8.23.2009

Sometimes available light is just fine with me.



I was doing a brochure for a non-profit here in Austin. The assignment was to photograph kids in an enrichment program. At a certain age most kids are cute. We were trying to make them look hyper cute so that even crusty old curmudgeons would think twice before cutting funding for the program. Oddly enough I was shooting with a Pentax 6x7 film camera and color negative film. I might have wanted some fill flash but the mechanics of the large focal plane shutter on the "Pentax on Steroids" meant that the fastest sync speed was 1/30th of a second.

I opted to "zone system" my exposure by over exposing the color neg film by a full stop and having my lab pull the development time by 20%.

As you can imagine, four, five and six year olds on a playground move at a speed that would take a NASCAR driver's breath away. While it may seem impossible to those raised on high speed autofocus and built in Image Stabillization we routinely manually focused fast moving subjects while hand holding fat cameras back in the old days.

Was there a reward for that? I can't say for sure but I know I really like the way the depth of field falls off just past the front little boy's head. I know I had to edit through many fewer frames to find keepers and, I know that my arm muscles were toned.

I shot this project with two of the Pentax 67 bodies. A 150mm 2.8 on one body and a 55mm on a second body. One old incident light meter around my neck. No lighting. No assistants. No entourage. Just pure photography.

Had to get it right in the camera though because we went straight to the print.

One of my favorite kid photos.

9 comments:

Marshall said...

The DOF drop is gorgeous.

Random question: did you/do you ever find that the AF/non-AF/Many AF-points/few AF points affects how you compose?

(I do unless or until I remind myself that I'm making the picture and the camera *hopefully* isn't as good at aesthetic judgment as I am...)

kirk tuck said...

Thanks Marshall, and yes I agree that the AF points do push me to make certain compositions unless I really pay attention. But the older manual focus cameras were just as bad because all the focusing aids were smack dab in the middle of the finder....

Marshall said...

Thanks for the response. I hear ya. I do remember that first camera with the one spot. "Well this MUST be a good place for the subject."

Lee said...

Beautiful portrait ;) He' just soooo cute.

kirk tuck said...

Love the look of overexposed, underdeveloped color negative film. Printed with some contrast.

none said...

You nailed to hope and promise that is every child and why they are the most important "resource" we have.

Anonymous said...

That is the wonderful and hopeful image I've seen of a young child in years. Thank you for posting it. Warms the heart.

Anonymous said...

Time to invest in a 90mm or 165mm leaf shutter lens if you want faster flash sync.

kirk tuck said...

Sadly, that camera is long gone, left on the bank of the stream of dissipating time and picked up by someone else.