Techniques for LF self-portraits
I'm interested in doing some self-portraits on my 5x7 camera but I'm trying to brainstorm ways to focus it. The lens I have mounted right now is an old petzval projection lens without any stops, or even a slot for them, so I'll have to make due with it wide open. I'd thought about focusing on somebody else then switching places with them but if I have another person around I may as well just have them focus the camera! What methods have you folks who've done this before used?
Also, any suggestions on how to make the exposure, especially since there is no shutter? My two ideas are to use another person (again presuming I have or want one around) and to take the shot in a darkened room using a footswitch to turn on the lights for the duration of the exposure.
If you don't a shutter, might I suggest homemade drop shutter . . .
I have taken photographs with a homemade 8x10 by turning the lights on and off. It's as effective as a shutter. But, those were paper negatives and the exposures took a long time, ie; minutes.
You can also make your own stops and place them in front or behind the lens. It should work fine. For sharpness, the thinner the material and the more perfect the hole the better. But don't stop there, you can make stops any shape you desire . . .square, oval, triangle, star shaped, or the common circle. Experiment, and have fun.
Last edited by DannL; 05-26-2009 at 10:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí
Two tips -
1. Get a packard shutter that you can front - mount to the lens. You can control the exposure with the squeeze bulb from your sitting position.
2. For focusing, there's the string method. Put an object in the position you want to be in when you take the photo. Attach a piece of string to the front of the camera. Pull the string to the object, and when taught, tie a knot in the string so that the knot marks the exact distance between the camera and subject. Focus the camera. Then remove the object, put yourself in its place, and then position yourself so that whatever part of your face/body you want to be the point of focus is the same distance from the camera as measured by the knot in the string.
I don't think you need to teach the string anything, Scott. You only have to make sure that it's taut.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
Some strings need to be taut a lesson or two.
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A longer piece of string can be run over something out of the field of view above, and used to hang a small object (like a hex nut) at about nose level. Focus on that, adjust as appropriate to have the eyes in sharpest focus, and position yourself accordingly. Just before exposure, pull on the string so that the focusing target leaves the field of view. As long as you don't move the camera in relation to the string position, you can make picture after picture.
Now, would this be a "self-portrait thread" ?
Or are you just trying to string us along?
projection lens with no stops and film ...
how about not having a ton of light
and a longish exposure ... focus on a box
or something in your seat before hand ( that is what i do )
and if the exposure is long enough it won't even know you sat down
and got up
speaking of string, another option is to have something on a string to drop in front of your lens.
release the string when the time is up. ... kind of like a manual shutter outside your lens ...
I usually just put up a light stand or something focus on that then step in with a bulb release and try to not look TO STUPID in the self portrait.
Thanks for the tips everyone! We'll see how they work out. I made a stop out of some cardboard and duct tape, but I'll also try it wide open. The film is Adox CHS 25 (Efke PL25) so it won't be too hard to get a long exposure in dim light. I'll let you all know how it works out! In the meantime, more ideas are always appreciated!