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  1. #1

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    Tina Barney techniques of shooting "spontaneous" portraits with a 4x5

    Hi there,

    Has anyone seen "Tina Barney: Social Studies" on the Sundance Channel a few weeks ago? The documentary had some footage of her photo shoots for her most recent book, "The Europeans."

    Using a 4x5 and strobes, she is able to shoot as if using a 35mm of medium format camera. I've only been shooting 4x5 (also with electronic strobe) for a few months now but I am still perplexed to understand how she does this. If I'm not mistaken, doesn't the sitter have to stay completely still or the focus will be off?

    Thanks for your help,
    Paolo

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    If you've got enough light, you can stop down to f:22 or smaller, and that's a good amount of DOF for 4x5" portraits without any need for subjects to remain absolutely still.

    When DOF is razor thin, say for available light portraits with 8x10" or larger around f:5.6, I use a string between the tripod and the subject to keep the eyes in focus, and it's very reliable.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  3. #3
    darr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjm1289 View Post
    Hi there,

    Has anyone seen "Tina Barney: Social Studies" on the Sundance Channel a few weeks ago? The documentary had some footage of her photo shoots for her most recent book, "The Europeans."

    Using a 4x5 and strobes, she is able to shoot as if using a 35mm of medium format camera. I've only been shooting 4x5 (also with electronic strobe) for a few months now but I am still perplexed to understand how she does this. If I'm not mistaken, doesn't the sitter have to stay completely still or the focus will be off?

    Thanks for your help,
    Paolo
    I did watch the show, but if I remember correctly, Tina's Linhof was tripod mounted, she had an assistant adjust her camera/lenses, and her subjects were posed. That is not exactly how I shoot with a 35 mm.
    darr almeda
    Recent Work

  4. #4

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    4x5 can be used as a point and shoot even without the flash. you can use ISO400 film and shoot it wide open. under the sun you can even shoot at f/22 handheld with higher ISO film and rangefinder.

  5. #5
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    Dave Goldfarb's string method above is the tried and true one used by portrait photographers for the past hundred years or so...frees one from jumping under the cloth and allows you to engage the subject, eye to eye...as a child I remember a home portrait photographer reaching to my nose with the string with a big grin on his face and then POW he got me in the same big grin! It was a keeper, Mom still has that portrait-me in my cute suit with the little lamb on front...and I am now 61 years of old age.
    [FONT="Arial Black"][/FONT]

  6. #6

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    Ah okay, I've been a big fan of shallow depth of field but I can see myself sacrificing that for shapr images and spotaneity.

    I just Google-d the string technique and I will definitely try it.

    And yes, I remember the tripod too but I think they moved a bit. I don't quite remember but I am going to try her technique next week (without the assistant of course...)

  7. #7
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    Considering press photographers once used 5x4 and rattled off 6 shots in a couple of minutes without breaking into a sweat suggests that it is possible. In fact it should be easier today using electronic flash since one is freed from changing bulbs and only has to rattle a fresh film into use in a Grafmatic back.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  8. #8

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    Craig McDean uses an 8x10 and a 4x5 to shoot fashion models. Usually studio set-ups with strobes. Basically, the strobe speed is your shutter speed. All the shutter on the lens does is control the ratio of flash to ambient in your exposure. So the fast (short time) of the strobe firing freezes the subject. If the subject moved a great deal, then you could get ghosting, or fuzzy edges.

    Just because a 4x5 lens has an f22 setting, doesn't mean you need to use it. However, some people are easier to work with than others. When you find a possibly more difficult subject, then use a setting giving greater DOF. When you have someone better at taking direction, then open up that aperture. Just as an example, I have done many shots at f8.0 or f11.0, instructing the talent to only move along the plane of focus, one example here. That shot was with a two light set-up, ambient room (studio) light, and f8.0 on a 135mm lens (Fuji Astia 100F Quickload); shutter speed was 1/8 second to allow the room lighting to burn in more.

    To set-up a shot like that, you can either draw a line upon which the talent can move, or you can give them reference points along the sides of where they are standing (outside camera lens view. If you want to do headshots, then have your talent (subject) sit in a chair to keep the distance better controlled. If you use swing on the camera at set-up, then you can have your talent align or more along a line at an angle to the camera.

    Then you can stand behind the camera, or like I prefer to one side of the camera. What I prefer is interacting with the talent, and when a stance is to my liking I will trip the shutter. Then another Quickload (or Readyload) and the next shot can happen at a short interval. While the pace is still slower than with rollfilm cameras, it can go quickly if you have an assistant to handle the film packets. I find that the relaxed pace makes for a unique interaction that brings out something different in the final image. While I have tried this technique with regular people, I have far better results with actors, actresses, and models; all of whom take directions well and somewhat understand what I am trying to achieve.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography

  9. #9

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    Here's a picture I shot on 4x5 (kodak 400nc). I used 14 individual metz 60 series strobes and about 3,000 watts of hotlights. The picture was made during magic hour which warranted an exposure of 1/400th of a second. I actually had to power the metz's down inorder to achieve a shorter exposure. If I was as loaded as Ms. Barney I'd probably replace them with a 10k broncolor set-up...but that wouldn't be as much fun now would it?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails bmx.jpg  

  10. #10
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Cool shot. I bet the Metz strobes probably stopped the bicycle in midair more easily than a Broncolor setup would, unless you could do it with lots of heads at low power to keep the flash duration short (like Lois Greenfield does with her dancers in midair).
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

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