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First Film Session - Fine Art Film Portraits in Michigan

June 15, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

This blog post is hopefully the start of something new at Harbour Light Photography.  I am sharing some photos of my camera room today that I just got ready for my first film session at our studio.  The other photos are of my darkroom I put in our basement at home.  You may wonder why I am sharing this versus our normal blog posts of client portraits.  I am hoping to start offering Fine Art Film Portrait Sessions taken with a 4x5 film view camera as well as a Hasselblad medium format film camera system.  The 4x5 camera is on the right in the first photo and requires a ton of adjustments to get the image just right.  The Hasselblad camera is on the left and is actually a SLR camera that is a 2.25 square format and uses 120 film.  I used a Hasselblad camera for many years when I first started in my career and basically earned my Master of Photography degree creating images with one.

So you may ask why am I doing this?  Some of my photographer friends think I'm crazy to be back in a darkroom and others are totally jealous and want me to share and do workshops.  I am simply taking a step back in time when you artistically and methodically created an image as an artist.  Ansel Adams once said, "You don't take a photograph, you create it."  I do love what we can create with our digital cameras.  Trust me, I would never go back to film on the scale needed to photograph everything in our studio.  I have just missed the joy of capturing an image on film and the process of printing in a darkroom doing all the custom tweaks to an image with burning and dodging areas that now you just do a couple of clicks of the mouse or the swipe of your tablet stylus and done.

I am going to create the portraits in our studio, hand develop the film, proof the film, print the final images on a special Fiber Base Fine Art Paper and finally finishing the portraits with ALL acid-free archival methods using high end white matting, UV protective glass and black frames.  I CANNOT wait.  This project has been a long time coming and I want to thank my family (namely my wife Lori) for putting up with me acquiring all the pieces for my darkroom and camera equipment.  I am doing personal projects of course with some waterfalls, lighthouses, a future 'Old Michigan Barns' series (I haven't even started yet), but we are going to be offering studio sessions to our clients for those who want something different.  This will be fine art portraiture at it's finest.  Each portrait will be one of a kind.  No Photoshop here AT ALL.  This will all be done by me with all that I have learned over the past 25 years as a Master Photographer.

I hope to create blog posts all along the way during each step of the process from the camera room, the darkroom and framing room.  I hope to share lots of behind the scenes photos and videos showing how each process is done.  I know it may sound like a lot of work but my passion for photography says otherwise.

Stay tuned for more!



My 4x5 camera on the right is a Zone VI Field 45 camera that is mahogany with brass accents.  It's very lightweight and great to hike around with.  My Hasselblad camera is on the left.  They all use Carl Zeiss lenses which are some of the finest optics in the world.  NASA used all Hasselblad cameras for all their moon landings.  You can spot a NASA edition Hasselblad by it's gray color.  Only NASA had the special lunar color. IMG_7606 2IMG_7606 2 IMG_7626 2IMG_7626 2

My darkroom is only 5x16 but it's all I need.  I have a 5 foot sink at one end that I can use my JOBO film processor (the red and black machine on shelf) as well as set up 16x20 trays for printing.  My print washer is a slotted type that uses very little water to wash my prints.

IMG_7628 2IMG_7628 2

My dry end of the darkroom is where my enlarger is which is an Omega chassis with an Ilford Multigrade 500C cold light enlarging head.  I can only do Black and White prints which is what I had planned all along.


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