Leon A Perskie FDR Techniques

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by nalgenecat, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. nalgenecat

    nalgenecat TPF Noob!

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    Hi All,

    I've been trying to figure out what gives this picture of FDR such life, but haven't been able to find much information on it. I see the top reads "Eastman Safety Kodak", so it could be any Kodak safety film, and I guess it's just the excellent quality and the narrow focus range that I'm drawn to, but I've never seen a picture seem so life-like. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on technique or equipment to achieve such an effect.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Bill

    Better quality version here: File:FDR 1944 Color Portrait.tif - Wikimedia Commons


     

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  2. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It is light. Photographer new his job. Or was very lucky. remember Afghan Girl by McCurry ? It was the only frame from that day. Technically it is a snapshot, where everything came together perfectly. Film is magic.
     
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  3. davidharmier60

    davidharmier60 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree about film!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
     
  4. webestang64

    webestang64 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is why it looks so good......
    Original color transparency of FDR taken at 1944 Official Campaign Portrait session by Leon A. Perskie, Hyde Park, New York, August 21, 1944. Gift of Beatrice Perskie Foxman and Dr. Stanley B. Foxman. August 21, 1944

    Link....
    Perskie Portraits - FDR Presidential Library & Museum
     
  5. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That's what I was thinking, it's a transparency. Done by I would guess a very good portrait photographer who knew what he was doing.
     
  6. SoulfulRecover

    SoulfulRecover Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Should have used a scrim on that harsh light
     
  7. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper The camera takes the Pic. I just point the way. Supporting Member

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    If you do not own the image can you just post the link to it. Posting an image you do not out the rights to is against forum rules.
     
  8. pendennis

    pendennis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The film is Kodachrome, as Ektachrome (Process E1) wasn't introduced until 1946.

    The standard for men's portraits at the time, was for sharp focusing. The wrinkles in his face would be seen as as asset, giving him the "wisdom of age" look. The portrait would likely be more high key than would be acceptable today. Remember, this was in the midst of WWII, and FDR was seen as a leader of the Allies.
     
  9. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You are absolutely right, and @nalgenecat you should take note of this policy. In this particular case it's okay, though only because the FDR Presidential Library and Museum Flickr has this specific image under a Creative Commons license that keeps some rights reserved, but not all:
    Creative Commons — Attribution 2.0 Generic — CC BY 2.0

    EDIT: Note that the license allows you to post the image or even alter it, but attribution is still required and you have to make note if you alter it.
    Link to the Flickr image which links to the Creative Commons License: CT 09-109(2)
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Obviously, it isn't due only to film. I'm pretty sure the lens had something to do with it.

    What you're drawn to first is the in-focus parts, and that's not even his whole face. The DOF is very thin, considering that even his nose is OOF, and everything beyond the very front of the face. This draws the eye to the center, and more specifically to the right eye.

    Now the lens:

    Considering the approximate time frame this was shot, the professional photographers were using some very good glass. It's more than simply sharpness, because the tonality of his skin is evident, including any and all imperfections. Lenses of yesteryear could render color and contrast better than the lenses that are popular these days.

    I wonder if you could find out what exact lens the photographer was using?
     
  11. compur

    compur No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's the photographer.
     
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