Sycamore Falls is a great hike close to Sewanee. Takes less than an hour to make it to the falls (although there are plenty of smaller, shorter water features and bridges along the way so stopping often should be expected). Cheekwood is a well-known estate that’s been converted into a museum and public (although you have to buy a ticket/pass to go) grounds. The photos above came from being around the house itself; here is another set from elsewhere on the grounds. All from a 36Â count endÂ of the year roll of Neopan Acros 100.
Once back from Rome, we tried to get out and see the leaves and colors as much as possible. Once very successful outing in that respect was a Sunday afternoon walk on the Mountains to Sea Trail just outside of Asheville. The image below is from that excursion.
Slide film is one of the more recent media I’ve come to explore, and really only in the past year have I done any meaningful work with that sort of film. This particular shot was with the Fuji GA645 (same as the camera used here)and Fuji Velvia 100f.
There is a strange feeling working with a large-ish format film and yet working with a small-ish piece of equipment. Compared to the RB67 or even the 645 Pro TL, the GA645 is lightweight and ultra-portable. Taking it for a spin in the woods, when one has to potentially carry plenty of other equipment, is a real pleasure. The glass is immaculate and focusing is dead on (or you can manually focus if you prefer). And the result of the slide film is breathtaking. I wish there was a way to relay the feeling of holding a slide over the internet. Even viewing a print doesn’t quite have the same “WOW” factor for me as a slide does. Maybe the transparency? Maybe the compactness and clarity of the slide. Whatever it is, in the fall with the colors and textures I don’t know if I’ve seen any other photographic medium that measures up to slide.
Regardless of your photographic equipment, there is also the question of HOW to photograph a scene. And photography of striking colors are way up on my list of “Hard Shots.” I think a large amount of the difficulty is that we experience a walk in the woods with seasonalÂ foliage quite vividly, and our recollection is often even greater in saturation than reality. Thus, photographing such scenes in ways that evoke the same emotion isÂ substantiallyÂ more difficult than other, less “oomph” driven shots. But I do have some basic ideas that can help.
The first is composition. When photographing nature, it is easy for me to get swept up in the “pretty” shots that don’t tell any story. But when I focus on composing an image with a little bit of narrative, my satisfaction down the road is much higher. Especially when shooting film which has such potential for quality reproduction that failures are that much more evident. So be sure to shoot every image, or every series of images, to bring the viewer to the scene and envelop them in the moment.
Secondly, unless you are intentionally taking a photo of something singular, I’d stay away from small depth of field’s. I know my impulse is often shoot wide open and get some rocking bokeh, but I’ve found that the effect can be jarring. Part of what makes color foliage so amazing is that everywhere you can look and focus there is color. Sharp and bright and saturated. When you blur that background (and/or foreground) in the photo, the “being there” effect can be decreased dramatically.
Last, I try as much as possible to cut through the mist. I use a polarizer, haze filter, whatever I’ve got handy to increase clarity through the entire scene. That is, unless Â it is a long exposure with enough time for the mist or fog or whatever to move about. Otherwise I have found that, like the second point, the reduction in overall clarity can do harm to the entire photograph.
With everything there are exceptions to the above, but those three guidelines above certainly increase my gratification when reviewing the photos after a session out in the woods.
A walk around parts of the Elk Island National Park, about 45 minutes from Edmonton. Film is Portra 160 shot in the Fuji GA645.