Sunday, February 1, 2009

The orientation and the desire

There are much too many formats in photography, almost unlimited, especially when the photographer has the liberty to crop the picture he wants.  This is an image made for a young, lovely and beautiful Russian model, Kate, to portrait her in a more matured, sophisticated and sensual way. 
I was using a square format camera, the new Rolleiflex, or known as Hy6 to Sinar or Leaf AF-i II for Leaf.  It is an interesting camera because although autofocus has been introduced to mainstream 135mm format cameras since mid 80s, and in mid 90s to medium format, it is just became available for medium square format, at 6X6, available for the still film lovers, but also an open platform for digital photography by way of attaching a digital back, while most of the current digital backs offer more or less 2:3 image ratio, depend on how you position the camera or the digital back.  For this picture, I was using a revolutionary digital back, the 33 million pixels Sinar eMotion 75LV with its revolving back adapter.  What's special?
The 6X6 film gate on Hy6 allows much larger working space than sensor area of the back, and with Sinar revolving adapter, you can simply rotate the digital back, rather than flipping the camera.  What's more interesting?  Because the viewing area on the camera allow the choice of either shooting the picture in landscape or portrait mode, it gave me the opportunity to hold back and see beyond the image capture area to decide which orientation to shoot.  But can you do this with other cameras?  Perhaps, but not by looking thru the viewfinder!  But how important it is to have to look thru the viewfinder?  To me, it is very important! And why?
Yes, many would argue that in fashion work, the classic medium format has the finder allows the photographer to control the camera while have entire visual presentation controlled by looking at the entire scene, which I don't disagree.  But when you shoot at a very close distance, it will then become very difficult.  Because when the photographer and camera moves closer to the model, the intimacy between the photographer and the model increases, and a good picture - at least it is to me, will be difficult to get when there are more than 2 parties involved, and in such situation, there are the model, the photographer and the camera - one too many, and one too much more!  When I shoot a model in a close distance, I need to stay behind the viewfinder so the model look thru the camera and seeing the photographer so she is communicating with a photographer; in stead of a photographer is away from the viewfinder and the model will be confused to which her emotion focus on? 
And the Hy6 and Sinar eMotion 75LV gave you just that!  The camera allow you to hold in a position you always do, but it gave you the choice to determine which orientation to shoot, rather than separating the photographer and his camera.  Portraiture is a very spontaneous photography, you can't really plan ahead of what kind of picture will come out best, it is the chemistry between the two that is the deciding factor, not the model, not the photographer. And when you get close, everything change. 
Will this picture look as good as it is when I shoot it otherwise?  I don't know. But, I am quite certain if I shot this picture in portrait orientation, the result will become different, probably worse. It is how you approach to the model, how do you control the model by having her looking at the camera lens as seeing the photographer's eye, there the magic chemistry between photographer and the model happens. 

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