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DrPablo
05-27-2008, 02:10 PM
I've had all kinds of ambitions of taking 4x5 and 8x10 pictures of our new baby who is now 7 weeks old. But I haven't even bothered with the view cameras until today. It's just hard to get a meaningful composition when he's sitting in a car seat or swing seat or bouncy chair, and I don't want to spend a lot of LF film on mediocre pictures.

Does anyone have advice or some examples of how to get good LF pictures of infants this age?

argus
05-27-2008, 02:17 PM
Just do it whenever you're ready.

Here's my partner with our daughter, Mieke, only 24 hours old, on 4x5".

SuzanneR
05-27-2008, 02:24 PM
They sleep a lot in those early months!! Once they start toddling.. it's very hard! Just be patient. Have someone read a book to them... maybe splashing around a small wading pool...

It's not easy, and you may find medium format a little easier. Hope that helps.

ntenny
05-27-2008, 02:25 PM
Does anyone have advice or some examples of how to get good LF pictures of infants this age?

I have a 5-week-old, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart at the moment.

The best answer I've come up with is to do environmental portraits, do my metering and focussing and so on before even trying to get the subject involved, and have assistants. The last is really important because of the "setting" issues you mentioned---if there isn't someone else to wrangle the baby, then he has to be in a car seat or swing or something, or else I have to very quickly pose him in one of the few "safe" settings available and hope he manages to look good, while holding still enough to avoid motion blur, without any help. An assistant can either be in the picture themselves, or be in charge of posing the baby and then "rescuing" him immediately after the shot.

I attach a sample, though I certainly wouldn't promote it as a technically perfect work of artistic genius!

Alternatively, specialise in portraits of *sleeping* babies. :-)

Any way you slice it, I think LF portraiture with a noncooperative subject is Just Plain Hard. I'm interested to see what suggestions other people have.

-NT

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2149/2510349330_df6aaf14b8.jpg

David A. Goldfarb
05-27-2008, 02:54 PM
Hurry up and do it while you can! I thought the bouncy seat worked pretty well around that age. I would set him up in it and orient him in an attractive way toward the window to avoid using strobes.

This was with the 8x10" Sinar P, 4x5" sliding back, and a 6x7cm rollfilm back (sounds like overkill, but it was set up on a studio stand, so it was the handiest camera I had at the moment) at 15 days old--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/20.jpg

8x10" Sinar P and 4x5" sliding back again, this time with a Polaroid holder and Type 55, and a modified Busch Vademecum lens in shutter so it has a larger maximum aperture than the barrel, producing that diffuse focus effect. In the bouncer again at about six weeks--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/21.jpg

The sliding back is a big help with this.

Here's one in the stroller with the 4x5" Tech V, DaYi 6x17 back, 150/4.5 Xenar, handheld using rangefinder focus. Close focus produced a little vignetting with this back, so it's more like 6x15.5 cm than 6x17--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/23.jpg

Once the baby can move around, I recommend an SLR with rack-and-pinion focusing (Graflex, RB67, Rollei SL66, etc.). I was using my Bronica S2a for a while, thinking it would be easier than LF, and then realized that the bellows was easier to focus than the helical (these are interchangeable on an S2a), and the chimney finder was brighter and quicker to use than a prism or waist level finder. In other words, I turned it into a medium format Graflex, so I switched to the 5x7" Press Graflex, which I now think is the ideal camera for toddlers. Here's one at about 14.5 months. The lens is the 210/3.5 Xenar, probably wide open or close to it--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/who/32.jpg

Shangheye
05-27-2008, 02:59 PM
At 7 weeks she will only be lying down. Try hanging interesting coloured toys off the camera to grab her attention to look in that direction, or a squeky toy to squeeze just before releasing the shutter to make her look in that direction...alternatively...images of sleeping babies are always cute..;-)K

df cardwell
05-27-2008, 03:34 PM
David: awesome.

David A. Goldfarb
05-27-2008, 03:36 PM
Thanks, DF.

