Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Shooting with an 8x10 Camera

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Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Shooting with an 8x10 Camera
Video duration: 0s 40m 19s Appropriate for all


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.


Course highlights

The tradition of this camera goes back to the beginnings of photography. It's an 8x10 Deardorff. We find that in this large camera it's almost impossible to overexpose a negative. That may seem extreme, but in other words, put a lot of exposure. When in doubt overexpose with these big cameras. But again you see that now I've got a little more fill here and it has softened these lines quite a bit. In other words, I would say this is a more successful image immediately than this.

So here are the chromes and negatives and we want to digitize them. Different ways of doing it, but a simple and quick way that we have worked out is working with our copy-stand. What Jeremy is going to do here is photograph these and what we will do is inverse it. So here we have our image and in Photoshop I come down to the Invert. Suddenly, now Charlie is one of us. Watch this. This was Charlie as we got him a minute ago. Here he is now! Cool! Isn't it? All the magic we would have never imaged just 20 years ago.

Look at that everybody! You see, you've got this wonderful detail precise in his eyes. That is sharp, sharp, sharp. You have this softness that melts in it. So it's so fluid and beautiful.

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