Large Format Film Photography In The Studio Large format photography is both challenging and rewarding. The modern world goes on about pixels and the best camera and lenses out there. Well, let's step back in time, and slow things down a quite a bit! This form of photography is SLOW, methodical and precise. If you are a perfectionist and would like to hone your photographic skills, this is the door to knock on. As this is such a large negative, the final image is astounding, in the same breath, your mistakes can be rather expensive at around ZAR100.00 or US $7,50 or more per film sheet before development and scanning, and errors are just as amplified in the final image when it goes all wrong! 4x5in or 10,2 x 12,7cm scanned files are around 150 to 450mb each, and you see every detail! The price is around ZAR5500 or USD $405 for a ULF (Ultra Large Format) 20x24in sheet of film per shot, mistakes are not options here! Noleen - Foma Retropan 320 How It Began My good friend Christopher Hart is a camera repair specialist in Cape Town and the owner of Christopher Hart Camera Repairs. He is also a very talented photographer shooting both digital and film, who also has an affinity for Leica gear and has extensive knowledge in his highly specialised field. I had been to see him about a lens clean and service when he showed me his Shen Hao 4x5 large format camera and gear. I was so impressed by this, and that I asked that should he sell, that he would offer me first option. Some months passed by and he did just that! I bought a complete system and only needed to buy a few additional lenses that suited my style of photography. Shooting large format film is revolutionising my photography, in the way I think, the way I shoot and also the way I approach the shoot at hand. I now shoot to print and aim to make each shot count. I can strongly recommend Christopher Hart Camera Repairs to take care of your CLA (clean, lubricate and adjust) and any other camera and lens repairs that you may have at hand. Chris is one of the cogs in my photographic gears that keeps my business going without a hiccup. The Reasons For The Shoot The reasons for this particular shoot are of a personal nature which I am happy to share. It is very often that we get engrossed in other things, captivated by exciting happenings or just simply distracted by the goings-on of life in general. The adage: a mechanics' car is usually in a worse condition than his customers, simply as he doesn't have much time for his, can well be true. In my case, I often get so caught up learning new ways to edit, preparing new and current workshops, going on photo shoots, that I don't really have much time to photograph those that are close and dear to me. Early October 2018, I decided that I wanted to do something for me. On the 3rd November 2018, we made it happen! My mom is a renal failure patient in need of a kidney transplant, who has been on a waiting list since July 2009. I decided that life is too short to put things off for another day, as there may not be another day to capture these moments again. I flew my mom from East-London to Worcester, South-Africa to have a studio portrait shoot done with me in my home studio, by me and for us. This was a personal project, something that I have to cherish for now and when she is no longer with us. I can look back and recall the moments, and know that I was a part of the process in capturing those moments and memories. There was simply no better way, or no other way for that matter, other than to shoot this on film. I wanted a classic timeless feel for this shoot! I have previously shot medium format in my studio on film with a Yashica Mat using Fuji Acros 120 film with some fairly decent results. It was challenging as the ground glass was not very clear and I did not use a loupe to check my focus with. Based on the results from that shoot, I knew I needed help and called on Chris Hart for advice, direction and assistance; he excitedly accepted! YouTube does not offer much in the line of help when it comes large format photography in the studio. You need to understand that there are NO electronics in large format photography, think of cowboy movies and the cameras they used... or even the 1910's and 20's. Everything must be accurate and precise to capture these shots. This is 100% manual, ALL theory and mathematics. The Preparation For The Shoot I fetched Chris early that Saturday morning from Kleinmond near Hermanus, whilst my makeup artist Anne-Mart was getting my mom Noleen prepped and ready for us. I had already set up the studio the night before. The wardrobe was discussed, more so how colours would look in black and white film and which outfit would be best to wear for this shoot. I approached Anne-Mart Professional Make-Up Artist & Hair Stylist about the shoot and explained my intentions and reasons for it. I am so appreciative that she accepted the task at hand, as she prepared everything as I wanted it, my mom was not made to look 25 years old, she was kept true to age and that goes too for the hairstyling. There was a surprise twist in the shoot, something I did not discuss with her, I had her pose too and she owned those moments like a model! I simply love it when someone can pull something like this off unplanned and unexpectedly! Do show Anne-Mart some love and follow her on Facebook and support her business. Anne-Mart on Kodak Tmax 400 The Shoot We began with natural light, as my studio has lovely filtered light through a large sliding door. The light was metered, test shots taken on digital, the Shen Hao tested dry, everything worked, including the Elinchrom studio lighting on the Shen Hao, focusing set up and bellows factors are taken into account. Remember, I said this was SLOW! Finally, we were good to go, film was loaded and the different poses shown and prepared for each shot. The entire shoot was shot on the Shen Hao 4x5 using a Nikon NIKKOR W 240mm f/5.6 Lens. For natural light, we used f/5.6 at 1/8 sec and with studio lighting at f/45 at 1/125 sec which is also the fastest shutter speed attainable on this lens. In 35mm terms this would the equivalent of an 80mm lens at f/1.4 and f/11. The various films used were Rollei RPX 25, Kodak Portra 160, Portra 400, Kodak Tmax 400, Foma Retropan 320 and Ilford Delta 100. A total of 24 frames were shot, the whole shoot took about 3 hrs to complete. Everything is methodical, settings and frame numbers needed to noted and written down, extra film loaded into film holders as we went along. We were going to develop the negatives after the shoot but soon realised that we didn't have all the chemicals to do so. The black and white films were developed in Ilford ID 11 and the colour in C41 chemicals at Orms in Cape Town. The Scans Raphael Helman is my go-to man when it comes to scanning. His website is LabStudio and is able to do the following scans on an Imacon Precision iii Scanner. 