DPP Home Profiles Douglas Kirkland: From 8x10 to Digital and Back

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Douglas Kirkland: From 8x10 To Digital And Back

In an illustrious career that has spanned more than four decades, Douglas Kirkland has always embraced new technology. So why is he using an 8x10 view camera and film for some of his current work?

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Christiana Capotondi at Cinecittà Rome.
DPP: What other filters do you work with when using the 8x10?

Kirkland: Neutral density to keep minimal depth of field and a Tiffen Pro-Mist 1/2 when I want to enhance the mystical effect of that shallow depth of field. I need the ND filters because the top shutter speed with the large lens for the 8x10 is either 1/50th or 1/150th. I shoot almost all the portraits wide open, so I use the filters to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera. I have four lenses for the camera, but mainly use two, most often the Kodak 12-inch Ektar ƒ/4.5 lens and the 8½-inch Ektar ƒ/6.3 lens. Sometimes I’ll go further than wide open by removing part of the front lens element, which creates an even more misty feeling around the edges. It’s an old trick shown to me by the great photographer Arthur Rothstein.

DPP: What do you do for Polaroids when working with the 8x10?

Kirkland: My Polaroids are with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. I use the digital camera to evaluate the scene, then mount the 8x10 and shoot the TRI-X.

DPP: How do you bring 8x10-inch images into your digital workflow?

Giovanna Mezzogiorno
in Italy.

Kirkland: These days, once the film has been developed, we scan the black-and-white negatives at a lab, or we photograph the chromes with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III on a Cabin Light Panel. Then after the images have been adjusted as needed in Photoshop, we print them out on the Hewlett-Packard Z3200, usually on Moab Legion papers.

DPP: You’ve worked with so many stars over the years, most recently the who’s who of Italian cinema. What’s your secret for a successful shoot with all the egos involved?

Kirkland: There’s only one star. It’s not the photographer; it’s the person in front of the lens. A photographer should never get so into their own act that they think they’re more important than their subject. That’s rule one. You’ll get back from people so much more when you give them their time in the spotlight.

To see more of Douglas Kirkland’s photography, visit his website at www.douglaskirkland.com.


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