Photography Arts | Field Notes |

October 22, 2019

Conceptual Photography | Materials | Analogue Medium & Large Format photography


Notes on practical work completed with Medium Format, Large Format and analogue printing as possibilities for my Materials project.

Studio experiments with Medium Format

I chose to shoot portraits, close up with the lens wide open. I wanted to see how Medium Format can achieve a very narrow depth of field. I created a low key set up with two modelling lights and a dark backdrop.

Medium and Large Format is of special interest to me at this point because of the level of detail possible. The detail achievable in a print is beyond all but the most expensive digital cameras, which makes it an attractive creative option when the desired result is a super-high res image that can be printed digitally at large scale. There are also opportunities to combine the analogue process with the digital—either digitally printing large scale prints by digitising the negatives using a film scanning service, or shooting digitally and having negatives made so that prints can be developed using analogue processes.

Shooting digitally and having negatives made offers the possibility of analogue printing with a digital or digitally manipulated image. The analogue printing process results in unique one-off prints and possibilities for creative expression in terms of printing technique, paper choice, enlargement technique or Liquid Light.

Medium Format notes

  • To understand lens equivalence between Medium Format and full frame, take the Medium Format focal length, halve it and add a bit, so 50mm on a Medium Format is roughly equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full frame camera.
  • Multiple magazines of film can be loaded with different ISO and these can be 'hot swapped', this is how you change the ISO you're shooting with.
  • Set the ISO on the viewfinder.
  • Measure light with a light meter.

Studio shoot notes

  • Light meter set to ambient light
  • 60th sec shutter for working with modelling lights
  • 6x4.5 film loaded in the magazine
  • ISO 400 to match the film in the magazine

Light modifier choice

  • Snoot—directional, best used angled, not frontal
  • Honeycombs—harsh and directional
  • Softbox—with 50mm lens, can't be too near subject because if it is the background will not be black

Two lights modified with a snoot (left) and honeycomb (right) for a dramatically lit portrait.

Practicing loading medium format film onto spirals

Research material

Paints to prepare paper

Making watery washes

Preparing Bockingford for later coating with Silver Gelatin Emulsion

The red colour positions in anticipation of the portrait just shot

The final print on Bockingford, hand painted in acrylic prepared with Silver Gelatin Emulsion

Conclusions and next steps

The introduction to Silver Gelatin Emulsion and the work with medium and large format film cameras informed much of my decision making. I was keen to engage in the analogue process and work with Silver Gelatin Emulsion. My next step will be to find a way to make some negatives to work with, either by shooting on film or shooting digitally and having negatives made.

Download PDF
Download PDF