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, and soon wider with the new scanning template, 4x5 100% or 50% 16bit files Retouching available as a separate service As mentioned earlier, the file sizes are very large, around 150mb for monochrome, and around 450mb for colour. The approximate megapixels at this scan is 81mp which I have seen in DXO Nik Collection, this allows for very large prints. The only way to get even bigger than this would be with a drum scanner and larger format like 8x10 inch film and above. Here too I can also highly recommend Raphael for all your film scanning needs, as he is also a photographer. The Gallery Do leave some comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on the various films used and which you like best. I have selected five of my favourite 4x5" prints to showcase the shoot. This was a very special shoot for me, a very rewarding and enriching one too. It is one thing to have a photoshoot done, but it is even better to print those images. There will be large prints made from this series which will be hung on the walls in our home to treasure for time to come. Noleen - Ilford Delta 100 Noleen & Craig by Chris Hart - Kodak Tmax 400 pushed to ISO 800 Noleen - Kodak Portra 160 This is one of my favourite images, even although it is not tack sharp. The reason for publishing this image is to show you that when you get it slightly wrong, it is wrong altogether. This was a natural light image shot at the equivalent of 80mm at f/1.4, which means that the focal plane is a thin sliver. Unfortunately after focusing on the eye closest to the camera, my mom had moved back about 5-10mm when the shot was taken, and we were off on this one. Lessons have been learnt through this, and that is what makes film such a challenge to get it right every time. You cannot look at the back of the camera to know how your shot came out. Portra 160 and Portra 400 are lovely films for skin tones, I have some medium format (120) rolls of Kodak Portra 800 in the fridge which I am keen to test shoot on my next model. Unfortunately, Kodak only makes the Portra 800 in 35mm and 120, no sheet film. Behind The Scenes Gallery These images were taken on an iPhone by Chris Hart as behind the scenes shots. They have not been edited, except for cropping and to show the fun we were having whilst at work, and how we see things from our side of the lens. Finding The Focus And Composition Getting Ready To Load Film Digital Test Shot For Lighting Anne-Mart Relaxed and Posed Through The Ground Glass (rotated) Noleen In The Ground Glass - What We Actually See Under The Dark Cloth Having A Laugh During Composition Setting The Power On The Beauty Dish In Conclusion An enormous thank you to Anne-Mart, Chris, Raphael and my mom Noleen for making this happen, together we have captured a treasured moment in time that won't be repeated ever again!
Studio Portraiture Shoot - Plus Size Model - Carine My client Carine is a plus size model. She discussed her intentions to have a studio portraiture shoot with me in my studio, what she had in mind, her vision and end result. Between the many conversations and Pinterest ideas shared on Whatsapp, we came to settle for a three outfit wardrobe for her shoot. We didnt want a Plain-Jane shoot, but something that would have a polished feel about it, that felt classy, and with professional makeup. This is where Celeste of Celestial Makeup Artistry came in. She has just launched her business and has already worked for an event run by Guess in Cape Town at the Waterfront. Her website will be up and running in the new new year, so do look out for her; in the interim, follow her on Facebook. I can highly recommend her work, she is a qualified, passionate and talented makeup artist, whom I know personally and have worked with. Celeste did the makeup for Carine, which are top international brand names, and complimented her well. The lead up to the shoot was exciting for Carine, as well as daunting. Being a plus sized person, having never posed in front of a camera, let alone in a studio environment before, really started to get the nervous butterflies flapping inside her, yet courageously she pushed through with it, almost cancelling at the last minute. The response on Facebook, with the sneak peek was amazing and overwhelming to say the least! For me, seeing the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly experience Carine had, was amazing; that being both on an inward and outward level. I asked Carine to share her story, and she kindly did. This is Carine's Story "I wanted to say so much more, but it kept it short. As a little girl sitting in front of the mirror, putting makeup on, I stirred up the deep desire to become a model. I saw myself strutting down the runway, ozzing confidence, and would believe that I am beautiful, that size and shape didn't matter. The reality was, my confidence was only real in my dreams. For years I struggled with my plus sized body, and with that, the dream of being a model fell further and further away. About two years ago I realised like anything else in life, confidence is a journey. Seeing this photoshoot through, is yet another confidence trip in my life. It was like stepping on the edge of a mountain, poised to bungi jump . Your mind shouts NO! Your body YES, it will be fun, you will be fine. This will be exciting! I am all the better for taking this step to do this photoshoot, my confidence levels have been boosted, I feel so much better about myself, it was all worth it! Being in the studio is way more difficult than it looks, you are required to pose, twist, bend and arch in so many different ways to get the best results for your photo, I really have a new respect for photographers and how they work, and what all goes into a photoshoot! From a personal experience, it isnt easy being a plus-sized person, however, just like that little girl almost 40 years ago sitting in front of the mirror, I looked passed every wrinkle, freckle and blemish and allowed my confidence to rise up. For the first time in my life, I told myself: "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL." After viewing my photographs, this confidence trip has done more for me than any diet plan could ever have. I no longer see a fat woman, but one who is happy to face challenges boldy, and to take on whatever makes me feel alive!" In Conclusion A shout out to both Celeste for the great makeup, and Carine for not backing out. I really enjoyed this shoot, it was so worth it! I used a Nikon D5 with various short prime lenses and Elinchrom studio lighting. All editing in ACR and Photoshop. