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Shooting A Wetplate Portrait of a Medieval Knight Sword Fighter

7/13/2020 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

The task was clear – an original portrait of a Medieval Knight Sword Fighter (national champion).

So I planed to do a collodion wetplate of a knight with his armour and sword. My first thought was, that an original armor has no “color” so to say. You just see the reflections of the environment. That was the reason I wanted to shoot the first portrait in my garden. Unfortunately the weather gods were against us and just after when we started a thunderstorm was on its way.

To fight agains the “low light” situation, I used a Hensel Integra 1000W compact flash as fill and also to create some nice catchlights.

I decided to go for this classical pose to show this aggressive looking helmet and the sword without covering the face. I would have liked to have a tiny bit brighter background, but the weather played here against us. As soon as we finished, it started to rain.

You can see the lines from the sky pointing directly to the knight. This is something I always try to integrate into my portraits

18x24cm collodion wet plate, Century view camera, Dallmeyer 2b Petzval lens

We did the second portrait in my studio. This time he was wearing one of his helmets. I used a classical clamshell light with a pretty close soft box (Hensel Grand Mini 85) in combination with a reflector. With this setup I got enough reflections on the armor and could also bring light under the helmet to illuminate his eyes.

When shooting portraits that close with my Dallmeyer 2b lens (220mm F3) you have to deal with a very small depth of field.

I was very pleased with the result of this portrait shooting. I underexposed the plate a tiny little bit to ged stronger contrasts. With that I could produce a very strong portrait.

I know these portraits from soldiers that came exhausted and empty from a war zone. Thats how I imagined to do this portrait. Because of the heavy duty armour and helmet, Klaus did not have to act to be exhausted.

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About Markus Hofstaetter:

Professional photographer for wet plate, portrait, events and virtual tours. You can find more about my work on my website, my blog, on Facebook, on Instagram or on Youtube

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