Coming into focus

My portrait project, like many ideas, was a jumbled blob of thought for years. I have struggled to bring that idea into sharp focus in the last few years. There was a small period of time in 2013 when I enjoyed shooting documentary style portraits and those photographs continue to draw my eye.

Some old photos:

I am consciously bringing back the essence of that time that clicked with my style so well. The portraits are unhurried, taken in a comfortable environment, and not posed for any specific expression. In fact, the expressions are natural and genuine which gives room for the viewer to project their own feelings upon the photos.

Two weeks ago I asked Uncle Bill if he would sit for me and he agreed. We took some photos in and around his house. Uncle Bill bought this house a few years ago and is slowly growing into it. I wanted to capture a sense of independence and affirmation.

Uncle Bill, Overcast afternoon
Neck: EV 10 2/3 placed in zone 6
f2.8, 1/250 sec

It rained that afternoon. The light was poor but we made it work. I shot Portra 400 on my Mamiya C220. Outdoors, I exposed the neck in zone 5; indoors, I put the bright side of his face in zone 7 and crossed my fingers. We shot at 1/30 second at times and the photos came out sharp enough. I did miss the focus on two frames.

Uncle Bill, indoor next to a sliding door
Bright side of face  is EV 9 placed in zone 7
f2.8, 1/60 sec

Here are some lessons I learned in no particular order.

  1. I need a proper tripod
  2. I must pay close attention to the lean of the head and position of the arms. Twelve frames are all I have.
  3. I should just ask people to sit for me
  4. I want to shoot 100 speed film, 50 speed if possible. 400 speed has too much grain for my taste
  5. I want to shoot more people in their homes or studios

My portrait idea continues to become less blurry, the edges are coming into focus. If you or someone you know want to sit for me for an hour or so, drop a line.