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Family Portraiture Shoot - The Smith Family What a lovely family the The Smiths are! And a unique one too! It was an absolute pleasure to photograph this special family in my studio, as it was a family and maternity portraiture shoot all in one. We have known each other for approximately seven years now and a family shoot has been long in the making. They have a fantastic story to tell, and enjoy life to the full. Warren is an artist and a friend of note, someone I can always depend upon. Géne is a budding photographer and mom to be. Richard is a special child in many ways. Quite excitable, funny, intelligent and really nice to be around. As a family they enjoy the outdoors, going hiking in the Worcester mountains and surrounds, photography, capturing beautiful images of the Karoo and coast and enjoying life to the full. Their life is changing as they prepare for their new arrival. Richard is so excited, Géne has been documenting the progress of her pregnancy, while Warren has been busy preparing the nursery for the special day. This baby is extra special to them, because Richard's identical twin premature brother passed away at 2 months, while still being in hospital. This pregnancy really is a blessing and enormous gift. When Warren and Géne fell in love, it was love at first sight and they will be celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on Monday 9th October. Géne says: "It's great being married to my best friend!" I am looking forward to a follow up maternity studio session with Géne, just before baby is born, as well as once the baby is born. Come and celebrate this wonderful family with the images that have been captured. My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D5 and a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens. I also used two 165cm strip boxes by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio lighting. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe me to your newsletter informing me of all new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Family Portraiture Shoot - Van der Westhuizen Family My long standing friend Dirk and his family booked a studio shoot with me during their visit to South-Africa from Dubai. They are such a wonderful family and was indeed a pleasure to do this family shoot. Simon is two years old, whilst we did have our hands full in the studio, he settled down and brought a few giggles to the day. They a fun, spontaneous family to shoot and for me was so much fun! I have known Dirk since 2008, as we used to work together for emergency services in the Eastern Cape in the early days. Family portraiture is fairly simple to do, those being photographed need to be themselves, relaxed and to simply have fun behind the camera. The van der Westhuizen's were just that! We are capturing a moment in time that can’t be repeated, however, that moment can be returned to in the form of photographs and treasured forever. Small children are so easy to work with, active, excited and fun to be around, that being said, kids should be kids and left to be who they are. The best thing to do is allow small children to gain your confidence and to settle down. I was able to capture some really special, natural moments that required no effort from my part to capture the very essence of who they are, that they can treasure for time to come. This is the part of photography that I really enjoy, when going to work is fun and not work! I REALLY enjoyed this shoot! This family are just such lovely people to photograph and to be around. My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D800e which is great as a studio camera at 36.3mp. I also used a 185cm shoot through umbrella by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio kit with a 165cm octabox and a 150cm softbox by Phottix. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Family Portraiture Shoot - Parish Family My long standing friend Brett and his family had been putting off a family shoot for quite a while now. I approached him regarding a sport shoot, which went in a totally different direction to a family portraiture shoot. This was inspired after seeing a fantastic photo of his daughter on Facebook and suggested they come over to my studio and do a family shoot. Craig Fouché Photography Studio They a fun, spontaneous family to shoot and for me was so much fun! I have known Brett since 1994, as we used to cycle together. Family portraiture is fairly simple to do, those being photographed need to be themselves, relaxed and to simply have fun behind the camera. The Parish's were just that! We are capturing a moment in time that can’t be repeated, however, that moment can be returned to in the form of photographs and treasured forever. Brett's children are so easy to work with, active, excited and fun children to be around, that being said, kids should be kids and left to be who they are. I was able to capture some really special, natural moments that required no effort from my part to capture the very essence of who they are, that they can treasure for time to come. This is the part of photography that I really enjoy, when going to work is fun and not work! I REALLY enjoyed this shoot! His family are just such lovely people to photograph and to be around. Thanks for this opportunity Brett, the response to your sneak-peek images on Facebook was fabulous! My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D800e which is great as a studio camera at 36.3mp, and my 1957 Yashica-Mat TLR which is great as a studio film camera at 6x6cm, the negative allows for massive enlargements and details. I also used a 185cm shoot through umbrella by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio kit with a 165cm grided strip box and a 150cm softbox by Phottix. There will be a follow up shoot to this soon, watch this space. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.