Since about a week I am suffering of some minor (but annoying) injuries after falling off my bicycle. The doctor said, nothing seriously damaged and it will just take some time to get back to normal. I went back to work, was shooting again, did everything I usually do, and I had the feeling I am not really improving. So for this weekend I promised myself to relax, do nothing and give my bones some rest. It was not meant to be, I had to go shopping, organising this and that, playing, jumping and running with kids, etc… it was a great weekend, just that my bones hurt more than before… and now on Sunday we were supposed to shoot… I definitely did not feel like shooting…. and normally when I don’t feel like it, I tend to do something to make it a bit more interesting, challenging etc… so I decided to shoot only 4×5, took some polaroids and a few film holders, and left home all the usual medium format gear that I used to take in recent weeks…. just as a backup I had 35 mm cameras with me to fill the time or get some quick snapshots here and there, if needed, but all you see here is 4×5 – I took 18 pictures on film and maybe 10 polaroids on top of that, over the course of around 4 hours, I am not sure what that equates to in frames per second.
But anyway, very quickly I started to enjoy it, the place was great, the light really interesting and there was a lot of space to make good use of the large format camera, its movements, the geometries etc.
A few days earlier we went to the opening of the “Cathedral of the Pines” exhibtion of Gregory Crewdson here in Brussels and were lucky enough to meet Gregory, and had the opportunity to have a little chat. I have been inspired by his work for a long time, I love the cinematic style, the melancholic, hopperistic mood, the hint of mystery and story. For my personal work his images make me want to pull back, show the bigger picture, give my images more room and context. This is a bit the mindset I had when embarking on this shoot.
Arnaud is a great guy and awesome to work with. Especially when shooting with the 4×5 it is really helpful when you can see that your model is excited to shoot, patient and very interested in the process. At the same time, Emmanuel, working as professional model in NYC and good friend of Stephanie, happened to be in town, so we could “kill two birds with one stone ” (what a bloody idiom) and take some portraits of him as well. Stephanie was using the off-time to make some interviews, as you can see on my 4×5 snapshot – at f5.6 and ISO 100 speed film I had shutter times of 1/2 to 1/8th – hence the motion blur.
The place left enough space that I could use my Rodenstock 5,6/210mm lens for most of the pictures. Normally its slightly too long for my taste and I tend to use it only for portraits, but here with these vast space it was really nice to use. If you are not familiar with 4×5, it translates to something like a 60mm on 35mm cameras. The beauty of this lens is that the face, the eyes, whatever you are focusing on really snaps into focus, the image on the ground glass gets a really 3-dimensional feel to it.
I took some old Polaroid 79. I really want to shoot them before they stop producing a usable image. The 79 held up quite well, they just tend to be very yellowish, the 59 I still have are a bit more tricky, more unpredictable. On top of that I shot a few Fuji FP100c45, which are clearly more modern, but also on the verge of showing some colour casts, uneven development etc. The black and white shots are Ilford FP4+, developed in Kodak HC110 for 9 minutes, the colour 4×5 are Portra 160. The polaroids and film pictures are almost duplicates, but I wanted to include them as well. I tend to take both if I think something is a picture, but introduce a little variation. Hope you enjoy the post….