29 Mar Photographing Flora
For over a year now, I’ve been working on my flora series in the studio. It’s continued along during the breaks between commercial work, and I’ve explored a number of different approaches. The basic lighting setup I designed consisted of directional soft light. I started with an overhead source that is typically a Kino Diva (lamped tungsten so that I could fill in with my other hot lights).
On the sides, I placed 4×4 diffusion frames. Sometimes I let these just bounce in the overhead light. Other times I added a Dedolight for a little more contrast along the edge. More recently, I’ve played with swapping out the constant light sources with strobe.
After finding interesting compositions of the many varieties I choose to shoot, I generally did some pruning until the activity within the composition felt balanced to me. The process becomes this cathartic dance between selection, pruning, composition and lighting.
One thing I love about working on the Arca Swiss camera platform is the modularity of the system. I can easily switch from 35mm to medium format to large format, with very little change in perspective.
The digital set up consisted of a Sony A7r2 mounted on an Arca Swiss Mf2, using a variety of lenses.
This allowed me to shoot tethered into Capture 1 Pro. While working in the software, I could easily experiment with composition and lighting, seeing the results right away on a 24″ monitor. I could also use the C1P tools to check highlight and shadow information. I then used this as a basis for my film exposures and my negs were coming out with very similar highlight and shadow levels. Below you can also see before and after pruning.
Once I started playing with film capture, I went through various formats. Here the camera is built for medium format and has a 6×9 roll film back attached.
The 4×5 set up.
More recently, I acquired the 8×10 F-Metric.
Seeing these images come into focus on an 8×10 groundglass is pure magic!
Here’s the resulting image, shot on Fuji Acros 100, developed in Kodak XTol on my Jobo CPP3 and scanned on the Howtek 4500 drum scanner. I’m planning on making some silver gelatin contact prints next week.
I’ve created a new Instagram account just for this series. You can follow along at www.instagram.com/cbarrettfloral/
Rod Klukas for all things Arca
Jobo USA film and print processors
Fuji Acros is hard to find in 8×10 but you can order it from Japan here.
Howtek scanners haven’t been manufactured since the ’90s, but Aztek still supports them (yay!)