Black Subjects : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

This is not just a LF ? But I have more difficulty with this problem when I'm using LF. I shoot a lot of Industrial work for documentation. So in general the subject is a process or piece of equipment and any indivduals that end up in the photo are just incedental and of no general importance to the finished photo. This is where LF really shows it's superiority. My problem is that I usually try to give a copy of the prints to anyone who was in the photo(release trade)and they are usually very thankful. My problem is when the indivual(s) are are Blacks. Because I have to expose for the actual Subject(not the person)the finished prints have all of the LF wonder but I almost allways loose the detail in thier faces(sometimes to the extent that you can not tell who they are). These are usually men and they have a great deal caracter and whould add to the finished print, plus I would just like to be able to give them a print they can take home and show their families that shows who they are. I asked a friend who is Black and a profesional photographer(he only shoots 35mm) and he had no sugestions except to offer that he doesn't think it has as much efect in 35mm because he feels the mind of the viewer fills in a lot of the blanks since we are not talking about the extreem detail and enlargement as in LF where this is an issue.

Any help or suggestions?


-- R. (Mac) McDonald (, July 01, 2000


Hi Mac,

All you are lacking is enough and proper lighting on these subjects. I understand that these individuals are secondary to what you are actually shooting, so knowing in advance that you may want to provide good and recognizeable prints for these people, you may want to make another exposure for that purpose. I have found that good fill light does the job. Better yet, if you know of a very dark skinned person who can pose for you, do some experimantation with lighting and exposure to see what happens. I'm sure you will nail it...


-- Jim B. (, July 01, 2000.

Mac is there any way you can use fill-in flash or large reflector boards and shoot Polaroids to see the effect. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, July 01, 2000.

Have you tried dodging the faces of the subject? Fill flash is a good way of giving extra luminosity to the subject but may detract from the industrial setting. Try and make a snoot for you fill flash so that just the subjects face is lit up with the extra light. James

-- james (, July 01, 2000.

years ago i made my living doing model portfollios. i was sent a man who did a lot of runway work for nike and nordstrom. and latter print work. he was dark skinned. so.. i used a yellow filter hoya k2 adjusted for filter factor[2stops?] and opened up one stop after that. i used agfa 100 so this made the EI 12. my standard development was with rodinal 75-1 at 75deg. for 7min. agitate first 30 and 5sec. every 30 thereafter. this put the skin tone up in the ZV range, which you can vary with dev. or printing through. The agencey was pleased as was the model who began refering his friends to me for potraits. i may still have a print, if your interested i scan one to you. hope this helps

-- richard hill (, July 07, 2000.

In 35mm photography you usually have to use the absolute minimum exposure possible to control the grain. Grain increases as exposure increases. In 4x5, the grain is not much of a problem. You may only have to increase your exposure.

Of course, if you have the individual in an unlit area, you will want to use fill light (flash, reflector, etc.)to avoid gross overexposure.

If you have an extreme contrast range you may want to consider compensating development, or 2-bath processing such as highly dilute developers, Divided D-23, Divided D-76, Diafine, etc.

-- Charlie Strack (, July 07, 2000.

Thanks for all of the responses and sorry for not getting back soon, I had to go out of town. After reading the responses I realized that I should have been more detailed in my question. The real question is what novel ideas do you have if, 1)"in the interest of safty no flash will be used", 2)"production will not be disrupted by asking individual workers to pose, unless requested in the purchase order",and to answer your questions and sugestions. I have had a little sucsess using a small gold reflector( but it is real noticable in the end result because of over exposure of the area around the face), I have often woundered if there is a Battery powered(no power cords can be used) flash that can be focused. And in regards to dodging aside for the difficulties, it is usually beyond the range of my film and paper combo's. And lastly I have had numerous sitings with "dark skinned individuals" and have no dificulty at all, in fact almost allways end up with great results.

Thanks again for any sugestions.

-- R. (Mac) McDonald (, July 09, 2000.

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