Death Becomes Her – A Paradox Portrait Shot with an 8×10 Camera

by davidbrommer

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

I have one fear, and that is to shoot my beloved portraits with an 8×10 camera. I fear being able to focus, I fear not be able to see as I do with a reflex view, I fear the time it takes to focus, pull the dark cloth, load the film, pull the dark slide, and finally make the exposure. What if the model moves in that time and the focus is so shallow that I miss the mark?

“First world 8×10 Film Shooter’s problems”

So I played it safe and stuck to landscapes. But when I set up my 10 Hours Walking as a Goth photoshoot I decided to face my fears and start the video shoot with a still shot. Camera of choice being a 8×10 Deardorff loaded with Ilford FP4. We started the shoot late, and the sun was setting early in mid November. I pushed the FP4 to 400 iso (two stops from its native 125) and opened up the Kodak Commercial 14 inch f6.8 all the way. Using a Pentax Digi Spot I arrived at 100th of a second wide open. My assistant held a 32″ Silver Reflector to try to direct the anemic light while giving a little fill to Paradox’s magnetic eyes.  I miss-placed the heavy duty cable release that is needed for that behemoth of a lens and had to hand trip the shutter. This photoshoot had all the hallmarks of a crappy outcome.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

But an amazing thing happened, out of the two plates I made, one worked. I’d say I nailed the focus by a tight margin, but what really got me was the amazing bokeh. That huge herkin’ Kodak 14 inch lens wide open is smoother than a newborn babies but!

I scanned the Ilford FP4 negs on a Epson 3600 perfection using Silverfast AI software. Then using PS I retouched the image and applied Nik Silver EFX to fine tune the black and white. The detail when working with such a large negative is positively sick and allows for extreme cropping with little to no loss.

Detail of 10% of the 8x10 negative.

Detail of 10% of the 8×10 negative.

 

If you like Paradox, then check out the short viral video I produce with her shot in November of 2014.

I’m hooked on 8×10 Portraits and shall be shooting and posting more soon.

~David

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