22. April 2011

what should never be...


Taken this Friday in Brussels … big thanks to Gloria for the great time and all the patience required for shooting large format… more images to follow… we walked for about 5 hours through the city and took exactly 60 pictures (24 4×5 and 36 6×6) with heavy equipment. I was positively surprised by being able to shoot (with heavy tripod, big camera) in the Galleries and the Palace of Justice without any security service intervening. I am sure in Hamburg or Berlin they would have sent us away even before taking the first picture…. people here appear a little more relaxed than in other places I lived before…

Equipment used:

  • Linhof Technika V with 135 and 210mm lenses and Fuji Acros Film
  • Hasselblad 501 / 80mm with ND Filters and Agfa APX25  (thanks to Jochen!)


here some thoughts I put down before the shoot – I did not meet all of my objectives I have to admit – mostly because of trying a few things for the first time (long exposures with people) … but some things worked out nicely…  🙂

….disjunct the individual from the outside world in both a positive and a negative manner. “I don’t belong here” vs “Nothing can hurt me now…”.

Technically this can be achieved by showing one element that is within our world/dimension and the other element outside of /fading from reality.  Different options to make this visual:

  1. long exposures, which make the outer world flow and the main character left as the only real/still/in focus person in the picture.
  2. Dramatic use of shift and tilt to blur part of the world into the unreal.
  3. Very shallow Depth of Field to blur the outer world. This last one is probably the most weak of all the options.

Abstract geometric shapes can possible enhance this effect. Look for suitable background elements:

  • Stairs/Staircases
  • abstract shapes in buildings/roads/surfaces
  • view over the city at Palace of Justice
  • look for contrasts between model/background element
  • do not accept dull lighting situations
  • large, even shapes, like walls that can distort perspective
  • Use vignetting effect of tilt/shift if sky is in the picture

Poses can range from close-up portraits, profiles, cheering/dancing/floating (positive) to more of a introspective/praying/thinking kind of poses/expressions.


  • Avenue Louise
  • Palace of Justice (City-Overview / Go inside the conctruction site)
  • Place Sablon (Little Park/Lake/Fountain/Stairs)
  • Gare Centrale (Little Park/Trees/Buildings)
  • Grande Place (Galleries)
  • Parc de Bruxelles (Benches/Konzert-Ding)


Thanks so much for sharing your concept/objectives and technical details with us…
I’m going to take a page out of your book and plan my shoots in a similar way.thanks

hallo jan, ich hab noch nie mit einer großformatkamera fotografiert – darf ich mal ganz blöd fragen, wie du den tilt-effect erreichst? drehst du das objektiv während du belichtest im bajonett?
meine lieblingsbilder sind die im justizpalast – durch den effekt kommt die massigkeit von diesem klotz im vergleich zu dem zierlichen model toll rüber.
lachen musste ich bei deinen notizen über das “musik-ding” im parc de bruxelles. da bin ich früher auf dem weg zur innenstadt immer dran vorbeigelaufen…

Damn, I wish I could think of soitnhmeg smart like that!

Hi… bei einer Grossformatkamera kann man (u.a.) die Objektivebene in verschiedene Richtungen verschieben/drehen (tilt and shift) – das hat Auswirkungen auf die Lage der Schärfeebene im Foto. Da bei normalen Kameras, die Objektiv- und Filmebene immer parallel zueinander liegen, liegt die Schärfeebene immer parallel zum Film/Sensor – nicht so bei einer Grossformatkamera 🙂

I’ve quite enjoyed this series, the T/S seems to achieve your goals quite well. As you point out the long exposure didn’t come out perfect but looks like you’re not far from achieveing it (maybe need more ppl in background).

Very good works! Thanks for sharing these beautyfull photographs to us. How do you scan you film ?

Thanks – I scan using an Epson V750 and silverfast.


Again an interesting series of portraits. As always !

Thanks partly to you, I have decided to also go from medium format to large format. I am now wondering how to develop my sheets… do you self develop ? If yes, do you use simple trays, Jobo drum by rotation or inversion, another system ? I am curious to read from you as I see we often use the same films (Acros and Neopan400)



Hi Ivan…
I develop myself using the HP Combi Plan T 4×5 Film Developing Tank – I have tried another one, which can hold more negatives at once but I got uneven development with it.

Thanks a lot for the information, Jan ! I should look into this way with the Jobo too I guess.

Nice pictures Jan! I can’t wait to see the rest of the set. I’m really enjoying your new blog.


Thanks for posting your great pics and technical details. I love your work!

Hi Jan,

da hat der APX ja seinen Dienst super erfüllt!!!
Wie findest Du ihn?


Hi Jochen… klasse… wirklich gestochen scharf. Leider sind die Bilder mit der Langzeitbelichtung nicht so geworden, wie ich das erhofft habe… gar nicht mal wegen der Technik an sich – aber es fehlte irgendwie an guten locations wo wirklich viele leute sind und sich bewegen und man trotzdem ein interessantes foto machen kann…

Hi Jan,

Thanks a lot for sharing this information with us. Always nice to hear the meaning and the way you take your steps to come to the final images. Sometimes new informations, sometimes confirming in what I do. I am curious and looking forward to see more.

Have a nice day.


Thank you for the background/technical info. I’m enjoying your images a lot more with this extra info after viewing your images for a long while on Flickr. Thanks again for starting this blog 🙂

I look forward to seeing the rest.

this is a great series and even if I don’t understand all of it, it is great to read about the “how you did it”.
And knowing that the pictures are made without post-production is making them even more impressive!
It’s great that you’ve added the link to your blog to the description at dA! 🙂

Really nice pictures I most say. 🙂

Add Your Comment