Deep focus. Black and white.


busting away from shallow depth of field and trying to get more detail in the frame.

It's something I thought I'd try. 

It was raining earlier this morning but when I got out for a walk with an SL and a 35mm lens the sun had burst through the clouds and the high temperature for the day was around 72° 

Too hot for the light jacket I brought with me. 

I worked mostly at f8 - f11 today. Manual exposure. Riding the shutter speed dial.
ISO set at 400. I found myself liking the lens but wishing it had a non-focus-by-wire manual focus capability because at f11 it could certainly be a candidate for hyperfocal focusing.
Or guess focusing. Or, as has become common use: "zone focusing." 

Then I realized that the SL will show you exactly the point of focus numerically in the window on the top panel of the camera, as well as the minimum distance and maximum distances that will be in acceptable focus. I tried it at ten feet and it worked!!! You put a slight pressure on the shutter 
release while you manually focus the lens. You can see a digital read out right in
front of your eyes. And it works.

Now...back to the studio for more work on two upcoming portraits. Gotta get dialed back in.

This is a Jpeg right out of the camera. I darkened it a bit. This is how my SL sees daylight
monochrome. I like it.

Dear God, I hate pick-up trucks. Will you please destroy them all in the upcoming
apocalypse? That would be nice. Anything you can do sooner, specifically to 
pick-up trucks, would be welcome....

A funny sign on a bench out in front of a tattoo studio. 

Really? Maybe not...

When an ADA ramp is the most interesting thing to photograph on a given 
day it might be time to take a break from downtown and find a new 
extension to my photographic hobby....

Last night I met Tom. He owns Bergen Camera in New Jersey. 
His store is a huge Leica dealer. Their showroom is a stone's 
throw from Leica's North American H.Q. 

He was really interesting because his first passion isn't Leica
cameras it's collecting fine art photography. And shooting

My Austin friend, David, showed up at the same party. 
He was sporting a Leica Q2 "Ghost" edition camera 
and had a small flash on the top. I looked at his "party pix."
Flash and camera worked flawlessly together. 

Imagine that. Using what most consider a "collector's item" Leica as 
a daily carry camera and banging away at a party with it. 

Not all Leica Ghost owners are collectors or dentists....

David is quite an accomplished film maker but since 
I'm not his agent I won't bother mentioning anything else...

Studio reset. Moving backwards in time. Re-embracing bigger flash again...

 I've spent the last few years photographing portraits predominately with LED lighting. It's a nice way to work because you can see exactly what you are getting as you progress through a shoot. Lately I've been going through older portraits that I really like and noting how they were shot (helps as a commercial photographer to keep little notebooks with quick sketches and descriptions of your lighting set-ups).  

It seems that most of my favorites were actually done with electronic flash. That was a revelation to me. But everything is a trade off, right?

What I found I was missing is exactly what flash used to provide; the ability to know that you've frozen subject and camera movement and the ability to use both smaller apertures and lower ISOs. It's a different look. Sharper in the details because of getting closer to the sweet spot of a lens, and a different tonality caused by the lower ISOs and a different noise profile in the images. 

In the run-up to my big Abbott (medical products+poeple) shoot in the Fall I was torn between using LEDs (which had become second nature to me...) and falling back to using flash. 

I'd sold most of my bigger flashes in favor of a small and lightweight flash system I could more easily travel with. That travel kit includes three of the Godox AD200 Pro lights and a bunch of their different heads and modifiers. It's a great system for on the road. But I felt like I needed more power to punch into a big 47 inch octabox with added diffusion on the front of it. For a big, soft and inefficient box I wanted something twice as powerful in one light. I also wanted a real modeling light instead of the small LED that the AD200s use. It's one of the trade-offs of the AD200s battery power supply; the need to conserve power.

I had one bigger electronic flash fixture in the studio. It's the Godox DP400mk3. That fixture puts out 400 watt seconds of flash, has a 150 watt tungsten modeling light and is solidly built with a metal body and an in-built cooling fan. They are pretty inexpensive. You can buy them new from B&H for about $200. The light has a full complement of controls and a full power recycle time of one second. 

Since I was on the fence in my pre-production and was nearing a coin toss to decide between flash and continuous lighting I thought it prudent to buy a second DP400iii since my imagined lighting design pretty much demanded two big flashes to the front of the set and then lower powered direct flashes to illuminate the white background. I ordered the second light from B&H but ended up taking the other path and using Nanlite LED fixtures for the project. The shoot was very successful but I'm reasonable certain we would have been able to pull it off just fine whichever lighting method we went with. 

So, now I have this body of work that I've re-discovered that I really like and want to extend. The portraits I shot in the film days and pre-continuous light days of digital. It seems based on the use of a single, big main light of electronic flash, with a big modifier, augmented by a second light to bring up the backgrounds. And now I just happen to have several almost unused flash instruments to play with. 

I've spent part of this weekend back in the studio setting up the flashes and experimenting with the light in order to get back to a style I did almost non-stop back in the 1990s. I didn't realized it at the time but each type of lighting is a style in itself even if you use exactly the same modifiers, in the same placements, to shoot with. I say I didn't realize it but really I was just letting my impulsive desire for constant change over ride my logical sensibilities. That, and trying to find one type of light that would work equally well with photography and video...

None of this is "all or nothing." I'm not suddenly going to try something like a new approach to street photograph by adding flash to the mix (not yet, at any rate). But I am gearing up to go backwards in the studio and reconnect with all the things I liked about shooting in the studio with flash. 

Now that the numbers for Covid have dropped into the low category in Austin, and there is a general decline in community transmission in the county, I am more comfortable inviting people back into the studio. Here we go again. 

Addendum: Many of the images I've looked through come from the days when I shot with four different cameras that all had one thing in common. I worked, serially, with the Bronica SQ-Ai, the various Hasselblads, the Mamiya 6 cameras and the Rollei 6008i systems. The one feature all of them had in common was the square, 1:1, 6x6cm aspect ratio and image size. And it's a geometric format I love to photograph with for portraits. 

To that end I'm currently working with the Leica SL2 and shooting it in the square format. If the portrait project stays with me and I with it I'll almost certainly start looking at which 100 megapixel medium format system might work well for this kind of work. Cropped to squares, of course. The cost of a Fuji GFX100S body is less than that of the SL2 so it's not a tremendous reach. And the lenses are even more of a bargain. I'd like to print large but I'll see what I can get out of the SL2 while banging away with flash and ISO 100. Might be all I need....

Hope your Sunday is going well.