I am a wedding and portrait photographer. The following portrait is of Roshni, a jewelry designer. Her designs are handcrafted and have a vintage feel to them. So, when the opportunity came to shoot her I wanted to create something classic and real. One look at her and I was convinced about black and white being the choice of film.

Roshnie shot on black and white ILFORD PHOTO HP5 PLUS film by PV Subramanian

Film used:      HP5 PLUS

Format :          4X5 sheet film

Camera:          Wista Field 4X5 Large Format

Lens:                Schneider Super Angulon 210mm f5.6

Backdrop:      Kate Backdrops

Lights:             Elinchrom Master RX

Please tell us a about this image and how you chose to shoot it,

Shooting in Large Format is all about set up and getting everything right well before the shoot as there is very less scope to fix anything in post. We used a large beauty dish for the key light. I wanted some contrast to highlight her skin complexion and texture, saree and the jewelry. We metered the shot with a Sekonic L 858.

Did you come across any challenges?

Focusing on a Large Format Camera is a little tricky. You see the image inverted on ground glass. So, you must be sure about the composition and cover yourself with some dark cloth so that the ground glass image is not contaminated with ambient light. A magnifying loupe is a useful tool to ensure critical focus.

The complication does not end there. Focus is achieved with the shutter (inside the lens) open and the aperture wide open. Once focus is achieved the subject must be absolutely still till the shutter is cocked, aperture is set to desired f number, film holder is inserted, dark slide is pulled out and shot is clicked. All this takes at least about thirty seconds during which the model has to be very patient and static. Roshni pulled it off without batting an eyelid.

How did you process and print it?

The suspense post the shoot is immense. We hand developed the sheet in a friend’s darkroom and only once I saw the negative did I calm down. The pictures you see here are scanned from the negative and only some spots and blemishes have been removed in post.

After shooting over a decade of digital, it is liberating to go back to film. I just love how it slows one down and makes you enjoy the process as much as the result. Who said film is dead? It is alive and kicking…