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Old 15th November 2010, 05:07 PM
Alan Clark Alan Clark is offline
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Default studio portrait advice needed

At the Ryedale Folk Museum we have an old Victorian daylight photographic studio. I am planning to use it to do some portraits of the other volunteers. We have a Victorian painted backdrop and old clothes for dressing up but I plan to use a neutral backdrop and photograph the sitters in their normal dress. The light in the studio is fantastic, coming in from a north-facing window and skylight.

As I have never done any formal portrait photography before I am looking to all you knowledgable people here for advice and help!

I plan to use medium and maybe large format, with my favourite HP5+

Alan
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Old 15th November 2010, 05:16 PM
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Steve Smith Steve Smith is offline
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I have no advice to offer but this sounds very much like the room Julia Margaret Cameron used for her portraits.

In her case, a glazed chicken house: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/pho...phy/index.html


Steve.
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Old 15th November 2010, 05:29 PM
Alan Clark Alan Clark is offline
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No pressure then Steve...

It's a great set-up. William Hayes had it built when he lived in York, then took it with him when he moved to Hutton le Hole then after he died it was eventually moved across the road into the museum.
Behind the main room is a tiny darkroom. The bulk of his photographs were contact prints, mainly using printing out paper, but he had a horizontal daylight enlarger which is on display. I've been asked to tidy the whole place up a bit and I'm hoping to get the enlarger working if possible.

Alan
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:20 PM
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Trevor Crone Trevor Crone is offline
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Sounds fantastic. I would go with your instincts Alan and make the most of the north facing window and sky light with perhaps the odd reflector board to fill in the shadows a wee bit. FWIW when doing portraiture I tend to take incident light readings rather than reflected, just a personal thing nothing more.

You might like to look at the portraits of Irvin Penn and August Sander who as far as I know just used available light. Penn certainly did for his 'Small Trades' series.
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:22 PM
Dave miller Dave miller is offline
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Sounds like a fantastic opportunity to me, make the most of it and keep us informed of progress.
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:30 PM
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Here is a link to some of Penn's 'Small Trade' series; http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/penn/
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:33 PM
TonyMiller TonyMiller is offline
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Hi Alan, being originally from Pickering I've visited the museum many times. If I recall the studio had a piano in when I was there, or am I confusing it with somewhere else?

I was going to say about using reflectors to fill in the off-light shadows but see Trevor has already recommended that.

Look forward to seeing the results.

- Tony
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:43 PM
Alan Clark Alan Clark is offline
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Thanks guys. Trevor, I've never used incident light readings but will give it a go, and keep notes! You mention Irving Penn. His ""Worlds in a small room" photographs were done with available north light in a portable studio. I have always thought that these were amazing photographs, and a testimony to what could be done with the simplest means -Rolleiflex, Tri X, D76 (and an absolutely wonderful eye for shapes and tones)
When you walk into the studio at the museum, even on a dull day, the thing that you immediately notice is the quality of the light. The window is on the long wall and the room is fairly narrow, and the wall opposite the window is painted a light cream (the original colour which I've been told I mustn't change) this acts like a reflector on the shadow side, but I will try a reflector board as you suggest. I believe Snowdon sometimes used a black reflector to take light out of the shadows, for more contrast.

Alan
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:46 PM
Alan Clark Alan Clark is offline
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Tony, I will ask about the piano, but I'm not sure if they could have got one in through the restricted doorways.
PM me if you are planning a visit home sometime.

Alan
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Old 15th November 2010, 06:53 PM
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You're very fortunate. I was able to use one here, but access is no longer given.
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