Sunday, June 14, 2020

Exploring US 377

Delta 100
I have been doing a series of day drives over the past few months.  Take the 4x5 and some black and white film and do a day drive along US 377.  This is the road that runs southwest out of Fort Worth.  It quickly gets one away from town and into some rolling hills.  There are some remnants of the prairie here as well as many ranches, farms, rivers and other tidbits of Americana.

Each morning I would leave home early, usually by 0530 so I could be out someplace for sunrise.  Being on location early is not as important in black and white photography as it is in color, but old habits die hard.

My general plan for these type of days is to select a sunrise spot, spend daybreak and the golden hour there and then just drive looking for subjects.  Side road here, Farm to Market road there.  The only commonality was being generally along US 377.  From Fort Worth to Stephenville I pass by some limestone hills, the Brazos River, the Paluxy River, and many off the beaten path places.

I am in no hurry.

In normal times I would make it to a good BBQ or Taco stand around noon.  There are not normal times......

I pack a lunch.

I drive and photograph.  I stop no places with people.  I am socially distanced.
On my first of these day drives I took Ilford Delta 100 and Fujichrome Velvia.  After finishing the Delta 100 I went with a box of Ilford HP5+, a film I have never used before.  Over the course of three or four drives I finished up the Delta and one box of HP5+. 
Delta 100

Since I do not develop my own film and I cannot "read" a negative, I send off all my black and white film to DR5 Chrome.  They process black and white negative film into a positive chrome.  I get a an image that looks great on a light table and scans well.  The images you see here the ones they processed.

As a landscape photographer I am generally looking for natural landscapes.  That led me to a spot along the Brazos River and it led me to spots along the Paluxy River too.  I also was looking for trees.  Somehow that was something of a theme with these drives.  I know a few lone trees and I found a few more.  With the ranching country in the area I can occasionally find them among a field of grass.  In particular a good live oak out alone makes an interesting subject.  You see a few of them here.

Then there are also the old bridges, churches and ranches.  I occasionally make stops in places like that as they seem to make good monochrome subjects.

Each day I was out was a little different.  I had rain, cloudy, clear, windy, and a mix of the above.  I would have my morning location and then drive and look.  And look.  I drove some roads I know and also some roads I have never been on.  A side road here or there always looping back toward US 377.  Each day was different although I did visit a couple of places twice hoping for different light.

Here are a few images from the day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bluffs Along the River

A favorite subject for me locally as a photographer are the rivers that run across North Texas.  The Red, Trinity and Brazos Rivers (plus their tributaries) give me some good natural areas to photograph.

This is a spot on a all but unknown little river that feeds into the Brazos.  I wade down the river to find locations to photograph.  I chase fall color here and I even photograph the Milky Way from here(although not with the 4x5).

On an clear winter morning, I left home in the dark and took both my large format kit as well as my Sony A7R.  I was hoping I might get a glimpse of the stars and moon to photograph with the high ISO capable digital and then as the light came up switch over to film for landscapes.

The pack was pretty heavy since I had my full 4x5 kit, a digital camera and two tripods.  I had my hip-waders on and had to make my way through a wooded area to reach the river.  Then wade down the river in the dark.  BTW, I never suggest people do things like this.  I know this river and with a rocky bed I have been to many times in the daylight I am comfortable wading it in the dark.  Water levels were low and only a couple of areas were more than knee deep.

Standing there in the water feeling the cold water pull past your legs in the dark while looking at the stars is something I call fun.

I only got in a few night images before darkness turned to blue hour and daylight.  I set up the 4x5 on a shallow ledge and went to work to get an image of the moon hanging over the river.

I had both Velvia 50 (color transparency film) as well as some Ilford Delta 100 (black and white negative film).  I was trying to shoot both films to gain more comfort with black and white.  I really think of myself as a much more natural color photographer.  However when Fuji announced the end of Quickloads I knew I would need to learn to load film holders, so I started using black and white to do some things differently.  I also loaded up a fridge with Quickloads.

As we sit here in 2020 I still have several boxes of them left.  On the other hand, the Efke 25 black and white film I had first taken too also got discontinued.  Now I am trying out Ilford and seeing if Delta 100 might become my new monochrome choice.

