Seeing through large format!

Life is too short! It’s as simple as that! This last year my family has been dealing with the loss of loved ones. Most recently I lost my father to ALS, a terrible disease that robbed him of everything at a very rapid speed. This loss gets one to thinking about all those things that you have put off doing or trying. I am now in the mental mode of not waiting for later down the road if you can possibly do it now. Especially since you don’t know how long your road is going to be. So with that in mind I was able to purchase a proper large format camera.

I had always dreamed of getting one of those pretty wooden ones but a deal came up on eBay for an all metal Toyo 45a, 4×5 camera with three lenses and other assorted goodies for a very reasonable price. I jumped on it and anxiously waited for it’s arrival. It was like Christmas morning when it arrived and I rapidly dug through all of the packaging to see what all was in the box of magic! There she was, a real beauty…a heavy beauty but a real looker! Everything looked good and seemed to work as it should so off I went with some loaded film holders.

Unfortunately I found out the bellows leaked badly, apparently from too much time in storage. I purchased one of those eBay bellows and installed it myself. It was actually a very nice bellows but a little tricky to install. That as they say was it and it was off to the races. I have been putting both color and black and white film through it and refining my film metering techniques. I have had more successes than failures and I love the whole process of using this very slow method of photography. This camera will be a keeper until I can’t lug it around anymore and I hope that is way down my road of life.

Happy wanderings!Image a1241 Image 1 4 8 3 2 2 1 Image 1 4 8 3 2 2 3 Image 1 4 8 3 2 2 2 2 1 Image 1 2 1 Image 1 2 2 Image 1 2 2 Image 1 2 2 3

Mamiya RB67 Portraits

You have seen from some of my previous posts that I do a lot of portrait work. It can range from family to corporate types of portraiture. A frequent request has been the corporate headshot for people’s Linkedin page. A friend of mine who has been forced into a freelance type of life, like so many of us, needed some professional headshots done. I was more than happy to help with one condition, I get to shoot a roll of film with him and his wife as my subjects.

So the photos you see here are the results of that roll of film. All shot on a Mamiya RB67 Pro S camera with the 137mm lens, on Ilford HP5 film. All lighting is provided by diffused window light. I almost discarded the shot where the dog moved but I liked the expressions going on it so I kept it. It ended up being my friend’s wife’s favorite.

Enjoy and happy wanderings!

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Making the light

In my last post I talked about chasing the light. Well great light can be an elusive thing so sometimes you have to make the light. There is your standard in-studio lighting which is very much needed sometimes, but when you are a location photographer like myself, you have to mix your light with the available light on location. This is where lighting becomes like cooking, you season to taste. Do you want your light to act as the main ingredient or do you want it to compliment what is already there and to mix in so well that it looks like it belongs and already exists naturally. I do all of the above but some of my favorite images have come from doing the latter.

One of the images shown here is of my father-in-law sitting in his favorite chair. He is always in it. It’s almost part of his persona. So I wanted to capture Jack in his chair, in his natural environment and I didn’t want you to know that it was lit. You see, Jack’s living room is always dark, very dark. The sun never comes through the windows like you see here but I wanted it to look like it did. I wanted you the viewer to believe that this is how Jack’s living room looks in the afternoon light. To accomplish this I put a gelled flash on his front porch and aimed it down and through the window camera right. Then I bounced a flash off of the living room interior wall behind me to open up the shadows a small bit. You don’t notice it’s there but you would miss it if it wasn’t.  I made sunshine.

In all of the photos shown here the light was made because it didn’t exist at that particular time in that particular location. All of the lighting was created using a combination of speedlights with various remote controls. I have a bag with about a half dozen old speedlight flashes of various makes in it. I call it my “sunshine in a bag” kit. I keep my remotes and various colored gels in the same bag. This way when I go on location I can create light, make sunshine if you will, where ever it’s needed. As a professional photographer you can’t always rely on the ambient light to be beautiful so you need to know how to make beautiful light, whether it’s to counter act a high noon sun such as the photo of the family on the park bench, or to take a gloomy weather day and turn it sunny, such as the photo of the family in the fall woods. Not delivering quality photographs is an option. So dig out your flashes and start experimenting. It is what will separate you from the  Uncle Billys and soccer moms with the fancy cameras…well partly anyway.

Happy wanderings!