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Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex
  
 
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #1 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


I've been on a bit of a film binge lately. I was down town shooting with my Rolleiflex 2.8E a month or so ago... anytime the Rollei comes out, I can barely walk 10 feet without someone stopping me to talk about the camera... Some times it's people who have never shot film, and are just intrigued by the interesting look of a TLR... other times it's old time shooters who have fond memories of shooting with Rollei's and appreciate the iconic status the the Rollei TLR's attained. On this particular day I was shooting in a very narrow alley way, and an older guy stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me holding it. We immediately struck up a lively conversation on all things photography and mostly pining over our shared love of film. He shared stories of shooting punk bands and bicycle racing in the 80's... both of which are also near and dear to my heart as well. This was also the first time I had ever taken a flash on a light stand and umbrella with me while street shooting... So after 10 or 15minutes of chatting with this guy, I asked if he would let me take his portrait... I quickly set up my flash and took a couple of frames... he then said he might have some accessories for the Rollei at his place, which were of no use to him... he lived close by and I was enjoying chatting with him so I walked along and we continued our conversation... The guy was older, I don't know exactly, but I would say ~60-ish... and living on medical dissability cheques, so he was living a fairly modest life. As it turns out the small apartment he was living in was an old commercial darkroom, which he still had set up and used occasionally. His place was full of his art work and photographs, which I thought were very original and well executed. He was a really fascinating character and we shared a good energy. I was very impressed with his work, and happened to have a box of prints in my car a couple blocks away, so I went and grabbed them to show him. I figured that even though our techniques and style were different, he would appreciate my work, as I tend to shoot a lot of multiple exposures and more creative stuff than just straight photography... Indeed he was very receptive of my work and was genuine in his appreciation... I took one more frame of him as he was showing me some of his work in his place. I was already running behind schedule, and had to get home, so I thanked him for his time and left him with one of my limited edition hand printed fibre prints... I left feeling totally charged from such a positive experience and while it seemed like a random meeting at the time, I was convinced after the fact that I was meant to meet him.

These are the three frames I shot of him. These are with a 1956 Rolleiflex 2.8E on Rollei Retro 400S film processed in D76 at home. The first two frames were lit with an SB800 on a stand w/ an umbrella and the third was shot w/ natural light in his apartment... I don't remember exactly, but I think the 3rd one was shot at around 1/15 of a sec @ f2.8







Edited on Oct 29, 2013 at 10:31 PM · View previous versions



Oct 29, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Evan Baines
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p.1 #2 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


The second image is the strongest for me. The third is a useful illustrative piece, and I find it interesting, but I don't feel the technical issue on the right of the negative adds anything. I do however like the light and the gesture. The first shot I'm just not quite feeling the expression nearly as much as the second shot, which conveys to me a sense of personality much more consistent with my expectation based upon the story you told. There is humor, nuance, and a hint of mystery.

Do you know what was going on on the side of your negs? Light leak?



Oct 29, 2013 at 09:48 PM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #3 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Evan Baines wrote:
The second image is the strongest for me. The third is a useful illustrative piece, and I find it interesting, but I don't feel the technical issue on the right of the negative adds anything. I do however like the light and the gesture. The first shot I'm just not quite feeling the expression nearly as much as the second shot, which conveys to me a sense of personality much more consistent with my expectation based upon the story you told. There is humor, nuance, and a hint of mystery.

Do you know what was going on on the side
...Show more



Thanks for your comment Evan...

yes, I agree the second image is the most pleasing to look at, but I felt compelled to include the full series of photos. This clearly is not a sutdio session with a model, which seems to be the status quo in this board. I wanted to show the progression of the relationship between the subject and photographer, getting closer to the subject in the second image than the first, and a sense of intimacy in the third. But yes, based on the technical and aesthetic merrits I feel that the second is indeed the strongest. As for the technical issue on the right side of the neg, I think this can be attributed to my digitizing process. I sandwiched the negs between two sheets of glass and back lit them using a flash w/ umbrella illuminating a large sheet of white nylon - so I think it was just uneven illumination, the negs don't show the same flaw as the digital file. I will look closer when I get home.

Thanks again for your interest and feedback. I appreciate all comments.

below is a shot of my "scanning" setup




Oct 29, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Evan Baines
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p.1 #4 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


r_o_b_s_o_n wrote:
Thanks for your comment Evan...

yes, I agree the second image is the most pleasing to look at, but I felt compelled to include the full series of photos. This clearly is not a sutdio session with a model, which seems to be the status quo in this board. I wanted to show the progression of the relationship between the subject and photographer, getting closer to the subject in the second image than the first, and a sense of intimacy in the third. But yes, based on the technical and aesthetic merrits I feel that the second is indeed the strongest.
...Show more

That makes sense, and I can see what you are saying in the progression.

