These portraits by L.A. Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin are interesting not just because they were shot using a large-format film camera outfitted with antique doublet lenses (possibly from 1840!), but also because he juxtaposed them with his colored digital captures. Which do you like better: old or new?
Los Angeles Times staff photographer Clendenin spent a month chasing these Olympic athletes. Not only did he do it with a digital SLR system in tow, he chased the medal-aspirants around with a 4 × 5 field camera, 100-year-old Petzval lens, and DIY darkroom set-up as well! Displaying them side by side, you’ll see the notable differences between the analogue and modern photography techniques.
How amazing is that bokeh and vignetting?
“The process was cumbersome and filled with experimentation. I brought 23 film holders to every shoot, in addition to a bulky camera and tripod and two digital cameras and lenses. But shooting the large-format film was a relaxing and, most important, creatively rejuvenating experience. With no motor drive to capture three frames every second (as with my Canon 5d Mark II cameras), I was forced to slow down and think about each frame.”
“I was reminded of the creative serendipity that comes with shooting film: I couldn’t look at the back of the camera and see what had just happened when I took that picture! It’s a habit we’ve all become accustomed to with digital photography, and though there are obvious downsides to not seeing if your timing and composition were precise, I enjoyed the challenge and reveled in the “mistakes” that happened along the way.”
Between the black and white film portraits and forced-flash digital shots, which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below! Browse the Magazine for more articles on the Olympics.