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Thread: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

  1. #11

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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    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.

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  2. #12

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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    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!
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  3. #13
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    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 image image image), 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.

    Quote Originally Posted by axs810 View Post
    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.
    -Adam

  4. #14
    ghostcount's Avatar
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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    Quote Originally Posted by fishbulb View Post
    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.
    "Sex is like maths, add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the whoo hoo and hope you don't multiply." - Leather jacket guy

  5. #15

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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    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.

  6. #16
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    Use a faster film/developer combo. ... Every little bit helps.
    May tomorrow be a better day.

  7. #17

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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    Quote Originally Posted by fishbulb View Post
    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.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  8. #18
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J. De Smidt View Post
    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.
    -Adam

  9. #19

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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    flash

  10. #20
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: Getting "enough light" for LF portraiture

    Quote Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
    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.co...-beach-fl.html
    -Adam

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