I recently shot an editorial for Joburg Style magazine. The shoot was of a local fashion designer's home for their decor section. Here are the spreads. More photographs and info below.
The 2 pics of the models were put in my the magazine - no idea who shot them...
Suzaan Heyns is a hot new local talent on the South African fashion landscape. Joburg Style asked me to shoot her home in Westdene, Johannesburg for their latest issue - The Arts Issue.
If you live in South Africa, the magazine is on sale now at CNA and Exclusive Books.
I love to shoot decor and architecture but I dislike the current trend for hyper-sharpened, over saturated imagery. The style of turn of the century high-end decor and architectural photography, and even some earlier stuff, really interests me. So I went about the shoot with a dual-mentality: shoot the super crisp stuff on digital and process according to taste and indulge myself with the same set-ups with film.
I had ample time to work through the house. The editor, the article's writer, an intern and me all discussed and walked through the house before the shoot. to make sure we were all on the same page and for me to understand the angle the writer and editor wanted on the images. I got started and after a while I was left with the writer to work my way through the house. Having arrived earlier than the ladies form the magazine, I already had a good sense of how I wanted to shoot the house. I was painstaking with set-up and details. I didn't need a stylist on this shoot and so I had carte blanche with the set-ups, which I thoroughly enjoy.
I loaded my Canon EOS1nRS with Fuji Superia 200. This is 'consumer' film but I really like it in certain situations. I also had some Portra 160 and Pro 400H in the bag as well, but I really do like the way Superia 200 renders. Each set-up was shot with my 5Dmk2 and then with my EOS1nRS. Tripods and cable releases are mandatory. The light was even and diffuse so I was working at slow shutter speeds a lot of the time.
Although Superia 200 can handle some mild overexposure, I metered at box speed. I was thinking about the huge difference in exposure between he interior and the exterior. Shooting full-res RAW on the 5D would give me the latitude in post for this and I wanted to give the film latitude both ways, into the shadows and the highlights.
The brief for this shoot was to display Suzaan Heyns' personality and signature style and how she has brought this to her home. There are large spaces of off-white walls and the mood is austere yet serene with lots of quirky elements scattered throughout the place. I have never been a fan of how digital renders scenes with harshness. What really surprised me is how different the images came out on film and on digital. The digital just could not keep up with the huge exposure range of the scenes, even though I was very careful and worked the images in post. Here is a couple examples of the same scene and how differently they look on the different media.
Film left, Digital right. The warmth of the scene is accurately reflected by the film. Also, look at the fire - the one on the left looks like something out of a 1980s National Geographic. Yes! Canon EOS1nRS, Fuji Superia 200, Canon 35mm 1.4L / Canon 5Dmk2, Canon 35mm 1.4L
Film left. Digital right. Same thing here with the warmth of the scene - soft off-white instead of harsh blueish white. Look at the highlights on the right - even recovered as much as possible, the digital one just looks hard and clinical whereas the film has gentle roll-offs and soft pastels. Canon EOS1nRS, Fuji Superia 200, Canon 35mm 1.4L / Canon 5Dmk2, Canon 35mm 1.4L
Of course some scenes did need the massive resolution advantage of digital. I didn't even shoot those on film. Similarly, some scenes only ended up on film. Knowing your tools helps you understand what will work and what won't and when to use what.
Show me the DETAIL man! Canon 5Dmk2, Canon 50mm 1.4
You may be wondering about using 200 speed print film for magazine print. And on 35mm? Am I MAD?!? Well, no. With your own scanner, you can pull tremendous detail and latitude out of film and the grain is jut lovely. I love grain. There, I said it. The digital age's obsession with noise is quite distinct from lovely grain. Especially in print, it gives images texture and character. I actually feel the same way about image noise - doesn't bother me in the slightest till we get to the extremes. Also, sticking with one system with the same lenses really helped me keep the momentum of the shoot moving. I could use the same, gorgeous glass on both and I kept the tripod and framing exactly the same.
A good 80% of the final delivered images were ones that began their life on film. Digital sure did save my butt on a few of the shots. But that is the joy of photography today - so much choice and freedom. Enjoy it. Exploit it. Have fun.