Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Shooting with a Medium-Format Camera
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.
(music playing) Today I'd like to show you some of my portrait work done with medium format film. Through the past 20 years, I've photographed individuals like this for Eastman Kodak for their On Film series. It's used in various places, but American Cinematographer is one of the magazines that you'll always find a cover, a back cover rather, from this work. A camera like this is a little different than what you are accustomed to seeing.
For one thing, we are looking straight down like that, and you might have a little trouble at first with it, because things tend to move the opposite way, because there is mirror inside here that you are looking at. I want you to come with us as we spend the afternoon working with a great cinematographer who's renowned and a legend in the world of motion pictures. His name is Owen Roizman. This is our blocking shot, so to speak, but this basically shows you what our square one is. Oh, what you did, I just observed what you did there. Yeah, I love that.
I love that. Yes, yes, yes. This is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I just saw a natural move and it's a wonderful one. I love that. I am coming in tight. Pull your glasses off and just hold them near your face, if you don't mind. Drop them a little there in front of your face, Yes, yes, yes. Nice, nice, nice, nice. I had to bring his hand in again to fit the format, and again you get this wonderful warmth again that you can get with film. You can't quite match that any other way. And then it goes on to the final image.
I feel it all works. It's the look of the direct light on Owen, and it's really a profile, and again I just watched the light come into his eyes, and I feel that for me is the success of this image. (music playing)
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