In the mid-2000s, probably as a last-ditch effort to avoid going fully digital, I embarked on a project to create “come as you are” portraits of friends and acquaintances using an 8×10 inch view camera on B&W film.
Over the course of two years my huge camera and 2500 watts of studio lighting captured over 100 portraits. All were hand developed and contact printed for presentation. The scans of prints shown here are pretty good, but the scanner’s dynamic range can’t truly convey the rich tonality and amazing detail present in these images.
Here is “the beast” — a cherry-wood Tachihara 8×10″ field camera with the Fujinon-W 360mm/f6.3 lens attached. Notice the Leica M6, a standard 35mm camera, sitting on the focusing bed for a size comparison…
My interest in 8×10″ negatives came from study of historic photographic masters, especially Edward Weston. I had the good fortune to attend a weekend seminar with Kim Weston (Edwards grandson) at the Dayton Art Institute. Though I had already adopted many of the same processes, it was a real treat to work with Kim and he has remained a friend.
Film used was Arista Ultra B&W 400. I had originally started the project with Agfa film, but they discontinued large format stock around 2004 so I switched to Arista as a very close substitute. Film was developed by hand in 11×14″ trays with Formulary PMK Pyro solution. Contact prints were made on Agfa Classic 111 FB paper using an 8-watt bare bulb attached to a dyn-o-lite timer. Prints were selenium toned after development in Agfa Neutol.