This image is from my antique lens 4×5 portrait series, but is definitely different from most of the others in the series so far. Instead of a dreamy soft focus look, I felt that for Lauren (a bass player in a Goth band) a grittier, tougher look would be a more honest portrayal, so in post processing of the negative scan that is what I emphasized.
Typically, photographs that are noted for texture tend to be sharp, with a lot of detail. The image in this post is from my brass lens portrait series: the combination of the old lens, long (4-5 second!) exposure ensure that these images will not be sharp. Also, the photo paper that I use for the negatives in this process tends to emphasize skin blemishes, so in post I need to further smooth things out a bit, further reducing detail.
However, I still like the texture in this image, particularly in the hair, and the way the light plays on it.
In a perverse sense, it is refreshing to get a sense of adventure with this film project, not being sure if images will even turn out. Such a change from the bland perfection of digital. Another session where I got one barely usable image, requiring a lot of work in post. Still very happy with the image; amazing eyes!
Another image from my Vintage lens portrait series, of model Memento Mori, shot on a 4×5 paper negative, an exposure of about 4 seconds or so. I only have 4 film holders for my 4×5 view camera; with each holder two taking sheets, that gives me 8 shots before reloading (in the darkroom!). I’m happy that with eight images, I got three, perhaps four keepers. I never get that ratio with digital.
Here is the second image I am posting that I created using my 4×5 Cambo SC view camera; it is a portrait of my older daughter Julia. What I enjoyed about creating this portrait was the low tech approach I used. The lens used was an old brass lens, a Busch “Rapid Symmetrical” that is at least a hundred years old. The lens board (used to attach the lens to the camera), was homemade, using two pieces of mat board, glued together. As for the exposure, since the lens has no shutter, I made the exposure (about 1.5 seconds, using a paper negative) by simply covering/uncovering the front of the lens with my hand. About as far from modern technology as one can get!
I’ll be off the grid for a week, but I did want to get one more post in. I recently purchased a used 4×5 view camera (a beat-up but functional Cambo SC), something I’ve wanted for a while. While I have had little to no time to use it due to family realities, I have so far had a chance to take the picture below. I used the paper negative technique; instead of conventional photographic film I use real photographic paper (darkroom, not inkjet). It is very slow speed (about E.I. 6) but since a view camera must be on a tripod, the fact that a 60 second exposure was required was no big deal. Once the negative is developed, I can either do a contact print to get a 4×5″ image, or just scan the negative and invert the image digitally. I am really looking forward to the challenge of learning to use my view camera, the ultimate in the totally manual photographic experience.
David William White is a photographer I met this past Saturday at the Kodachrome photo-walk at Morningside Park in Scarborough. He is shown below with the camera he brought along: a view camera over 100 years old. On a day when the retro feel of film cameras was in the air, he really underscored the feeling by shooting with this camera. He was also using the paper negative technique, a process that goes back to the dawn of the photographic era. (After all, Fox Talbot used paper negatives in the calotype process of the 1830′s/40′s.)
It was great to know that on the same day as a glitzy photo show, showcasing all the new high-priced digital toys available was going on in Mississauga, at the other end of Toronto David was quietly going about his craft, exploring and typifying what is special about traditional photography.