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.