Cheers!



Oct 29, 2013 at 10:12 PM
JasperR
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p.1 #5 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


I thought this was Mel Brooks for a second.
I'll echo Evan's statements.



Oct 29, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Sharona
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p.1 #6 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Great story. Love when those unexpected moments happen - they don't happen nearly enough! I, too, like the 2nd one best, but the third is cool, seeing him in his environment.


Oct 30, 2013 at 06:45 PM
SargentRay
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p.1 #7 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Very interesting story, i was with you the whole time reading it. Reminds me of a similar encounter i had with an 80 something y.o. man when i was in my 20s. It was my father's mentor when he started in his line of work ( women's fine garment's embroidery). His name was Mario and when he heard from my dad that i was studying photography he insisted we both visited him. His 1bedroom apartment was pretty much like you describe you models place full of all sorts of cool old photography stuff. Mario was dying and his last wish was to pass along his equipment to another photographer. So he gave me among other things and old Folding Graflex view camera, it was in remarkably good shape and i presented some shots i took with it in my final evaluation. Mario died a month after our encounter but i never forgot him.

I can feel very well the progression in your relationship with your model in your pictures. I think they are soo cool. Thanks for sharing.

P.S. Didn't know you could still find D76 :-)

Edited on Oct 31, 2013 at 12:55 PM · View previous versions



Oct 31, 2013 at 03:58 AM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #8 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


SargentRay wrote:
Very interesting story, i was with you all the time reading it. Reminds me of a similar encounter i had with an 80 something y.o. man when i was in my 20s. It was my father's mentor when he started in his line of work ( women's fine garment's embroidery). His name was Mario and when he heard from my dad that i was studying photography he insisted we both visited him. His 1bedroom apartment was pretty much like you describe you models place full of all sorts of cool old photography stuff. Mario was dying and his last wish
...Show more


wow, Thanks for sharing your own special story. I am very glad took the time to share with us your experience with Mario... That truly does sound like a very special privilege, and you are very fortunate to have been the recipient of his treasured equipment. I hope you still have it!



Oct 31, 2013 at 05:12 AM
SargentRay
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p.1 #9 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


r_o_b_s_o_n wrote:
wow, Thanks for sharing your own special story. I am very glad took the time to share with us your experience with Mario... That truly does sound like a very special privilege, and you are very fortunate to have been the recipient of his treasured equipment. I hope you still have it!


Thanks for your comment as well r_o_b_s_o_n, i think a good rapport with our models is quintessential to make good meaningful portraits. The down side of my story is that one day a friend of mine borrowed the camera for a special project. After a few months not hearing from this friend i gave him a call, asked him if he was done with the camera so i could get it back. He had an awkward reaction, he said something like "hope you're not calling me just to get your camera back" Don't know why but he was sort of trying to make me feel guilty or something so i added: " no i'm not calling just for that, how are things at your end, how's everything and so on" But i started to have a bad feeling, so we chatted for a few minutes then a little impatient i asked him again for the camera. that's when he admitted the camera wasn't whole anymore. "What do you mean it's not whole anymore ? i barked" then he answered: "well i didn't think you wanted it back since it was so old and you weren't calling back, so i took it appart and cut away the bellows to make a sun shade for my Leica" he candidly replied. Had he been in front of me i think i would have decked him right there and then. I was so mad i hung up in a furious rage and i only heard from him last year (30 years later) when he tried to add me in his Facebook friends list. I didn't even bother to reply.

Some things are just unforgivable. I should have know better so it's partly my fault, the year before he borrowed my Nikon F3 for a wedding, when he brought it back the following monday, the prism cover was dinged something bad. He said he had accidentally knocked the camera on the side of a church bench. Instead of offering to pay for the repair he said it added life to the body and made it look more "noble" I was pissed but thought it was just an accident and it could have happened to anyone (was pretty na´ve at that age). So i got it fixed, new cover and a mirror re alignment it cost me 100$ which was a good chunk of change for the time.

I often borrowed stuff from my business partner and i made it a point always to bring back the equipment exactly as it was. If the batteries were drained i would by new one, if the mirror was dirty (even when i got the camera from him) i had it cleaned. When someone is nice enough to lend you stuff, it's your duty to be careful with it or at the very least pay for repairs if an accident happens, but some people just have no honour i suppose. To this day the only guy i lend equipment to is my ex business partner, since he never went digital he seldom borrows anything unfortunately.



Oct 31, 2013 at 12:32 PM
airfrogusmc
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p.1 #10 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Bravo... Wonderful story and these make a great triptych. I think a really good portrait is one that captures some of the person you are photographing. This series does it. Photography can be such an amazing passport.....

I've always loved the square format for portraits.




