Kate Portrait Captured on 8x10 Ilford HP5+ Film with the Help of Westcott TD6 Spiderlite Kit

Realizing that portraits with the Eastman 8x10 View Camera would be very difficult without some kind of artificial lighting, I purchased a Westcott/Adorama Spiderlite TD6 kit from the always reliable and reasonable Simon at Adorama. He gave me a good deal and shipped the bulky kit for free the next day. Perfect service. Westcott Spiderlite TD6 Westcott Spiderlite TD6 Image from the Westcott website.

The kit included the TD6 head with six light sockets, six bulbs, a light stand, a 24x36 soft box, and soft carrying bag. This light gives me 1200W of constant, daylight-balanced light. What this translates to in the real world is f8 at ISO 400 and 160th of a second. That's great for a DSLR user, but in the LF world portraits are often shot at f22, which works out to 1/4 of a second (without figuring in an extra stop for bellows extention). My lens does open to f5.6, but the depth of field is too shallow for even both eyes and noses to be in focus. Kate and I did a mini photo shoot over the weekend to test the TD6.

I shot this at f22 and 1/4 of a second. Kate is very good at standing still. It would have been easier for her to sit, but we both really wanted to do this pose. That's my shirt and the looking down and rolling of the sleeve was Kate's idea. She's the brains and the beauty in this partnership.

Kate Portrait Shot at f22 on 8x10 Ilford HP5+ Sheet Film Kate Portrait at f22 on 8x10 Ilford HP5+ Film You can click on the image for a bigger version. The texture of the shirt is pretty amazing at full size.

Assembling and using the TD6 kit could not be easier. You can choose two, four, or six lights (I chose six for sure) with switches on the back of the head and the 15 foot cord even has an on/off switch. The light from the bulbs when tempered by the softbox is bright, but still soft. I shot this one with the light about five feet from Kate.

I tray developed this negative in Kodak HC 110 Solution H (1+63) at 20C for 8 minutes using "brush agitation." The brush agitation gives you a nice even development over the whole surface of the negative. People often use brush developing to control uneven development in skies. This agitation method has really grown on me. I like the act of brushing the developer onto the negative. It's very zen-like.