Shooting On Location With A Deardorff

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 11x14 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 11x14 Deardorff  equipped with an 8x10 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.


11x14 Deardorff in my studio.

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That is a pocket camera. Perfect for location jobs ;)
And I thought my graflex is cumbersome.

Gregory's picture

I wonder what a sheet of 8 X 10 Tri-X is going for these days??

Sold my 8x10 this last year. I still regret it daily.