Film / Developer Combos for portraiture
Has anybody got any suggestions for a film / developer combination for portrait shots. (I don't normally shoot this sort of thing, or if i do its candid and I'm not going to get it in the neck if it isn't complimentary). The likelyhood is it will initially be scanned. If it works nicely I might take it to a darkroom in a few months. I'll be shooting 35mm.
The look needs to be softish, with a smooth / subtle grain structure. I'm thinking DDX mushing up all the grain probably won't be a bad thing. I'm probably going to need around ISO 400 if i want to shoot without a tripod, but I could get one out if results require.
I've got the following in
Rodinal, LC29, ID11, DD-X, Diafine.
Efke 25/50. PanF, Delta 100, TMax 100, Acros, Delta 400, Neospan 400, TMax 400, Delta 400, HP5, Tmax 400, TMax 3200, Delta 3200.
I'm thinking possibly Delta 400 in DD-X might work nicely?
Also, any suggestions on red / yellow filters?
I'd vote for TMax 400 in ID11 straight or 1+1. I've not yet found a film I like in DD-X, and I have no extensive experience with the other developers you've listed.
I think it's always better to start out sharp, and worry about "soft" on the backend, especially if you plan to scan them.
Not so sure about the filters. Blue filters can be used to mimic orthochromatic film, which can look good for men and/or darker-skinned people. Red will make caucasian skin a sickly white that you'd only want to do intentionally, for effect; yellow, maybe less so.
when i shot film for a newspaper i used an awful lot of tmx400 and sprint ( sort of like id11 / d76 )
it is a nice combination ... another good one is tri x and dk50 ( you don't have either of them listed )
old school thoughts
I know it's kind of rare, but I like to do female shots with plus x at ei80, and develop it in microdol x, and then replenish. I am also working on refining doing plus x/fp4 in a well seasoned harveys 777.
my vote is for pan f+ or HP5+ in ID-11.
a nice traditional look. i think the t grain films might be a bit harsh.
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I had excellent luck lately with neopan 400 in DDX. It came out nearly grainless with great tonal range. Also with Tri-X in HC110 dil B (6:45 in a jobo). Grainier, of course. But great character. PanF+ in Sprint (D76 1:1) is good too if you can control the light -- I find its very touchy getting the contrast right.
Originally Posted by Wishy
PanF+ in DD-X, EI25 6.5 minutes
Tried and True. Grainless, smooth, and detailed.
You're going to get as many suggestions as people that reply. All of those films and developers can be used for portraiture. Look anywhere where you can see portraits shot with film and you will find that a lot of people use lots of different films.
Shoot what you're used to shooting, and tweak that combination to your liking (i.e. under- or overexpose, under- or overdevelop, depending on how you want it to look). Are you outdoors, indoors, what kind of lighting, high key, low key????? It all depends. Do you want grain? Do you want smooth? Female or male people? Do you want and edgy look or creamy tones? Sharp or soft focus? There are so many options.
Shoot what you're used to shooting. I won't go into what film looks best as that is a personal choice.
Good luck with the assignment!
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I know I'm going to get a good number of suggestions, thats not a bad thing. A few pointers and I can have a good look through Flickr to see what I think of them. I normally shoot HP5/TriX in LC29 (Similar to HC110) if I need around ISO 400, but I'm normally happy with a certain grittyness. It'll be indoors with domestic lighting, won't be using a flash. Shooting a female, hence I would like smooth tones with subtle but visible grain. I'd like the photo itself to feel like it was sharply in focus, but the film having enough resolution to see every detail wouldn't be something i'd want.
Male or female portrait? IMHO, this make a huge difference in your choice of film/dev.
Male portraits: I like to go with a slow, fine-grain film and dev it in an accutance developer like Rodinal. I like to show all the detail in the face of a male subject. No filters.
For women, I like to go the opposite route. I would pick Tri-XHP-5?Neopan 400 in D-76/ID-11 1+0. This softens the look a bit and women generally like that type of photo. Have you ever met a women who is happy with thier portrait??? A soft-focus filter can be used if yo like.
Ilford's SFX film can make for a great portrait film! I photographed a Lebanese women in trad Lebanese clothing with SFX and an IR filter. Devved it in Rodinal and she loved it! It's grainy, but that what she liked about it as she is not happy with her looks.
There is no bad or good combo, it's all what you desire and there are exceptions to the rules!
Last edited by jim appleyard; 03-03-2008 at 10:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.