Fifteen summer portraits with the Phase One XF IQ3-100
By Andrew Paquette – www.paqphoto.com
This summer, I tried to squeeze in as many portrait shoots as possible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as many as I would have liked, thanks to a hernia I sustained halfway through my holiday. After that, I was sidelined for the remainder of the summer and the following two months, as I waited for surgery. Because I was housebound for this time, it gave me a chance to spend a bit more time reviewing the photos than usual, and I discovered a number of ways to enhance the images in Capture One that I hadn’t tried before, but will now be standard procedure moving forward.
All of the images in this article were shot with the Phase One XF camera and the 100 megapixel IQ3-100 digital back. The lenses are all Schneider Kreuznach LS lenses. I used the 28mm, 120mm, and 150mm. Of those, my favorite is the 120mm, as should be obvious from the number of images it was used for. The 28mm is the real revelation because I normally don’t want to use it. Then I think to myself “why not?” and end up getting some of my favorite shots with it. The reason I resist is that it is such a wide-angle lens (equivalent to a 14mm DSLR lens) that I worry about distortion. However, it is excellent at providing context that would otherwise be absent with a longer lens.
As with my other posts here, I used ProFoto lights. In most cases, they are the portable B1 light kit (2x flash heads), but two of these shoots were done in a studio that used different lights. At the studio, I used ProFoto D1 flash heads, as well as the new Pro-10, which can fire at 1/80,000 of a second. The shoot was not designed to test the Pro-10 though, so don’t expect the images to look different from the rest.
All of these photos are designed to fill out my portrait and portrait-like fashion book, as I become more focused on that genre of photography. My goal is to make cinematic, elegant, and where possible, dynamic portraits.
Kendo in Nijmegen
This shoot features Ivo van Roij and Jonathan de Croon, two kendo practitioners. We did the shoot in Nijmegen, at the Honigcomplex, an old factory complex (for making honey) that has been converted to artist’s lofts and other creative spaces. The weather wasn’t very good, meaning there was an on and off light drizzle all day long. This meant wiping down the camera and hoping nothing happened to the lights. Luckily, the moisture wasn’t enough to short the batteries on the lights, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have used the lights without an assistant to protect them somehow. Most of the time on this shoot went into capturing some kendo moves that were very difficult to capture with the Phase One. This was because it required split-second timing to catch the right moment, but I could only shoot at about one frame a second. We did get the shots eventually, but my favourite shots were these two, both of which are the kind of shot the camera is made to take—portraits.
The first image (figure 1) is a straight standing portrait of Ivo with a real sword. They brought real and bamboo swords for sparring, but both of these shots used the real swords, which were heavily notched from use. The location had an eerie industrial quality I liked, but only because of the lighting. Without the lights, it looked like any other behind-the-dumpster pile of scrap metal and oddly-shaped concrete blocks. In the second shot (figure 2), we made use of a blue couch covered with fine droplets of mist that we found out there. The couch didn’t smell nice, but it looked like it would be interesting for the image. I made three versions of this: one without kendo masks, one as they are tying the masks on, and a third after the masks are attached. The second and third images are more dramatic, but I like this one because their faces are visible.
Figure 1 Kendo 1, Ivo at the Honigcomplex. f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200, SK 28mm
Figure 2 Kendo 2, Ivo and Jonathan at the Honigcomplex. f/3.5, 1/100s, ISO 50, SK 150mm
Concrete Lions at Studio 34x
The Concrete Lions are a group of 3×3 basketball players from Rotterdam. The full Concrete Lions “team” has as many as thirty players, but they are divided into different age groups and classifications. These four guys are (L to R) Miquel Porconi, Manuel Tumba, Christiaan Grives, and Argil Randon le Couvreur. They play on the senior men’s team. I’ve photographed them many times at various 3×3 events around the Netherlands, which I have been shooting since 2013. This year, I was chatting with Christiaan when I mentioned what a hassle it is to shoot in the frequently poor lighting found in some of the gyms that 3×3 events take place within. “It would be interesting to do a shoot in a studio” I said. The next thing I knew, we had set up a shoot for these guys to see if we could get some decent action portraits (figures 3 and 4).
Figure 3 Concrete Lions 1, 3×3 basketball team, Miquel, Manuel, Christiaan, and Argil. f/8, 1/350s, ISO 50, 120mm
Figure 4 Concrete Lions 2, 3×3 basketball team, Miquel. f/8, 1/350s, ISO 50, 120mm
Celine at Calatrava Bridge
This shoot was supposed to be something else entirely. I had worked out with a model’s agent that he would send me a male model that I would shoot in some locations in the south of Holland that I’d scouted. Instead, the model cancelled at the last minute due to illness. My assistant was already en route and I had already rented a car for the day, so I looked around for someone else, and came up with Celine, who had just finished doing some shoots in Italy. To my amazement, she agreed to do the shoot, but I’d have to get closer to where she was, which was a bit of a long drive for me, but that was fine because at least I wouldn’t have to sacrifice a shooting day. The problem was that I’d never been to the part of the country she was in (central Netherlands) and didn’t know where we could shoot. When we got to her place, I asked my assistant and Celine’s father to go through Google Earth to find five or six interesting locations to choose from while Celine got ready.
