old face

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bogeyes, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. bogeyes

    bogeyes Member

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    I would like some advice on photographing an 86 year old face. I want to show every crease and wrinkle. Can any of you fellow apuggers post an example and tell me what 120 film/dev/exposure combo will give the desired result. I have only window light to work with.
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_prod.php?cat_id=&pid=1000002571

    Don't know how much window light you got or what kind of aperture, but this would do the deed, shot and processed normal, or maybe N+1.
     
  3. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    This is a question for someone with a lot more experience in portraiture than I have, but my suggestion would be to use a fine-grain film (Plus-X or FP4, for example) with a non-compensating developer (HC110 or the Ilford equivalent). Use mostly side lighting, moving back from the window as far as necessary to get a good balance between modeling and contrast (a large window will act fairly "soft" if you are close to it but become "harder" as you move farther away).

    Hanging something large and dark out of the field of view on the side opposite the light will help to keep the fine details from filling in too much with reflected light.

    North light is considered to be ideal, but a white sheet makes a great "instant softbox" when hung over a window with the sun hitting it. Just use any kind of dark cloth and clothespins to mask off an area of the right size and position (probably a little above horizontal and maybe a foot and a half square).

    Both resolution and contrast are important for what you are trying to do; use a tripod for steadiness of the camera, an aperture two or three stops down from wide open (good balance between speed, depth of field, and lens corrections) and a lens shade to prevent flare from dulling the contrast.

    Finally, all other things being equal, the more of the frame you fill the better will be the rendering of skin texture, so don't work too far back.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I would use EFKE R50! Expose at nominal speed, and give 30% more development in Neofin blau (if I had any; if not I would give 30% more development in any other dilute developer but bracket the exposure like mad).

    I would also take care to get nice even illumination, using reflectors if necessary. The low red-sensitivity of the film will enhance wrinkles, as will the extended development.

    This is a case where it makes sense to read Mortenson instead of Adams... :smile:
     
  5. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Very good advice above. I don't know hou much light you have (can you measure with an incident meter?) but you might need a 400 speed film. Grain is not a big deal with a 120 neg. If 400 is too fast, try 100-125.

    As far as a dev, well, how about ID-11, 1+1. I hear that's available in the UK!
     
  6. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    Best aperture depends on what focal length is used.I have found that even with a carefully focussed 150mm at f11 only 20-30% of shots have eyelashes tack sharp in headshots.
    Here I have 1/60 f11 EI 400 for north window light on a dull day.Sounds like a tripod and cable release job. Only use slow film if the set-up is shake free.
     
  7. Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    Mostly good advice above.

    I'd comment/ reinforce the following:

    Lighting will emphasize actual texture (wrinkles). Filters and film's spectral sensitivity will emphasize tone, freckles, imperfections, veins, lips and micro contrast of the skin tone itself.

    If it were me, soft light (skylight from window) at 3/4 direction, or hard (direct sunlight), near-frontal light that is not too high (later in the day). I prefer portraits with the key light in both eyes. People don't use hard light much anymore, but it was used almost exclusively for decades by cinematographers. You just have to be much more particular with the angle of the light. For my tastes, hard light is better suited for black and white than color, but that's just taste and preference.

    If using soft light, +1 development may be indicated to maintain contrast and texture. If you get hard light just right, (fully in the eyes) you shouldn't need to pull development.

    If choosing soft light, I'd personally remain close to the window, for maximum light output and "wrap," and compensate for the extra softness by extended film development. Further from the windows the key light does get harder, but starts looking blah and "dead". One good reason for this is the increased arbitrary ambient light in proportion to your key light, unless walls are painted dark.

    If using soft light, "negative fill" is most probably indicated, especially if near a light wall. In cinematography we use black flags, but even a dark sheet taped to a wall will do in a pinch. Absorption of ambient light will darken all those wrinkles.

    Ortho film would look fantastic if you have enough light. You likely don't unless your subject can rest comfortably and still with use of a tripod, or unless you use direct sunlight. With ortho, an appropriate developer is crucial to tame the excessive contrast. With Ilford Ortho, I've used Rodinal 1+100 with minimal agitation (every 3 min). There are also dilute pyrocatechin developers for this purpose.

    If using panchromatic film, you can use green or blue to emphasize skin tone. Usually green is used, although I've used blue for more of a weathered, 19th century photographic skin tone look:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/18192666@N00/18477399810/in/datetaken-public/
    A blue 47 filter sucks a lot of light, but at least the color of skylight makes it a bit more efficient. You'd still need Tri-X or HP5 for enough speed.

    The more blue the light source, the more skin tone and micro contrast is emphasized when using soft light. (Hard light makes up for this with it's textural emphasis). It's like a filter. The spectrum of tungsten or incandescent light is much more flattering than skylight, for example, the former giving more of an alabaster look. If you use the sheet over the window trick that was advised above, a blue or green sheet will help emphasize tone.

    Use a high-acutance developer. For me, that means either Rodinal, or even better, a pyrogallol or Pyrocatechin developer. I personally use WD2D+.

    I hope this helps.

    -Jarin
     
  8. The 100mm Hasselblad lens is so critically sharp that it should not be used for photographing women. It would be perfect for your project.
     
  9. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    I don't really know. I'll ask my wife and daughter how they lit (that is the secret I think) my face today when they shot my 86 year old face. But alas, they used those telephones that also take pictures (usually better than the phone works for me even when I wear the hearing aids).........Regards!
     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I did it to my poor parents using an 8x10 and a nice sharp Fuji W 300/5.6 lens. After 40 years of photography, I'm still mostly clueless with portraits...unless I treat them as a landscape, I suppose.
     
  11. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Jeez a 9 year old thread... Is the 86 year old still with us?
     
  12. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Mine aren't...but they made it to 92.
     
  13. seezee

    seezee Member

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    X-ray or ortho film, sharp lens, hard key light, high acutance developer.