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In the Douglas Kirkland on Photography series, well-known photographer Douglas Kirkland explores a variety of real-world photographic scenarios, sharing technique insights and critiquing the results.
This installment follows Douglas as he creates a portrait for Kodak's On Film series, which features portraits of directors, cinematographers, and other major players in the film industry. Douglas has shot nearly 250 portraits for this series over the past 20 years.
The course begins with a discussion of the unique qualities of film—its clarity, definition, and tonal range—and of film's enduring importance in today's digital world. Next, Douglas tours the Mamiya RZ67 medium-format camera, demonstrating its components and comparing its format to 35mm film. He then demonstrates a variety of lighting, posing, and styling techniques while photographing Owen Roizman, an award-winning cinematographer, in the Kirkland studio in Los Angeles, California.
The course concludes with a critique of the resulting photographs. Douglas also shows how he resized and cropped the image to fit a print advertisement.
In publishing you have to think of the final destination of your image. I want to give you an example. We start with a template on the Kodak series, and frankly, what we do is this helps us recompose and get the refinement of the final image. I give you as an example, we have a mask, a channel mask, which is here. Now what this means is the picture will fit into this precise area, and that's what we are working around. And this is really quite empowering and wonderful to be able to do this.
This is like a dream for me, because this did not always exist. So there is the image, the final retouched image that I have all the way I like. Now we can put this into the ad, and there you have it, but what I don't like is that it's too big, but we still have the capability of moving it around and recomposing. For example, we can make it smaller. Now, this works better, and we have space to put his signature across the bottom, which we need to do. And again, you're seeing this kind, beautiful face right in the center where I like it.
Great, it is so empowering, and these are the best of times, and again, with the 6x7 format, you have such capability. I want to show you something else that's really wonderful and truly exciting. See that picture we had there a second ago? We have the capability to recompose it, and we can enlarge it without any real loss, because we're starting with this large piece of film, by today's terms, and we can bring it up. You have no grain, or noise if you prefer, and no deterioration of image because probably this piece of film was even bigger than 35 millimeter, coming from a medium format in the beginning.
So we have the image here, as I love, except there's one thing that I care about, artistically. I know that something isn't quite right because this line here, from a composition standpoint, should commence right here and come up here, but we can do that. We can rotate the image. We have all that capability. It's quite extraordinary what we can do, and again this is a result of starting with a medium format image, and this is where the richness and power is of what we have available to us today.
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