Using Film for Portraits of a Highway Patrolman
I started a new project recently creating portraits on 11×14 film. I have had an 11×14 back for my Deardorff for several years, but I have never shot much in that format. I decided to try a couple sheets in hopes of kick starting a new project.
I asked a friend of mine who is a highway patrolman to stop by the studio for a test shoot. I also wanted to check out the new film holder I purchased from S&S FilmHolders.
I began the set up with a charcoal gray background lit by two heads with standard reflectors. The main light, an 86″ extreme silver PLM from Paul Buff, was positioned close to the subject at about eye level. I wanted the lighting to be dramatic, but I still needed a fill. I chose a 22″ silver beauty dish with a 30 degree grid and Rosco diffusion behind the grid. This head was positioned over the camera with the power turned down quite a bit.
The photograph was shot with an 11×14 Deardorff using a Rodenstock 480mm lens. The exposure was 1/60 at f/32 2/3. I shot two sheets of Ilford HP5 Plus (rated at ISO 250) which was processed by Dalmatian BW Lab and scanned by NancyScans.
Postproduction was pretty straightforward. I cleaned up a couple blemishes, threads, etc and did a little burning and dodging.
Overall, I am pleased with the image. It’s a good start to the project. It’s hard to tell from the low res image online, but the detail in the shot is incredible. The subject’s eyes are tack sharp, but his shoulders are slightly out of focus and the front brim of his hat is very soft. The S&S film holder performed flawlessly.
I hope to continue with this series. As I have said in other posts, most of my work is shot digitally, but large film is a nice change of pace. I really have to concentrate when I only have two exposures to get the shot and only a couple inches of depth of field. You don’t know what you have until the box from the lab arrives. I guess that’s what makes this fun and unique.