Oct 31, 2013 at 02:58 PM
 



tony1
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p.1 #11 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


thanks for sharing long live film!!


Oct 31, 2013 at 05:23 PM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #12 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


SargentRay wrote:
Thanks for your comment as well r_o_b_s_o_n,....


oh my god... I can not BELIEVE that!! I have no idea what I would have done?! other than insist that he replace the camera with a similar camera in similar condition... that is completely un-excusable!! wow... I'm sorry to hear about that... thanks again for sharing your story.... heart warming, and heart breaking at the same time!



Oct 31, 2013 at 07:41 PM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #13 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


airfrogusmc wrote:
Bravo... Wonderful story and these make a great triptych. I think a really good portrait is one that captures some of the person you are photographing. This series does it. Photography can be such an amazing passport.....

I've always loved the square format for portraits.




Wow, thank you for your comments and feedback, I really appreciate it... I'm glad that amongst all the highly polished studio portraits here, that these portraits still manage communicate with the viewer. I sometimes think it's too easy to get caught up with making technically excellent images, which causes a certain degree of disconnect with the subject... I'm glad that you recognized the essence of this gentleman in these portraits. Thank you.



Oct 31, 2013 at 07:46 PM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #14 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


tony1 wrote:
thanks for sharing long live film!!



I know that "I" will be shooting film for many years to come... as long as film is available, I will continue to shoot it... not that I don't appreciate digital... I shoot a D700 and use it for all my weddings and commercial gigs... I just feel that for my personal work, it creates a look and feeling that people connect with more readilly... maybe that's just me trying to justify still shooting film... but I do feel that there's more "soul" so to speak to film... talk to many guitar players, and you will find that many of them prefer the sound of a vintage tube amplifier over a modern solid state amp... even though in many respects the modern amps are just plain "better"... they don't have the same vibe or feel...

thanks for your comment!



Oct 31, 2013 at 07:50 PM
airfrogusmc
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p.1 #15 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


r_o_b_s_o_n wrote:
Wow, thank you for your comments and feedback, I really appreciate it... I'm glad that amongst all the highly polished studio portraits here, that these portraits still manage communicate with the viewer. I sometimes think it's too easy to get caught up with making technically excellent images, which causes a certain degree of disconnect with the subject... I'm glad that you recognized the essence of this gentleman in these portraits. Thank you.



I actually prefer portraits that don't try and make people as pretty as possible but try and capture who they really are. That's not saying that I dislike the stdio/more formal type work and I don't have respect for those that do it well. Those take a certain skill set. But it also takes a great deal of skill to capture this type of image. Many great portrait photographers took this approach. August Sanders, Richard Avedons personal work, Arnold Newman, Dorothea Lange to name a few. In my opinion the biggest compliment a photographer can get is that their photograph looks exactly like hte person being photographed. You have done an excellent job of gettig nto the essence. I actually take this approach to my own personal work as well as my professional work when the client also finds this approach important.



Oct 31, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Sharona
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p.1 #16 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


SargentRay that is a horrible story! Unbelievable what people will do.


Oct 31, 2013 at 09:42 PM
airfrogusmc
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p.1 #17 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Yes Sgt Ray sorry to hear about your bad experience.


Oct 31, 2013 at 10:02 PM
SargentRay
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p.1 #18 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


Thanks Sharona and airfrogusmc, in this whole story it's not the value of the camera per say that saddens me, it's really the fact that such a noble gesture from the master craftsman towards the apprentice was destroyed by sheer human stupidity. Even if my so called friend had managed to find another same camera it never would have been Mario's gift to me.

I suppose i had to learn the lesson the hard way, but it was beneficial in a sense because it only strengthened my love for my true passion in life :-)



Oct 31, 2013 at 11:43 PM
airfrogusmc
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p.1 #19 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


I think you trusted and he let you down. Totally not your fault. He was the one that abused your kindness.


Oct 31, 2013 at 11:46 PM
r_o_b_s_o_n
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p.1 #20 · Portraits - B&W film w/ Rolleiflex


How about one more from the same roll... this shot was taken maybe 10min before the first shot of the gentleman featured in the shots above... This is in the same little alleyway in Victoria's China Town (Fantan Alley, the narrowest alley in Canada). This young lady works in one of the small shops in the alley, and I decided to ask her to pose for a portrait in front of her shop. I was happy with how this one turned out... perhaps it could have used a bit of fill from camera right, but I was street shooting, and it was only by chance that I had even one light with me... I was really happy to have a flash/stand/umbrella with me this day, and I think I should definitely head out for some more impromptu street portraits.

Any additional thoughts on this one?

Thanks again!!



btw. this shot also exhibited the same unbalanced light as the shot(s) above, but I did take the time to correct it in lightroom this time.



Nov 04, 2013 at 12:21 AM
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