LF portraits of babies
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?
Just do it whenever you're ready.
Here's my partner with our daughter, Mieke, only 24 hours old, on 4x5".
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.
I have a 5-week-old, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart at the moment.
Originally Posted by DrPablo
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.
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--
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--
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--
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--
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
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.
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.