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Hydrangea

Added on by Bill.

The hydrangea are in bloom.  

Tachihara Field Camera 4x5, Nikkor-W 150mm 1:5.6, Kodak TMAX, f/64, 5 sec, ISO 100, D76

Hydrangea are an interesting subject; globes of small-petalled flowers on a background of large-leafed stems.   Compositionally this offers a natural contrast.  However, now my attention is directed towards the Zone System to ensure proper capture and development.

In the digital world results are immediate and each shot can be used to iteratively hone in on the right exposure and composition. There is really no cost to taking another shot.  In the film world results come only later after development and processing and each shot costs about $2.00.  It takes me between 5 and 10 minutes to set up and complete a shot. Mistakes are costly in terms of time and money. Attention to detail and a consistent process is important.  Therefore, planning the shot and ensuring proper exposure are important. As I get better at this, I expect this to increase; and then may be at some point it will decrease.  

My attention right now is on getting the tones right and understanding what constitutes right.

Darkroom

Added on by Bill.

I've been upgrading my darkroom.  My entry into large format photography has placed demands which Darkroom 1.0 was unable to support. I've separated the wet and dry areas according to traditional darkroom design practices.  The wet side is where one does the development. As I follow a hybrid analogue-digital model, the dry side hosts my computer, scanner, printer and work area for framing pictures. Same capabilities as a traditional darkroom, just different technologies.  The dry area is set up, the wet side remains in progress. 

To complete the wet side will require plumbing and a darkroom sink. This being more complicated extended timelines result.  Finding a sink being on the critical path.  So until this is complete I will use the framing area as the wet zone. Yet even with this interim state, Darkroom 1.5 improves the level of maturity of the core capabilities.  

View of the darkroom in action. 

Ithaca Series: Wrap-up

Added on by Bill.

This belated post provides a wrap-up of my learnings from the Ithaca Series of waterfall shots.  In that series I explored my [tending negative] feeling towards "silky" waterfall shots with a view to finding a root cause and thus whether there was anything I could do about it.  

In the end it is simply one of preference.  It's not that all silky-water-fall shots are bad; it's just my tolerance of them exists within a very narrow band.  Yet there are some things which I can do to widen that band of tolerance: 

  • Black & white makes things better.
    Why?  Black and white  tends to simply (which can already be a complicated composition). By removing the colour it removes one variable of distraction from the picture. This results in tending to emphasize the texture of the shot which in turn can be used to manage the overwhelmingly sickly silkiness of a composition if managed properly.  What this means is that converting to black and white is not necessarily a single solution; other techniques may need to be applied (see below).
  • Contrasting hard and soft
    The silkiness of the waterfall can overwhelm a shot with its softness; it's just too smooth.  I found it important to balance this with hardness, of rock, or some texture. 
  • Proportion
    This is about finding the right proportion of soft and hard.  I'm not sure there is a set ratio; it is likely related to the composition and mood. 
  • Light and Sparkle
     These shot, like all other, benefit from good light.  I found those that let out the sparkle of water or did not blow out the silk were more satisfying. Backlighting helped as well and could provide an etherial sense.