After photographing both a color and black and white shot, I moved up onto a dry ledge by the bluff and set up a second shot.  Again , I shot both films.

I have to send off my films to be processed.  Color E-6 goes to one lab and the black and white goes up to DR5 Chrome which sends me back a black and white chrome (positive).  I can then look at all my images on the light table.  I find it much easier and intuitive to work with positives rather than negatives.

Looking at them on the light table I like the river shot better in color and up on the ledge better in black and white.

As we get into summer I am thinking about going back and working this area again.  I have a new Rollei film to try and wonder what I might get here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake Pepin in Winter

Lake Pepin is a natural lake on the Upper Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minnesota.  The lake formed because the Chippewa River carries a great deal of sand out of central Wisconsin (Think Aldo Leopold and A Sand County Almanac for an idea) and that sand is more than the Mississippi can take quickly.  It bottle-necked the river and formed Lake Pepin.  Note, the river leaving Lake Pepin near Wabasha, Minnesota is moving fast enough it rarely freezes in winter, meaning a great many bald eagles frequent the area in the winter months.

The lake itself freezes over.

I was driving down river and I got to Lake City, Minnesota late in the afternoon.  The sunrise looked to be weak at best, but I decided to set up the camera and take an image across the lake.

It was cold.  Maybe 20 degrees.  I was dressed in business casual traveling clothes.  I put on my parka went out to grab an image.

I walked down to the lakes edge and set up the tripod.  Then slowed set up the 4x5.  I am sure I could have walked on the lakes surface, but it loafers it seemed like a bad idea.

I saw the nearly full moon across the lake and put it in the image.  Framed up the shot and made two exposures on Quickload Velvia 100F of the Wisconsin side of the lake with the moon

.  Took a quick shot of the setup and then packed up.  As I left, the light faded and I made the rest of the drive down river in the darkening twilight.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Frozen Bluffs on the Mississippi

I have been lucky enough to get to travel to Wisconsin in January and February.  I know there are a lot of people who would think there is nothing at all lucky about that.  However, when there was a work assignment to spend Jan-Mar in Wisconsin, I jumped at it.

Winter is such a fleeting season in Texas, I was looking forward to getting to experience some cold and to photograph snow that does not melt three hours after it falls.

Over those twelve weeks, I got to experience a cold winter and see plenty of snow.  I also got in some great photography.  Well, at least on the weekends.  With sunrise and sunset being about 8am and 5pm respectively, I did not see much daylight during the week.  On weekends though-I was out all day-every day.  I took my medium format camera for some of the trip but then traded out for the 4x5.

Toting the 4x5 around when it is 25 below zero is no easy task.  Focusing is certainly difficult too.  Never, ever breath out under the dark cloth.  Instant ice over your ground glass if you do.  Cold is that tough.  FWIW, I never had issues with the 4x5, however my medium format camera did have the shutter freeze one morning at -25.  Effectively ended the morning and I had to ziplock it and put it in the hotel for the afternoon until it thawed and was fine.

I found I was able to make quite a few images in my time up there.  I frequented several areas but the frozen marshes and bluffs along the Mississippi River were my favorite.

Here is a shot from an area I visited several times.

I like the view to the bluffs and while this particular day was fairly cloudless, I managed to photograph here on a variety of days including fog, clouds, and epic sunrises.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Old Rock Church

The Old Rock Church near Cranfill's Gap is one of my favorite places to photograph in north Texas.  It sits alone outside town on a small rise.  There are no powerlines.  It is a neat old church.

It makes a great photograph.

It is a place my friends and I will visit several times a year to photograph.

Here is one of our warm weather trips we made.  

Our usual plan is to get there at dawn and photograph it at sunrise.  However, when you have good clouds, then mid morning becomes great for working in B+W with large format film.

This was one of those mornings.  Nice clouds moving by with some bright blue sky showing through.

Set up the camera to frame the church and the sky.  Because it is out alone, it is usually quiet here unless they are setting it up for a wedding (which people do here sometimes).

This old church is a perfect spot to bring the big camera, take your time and explore.

It is just as neat on the inside, although I always get my best shots outside with some sky in them.