After about fifteen minutes, they showed this shot of an awesome bridge that wasn’t too far away, though farther than I expected, and a couple other locations. We decided on the bridge, and drove out there with her dad. Just before we left, Celine’s sister hopped in. During the shoot, her mother and brother dropped by as well, so we had the whole family out there. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting that day, but we got some decent shots out of it and we all had fun.
Figure 5 Celine 1, f/9.5, 1/350s, ISO 50, 150mm
Figure 6 Celine 1, f/3.5, 1/1500s, ISO 50, 150mm
Beauty shoot in Almere
Around spring of this year, I shot a lot of models for a casting call in Den Haag. It was fun to do, but a little frustrating because there was so little time with each model, none had makeup or their hair done, and I didn’t have the time to modify the lights between models. Since then, I’d wanted a do-over, but this time with a makeup artist, and just a couple of the models that I knew would work out. The first is Alexandra van Dorp, the second is Jasmijn Kuiken, and third is Lionne Hobert. The makeup artist was Soraya Bokadid. The shoot took place at Studio 34x in Almere—a great studio.
The day was setup so that I would have an hour to position and test the lights while the first model was in makeup and had her hair done, the second arrived halfway through the shoot and went into makeup, and so on. Everyone arrived on time, and it finished on time as well. Considering the number of people that were there, eleven, that was a surprise to me. My only regret from the shoot is that someday I want to have a full day in a studio to just experiment with the lights to get one awesome shot. The models were all great to work with, and it was fun to meet the people they brought with them to the shoot. That, I should mention, is one of the things I like about shooting portraits—meeting new people.
For this day, I wanted to go with an old “studio portrait” look for the shots. This is why the lighting is so dramatic and the makeup looks a bit like old Hollywood. I deviated from that a bit with Jasmijn, who made me think of 1970’s cinematography more than the forties, which is what I had in mind for the other two models.
Figure 7 Alexandra, f/9.5, 1/1500s, ISO 50, 120mm
Figure 8 Jasmijn, f/9.5, 1/1500s, ISO 50, 120mm
Figure 9 Lionne, f/9.5, 1/1500s, ISO 50, 120mm
Sebastiaan in the country
Sebastiaan showed up for his shoot better prepared than almost anyone I’ve worked with. Because of this, he was very easy to work with, and we could focus on just getting the shots. For this group, I wanted to get a transition from dressing in a suit and being in a city, to going out to the country and gradually getting more casual. To this end, we started off with a shot of him entering a bike tunnel while carrying a laptop case, and ended with him playing badminton in the country. The badminton shot took much more retouching than expected, because there were so many tiny flying insects in the grass. There were probably at least thirty that were clearly visible on the full resolution 100MP images before I used a heal brush in Capture One to get rid of them.
Figure 10 Sebastiaan 1, f/6.8, 1/125s, ISO 50, 120mm
Figure 11 Sebastiaan 2, f/6.8, 1/125s, ISO 50, 120mm
Figure 12 Sebastiaan 3, f/9.5, 1/250s, ISO 50, 120mm
Luca at the plaza
Luca, like Celine, had just returned from a number of shoots in Italy when we did this shoot. For this, I wanted a 60’s spy movie vibe, so we shot it in the middle of a huge plaza that was flying the flags of every country in the world. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get into the location, because I’d tried it once before, but was turned away because—of all things—they were setting up an outdoor photography exhibit there. I used the 28mm for all of these shots, to get as much of the environment as possible. This also meant that I had to be very close to Luca so that he could fill the frame. That wasn’t an issue for most of the images, but there was one image (not pictured) that required Luca to run into the frame in a crouched pose that was very difficult to capture because he had to stop inches away from the lens. In the end, I preferred a shot of him squatting rather than running, though I am happy with both.
Figure 13 Luca 1, f/4.5, 1/250s, ISO 50, 28mm
Figure 14 Luca, f/6.8, 1/90, ISO 50, 28mm
Figure 15 Luca 3, f/4.5, 1/250s, ISO 50, 28mm
So, after doing these shoots, and preparing for another four or five shoots to come, I got a hernia. You might think it was from carrying around heavy medium format camera gear, but I think it happened one day when I was just walking around Amsterdam and suddenly felt severe pain in my abdomen. The next day, I discovered the hernia. Because of this, I am considering buying some kind of abdomen protection for future shoots, like the kind of wide belts worn by movers. I’ve already had the surgery to repair the hernia, but don’t want a recurrence.