The above pieces have been selected for the NIGHT show, going up at Provence in Hillsboro in mid-April. Please stop by and let me know what you think!
It had been a long time since I’d clambered into the woods, dirt under hands and scraping knees, to makeÂ that meticulously framed photo. The more found-and-street photography I do, the less of the compose-recompose-recompose-againÂ process I had done. Last weekend was just such an opportunity. Walking in Percy Warner ParkÂ there was up on a hill a large tree that had fallen across another tree and, over time, twisted away and settled on the ground. In the future it will probably be a nurse log for other growth. Unfortunately it was a good was up that hill and too far for any lens to get it from the road.Â It was a very cloudy day making handheld shots tricky at best, and this being under cover of trees I had no choice except to scramble up carrying my tripod to setup for the shot.
Shooting with the Leica M3 at 35mm can be tricky. On the technical detail side, this was made with the Leica M3 with aÂ 35mm f/2.8 lens. Expired T‑Max 400 shot at 200, f/11 at 1/2 second. With that 35mm lens there is an attachment to the viewfinder to ensure proper framing, but when the camera is low to the ground in an already uncomfortable situation, it’s tough to ensure that the setup is just the way you want it. With a little time and patience, that part came together.
Next was metering and setting the shutter. Getting the exposure downÂ is thankfully a breeze with my handheld meter. Since it was a long exposure, a self-timer was going to be used. With the Leica there is a strange little half-winder on the front that you set, trip to start, and then when the winder finishes it fires the shutter. It takes a few tries to trust it — especially as the winder can run whether or not the exposureÂ has already been tripped by the shutter button.
But when all was done, the photo was made and can now be shared.
From a late-December hike along the Fiery Gizzard trail, taken with Neopan Acros 100 (shot at 200). Developed in Ilfosol 3 1+14.
A somewhat strenuous trail, but well worth the effort. I didn’t bring along a tripod so this was balanced on a convenient rock. Plenty of those around for using as makeshift supports! The water was so clear, and so cold, it was amazing. Sometimes I still expect all water to be the same as that in south Mississippi — silty, yellow and so thick you lose your hand three inches under. This was the total opposite and just beautiful.
There are more photos to come off this last roll of the year, but I had to go on and post this one (which may be my favorite from the walk).
High Falls and Covered Bridge, Dupont State Forest NC
This time of year I’m grateful for any chance to do a little night shooting. Recently on a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where it was balmy mid-50’s at night, I took a series of night time photographs. Below is a selection from that session. Three or so minutes at f/9, ISO 100. 5dmk2 and 24–70mm f/2.8L lens. Around 8:30pm mid-December.
I don’t know if this particular pier was damaged by Katrina, although I imagine it was. And if it had been around then, it would have been completely underwater for a significant amount of time. Enough time that I’m surprised at the quality of the pieces that remain. And what remains pulled me towards photographing the scene,Â not during the day but rather at night.
Night photography is a well explored topic (I’ve even covered it before) but the results usually seem to involve (a) urban scenes or (b) starfields. With this session I was isolated on a beach, only a few hundred yards from a gas station and barely a half mile from my hotel, but it might have been total solitude. The beach was certainly empty. Even though it felt warm for December to me, to the rest of the Gulf Coast it was a brisk night. Plenty of time to setup and consider the shots.
When shooting at night in this kind of dark, with barely a moon and cloud cover, there isn’t a great way to know how long to make an exposure. The longer the better, of course, but once you start climbing above three minutes there will be noise generated in the darker areas. And at that point, for me, I had just barely started getting results. So there is a realization and acceptance that some photos just aren’t going to be great out of the box and will have shortcomings no matter what the processing. But once that acceptance occurred, I was able to start visualizing beyond the “full histogram.” The above image isn’t really all that great with “darkest darks” and “lightest lights” but the midrange is, I feel, quite well represented. And it won’t ever be the sharpest, even though it was shot at f/9 and well focused.
Instead of concentrating on the traditional markings of a well-executed photo, with piece and the others from this night time series, I’m savouring the fluidity and soft edges of the work. Where the water ends and the wood ends, where the sky is barely delineated on the horizon. Letting this imagery wash over me as an example of a photo that cannot be taken every day but only by the merging of intentional preparationÂ and loosed control.
Click to view the others in this series.