Two weeks ago I was contacted by Ramzi Mansour expressing an interest in film photography. He has an impressive studio and body of work displayed on his studio walls in Cape Town. His quality of work is top-notch, shooting black and white. Ramzi arranged this test shoot with Loryn van Wyk which I have entitled Studio Photography – Loryn van Wyk where we could meet and greet and he could learn some ropes on film.
Loryn is a professional model and has been in the industry for a very long time. She has a wonderful personality, easy to work with and her experience and professionalism shine through in every pose.
We decided the look we wanted would be the Hollywood Lighting look, especially for black and white film.
George Hurrell was the master of vintage Hollywood portraits. He sculpted their faces and really made them look fabulous.
The lights need to be positioned correctly. You should choose a place that shapes the face according to the different portrait positions. It has to be at a height. You can try above the camera or to the side. If the model turns her head you should follow with the light. It’s all about the shadows in this type of lighting. Hurrell always had wonderful shadows in his portraits.
Hurrell used strong, hard light. Ramzi used an Arri 2000W Fresnel with barn doors. Prophoto lights were used as hair lights and separation lighting.
We used controlled areas of light to get a beautiful highlight.
You have to light with shadows. Hurrell loved shadows. If the subjects started to go too dark he added a background light to separate give the person some definition, which is what we did. Occasionally you also want a hair light for a bit more separation.
Makeup is also very important in these portraits. Loryn had her makeup down to perfection (she had done her own). There was absolutely no flaws or any photo editing needed to remove not even a speck of mascara! Those red lips go dark and look fabulous in black and white. One could add some eyelashes, they create interesting shadows across the model’s face.
This type of lighting goes very well with dramatic makeup. Max Factor, original name Max Faktor, (born 1877, died 1938) was the dean of Hollywood makeup experts. He was a pioneer in developing makeup specifically for motion-picture actors and was given a special Academy Award in 1928 for his achievements. In Hollywood’s Golden Age, when it came to make-up only one name was on the lips of the silver screen stars. That name was Mr Max Factor, a visionary make-up artist, wig maker and inventor. Max Factor was known for creating the signature looks of the era’s most famous icons such as Ava Gardner, Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich. But he believed that glamour should be within reach of all women.
We both shot on large format – 4×5, medium format – Pentax 645n and digital. The Pentax 645n was more suited to Ramzi’s style of shooting, whereas the 4×5 is a much more technical and slower system, and did not work for him. Loryn has exceptional skills at maintaining and holding a long pose which is required for slow shutter speeds under constant lighting for large format photography. In some of our BTS on our IG channles, you can see how much fun we really had shooting on film. The Pentax 645n captures 16 images per roll, these can all be seen in the Kodak Portra 800 gallery.
Digitally, Ramzi shot on Leica and I shot on a Nikon D5.
Ramzi shot some Kodak Tri-X 320 and 400 which is a gritty traditional film stock used in the ’40s (relevant to the theme and era) for news reporting and a roll of Ilford Delta 100. I shot a few frames of Rollei RPX 400, Kodak TriX 320 and some Kodak Professional Portra 800 which yielded some really gorgeous skin tones, beautiful grain and would also convert very well to black and white if needed.
Kodak Professional Portra 800 Film delivers all the advantages of a high-speed film along with finer grain, higher sharpness, and more natural skin tones and color reproduction. Kodak Professional Portra 800 Film delivers best-in-class underexposure latitude, with the ability to push to 1600 when you need extra speed. It is ideal for long lenses, fast action, and low light, enabling you to capture shadow details without flash. Kodak Professional Portra 800Film, for perfectly stunning results with less-than-perfect light.
I have known and worked with Ramzi for years and we have a great working relationship …we understand what is needed on a shoot and have a similar taste in aesthetics.
Ramzi had been in contact with Craig and had asked if I would “sit” for a shoot in a variety of old-school mediums, to which I happily agreed as it was through film that I was introduced into this industry and career.
Craig is so technically proficient and gives great insight into the beauty of each format he chooses. He is patient and is keen to impart his knowledge so that the beauty and art of photography in all its technical glory can be understood easily.
I immensely enjoyed my day in front of Craig’s lenses
I immensely enjoyed my day in front of Craig’s lenses. He was easy-going, professional and a great sport too. The results are great portraits (very flattering too). It’s wonderful to be seen through different eyes and through technical and long-standing mediums …..yay for film and yay for your talent Craig.
Thanks to Ramzi Mansour for organizing a rare day of learning.
Loryn and Craig were both hopeless and I wish I never took time to arrange the shoot because it was a day of my life I can never get back! HAHAHAHAAHAHA.
Loryn and I share very similar tastes and aesthetics when it comes to photos. More often than not the most simplistic of photos yield the most emotion to the viewer. Black and white photos speak to me on a very deep level and whilst digital is great; there can never be black and white like film.
I’ve been experimenting with film for a few months now and got hold of Craig to come over to the studio and bring his large format 4×5 and a few of his toys whilst I brought some of mine. I asked Loryn to come and sit for the shoot because I knew she had experience in sitting for film as well as digital and what I wanted to capture was basic old school Hollywood portraits. I have used the same setup that Craig already explained earlier but never used it to shoot film. This was a very different experience and one that I won’t soon forget.
Thank you Craig for reminding me why I started photography
Craig was a consummate professional with such a passion for his craft. From inserting the negative to nailing the focusing to having Loryn hold the position and rechecking and recalibrating; it takes patience and virtue for the love of photography that we often missing with digital shoots.
One of the main reasons that I have been compelled to look at film photography is too slow down the process and remember why I started photography in the first place. The Art of Photography requires patience; an almost zen-like feel in mind and body whilst preparing to capture; and once that shutter is pressed …..it lifts up your soul to heights that digital technology could never comprehend.
Thank you Craig for reminding me why I started photography; for the love of taking photos. Thank you Loryn for being always ready to try new things.
It was an amazing day, three passionate, professional people working together to create fantastic images and with such ease – old school on film, and digital. I can honestly say, Loryn looks great in film grain – film works so well with her! Ramzi is quite the comedian as you can see from his BTS and really fun to be around. Thanks to both Ramzi and Loryn for the day, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to working with you again.
Loryn van Wyk
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Loryn van Wyk
Loryn van Wyk
Loryn van Wyk
Loryn van Wyk
Overall I am very happy with how the results turned out, it is always a good day out when everything runs smoothly and after developing you have images. It never gets old when you open the Paterson tank and your negatives look good! Negatives were scanned on my Epson V750 at 3200dpi, Photoshop file sizes are around 750mb to over 1Gb as a working file. If you would like to join me to shoot some film photography – large format in the studio, or any other environment, get in touch! I can teach you all I know, sign up for one of my one-on-one photo workshops.
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