Post updated, lead photo referred to in the text.
Inspired by a workshop with Calumet I partcipated in yesterday I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you. The workshop had a long-winded title, but basically it was about black and white portrait photography in these modern times of digital photography. In fact, I was the only one with film in the camera.
In the first part of the workshop, we heard a lengthy introduction on the technical side of black and white digital photography. The Zone System is worthless here, and I can believe it. See, you can apply a “film” curve at almost any stage in the process, and some response characteristics of the medium are set without you being able to influence it (demosaicing, for example). As time went on, I was getting fidgety and thought by myself: “Why be so hard on yourself? Put a film in camera and be done with this crap!” Of course, it isn’t so easy. You gotta have a tried and tested processing chain, you have to know your film and it’s tonality in combination with a specific developer.
The workshop instructor was quite candid about sensor noise and film grain, too. The one opinion that stuck in my mind was that film grain can only be simulated approximately, never realistically.
The second part of the workshop was a protrait photo session with a model. We strove for a high-key effect here. The big difference between the course members with DSLRs and me with my F1 New with TMY400 in it was the strategy. They wanted and got files that didn’t throw away important information and could be tweaked to high-key in post-processing. I needed to get it right in-camera. So, though the studio strobe setup was measured for ISO 100, I kept my FD f/1.2 85 mm L at the same f-stop as my colleagues. An overexposure of more than 2 EV, as Kodak TMY400 the way I develop it in Diafine gets to an E.I. of 500.
We’ll see how this turns out, but I’m confident that I’ll get the intended washed-out effect. I know that TMY400 can take quite a bit of overexposure and hold on to details in the highlights, simply compressing them. I’ll show results in this post once I get home to develop and scan the film.
Update:After looking through the pictures from the workshop (see above), I’m glad this gasconade goes unpunished.