Struan Gray
05-27-2008, 05:09 PM
It's easier to illustrate how *not* to do it :-)

MF, not LF, but my best portrait-style shots of small babies have been taken with them in a seat or rocker, inclined at a 30-45 angle. Not so steep that they slump, and not so flat on their backs that they get that jowly old man look. Place them on an heirloom shawl, plonk the whole lot down somewhere with even lighting, and arrange the camera so you are looking at them straight-on. Do you're best 'mad dad' look and snap while they chuckle.

For less formal shots, it helps to have a distraction. Feeding, baby massage, sleep or a machine that goes ping all help.

Stephanie Brim
05-29-2008, 08:07 PM
I have one in a dark slide of Rinoa that I haven't developed yet. I'm scared to because I'm pretty sure she moved and it was close to wide open...don't know if I got the shot.

Now that Rinoa is almost 6 months old, it presents a whole new set of problems. She sits still for less than 5 seconds at a time. She gets into everything. She can't crawl yet, but she's doing this funny circling thing when she's sitting...sometimes it moves her a couple feet as well. Portraits are generally with a 35mm (because I can't get her to sit still) and my 58mm f/1.4 Minolta lens. May try another LF photo as soon as I can.

DrPablo
05-30-2008, 05:49 AM
Great info everyone, I appreciate it (as well as the examples). I think you're right that I need to get over my inhibition and just do it while I still have the chance. I like the suggestion of draping a nice blanket over the car seat or bouncy seat to make a better backdrop.

I gave it a go the other day. This is 8x10 HP5+ rated at 800 and pushed two stops. I also shot it on 8x10 Astia, but it was just too slow for the lighting.

df cardwell
05-30-2008, 06:35 AM
Edward Weston used to practise setting his 8x10 camera up quickly.
He knew that making a portrait, or landscape, often meant performing in fleeting conditions,
and there was no time to waste. He reduced the process to the fewest possible motions, and
worked hard to perform them quickly and consistently. This is a hint.

Old portrait studios used a pieces of string tied to lights, and to the camera, to be able to quickly position the various gadgets needed to make a picture.

Solve the photographic problem before you ask the baby to play with you. Watch baby sleep, sit, do what babies do. Make snaps with a little d*g*cam, study the picture. If you are committed to the non-d*g*tal life, sketch the child. Remember the point of the exercise is to "make a photo of the child", not "look at a baby through a view camera".

Practise with the camera, laying a teddy bear (or a rolled up sweater or pillow) on a table.
Here is where you sort out the angle of the camera, the lens, etc. When you get the image size
correct, tie a piece of string to your lens with a knot that touches the cheek or the nose of the teddy bear.

Now, the only adjustments you need to do to your camera is to raise or lower the tripod, and either slide the tripod to the the baby until the string touches, or slide baby to the camera.

Now, you're ready to practise with the cat.
Adjust your part of THAT comedy until you can do it.

Now, go have fun. Share the pictures.

.

benjiboy
06-08-2008, 04:44 PM
All this is most informative to me because child photography is one of my particular interests, I have never used large format, in fact the first two words that occurred to me when I read the title of the thread was hammer and nails ! but that's maybe when they get older.

P C Headland
06-08-2008, 09:21 PM
This is one of those times where a press camera comes into its own.

I've shot several sheets of our young child with my MPP Microtechnical camera. Set the focus, then with an aperture of around f8 and suitable shutter speed (according to film speed), use the RF to confirm the focus. Framing can be a bit loose, since there is plenty of film real-estate to play with.

I'm sure that using the string option would work too, especially if the end of the string had something nice a bright to get the child's attention. Have the camera pre-focused, pull the string away at the last moment and shoot.

kombizz
07-06-2008, 12:51 PM
I've had all kinds of ambitions of taking 4x5 and 8x10 pictures of our new baby who is now 7 weeks old. But I haven't even bothered with the view cameras until today. It's just hard to get a meaningful composition when he's sitting in a car seat or swing seat or bouncy chair, and I don't want to spend a lot of LF film on mediocre pictures.

Does anyone have advice or some examples of how to get good LF pictures of infants this age?

simply use your moment to take a nice and relax shot.