Shooting On Location With A Deardorff
Like the majority of photographers today, I most often capture digitally for my clients. However, for special projects, I still like to shoot film – especially large format film. Normally, my Deardorff 11×14 camera lives in the studio. But every now and then, I get the crazy idea of taking it on location.
These images are from a portrait shoot with Mitch Brantley, a falconer. We chose to shoot in a location where Mitch trains his hawk. The first step was to set up a 12′ x 12′ Matthews overhead frame to soften the afternoon sun. It was quite windy, so I attached ropes to the frame and tied those to my van and to stakes in the ground.
Next I positioned a large Chimera bank vertically on camera left for a main light and a 22″ silver beauty dish slightly to camera right for fill. Two additional flash heads were fitted with 11″ reflectors and placed to the side and slightly behind my subject. These provided a very subtle separation light. All flash heads were powered by a Honda generator.
As I mentioned, the camera I used was an 11×14 Deardorff equipped with an 8×10 back. The lens was a Rodenstock 480mm f/8.4. I shot 10 sheets of Kodak Tri-X which was processed by Dalmatian B&W lab. Then Nancy Scans made a drum scan of the select.
Yes, all of this could be accomplished digitally, with much less trouble and expense (and perhaps with a lot less backache), but for me, there is something special about a large format camera. I have an affinity for that faint, upside-down image on the ground glass. It is a different experience for both the photographer and subject.