Today I took the 100 year old large format (10×8) camera to Wales – waterfall country. Recent heavy rains meant a good flow of water over the falls.
I took 4 pieces of pre-flashed photo paper in the two dark slides plus some spare paper and my black-out changing bag. Today I would see if it was feasible to change the sheets “in the field”, having practiced at home in the darkroom – it did work , so I’ll definitely use the method again.
4 reasonably successful images of the first set of falls – I was exposing for mid grey – but the brightness of the water is blown out – so next time I’ll try underexposing and then leave the paper in the developer longer to bring out detail in the shadows – I think that’s how it works!? Exposure times of 4 -13s at F11-22 ISO 6.
The second waterfall site I visited – Henrhyd Falls was much more challenging as there was a lot of spray being blown off the falls. Also the tripod head wasn’t stable and kept moving so only one picture here. (4 seconds at F16 ISO 6)
All images here are scans of the original paper negatives which have been made positive in Lightroom.
Taking the opportunity to stay a few days at Skipton this week, I packed the VW Camper with my “new” 1900s Hora bellows camera and basic dark-room gear and headed into the countryside – enjoying the challenges of photographing in the snow.
With such bright – but high contrast scenes it was always going to be a challenge to get any kind of image on the paper negative. Even with the paper at ISO 6, F45 still only have me a 2 to 4 second shutter speed. So I used the Thornton Pickard shutter with the “time” setting and held it open with an air bulb for a count of up to 4 seconds.
Photographing waterfalls was a similarly challenging exercise – again a high contrast subject. This time the light level was lower allowing for a longer, and hence proportionally more accurate timing of the, exposure.
Here was a good place to compare the two lens types I now have. A wide angle 5inch ? F6.4-22 Apem Asymmetrical and a standard 8 inch F8-45 Beck Symmetrical.
I am very happy with the images from both of these lenses though the wide angle image was over-exposed – only working with a 2 second exposure at f22. I had pre-flashed the paper negatives before setting out on this trip and am happy to report a much improved dynamic range as a result.
I think the images are really atmospheric – they draw you in to explore, to see and discern detail. The hyper-reality, hyper-clarity of many modern digital images leaves no mystery – you see the image and quickly forget it. But an image that you have to work with a bit lingers more in the memory and invites you to fill in the hidden/un-revealed detail. You finish the story of the image – so you have an investment in the image – start to form a relationship with the image- the subject – the photographer.