I don’t know exactly when and where I saw portraits taken on large format for the first time, but I remember I was deeply impressed by the beautiful tonality, the smooth gradation and the shallow depth of field. Now, after getting comfortable shooting medium format, I thought it is time for me to give it a try.
I decided for a Graflex Speed Graphic with a Aero Ektar 2,5/178 mm lens. Using f/2,5 with 4×5″ sheets, it’s like having a f/0,65 lens when shooting 35mm, at least with respect to DOF. But the really cool thing is that you can get very creative with this shallow focus by customizing its location using the tilt and swing capabilities of the camera. Or you can use them the “right” way, such as getting the subjects eyes back into perfect focus when his or her head is turned sideways.
For my first portraits, I would need a very patient and cooperative model, I thought. Someone who doesn’t wiggle between focusing or gets impatient when things take ages. I immediately thought of Astrid who I worked with before. And I was very happy when she agreed to visit me at my place.
We started with a few polaroids, or better said Fuji instant films, but most of the time the surroundings and light were not suitable for color. As negatives I had five holders filled with two sheets of Kodak TriX 320 each, resulting in ten shots in total. I exposed at ISO 200 and developed in Xtol 1:1 for 10,5 minutes at 20°C.
And that’s it. My first portrait shooting on large format. I think we could have done worse