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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 is a love letter to the large-format Deardorff view camera, which shoots a negative measuring eight by ten inches. Douglas begins by showcasing a dozen startling and luminescent portraits from his years working in large-format photography, featuring subjects ranging from celebrities such as Nicole Kidman to Australian Aborigines.
Next, Douglas tours the 8x10 large-format camera, showing how to achieve effects such as shallow depth of field and describing the printing potential that such a large negative permits. He then demonstrates a variety of lighting, posing, and styling techniques while photographing both indoors and outdoors at 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 campaign.
I hope you've enjoyed watching my process as I've worked with the 8x10 camera, a very special piece of equipment. And seeing some of the reasons I use it. I love the shallow depth of field or the focus that's misty in the background. Nothing quite matches it. Why does that happen? Mainly because it has such a big piece of film, 8x10 inches. It's about 20x25 centimeters. It's a big piece of film and the aperture of this lens is not that fast, but it gives that shallow depth of field, that mistiness, even at f/5,6. That's the maximum aperture on this lens.
And the people often say to me, if I am doing it, what do I focus on? It's very simple. Always the eyes. Focus on the eyes, you'll never miss. That's what people really want to see. The camera has devices like you have on some 35 millimeter type cameras and medium format swings and tilts. What do you use this for? Well, you can extend the focus if you want and in the back you can to swing it around and you can get correct lines for architecture. All sorts of possibilities.
It's endless anyway. I really would encourage you to try this equipment. But if you don't happen to have an 8x10 available to you, use a 4x5 and work with that. You'll be surprised what you can do or a medium format or a 35 because truthfully, the most important piece of equipment you will ever have is right here in your head. Your mind and your eye. And you only limit yourself by your own creative process and your imagination. So enjoy it and get the most out of photography, as I do everyday and as I work and enjoy it.
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