I ran a string ending in a small bead from the camera to the stand-in. String length was adjusted so that when the bead was between the subjects eyes and the string was taut the subjects eyes are in exact focus. Camera focus was then locked down because the string and bead would guarantee image focus and I would not have to look again at the ground glass or get under a focussing cloth.

    Then I checked light meter readings, adjusted for bellows extension, set the aperture, the shutter speed, and cocked the shutter. Since the session was only going to take a few minutes and my sunny-day light wasn't going to change I would not have to meter again.

    Next a film holder was put into the camera and the darkslide was pulled.

    Finally the sitter arrived, took their place in the chair, did the bead and string routine, held their head still, dropped the bead, turned their eyes to the lens, and I fired the shutter with a long cable release.

    The fastest portrait in photography comes from a preset view camera with a big sheet of film waiting in the darkness behind the lens - but only for the first shot!

    After that there is a bit of work: changing film holders, cocking and firing the shutter, and bantering with the sitter until the end of the session. I'm in control because the string and bead delivers focus, the light is constant, the sitter's chair stops them wandering out of frame, and the long cable release lets me fire the shutter with my hand behind my back. The sitter doesn't know when to flinch.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

Similar Threads

  1. Tips, Tricks, Best Practices for Tray Development
    By Kevin Klazek in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 9-May-2020, 15:20
  2. Enlarging and darkroom printing from X-ray negatives. Tricks or tips?
    By Ilford4ever in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 20-Oct-2012, 22:47
  3. Large Format Portraiture.....viable?
    By Jim Galli in forum On Photography
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 25-Feb-2009, 22:08

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
  •