When the magic happens, all is right in the world. This was one of those moments. After several days of rain, and a relatively cold night, the rising sun heated the dark, wet tree and created steam. A scene I have walked by numerous times was transformed into a mystical wonderland. It was thrilling to experience. As the steam filled the air, obscuring the forest beyond, and filtering the rays of sun breaking through the branches, I immersed myself in the experience. This isn’t a mere photograph. This is a translation of what I feel when Mother Nature is kind enough to let the magic happen.
I chose to shoot black and white film on my 4×5 field camera, as this image was all about mood. The tones of black, white and grey were necessary to translate the emotions of the light show, narrowing the scene down to light, dark and form. i love making these artistic choices in the field, as opposed to shooting haphazardly, and hoping to fix it in a computer later. This is the only way to translate the feelings we experience in nature with our art. For me, the art is the experience. My photography is the simple artistic representation.
This is a classic example of using the Zone System in order to capture a huge exposure range in one sheet of film. I metered on the dark shadow on the tree, then underexposed 2 1/2 stops. This rendered the tree relatively black, with a touch of detail remaining in the shadows. The areas of bright light (lit grass & backlit fog) metered 7 stops brighter than the shadow. To remedy this, I used a N-2 processing time on the film (under processed 2 stops) in order to narrow the range between shadow and highlight to 5 stops. Using these tactics, I was able to create a negative that rendered detail in both shadow and highlight areas, while keeping a full range of contrast. The craft of large format film photography is a real joy to work with, and when done well, renders amazing results!
Canham 5×7 metal Field Camera, 4×5 Reducing Back, Rodenstock Sironar-S 150mm lens, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Kodak T-Max 100 Black and White Film, Ilford ID-11 Developer.